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President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the patron saint of the American labor movement, was a man of strong character. One has to look no further than the heroic way he coped with his crippling polio. This dreadful disease undoubtedly made him the consummate realist.
For example, although he had a lock on labor's vote, he expressed caution about public sector unions. In a little-known letter he wrote to the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937, Roosevelt reasoned:
"... Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations ... The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for ... officials ... to bind the employer ... The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives ...
"Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people ... This obligation is paramount ... A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent ... to prevent or obstruct ... Government ... Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government ... is unthinkable and intolerable."
Why would any government (conservative, liberal) want public sector unions? Is there a plus side if you're the government?