Elected officials turn on labor unions

This is a great read…

Spurred by state budget crunches and an angry public mood, Republican and some Democratic leaders are focusing with increasing intensity on public workers and the unions that represent them, casting them as overpaid obstacles to good government and demanding cuts in their often-generous benefits.

Unlike past battles over the high cost of labor, this time pitched battles over wages and pensions are being waged from Sacramento to Springfield to New York City and the conflict is marked by its bipartisan tone, with public employee unions emerging as an intransigent public enemy number one in cities and state capitals across the country.

They’re the whipping boys for a new generation of governors who, thanks to a tanking economy and an assist from editorial boards, feel freer than ever to make political targets out of what was once a protected liberal class of teachers, cops, and other public servants.

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4 thoughts on “Elected officials turn on labor unions

  1. I’ve been beating this drum for years.. FINALLY others are listening and Chris Christie and others are winning the debate. Can’t wait until Wisconsin joins the ranks of fighting back the Unions and reducing the size and scope of Govt. It shows the influence of the TEA Party is spreading into the Dem’s as well. Which was the goal from the beginning.

    1. UP, not trying to attack, but just wanting to spark some discussion. What jobs do you deem as unnecessary in our state government and thus being deserving of cutting?

  2. Thanks Zach,
    I have chimed in a bit about county level employees, and alluded to city employees as well. Secondly, I don’t think all jobs with full Union benefits could be replaced as temporary, lower cost workers, who will not pose outrageous expenses upon the citizenry. But certainly some of them can. Not all of those jobs need to be career jobs.

    I would explore the State Constitution and look for exactly which responsibilities the State MUST provide…and then using that as my guide to remove excessive jobs, and govt. intervention.

    Here’s a few..and perhaps some of them have already been done:

    Virtually all cleaning, maintenance, Landscape, lawn care, drivers, cooks, prison guards, can and should be privatized or contracted. Similar reclassification of State Park ranger, DNR personnel. I would leave the State Patrol for now..but at some point the Counties Sheriff patrols, and State Troopers seem to be tripping over each other to raise money for their districts. I see no reason why the DMV employees, need to be union members or even Govt employees directly. Hire a private company, to run these systems and they can be privately hired.

    Perhaps I haven’t directly singled out a job…but I have changed the cost of the jobs dramatically short-term, to the tax-payers, but more importantly the long term savings is BILLIONS. In the coming years with satisfaction of prior commitments to State, County, and Municipal employees is so tremendous we need to have as great of savings as possible so we are not constantly under the gun. In a way it’s like the “Peace Dividend” That allowed Clinton to cut expenses on the military, after the fall of the Warsaw Pact.

    I would be creative and offer bonus’s to anyone that can come up with smoother ways of providing Govt. Services at lower costs, and greater efficiency. For instance the DMV now requires less personnel. For instance we can sit in our “jammies” and order license plate renewals, online. Many other services are available, as well.

    Let’s face it the biggest expense of Govt. is personnel. (I believe the number is 78%), Not just day to day, but career expense including benefits, which are far more generous than the private sector. But the Pension system is way “Beyond the Pale”. Govt. labor expenses are breaking the backs of Greece, Spain, Ireland, and many others.. To the point that the G-20 this week has asked for a truce on growing of govt. and new programs.

    Lot’s of folks have known the day was coming…that day is here! Social security is about to Kick our asses, Medicare too! We are going to have to pay these obligations and we can not justifiably raise taxes. So we need trimmer, smarter, govt. at every level. My suggestions BTW would likely result in much more rapid turnover in jobs within Govt. as the private sector would generally be better suited. it would allow for performance based review, rather Union contracts.

    This might shock you, coming from me; if the State Assembley, and State Senate, and Governor were to actually do this, and save a certain percentage, say 15%.. I would support giving them a raise of 15% for each of them. I do also think the elected officials should not be included in any pension funded or guaranteed with taxpayers money. But I would support them creating and independent one.

    Thanks for letting me use up a bi-zillion giga-bites in my response. I’ll look forward to the dialogue.

  3. UP- Thanks for the legitimate, thorough thoughts. I also don’t have a big problem with privatizing government jobs that don’t require much in expertise or oversight- and security for non-Courthouse buildings, janitorial services, and similar types of jobs are good candidates. Where I have a problem is when the Walkers of the world do it not out of cost-effectivenss or long-term budget savings, but because it scores political points and adheres to ideology.

    Benefit costs are not the boogeyman that the talk-show hosts make them out to be, but it is an issue, and moves such as those that Barrett did in Milwaukee in the last round of negotiations are a good step (i.e encouraging early retirement and having new hires pay a contribution toward pensions). I’m 35 and I harbor no illusions about Social Security or pensions, and I wouldn’t have a big issue with paying a small amount toward my retirement, even if I am equally skeptical of relying on the stock market (can you blame me after the last 10 years?).

    I just wish both unions and politicians would be more pragmatic on this issue, instead of stamping their feet and trying to “win” all the time, because both seem destined to lose in the long run as it stands now. And given that government jobs have been cut for the better part of the last 20 years, there really isn’t much fat to get at- they’ve pretty much found it all. We have to run government services smarter and better, and that’s not necessarily leaner. Too many people don’t understand the difference, and get subpar results.

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