Posts Tagged ‘public employee unions’
June 21st, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Podcast: Big Labor’s Antics Continue
Posted by Print

From breaking state budgets to disrupting private airline industry reorganization, CFIF’s Timothy Lee discusses the latest antics of big labor unions.

Listen to the interview here.

June 7th, 2012 at 12:45 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: The Chink in Public-Employees Unions’ Armor
Posted by Print

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 11th, 2011 at 8:13 am
Podcast: How Government Unions are Bankrupting America
Posted by Print

In an interview with CFIF, Daniel DiSalvo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State and Local Leadership, discusses his recently released Encounter Books’ Broadside, “Government Unions and the Bankrupting of America.”

Listen to the interview here.

July 6th, 2011 at 5:59 pm
Ohio to Vote on Repeal of ObamaCare, Collective Bargaining Ban

This week, the Ohio Liberty Council filed paperwork to place on a statewide ballot this November a state constitutional amendment to opt-out of ObamaCare’s individual mandate.  The Tea Party group delivered over half-a-million signatures, nearly two-hundred thousand more than needed.

On the Left, an assortment of Democratic and labor union groups claimed 1.3 million signatures in favor of repealing Ohio’s stripping of collective bargaining rights from public employee unions, known locally as Senate Bill 5.

While those who want to opt-out of ObamaCare should also support limiting public unions’ ability to bankrupt taxpayers, getting both results will require educating voters to tick ‘Yes’ for the opt-out, and ‘No’ for the repeal.  That may sound easy, but for anyone who’s tried to engineer an outcome with multiple decisions for a group (i.e. logistics for a high school reunion come to mind), it isn’t nearly as easy as it should be.

So far, momentum appears to favor both the ObamaCare opt-out and repealing the collective bargaining ban.  If those sentiments prevail, Ohioans may spare themselves a federal spending mandate while drowning themselves in a tsunami of local and state union benefits.

Suggested slogan: Ohioans Want Freedom, Not Mandates

July 1st, 2011 at 1:55 pm
Wisconsin’s Collective Bargaining Ban Already Saving Money

Byron York reports that the implementation of Wisconsin’s controversial ban on collective bargaining by public employee unions is already freeing one state school district from financial hardship.  Among the benefits of the change in policy:

  • Swapping a $400,000 deficit for a $1.5 million surplus thanks to increasing teachers’ health insurance cost of coverage from 10 percent to 12.6 percent, which is “still well below rates in much of the private sector”
  • Being able to shop around for health insurance coverage instead of being forced under collectively bargained contracts only to purchase coverage from a union-operated provider – the demanded premium levels have already dropped to “match the lowest bidder”
  • Changing work rules like upping a teacher’s hours of instruction from five out of seven periods to six, thus allowing the district to reduce student-to-teacher ratios and provide more one-on-one tutoring with troubled students

Wisconsin’s Democratic Party and its liberal lobbyists may still consider the ban on collective bargaining a “disaster,” but it’s clearly a win for parents, students, and administrators.

May 26th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
Wisconsin Dems Still Wasting Time, Money

Huffington Post reports that even though a Wisconsin state judge invalidated Republican Governor Scott Walker’s bill to remove collective bargaining from public union members, nothing is stopping Republican lawmakers from re-passing the stalled legislation.

Democrats widely expect Republicans in the state legislature to simply attempt to re-pass the measure as law, and this time, the Democratic state senators won’t be leaving the state to slow down the process.

“There’s nothing that we can do,” said state Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover). “Republicans have the votes to do this, and if they choose to do it, they can and they will.”

My guess is that if given the chance to follow normal procedures, Republicans will easily re-pass Governor Walker’s bill.  When that happens, Wisconsin’s Democrats should stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money on frivolous lawsuits created by irresponsible lawmakers fleeing the democratic process.

May 16th, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Checking in on Ohio’s John Kasich

With all the media attention being lavished on governors Mitch Daniels (R-IN) and Scott Walker (R-WI), it’s easy to forget another Midwestern chief executive: Ohio’s John Kasich.

Human Events’ John Gizzi reports that the Ohio governor is bullish on winning a statewide initiative over whether public employees must increase their percentage of health care spending from 9 to 15 percent.  (Compared to the average 23 percent contribution in the private sector.)

Kasich is also preparing legislation with state Republican lawmakers to eventually eliminate Ohio’s income tax.  If these and other reforms are successful, Kasich might start getting the attention his herculean efforts deserve.

April 1st, 2011 at 2:32 pm
Police & Fire Flee GOP, Back Big Labor

Politico highlights how the budget battles between the Tea Party and Big Labor are threatening to shift firefighters and police officers into the Democratic Party, setting up a dilemma for fiscal conservatives.

The blowback from unionized first responders is being felt by Republicans in Ohio, New York, and Wisconsin.  In the latter, Republican Governor Scott Walker tried to exempt police and fire from the ban on public employees collectively bargaining, but they still refused to follow his order to remove protesting teachers from the state capitol.

Ironically, Politico quotes one police union leader saying his members are going to hold pro-union Republicans “accountable” for the cuts being made to balance state budgets.

Apparently, it’s a different kind of accountability than one based on sustainable funding formulas.  If the GOP is serious about reining in runaway government spending, it’s going to have to take on all public employee unions, and demand lower compensations (e.g. pensions, buy-outs, overtime, retirement eligibility, etc.).

We’ll see who has the stomach to make that case anytime soon.

March 21st, 2011 at 12:30 pm
Judicial Activist Blocks Wisconsin’s Union Law

If at first liberals don’t succeed, they plead their case to a friendly judge.  Last Friday, a Wisconsin judge granted a temporary restraining order to block publication of the state’s recently passed union law.  (State law requires the Secretary of State to publish the contents of the law to the public in order for the law to be valid.)

The law’s opponents claim Wisconsin Republicans violated the state’s open meetings law by negotiating the substance of the bill outside the normal committee hearing process.  The judge says all Republicans have to do is re-pass the bill with adequate notice (i.e. 24 hours instead of 2).

Where were these process-conscience Democrats when their federal counterparts rammed through ObamaCare while violating almost every legislative procedure?  Where was the outrage when the Reid-Pelosi gang used the budget reconciliation process and ‘deem-and-pass’ to thwart deliberation?  At least Wisconsin Republicans gave their absentee opponents a heads-up.

March 11th, 2011 at 6:27 pm
NFL Players Say No to Collective Bargaining, Why Not Public Employees?

At least one group of union members doesn’t treat collective bargaining rights as the end-all, be-all of organized labor.  Today, the NFL Players Association voted to decertify itself when negotiations broke down with league owners over the proper revenue sharing ratio.

One of the effects of decertification is the elimination of NFL players’ collective bargaining rights, and the transformation of the union into a trade association.  Of course, the fight between labor and management now goes to the courts; mostly because labor thinks it can get a better deal.

Maybe so, maybe not, but at least NFL players have the opportunity to choose whether the union structure best serves their needs.  Imagine if Wisconsin public employees had that kind of freedom.  Do you think a majority would vote to certify their union every year?

March 10th, 2011 at 8:11 pm
Wisconsin Dems Likely to Keep CBA Ban Once in Power

Their howls of protest notwithstanding, Wisconsin Democrats – whenever they gain control of state government again – are likely to retain Republican Governor Scott Walker’s ban on collective bargaining by public employees.

The Manhattan Institute’s Josh Barro explains that Democrats in Wisconsin are about to learn the joys of writing their own budgets; just like their peers in other states and the federal government.

For this reason, I am skeptical of Democrats’ vigorous hopes to retake Wisconsin’s government and repeal this new law. There is no clamor among Democrats in Virginia to give collective-bargaining privileges to public workers, nor have Democrats in Washington, D.C., shown much interest in empowering federal workers’ unions. This is because Democratic officeholders, quite rationally, prefer to write their budgets themselves, rather than hand over control of employee-compensation costs to unions. Once Wisconsin lawmakers get used to the new status quo, I think this is likely to be true there, too — why would mayors, school-board members, and state legislators want to give up a powerful new budgeting tool they’ve been given?

Eventually, Democrats will take power in Wisconsin again, and when they do I think they are likely to restore the “dues checkoff” — automatic deductions from public payrolls to pay union dues, eliminated in the just-passed bill. But I think they are likely to find the federal model of limited collective bargaining pretty useful, just as Barack Obama has. Under pressure from municipal officials, Wisconsin Democrats will be more likely to “reform” this law while retaining significant constraints on bargaining than to repeal it entirely.

February 18th, 2011 at 6:36 pm
The Mayhem in Madison

If you ever doubted the indivisibility of disparate Leftist causes, then for proof look no farther than Madison, WI.  A community organizer-turned-POTUS is sending his minions to supplement Badger State public employee unions.  Jesse Jackson is leading a march in support of workers’ rights.  (Apparently, the only color in Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition these days is red.)

All we need now is a cadre of eco-friendly celebrities to descend on the Wisconsin state capitol and declare their love for collective bargaining (while demanding A-list treatment in their next film contract).  With the battle over union overreach spreading to other states, this may the beginning of a very tense year in states across the country.

January 20th, 2011 at 7:11 pm
Lieberman’s Exit Is The True End of Camelot

How fitting that on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address news of Senator Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) retirement hits the commentariat.   In today’s Senate, Lieberman is the last lion of an old-school approach to being liberal: hawkish on foreign policy, civil rights, and fiscal policy.  The statist mindset has so overtaken the modern Democratic Party that it’s hard to imagine “Give ‘em Hell” Harry Truman and Henry “Scoop” Jackson choosing to serve alongside the likes of Barack Obama and Barbara Boxer in what was once called “the most deliberative body in the world.”

Part of the corruption story of a once sane party is the outsize influence of public employee unions.  When public employees were allowed to unionize, Democratic politicians found it irresistible to negotiate sweetheart union contracts in exchange for campaign cash and poll workers.  After all, the wealth being wasted was just other people’s money.

With the economy sagging, the American people know who to blame.  Veteran Democratic pollster Doug Schoen says in today’s Wall Street Journal that if his party doesn’t start scaling back overpromised union benefits, independent voters will continue to vote Republican.  For current and future leaders of the Democratic Party looking for direction, it would be a good exercise to meditate on JFK’s famous admonition to “Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

January 10th, 2011 at 1:25 pm
Public Employee Unions’ Favorability Sinks Below 50%

Rasmussen Reports is out today with some interesting survey results.  In the wake of severe budget deficits Americans’ support for public employee unions is sinking to new lows.  According to Rasmussen’s telephone survey, 45% of respondents oppose allowing public employees to unionize, while an equal number favor the practice.  Just last May, 53% of Americans favored unions for public employees.

The 8% drop in approval rating combined with the rise in outright hostility undoubtedly concerns the mandarins over at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the nation’s largest public employee and health care workers union.  This kind of growing opposition will surely earn more hysterical charges from AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee’s like this one that 60 Minutes engaged in media bias when it granted air time to reform Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ).

It’s time to get serious.

November 19th, 2010 at 4:38 pm
Joel Kotkin Rakes Green Liberalism, Unions Over the Coals

Demographer Joel Kotkin writes an insightful analysis of the state of modern liberalism for Politico today.  As you probably guessed, the diagnosis isn’t pretty.

Admittedly, Kotkin identifies as an old-school Democrat, the kind that sees the New Deal as a model for curbing unemployment while building the kind of infrastructure that advances civilization and secures votes for a generation.  He is not, however, a fan of the environmental left or public employee unions because they inhibit these kinds of programs for the benefit of insulated elites.

When FDR commissioned projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, he literally brought light to darkened regions. The loyalty created by FDR and Truman built a base of support for liberalism that lasted for nearly a half-century.

Today’s liberals don’t show enthusiasm for airports or dams — or anything that may kick up some dirt. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Deanna Archuleta, for example, promised a Las Vegas audience: “You will never see another federal dam.”

Harold Ickes, FDR’s enterprising interior secretary, must be turning over in his grave.

It’s also well to remember, as Kotkin does, that “In retrospect, it’s easy to see why many great liberals – like FDR and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia – detested the idea of public-sector unions.”  Indeed.  If Kotkin can kick-start a bipartisan movement to end public employee unions, maybe we can at least get public policy’s focus back on private citizens instead of enriching government workers.

September 7th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
The Coming Teacher Union Crackup

Hugh Hewitt is out today with a sobering call for young public school teachers to buck their union bosses and vote for education reform.  Consider this bizarro-world scenario facing the newest generation of classroom teachers:

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid Democrats and their state counterparts have been dining on the seed corn, running up bills that can only be paid by the taxes of people under 40 working until they are 80 and then retiring on 50 percent of what their older colleagues receive now, if that.

Indeed, that kind of generation theft what is being offered to every twentysomething public employee these days.  Younger workers already get that Social Security won’t be around to help them in retirement.  If the message sinks in that their lavish pensions are also a mirage, we could be in for a major shift in public policy after the November midterm elections.

August 18th, 2010 at 2:47 pm
City of Bell Corruption Impacting Other Cities

In a year or two, we may look back on the City of Bell public employee compensation scandal as the modern day equivalent of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.  Both stories showed the general public how bad a particular industry behaved, and prompted serious, far-reaching reforms.

The chief villain in the Bell fiasco (so far) is its former city manager Robert Rizzo.  At the time of his resignation, Rizzo was making close to $800,000 a year, and due to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from his public employee pension.  Now that he’s retired, the pension is kicking in – and so are taxpayers in cities that share Bell’s pension pool.

That means that Hesperia, CA, is on the hook for $80,000 of Rizzo’s estimated $600,000 a year pension (not to work!), even though it fired Rizzo after his four year stint ended in 1992.  Taxpayers in Rancho Cucamonga will be paying $160,000 of the bill, with Bell and other cities who never even hired Rizzo chipping in the rest.

And remember, the estimated $600,000 is owed to Rizzo – by law – every year for the rest of his life.  After being fired by at least two of the cities that hired him.  Insane.  Public employee pension reform may not be a “sexy” issue on the campaign stump, but it is certainly a topic that is sure to get people’s attention during this era of runaway government spending.

The Bell scandal may be the the last, best chance to reign in the power of the public employee unions before they ruin the American economy.

August 17th, 2010 at 11:54 am
Bell City Council Illegally Raised Taxes; Increases Tea Party Sentiment

The Tea Party movement is going viral.  As reported earlier, the City of Bell, CA is now Exhibit A in corrupt government.  Thousands of the majority Hispanic population in Bell protested outside city hall after it was revealed that the city council raised local property taxes 50% beyond the legal limit.

Here’s a spot-on analysis of how the Tea Party movement’s call for limited – and constitutional – government is starting to bubble up in a growing number of communities.

When people wonder why the Tea Party and other grassroots political movements start, this is a great example.  Government at any level that grows haughty, insular, and corrupt generates a reaction towards accountability and more modest models of governance.  I’m certain that the protesters in Bell don’t see themselves as part of the Tea Party movement, but the two have more similarities than differences.  They’re angry at the local model of big government arrogance and at having their pockets picked — especially considering the relatively low average household income in this Southern California community, at just under $30,000.

H/T: Hot Air Blog

August 6th, 2010 at 12:59 pm
CFIF’s Troy Senik in Today’s Wall Street Journal

CFIF Senior Fellow Troy Senik today reviews the most recent fix-it guide for California state politics in the Opinion section of the Wall Street Journal.  According to Senik the book, California Crackup, does a great job detailing the problems; especially the unintended consequences of pro-taxpayer measures like Proposition 13.  However, the “solutions” section leaves too much off the table – like taking on the mounting pension crisis spurred by public employee unions.

Read the entire column here.

July 31st, 2010 at 3:57 pm
Bell, CA City Salary Scandal Could be the Tip of the Iceberg

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is calling for all city, county and state employee salaries to be posted online for easy access by citizens.  Ordinarily, such a request wouldn’t merit a mention in a governor’s speech, but these aren’t ordinary times.  With California being home to 10 of the 12 highest unemployed metropolitan areas in the country, this is not the era to be paying salaries that total a million dollars in less than a decade to individual public employees.

The fallout from the City of Bell paying its top two city administrators plus the police chief a combined $1.6 million a year led to resignations from all three.  If media and prosecutorial scrutiny grows to include other municipalities, the taxpaying public will have a much better idea whom to blame for a good chunk of the state’s budget deficit: corrupt public officials and public employee unions.