Neal Boortz: Public union talks lock out taxpayers

No doubt you’ve been hearing some rumblings from Madison, Wis. You know, that place up North with a green bay and people who wear cheese on their heads.

You’ve heard somehow this involves unions and collective bargaining. First you hear that collective bargaining is a right. Then someone named Scott Walker (he’s the governor up there, by the way) says that collective bargaining is a privilege — and a privilege that has been abused, so it needs to be taken away.

My job here is to bring the cast of characters in Wisconsin to your breakfast table so you can listen, think and come away with a better understanding of just what is going on.

Cast of characters? Well, by my count we have about five roles in our little drama:

1. Negotiators for government worker unions.

2. Negotiators for private-sector unions.

3. Negotiators for governments.

4. Negotiators for private companies.

5. The poor, pathetic, pitiful unrepresented taxpayers.

Our first dramatic scenario involves a union contract negotiation between a private business and the private-sector union that represents its workers.

Let’s crawl into the head of the negotiator for the private-sector union: “Now my job here is to get as much a share of the business profits for my union workers as I can. I have to be careful not to overreach, because what if I don’t leave enough money on the table to reward the boss for keeping this business going? I could negotiate so much that he might start losing money! What would happen then? He could close down or move somewhere else where he doesn’t have to deal with unions? Then I’m out of a job. Not good.”

Now the private business owner: “I need these workers. They’re essential to the success of this company. So, I should pay them well and take care of them, but I have to be careful to keep enough of our profits in the bank to endure future business downturns. I also want to make some money for myself, a return on my investment, or this whole thing really doesn’t make sense.”

And the taxpayer: “I really don’t give a fig what those two decide on. I still get to choose whether or not I want to buy their stuff. I wonder what’s on ESPN?”

Next, let’s deal with a contract negotiation between a government union representative and the negotiator for the government:

Union negotiator: “I’m here to get every stinkin’ penny I can for my members. It’s not like I could run this guy out of business. Look, he’s not going to close down, and he durned sure can’t move somewhere else. Besides, he can raise taxes to cover the cost of this new contract. So let’s just go in there for the kill.”

Government negotiator: “I’m up for a tough re-election fight next year, and I need some volunteer help from this union and contributions from their members. Better give them all I can without upsetting the taxpayers. Those taxpayers think I’m negotiating for them, but I’m really negotiating to get re-elected. If they didn’t have collective bargaining privileges I might be able to deal with this, but they do, and so I know where the real power is, and it’s sitting across the table from me. I’ll just give them a nice raise and some nifty retirement benefits that will have to be paid long after I’m either gone or indicted.”

The taxpayer: “Hey! Where’s MY seat at the table? Why don’t I have a voice here? I’m the one paying the tab, not that loser those unions got elected last year! Why don’t I get to vote on this?”

You don’t get to vote on this, dear taxpayer, because these unions have collective bargaining “rights.” Shut up, pay your taxes and go find “Entertainment Tonight” on TV and relax.

Listen to Neal Boortz live from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on AM 750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

His column appears every Saturday. For more Boortz, go to