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Sometimes we need to take take a step back and reflect on the hard battles that brought us to where we are.

I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night

Sometimes we need to take take a step back and reflect on the hard battles that brought us to where we are.

About Kelly Francis

Kelly Francis is a 2006 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. She co-chairs the Public Policy Advocacy Committee for Minnesota Women Lawyers and serves on the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Impartial Justice. She currently works in local government.

5 comments

  1. Excellent post Kelly. I remember when women weren’t allowed to wear slacks to work (really!) and couldn’t eat in the Oak Grill Room at what was then Dayton’s (today Macy’s) because their “shrilled voices” were disruptive to the business men who ate there. That was only 40 years ago. It is sad to see all the steps backwards that are happening in the name of the economy. While some reductions and changes were certainly necessary, I can’t help but wonder how many were done because this provides the opportune moment to do what couldn’t be done years ago.

  2. Great article. Great reminder to be vigilant.

  3. Thanks guys, unfortunately I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days now.

  4. Would you make any distinction between private sector unions and public sector unions? I would argue that the bumper sticker we will be seeing soon is, “Labor – the folks who bankrupted the country.” The unfunded liabilities of pensions and health benefits to public sector employees at the local, state, and federal levels is astronomical. And when you look at ‘suffering’ since 2008, I don’t see much evidence of public sector suffering. I do agree that the labor movement historically contributed greatly to the rights of workers and the overall improvement of life for the lower class and middle class but there was always a balance because if the employer went bankrupt, all was lost. So the unions had that counterweight of reality, except the UAW and the GM bailout is now the stuff for law school professor debates.

    I think that there is a BIG distinction between the private sector and public sector and every citizen who is awake and willing to be honest should look at the reach of public sector unions and question it. I actually think that it is possible that the overreach of public sector unions may have contributed to the demise of private sector unions but I don’t have research to support that.

  5. Good call on the unfunded pensions! This is a huge problem, but I wonder if it isn’t as much a problem of government mismanagement as it is union overreach.

    To some degree, the unions are simply doing what unions do, they advocate for their members. They sometimes make unreasonable demands, but it’s also the responsibility of the employers – whether they be government entities or auto manufacturers – to negotiate reasonable terms. Had they actually reviewed the numbers and grasped the fact that the concessions they’d been making weren’t sustainable, they might have negotiated a bit harder. I also think that some of the problem has to do with increased life expectancy. Much like social security, the numbers might have made a little more sense 20 years ago.

    One way to look at the pension fiasco is to compare it to the golden parachutes that CEOs receive in the private sector. Corporate boards should be serving as some sort of a check on excessive severance packages (or compensation in general), especially in cases where performance has been less than optimal. They haven’t been doing so. In the same way, governments have allowed pension liabilities to explode without ensuring that those plans were solvent.

    I agree that employees in the private sector have probably taken more financial hits than in the public sector. All I can really say is that it’s a different sort of strain. I work in the public sector and the recession has certainly taken its toll, but I think the hits come in different packages.

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