Category Archive 'Unions'
03 Mar 2010

Major Changes Coming to New Jersey

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressed the necessity of reining in spending in an address to his state’s mayors at the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

His “holding hands and jumping off a cliff” metaphor was a hit, but more important was his identification of the rigged arbitration system which awards government employee unions reliably the better part of everything they ask for, year in and year out, good times or bad.

The current economic crisis has established definitively that the current relationship between unions and government and current levels of expenditure are unsustainable in a number of states.

Mish Shedlock has excerpts:

In the time we got here, of the approximately $29 billion budget there was only $14 billion left. Of the $14 billion, $8 billion could not be touched because of contracts with public worker unions, because of bond covenants, because of commitments we made accepting stimulus money. So we had to find a way to save $2.3 billion in a $6 billion pool of money.

When I went into the treasurer’s off in the first two weeks of my term, there was no happy meetings. They presented me with 378 possible freezes and lapses to be able to balance the budget. I accepted 375 of them.

There is a great deal of discussion about me doing that by executive action. Every day that went by was a day where money was going out the door such that the $6 billion pool was getting less and less. So something needed to be done. …

Our citizens are already the most overtaxed in America. US mayors hear it all the time. You know that the public appetite for ever increasing taxes has reached an end.

So when we freeze $475 million in school aid, I am hearing the reverberations from school boards saying now you are just going to force us to raise taxes.

Well there is a 4% cap in place as you all know, yet school boards continue to give out raises which exceed that cap, just on salary. Not to mention the fact that most of them get no contribution towards the spiraling increase in health care benefits. …

Do we need to change some of the rules of arbitration to level the playing field to allow municipalities and school boards to have a more level sense of collective bargaining?

I think the evidence of ever increasing raises being given to public sector workers as a result of the arbitration system tells us that we do. …

I am tired of hearing school superintendents and school board members complain that there are no other options than raising property taxes. There are other options.

You know, Marlboro, after a two year negotiation, they give a five year contract giving 4.5% annual salary increases to the teachers, with no contribution, zero contribution to health care benefits.

But I am sure there are people in Marlboro who have lost their jobs, who have had their homes foreclosed on, and who cannot keep a roof over their family’s head there is something wrong.

You know, at some point there has to be parity. There has to be parity between what is happening in the real world, and what is happening in the public sector world. The money does not grow on trees outside this building or outside your municipal building. It comes from the hard working people of our communities who are suffering and are hurting right now.

I heard someone in the legislature say two days ago that they wanted no fare hike in New Jersey Transit, no cuts in service, and no cuts in subsidy. And I was thinking to myself, man I should have made this guy treasurer. [Laughter] Because if you can pull that one off, you’re obviously magic.

This is the type of awful political rhetoric that people sent me to this city to stop.

13 Jan 2010

Unionized Government Workers, the New Ruling Class

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Stanley Greenhut, in the February issue of Reason, explains how the increasing political power of unionized government employees is producing larger government along with luxurious compensation for a new Mandarinate able to tax the rest of us.

Public-sector unions have a growing influence in state and federal governments, and in the overall labor movement, but they are a relatively recent phenomenon. Civil service unionization in the federal government wasn’t allowed until President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order legalizing it in 1962. In California it didn’t become legal until 1968. Yet now California may be spearheading the re-unionization of the country. …

At all levels, state and local government employment grew by 13 percent across the United States from 1994 to 2004. The number of judicial and legal employees increased by 28 percent. The number of public safety workers increased by 21 percent. The number of teachers increased by 22 percent. …

The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, Hodges writes, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous. …

Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth. The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms.

People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses.

It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school systems. If this system is left to grow unchecked, we will end up with a pale imitation of the free society envisioned by the Founders.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

21 Oct 2009

The Power of Unions

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A concert pianist may get as little as $20,000 for a Carnegie Hall appearance. One of the stagehands made $530,044 in 2008.

That kind of compensation for semi-skilled manual labor can only result from union power rising to the level of extortion. Imagine what staggering sum total of dollars is siphoned annually out of the operating budgets of all the concert halls, museums, and theaters in New York City, and how much richer that city’s cultural life would be if workers were paid conventionally generous wages and the currently misappropriated surplus applied to delivering more exhibitions and performances to the public.

Bloomberg

18 Dec 2008

Al Sharpton Opposes Democrat Party’s Union Card Check Bill

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Who would have imagined? Al Sharpton opposing a major trade union legislative initiative. Al Sharpton defending the secret ballot. Al Sharpton actually having principles!

Discussing the Employee Free Choice Act with National Action Network’s Charlie King on his own radio show yesterday, the Reverend Al Sharpton said:

Yeah, well, what I don’t understand about it which is why I’m in the campaign is why wouldn’t those of us who support workers being protected, why would we not want their privacy protected. I mean why would we want them opened up to this kind of possible coercion?

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey.

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