Sunday, March 13, 2011

When is right thing not the right thing?

MICHAEL DOUGLAS, the Beacon Journal's editorial page editor, treated the reader to a symmetrical essay in his Sunday column about Summit County's newest state senator.

Symmetry? He began in the opening line by telling us that Frank LaRose "did the right thing." He closed with the line that the senator "did the right thing". But in between, the reasoning lost traction and distanced itself from Hemingway's literary classic, For Whom the Bell Tolls, that profoundly began and ended with Robert Jordan lying on the floor of a "pine-scented" forest.

Douglas generously credits LaRose with tempering some restrictions on collective bargaining while offering public union workers the right to negotiate wages - a fig leaf, as it's been called - although workers, in return, would give up their right to strike. The last time that I'm aware of that happening was back in the late 1980s when the Guild foolishly agreed not to strike during negotiations with the Beacon Journal.

Contract negotations extended three years beyond its expiration while salaries for guildsmen were frozen. By the way, the Guild also agreed not to make pay increases retroactive!

In the current fray, unions consider collective bargaining - the only generic issue here - with the same sanctity as big-time executives do with stock options and other perks. Secondly, and maybe even more importantly, the issue could lead the way for right-to-work legislation.

For now, LaRose's mistake that is costing him so much loss of credibility is that he had convinced so many that he was a friend of collective bargaining while he worked to restrict it. Had he sold himself as a garden variety anti-union lawmaker from the beginning there would have been less at issue here. But he set the stage for it with his repeated pro public union collective-bargaining assurances. Yes, there were other Republicans with whom he sided in the 17-16 decision. But his vote was critical to both sides. Had he voted against it, he would not now have to be spending so much time explaining his back-channel efforts to soften the blow to unions. Now he is being held accountable. There is a right way to do a right thing.

1 comment:

mencken said...

You think the NFL owners aren't keeping an eye on this.