Well said, Pam. On the whole, worker unions are a tremendous benefit to government for all the reasons you cited. Any negatives, like alleged protection of poor performers, are isolated cases, in my experience. Overall, the benefits to the public far outweigh the negatives. You are correct in stating that the public has a distorted and inaccurate view of what it takes to run a government. As to the question of middle ground, I believe that open, above-board good-faith negotiation on the part of executives will go a mighty long way. Union members are well aware of the budget situation, and, if asked and sincerely listened to, will likely have useful suggestions on how to reduce spending on non-essentials. Bluster and bombast, and announcing a conclusion in the media before even beginning to bargain in good faith, as seen in Wisconsin, won't work.