Public sector unions do not fight against politicians, we argue for or against policy. We support politicians, no matter which party, that support union issues, and not all union issues revolve around pay.
Our public sector union fights FOR the public safety. We oppose policies that want to run the NAS "like a business". We're not a business, we're a safety and service provider. We don't make profits or have a natural competition. We work with users to make the system as efficient as we can without sacrificing our commitment to safety. So, when the taxpayer sees a "policy" that "claims" it can save them money, that isn't necessarily the entire story. What corners does it cut to achieve this better savings? What impact does it have on the already existing operations? We tried this "run it like a business" approach during the Bush II years and it had disastrous results. Now, we work in a collaborative fashion, and the system has improved in efficiency, cost and savings. If one compares that to another national/regional system, ours is the more efficient despite working more traffic.
"Bad employees" are going to occur in any system. The union, at least ours, does not fight to "keep bad employees". Its function is to make sure management follows the outlines for what constitutes justified dismissal. Even if the employee is "bad", we can't just let management do whatever it wants because it sets these things called "precedents". Maybe one time was an actual "bad employee", maybe the next is an employee a manager had an axe to grind with. If we let an unorthodox procedure fire an agreed upon "bad" employee, management will cite that procedure as justification to keep using it.
Certainly, these aren't easy problems, and even most union members could identify these bad apples. But, the solutions aren't always easy when you're trying to protect the larger portion of your membership. Like I noted earlier, we're instituting self-policing measures known as "professional standards" to help bring "bad" employees up to par. This can be initiated from either co-workers or management who want to try and resolve something before more formal proceedings. The point is, most union members are proud of their jobs, and they represent what is left of the "middle class" who aren't private business owners. They are the consumers that can afford to consume what others want to sell. Shouldn't we try to make this class bigger? Instead of reducing the wages of working people so they are on par with third world workers, shouldn't we work towards a middle class that can afford to live within its own society?
The superlative was "completely lost". I'm not completely familiar with the NEA to speak to their level of bloated-ness or whether the majority, or even large minority, would prefer there was no union. You would have to get someone from that demographic to speak for them.
You'll see it's all a show, keep 'em laughing as you go, just remember, the last laugh is on you, and always look on the bright side of life!