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The Living Standards of Public Servants

Lee Saunders
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When we fail to invest in public services, living standards decline and communities suffer — overcrowded classrooms, understaffed prisons and more.

But let’s remember what originally made public-sector jobs middle class: labor unions. The right to bargain collectively has allowed millions of public service workers like my father, a Cleveland bus driver and a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, to live the American dream.

Likewise, decline in public-sector employment can be traced to the attacks on union rights that reached a fever pitch in the last decade. And the Supreme Court is now considering, in Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, upending a 40-year precedent and making the entire public sector right-to-work (employees no longer have to chip in for collective bargaining).

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