VA Senate – Government Unionization Act: National Right to Work Committee V.P. John Kalb Testifies

Committee Vice President John Kalb testified to the Virginia Senate Commerce and Labor Committee that government union monopoly bargaining would be bad for workers, bad for taxpayers and bad for our representative form of government.

(Richmond, VA, February 24, 2020) My name is John Kalb, and I am Vice President of the National Right to Work Committee.

I am here to speak against House Bill 582, which is designed to force Virginia public employees under union monopoly control.

It’s just plain wrong for workers to be forced under union monopoly control as a condition of working in public service.

Under exclusive representation, better termed monopoly bargaining, individual workers lose the ability to choose their own representation — this is a right even a convicted criminal retains.

But in addition to imposing union monopoly representation on public employees, this bill will also undercut the people’s elected representatives’ responsibility and ability to set a budget, while closing out the public from the decision-making process.

Indeed, that’s exactly what the U.S. District Court said in upholding North Carolina’s law banning public sector bargaining. The court ruled:

“[T]o the extent that public employees gain power through recognition and collective bargaining, other interest groups with a right to a voice in the running of the government may be left out of vital political decisions.”

U.S. District Court

And monopoly bargaining gives public employee union bosses a second bite at the apple that’s completely unique among all stakeholders.

They not only can lobby and electioneer like anyone else, but under this bill union bosses can by law bind the government in contracts.

Meanwhile, regardless of any legal prohibition, passing this bill opens the door to public employee strikes — just in the last year, there have been illegal government worker strikes from Alaska to Wisconsin to Massachusetts.

And the fact is, this legislation will be a disaster for Virginia taxpayers.

Years ago, the Heritage Foundation found that public sector monopoly bargaining costs the average family of four as much as $3,000 in taxes per year in states that have passed it for all government workers.

And the Maryland Department of Fiscal Analysis found that monopoly bargaining for state employees would cost taxpayers between $1.3 and $1.4 million for only twelve “bargaining units.”

This bill would create countless new bargaining units, imposing a heavy burden on taxpayers just to administer the system.

Meanwhile, the people’s elected representatives will lose flexibility to make needed changes the next time there’s a recession.

These are all big reasons why even many strong proponents of monopoly bargaining in the private sector have opposed public sector bargaining.

For example, Franklin Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees, “all Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”

It’s wrong for workers, wrong for taxpayers and harmful to our representative form of government.

I urge you to kill this bill.