By Elois Zeanah
Unions are like bullies. They stage protests, sit-ins, name-calling, intimidation and sometimes violence in their demands for “entitlements” and power over legislators and taxpayers. Unions are accustomed to power and they get their power through collective bargaining.
This is why unions and President Obama’s political machine, Organizing for America, are staging union protests across the country. This could be a turning point in the balance of power. Heaven forbid that the new posse Republican governors coming up the hill might fight might for right!
Unions are alarmed that taxpayers, who make up the majority of “working families” and have been abused repeatedly for years, may no longer silently relinquish power to muscled unions despite their small size. After all, voters including some union members did vote for Republican governors in Democratic states because of their alarm over disastrous budget deficits and the mountain of debt that will bury their children and grandchildren. Unions refuse to put balanced budgets ahead of their “entitlements” and the next generation’s future! So out to the streets they spill!
What is “bullying”?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice Fact Sheet #FS-200127, “Bullying is a form of abuse. It involves repeated acts over time attempting to create or enforce one’s person’s (or group’s) power over another person (or group), thus an “imbalance of power”. This is why collective bargaining is so important to the teachers and legislators who play hooky from work when they don’t get their way. Like bullies, they want power over taxpayers.
How do Unions get Power over Politicians?
The power of unions comes from union dues, which total millions of dollars every year in every state. Union bosses in turn do not have to use this money to represent employees in the workplace but can use this “slush fund” to buy off politicians. And that’s what they do.
Ever wonder why President Obama is so pro-union and is helping fund the union protests in Wisconsin and other states? Money! Unions spent over $400 million to help him get elected in 2008. This is an abuse in itself against union members. Union dues can amount to $500 to $1000 a year. This is how unions have become so powerful despite their small numbers.
How are Unions Tied to Welfare and Bailouts?
Unions fight for power. When they own politicians, they own taxpayers’ dollars. Unions have become a “welfare state”. They expect taxpayers to not only give them more benefits than they receive themselves but to bail out their excessive pension plans and their health insurance plans which they contributed very little to.
These “entitlements” have become unfunded liabilities and are one of the biggest burdens of state budgets. Recent studies show that states have approximately a $3.4 trillion shortfall.[i] The Washington Post explains: “Public employees often enjoy more generous pension and health-care benefits, and these are at the foot of the long-term budget problems confronting many states.”[ii]
- California’s “annual retirement costs for public workers have risen to about $6 billion a year, from $1 billion in 1990 and $2 billion in 200.”[iii]
- New Jersey’s pensions could go bankrupt by 2020.
- Wisconsin “faces an immediate $137 million budget shortfall and a $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years.”[iv]
- Michigan: “About 70 percent of local districts’ operating budgets are consumed by compensation for teachers, and every detail of this compensation is dictated by collective bargaining agreements.”[v]
And the list of states in budget trouble goes on.
Why should unions receive welfare from taxpayers while they’re receiving larger salaries than the average worker in the first place? Why should taxpayers bailout unions’ pension and insurance plans while having to pay for their own? Unless politicians find the spine to deal with unions, taxpayers will be forced to bailout unions retirement plans because these contracts are not funded!
Union “Entitlements” Hurt the Younger Generation
It’s criminal that politicians promise unions benefits (giveaways at taxpayer expense) that they know are not paid for to get unions’ backing to get elected and when they know these entitlements will bankrupt states. But so what? Someone else will have to deal with these promises down the road after they’ve left the accident scene. Young people will have to pay higher taxes and live on less than their parents to bailout unions’ unfunded pensions and health insurance plans!
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels talks about “compacts with the young”. He stated, “If a foreign army invaded, we would set aside all secondary disputes and run to the ramparts. We must bring that air of urgency to the spending crisis. It is our generational assignment.”
Is President Obama right that Changing Collective Bargaining is an “assault on unions”?
Who’s assaulting whom? Unions are abusing taxpayers, not the other way around. This statement by President Obama is also hypocritical in that it ignores the fact that even he as CEO of the federal government has not allowed federal unions to collectively bargain for wages and benefits.
“Washington pols aren’t about to let unions run their town….On the state level, union campaign dollars are primarily contingent upon Democrats agreeing to allow public-employee unions to allow public-employee union to milk taxpayers dry. On the federal level, union dollars are primarily contingent upon Democrats agreeing to pervert federal laws and institutions so that private-sector unions get special privileges over employers and nonunion companies – consider project-labor agreements, Davis-Bacon and card check.”[vi]
In closing, why do unions insist on keeping their power of collective bargaining? “Innocent Americans assume that unions use collective bargaining solely to obtain better pay and benefits. Not exactly.”[vii]
The hidden agenda is to insist on retaining the power unions have over taxpayers and the state. Unions are hugely responsible for state governments going bankrupt and this will not change until states have flexibility in balancing their budgets and the ability “to contain the excesses of the past – to enable the modern welfare state to live within its means”.[viii] Let’s hope that posse makes it to the top of the hill.
[ii] The Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
[iii] “public-Pension Fight Surfaces in California,” by Jim Carlton, February 19, 2011
[iv] “Wisconsin’s Newest Progressive” by John Fund, Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2011
[v] Mackinaw Center for Public Policy Newsletter, summer 2010
[vii] Wall Street Journal opinion “Union Power for Thee, But Not for Me,” by Kimberley A. Strassel, February 25, 2011
[viii] “Wisconsin’s Newest Progressive” by John Fun, Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2011