So, Max in the comments to my previous post says:
1. Public employees in Massachusetts make LESS (total pay and benefits) than private employees with comparable education. The same is true is Wisconsin. You can look it up.Is there any research showing that teachers with more education (beyond a basic teaching degree) are better at educating students? All the research I've run across says that advanced degrees don't matter.
2. No "public good" for higher than average wages? Huh? Isn't that PRECISELY the way you attract good people to do important jobs...like teach your children? Back to Finland: one crucial way they took an average educational system (as it was in the 1960s and 1970s) and made it the best (as it is now) was to dramatically raise the pay of teachers. That attracted lots of the best graduates....like the ones who in the United States go right to law school or business school so they can become investment bankers.
Why the heck wouldn't you want to pay people who perform absolutely essential jobs a top wage?
As for paying people who perform absolutely essential jobs more: I completely agree, as long as they actually do a good job. We have been paying teachers more and more and yet we're not seeing better results. We have run the experiment of throwing money at underperforming schools, but money doesn't work. Listening to a recent podcast from the Center for American Progress (CAP is a progressive think-tank) drove that point home for me (podcast here).
By the way: I can think of a lot of things that are MORE essential than learning where the private sector seems to do a good job with non-unionized workers. Starting with the food and shelter industries.
One of the things that drove me nuts working at UMass in a unionized position was that my job performance didn't affect how much I was paid, or what benefits I got, one iota. Salary was based on years of service, and the union, while I was there, was actively trying to DEFEAT a pay-for-performance proposal.
Maybe I'm weird expecting that if I do a good job I'll be paid more. Wouldn't we get better teachers if we paid them more when they did a great job?
I think employees should have the right to organize themselves to demand better wages and working conditions. But I don't think it is right that most public employees in Massachusetts must, by law, be unionized.