Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quick Hits Regarding Unions

Here are a few article qoutes and links that I think are instructive:

A. It is time for all Senators and State Representatives to do what is right, instead of being scared of or beholden to the government employee unions. This article chronicles several attempts to control costs that have been derailed by the public sector unions.

“Michigan has the ninth-most heavily unionized state and local government workforces among the states. In a recent article about the rise of public-sector unionism, New York professors Fred Siegel and Dan DiSalvo described how government employee unions are "bankrupting states and municipalities" because they "achieve influence on both sides of the bargaining table by making campaign contributions and organizing get-out-the-vote drives to elect politicians who then control the negotiations over their pay, benefits, and work rules.

In Michigan, one can add preventing the legislature from adopting reasonable public employee pay and pension reforms to that list.” Analysis: Government Employee Political Clout Obstructs Budget Reform, April 13, 2010

B. Here is some insight into what is happening with SEIU, one of the strongest government employee unions in the country and how they are extracting wealth from taxpayers and redistributing it to government workers.

“It is no coincidence that under Stern’s tenure the number of government union members surpassed the number of private sector union members for the first time in our nation’s history. There are two reasons for this: 1) Unions kill private sector jobs, and unionized companies earn profits 15% lower than those of comparable non-union firms. This makes unionized firms less competitive, which is why unionized manufacturing jobs fell 75% between 1977 and 2008, while non-union manufacturing INCREASED 6% over that same time. 2) Government union jobs face no competition. Public sector unionization has exploded in the past decade as leaders like Stern realized politics paid much better than the free market. Under Stern’s leadership, SEIU has become the nation’s second largest government union with over half of its membership drawing a paycheck on the taxpayers dime.” Morning Bell: Andy Stern’s America The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. April 13, 2010

C. More political payback from Obama for the unions' support in the 2008 elections. Elections to approve a new union would only require a majority of those voting, in contrast to prior law which required a majority of workers affected. Rule change aids union workers in airline, rail industries, from The Detroit News, May 11, 2010

D. Responsible contractor" provisions must be rejected, whether they be in federal law, state law or local municipality policies, as they drive up taxpayer costs, the last thing we need now with stretched public budgets. A "responsible contractor" policy allows bidders that provide higher pay and richer benefits for their workers to get an advantage in winning government contracts. In practice, the plan would favor firms whose workers are members of unions. Editorial: Fed contracts should favor best price, not unions, from the Detroit News, March 16, 2010

E. “The government class enjoys higher salaries, richer benefits and far better job security than the citizens they are supposed to be serving. . . . The 'public servants' have become the masters over taxpayers.” Good times still roll for government employees, from the Detroit Free Press .

F. We will not have a sustainable long-term budget plan without addressing public employee wage and benefit issues. The legislature, meanwhile, was not able to get the 2/3 vote needed in the State Senate to rescind the 3% raise for unionized state employees. With no Democrat support in the Senate, the Senate could not send the measure to the Democrat controlled House of Representatives, where it would have been even harder to get the necessary 2/3 vote. If we can’t even block pay raises to public sector union employees, is there hope to get cuts? State pay issue will get worse, from the Detroit News, April 2, 2010

G. “Public Labor Union claims of $700 million in concessions by state employees are a comparison of itself to itself. It pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by private sector taxpayers in Michigan that are being asked to foot the bill for their unrealistic benefit and pay levels. They have been shielded and protected from reality for far too long and it is a luxury that taxpayers in this state can no longer afford.” $700 Million in Concessions By State Workers? Really? Where Did That Number Come From? From the NFIB, March 18, 2010.

H. “State Sen. Nancy Cassis has introduced legislation in Lansing that would allow localities to set up what might be called “right-to-work zones. . . Among nearly all private-sector workers, labor relations are governed by federal law: the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA is fairly exhaustive, and the courts have consistently interpreted it as “occupying the field” of private-sector labor relations, leaving very little room for states to act. But there’s one big exception carved out of federal labor law: States can regulate union membership and agency fees. This is where state right-to-work laws come into play.

“Right-to-work” prohibits unions and employers from signing contracts that force workers to join or financially support a union, leaving union membership and support to the conscience of individual workers.”

This local approach to Right-to-Work could be the means to bit by bit improve the image of the state as anti-business/anti-jobs, and make the state more competitive. Local Right-to-Work: Yes we can! Well, maybe. If we set it up just right..., October 28, 2009.

I. “Place the blame for the loss of the much-needed [Race to the Top] grants squarely on the Michigan Education Association. It sabotaged the state's application at every step. . . . But real change in Michigan's public schools will only come when parents and others concerned about the future of the state decide they've had enough of the Michigan Education Association's obstructionism. “ MEA's sabotage kept Michigan out of Race to Top finalists, From The Detroit News, March 7, 2010.

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