Monday, January 7, 2008
In my humble opinion, the HBO series "The Wire" has been the best thing on TV in the past four years. Relevant here, an overarching theme in the second season of "The Wire" focused on a union leader on the docks of Baltimore. The show depicted the leader and his union in a thoughtful, complex, and nuanced manner: it raised issues of union corruption but also portrayed sympathetically and accurately the struggles of working class folks faced with de-industrialization and loss of work. I highly recommend it.
So I was looking foward to last night's season premiere of the fifth (and, sadly, final) season of "The Wire." While it looks to be another great set of episodes, I feel it is my duty to point out the following serious mistake regarding U.S. labor labor law. [Alert: this doesn't spoil anything significant to the plot of the show].
In an early scene, members of a police department are complaining about budget cuts causing them various problems, including not being paid overtime properly. While this situation is sadly realistic, one of the police officer characters then says, essentially: "our union rep says we might have to take this to the NLRB."
But of course this was a police department, a public employer, and thus of course it wouldn't be the NLRB, because the NLRA only covers private sector employees.
The moral: everyone should learn more about public sector labor relations. And maybe stay away from drugs and drug dealers too, but at least as importantly, learn more about public sector labor relations.