A number of years ago, I was elected to the Fort Atkinson City Council. While I was on the council, my brother Doug had a lot of projects come up for vote. In each case, I recused myself from voting due to potential conflict of interest.
As I think of public employee unions, I’m beginning to feel the conflict between unions and the public administration is palpable. During the protests last winter, it was obvious the unions were trying to wield their influence with semi-trailers parked around the Capitol Square. Union members stalked the square with their placards, bullhorns, drums and more.
While an interesting event, I began to wonder where else an employee could protest, miss work (in some cases with a fraudulent medical excuse), and enlist others to help get their boss fired.
While I don’t really have anything against unions, the line is crossed when one of the bargainers at the table can essentially influence others to help get their boss fired. Obviously, this position creates an atmosphere of conflict of interest, with the promise of campaign donations and public support for anyone who delivers for the union at the public service level.
So, here is what I think. Since I really don’t have anything against unions, we should allow them to bargain at the public service level. But, with that bargaining power and influence, union members should be recused from voting in the elections that affect their bargaining position, namely state, county and municipal elections.
Like me, as a city councilman, it was and is important that we retain complete transparency and root out favoritism or influence peddling at any level. That could be a start.