Critical Thinking Week 2

Nothing is accepted on face value and every aspect of a communication, whether oral or written, is questioned to clearly identify the issues, stated conclusions, arguments, evidence in support and assumptions/omissions/fallacies. This should lead to the right conclusions and right decisions. Clear thinking is all about ‘the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking’ (Anon., n.d., philosophy.hku.hk). According to Study Guides, clear thinking involves ‘placing the facts and information in a pattern … and … accepting or rejecting the source values and conclusions…’ (Anon., n.d., studygs.net). In the following paragraphs, a memo from the Director of Human Resources, Federated State Employees Union (FSEU), Local 343 to its President, in response to the proposal of the Governor of the state of Illinois for economizing the budgeted personnel cost of the department of transportation (DoT) through outsourcing its information systems management, is analyzed applying the critical thinking process through its various steps (Browne and Keeley, 2007). Analysis Step 1: Issue and conclusion The memo lays down the union’s opposition to privatization of jobs as a means to curtail costs, dilates on the perils of the proposed action on union and its members, and attempts to justify the opposition on multiple grounds. The prescriptive issue conveyed is: Should the Governor’s proposal to cut costs by eliminating certain jobs by resorting to privatization be allowed to be implemented? The conclusion is: It is not only a bad idea but also bad in law, and is in effect an attempt to control the union. Step 2: Reasons offered FSEU is questioning the rationale of eliminating jobs through outsourcing, which opens up the possibility of permanent unemployment of the concerned union members. Since outsourcing would potentially invite foreign agents with their unfair advantage of low-wage workers, the proposal is seen as anti-American and as a forerunner for similar attempts in other departments too. Further, it would lead to reduced wages as a result of competition from foreign workers. Dispersal to other departments and potential wage reduction are attempts by the management to gain control over the union. Displaced workers, if at all they get new postings, would need to learn new skills and to cope with new environs, in spite of their age, experience and merit. It is contended that employee reduction/displacement through privatization runs contrary to the Pendleton Act of 1883. Step 3: Ambiguity in reasoning The Wikipedia reference to the relevance of Pendleton Act of 1883 is tenuous and not specific. Words and phrases like ‘instability, most likely, similar, attempt to drive out old experienced workers’ are ambiguous in context and not supported by reason or evidence. Step 4: Value assumptions/conflicts The major value assumed in the memo is the union’s right to protect the interests of its members and for citizens at large, both on the present issue and for future. Further, it is argued that yielding by the union on the issue would weaken its position for future negotiations with the management. At the same time, the assumed threat for the union members is sought to be used to garner votes