Firefighters who let houses burn

John Berlau recalls Memphis, Kansas City and Chicago strikes accompanied by arson, sabotage, and loss of both life and property:

If the IAFF [International Association of Fire Fighters] and its allies get their way with federal legislation to mandate collective bargaining for public-safety officers in every American community, the deadly fire-fighter strikes of the recent past will almost certainly be a part of our “progressive” future. …The biggest congressional priority of the IAFF over the past few years has been the so-called Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which would force unionization and collective bargaining on every one of the nation’s local fire departments. … According to the watchdog Public Service Research Council, public-employee strikes quadruple, on average, in the years after state laws mandating public-sector collective bargaining take effect.


  • Oh yes, I recall a Memphis firefighters strike. Several buildings on the street where I was living burned down due to a lack of fire response. The fire started in one business building and could not be contained to prevent spread to other structures. Ordinary citizens manned hoses. I watched one fire from a few yards away and could see up a street a few blocks to another location also on fire. In the light from the nightime fire I observed National Guardsmen with M16s shouldered. The Guard was there to protect the firemen that crossed the picket line to do their jobs. It was quite a surreal scene to me.

  • I’d have less problems with Public Service Unions if the obvious conflict of interest was recognized and they were strictly forbidden from making political contributions or advocacy of any kind. Letting a Union contribute money or even give public support to the campaign of any politician that has anything to do with the Unions contract with a government entity is just asking for corruption or at least problems like run-away pension systems. It may be the only real solution for this problem is to completely ban unionization of government employees all together.

  • Based on my observations of the affect of unionization of public school teachers I would have to say that it is the worst thing that ever happen to public education. And collaterally what I have seen thus for from the unionization of air traffic controllers, firemen and policemen it has not been a positive there either.

    This is nothing more than a power play for pay. Pay for Democrats.

  • One of the pernicious consequences of public sector unions is that they warp the role of government. Government’s focus starts to shift away from serving the citizenry and towards serving the unions. This is inherent in the nature of unions. One of the purposes of unions is to make management recognize that the workers are stakeholders in the organization, and to accept that one of the functions of the organization is to serve the interests of the workers (along with the interests of management and owners). There may be some legitimacy to this goal when the organization is a profit-making business of some type (although I am skeptical on that point). But there’s no place for this in government. Government exists to serve and protect the citizenry, who elect its leaders and pay for its operations through their taxes. Introduce a public sector union into this, especially if the union is allowed to engage in lobbying, political advocacy, and political fundraising, and the focus of government necessarily shifts away from concern for the interests of the citizenry and towards the demands of the public sector unions. Then the first priority of government comes to be to serve the interests of its employees, with the needs of the taxpaying citizens taking a back seat.

  • Allowing unionization of the public sector is structurally unsound. There is no one on the other side of the table that is inherently on the side of the payer.

    This is true irregardless of whether unions can also contribute to political causes, although it exacerbates the fundamental issue.