Thursday, March 10, 2011

Public Unions and Undercover Boss…

Undercover Boss (U.S. TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure this will create some controversy, but hey….look at the tagline for this blog.

What’s happening in Wisconsin is fascinating to me. In some respects, I think the future of America hangs in the balance.

It’s no secret where I stand on unions and even though that can sometimes lead to anti-Semitic diatribes by NEA board members, I’m ok with it.

When I look at this debate, I tend to (no surprise) look at with my marketing hat.

Where I think the unions and public sector employees are hurt is in the perception of their attitudes about work and responsibility.

The public discourse seems to be most often about “benefits” and “entitlements.” You’ll frequently hear stories about people who leave their jobs at the pre-appointed time whether the work is done or not.

Living in the DC area, you hear this a lot.

You hear people talk about vacation days they’ve accrued, etc.

It’s like (and again, this is just perception), the concern by public employees is about these benefits and the need to protect them.

I think very few people these days say “we need unions so that bosses don’t abuse people on the job.” There are enough safeguards around that the Triangle Shirt Factory Fire (or its public sector equivalent) is a widespread problem.

Now, I’m not saying that the perceptions are right. I’m just arguing that this is what the perception is.

Changing that perception is part of the battle.

Watching Undercover Boss the other day (perhaps the best reality show on TV), I saw an episode where the mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory, went on the front lines with sanitation workers, parking attendants, etc.

What that show did for me (and judging from the comments, millions of others) was help to change that perception.

That’s a good thing.

If the public unions can do more of that and less of the stories about benefit and salary abuse, they will help their cause.

I still think that public sector unions are a bad thing and a huge drain on the resources of the economy (see this story from California), but just because I think it doesn’t mean that’s what will happen (though it should).

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