FDR’s View of Public Service Unions Differs Vastly From What They Are Today

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President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers.

“Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government,” he said in http://southbuffalonews.com937. “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”

The first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, agreed.

“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government,” he said.

Roosevelt argued that government workers, sworn to protect the rights of the people they served, had no business putting their own interests ahead of ordinary citizens.

“A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied,” he added. “Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.”

FDR would hardly recognize the country today, particularly in a place like Niagara Falls, where even mid level school teachers, policemen and public works employees can afford a lifestyle far above what their counterparts in the private sector can enjoy.


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