Blame Pennsylania State Labor Law For Scranton Insolvency
Taxpayers in Scranton, Pa., never seem to catch a break. As an editorial appearing late last year in the “Electric City’s” principal newspaper (see the link below to read the whole thing) noted:
[Scrantonians] have endured a long string of major property tax increases, and the city is in the process of selling off its last major valuable asset, the Scranton Sewer Authority, to cover the cost of decades of pension mismanagement and union control of government.
And now Big Labor-dominated pension boards are moving to increase benefits for unionized government employee retires who “receive supposedly fixed benefits,” despite the fact that Scranton’s public pension plans are manifestly insolvent.
The editorial blasts current Mayor Bill Courtright and other city politicians for “ceding control of government to unions”:
And as the Courtright administration eagerly sells off the sewer system to pay pension obligation, Mayor Bill Courtright has not moved aggressively to diminish union control of the government because public safety unions are among his key political constituencies.
Courtright’s evident eagerness to coddle Big Labor at already overburdened taxpayers’ expense is indeed appalling. But the fact is, even if he and the city council had the best of intentions, their ability to defend taxpayers’ interests would be severely constrained by Pennsylvania labor statutes empowering government union bosses to wield monopoly-bargaining and forced-dues privileges over public employees.
Until state lawmakers in Harrisburg eliminate, or at least dramatically roll back, government union kingpins’ special privileges, local elected officials effectively won’t be able to get spending on public payrolls under control without first getting a green light from Big Labor. That’s not going to happen.
State lawmakers and executives in Harrisburg bear the lion’s share of the blame for Pennsylvania’s insolvent localities. And if the mess in Scranton and other cities and towns across the Keystone State is ever going to be cleaned up, state legislators will have to start the process by repealing government-sector monopoly bargaining and passing a state Right to Work law.