Big Labor's Watershed Moment

Big Labor's Watershed Moment

Edward Morrisey looks at the impact of recent victories in Wisconsin and Indiana arguing that this signals a watershed moment for reform: Have we reached a watershed moment for the labor movement? Earlier this year, Indiana became the first Rust Belt state to enact right-to-work laws. Arizona made their already-restrictive environment even tougher. And now, after targeting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and other republican lawmakers for more than a year, the labor movement has come up empty. In Wisconsin, Walker’s reforms of public-sector collective bargaining were at issue. Democrats nationwide allied themselves with the unions in pushing for recall elections, and liberal pundits promised they would stop this encroachment on labor prerogatives and send a lesson to other governors around the nation. In that, at least, they succeeded, but not in the way the unions had hoped. Despite the high-profile campaign waged by the labor movement in Wisconsin -- where unions have a long history of support – Wisconsin voters reaffirmed Walker as their governor. In fact, Walker won 125,000 more votes in the special recall election than he did in 2010, which was known as a wave election for Tea Party conservatives. He bested the same opponent, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, by an even wider margin of seven points rather than the five-point victory 19 months earlier. The results exposed labor’s weakness rather than strength. While it might not encourage other states to take drastic action to reduce the collective bargaining power, the impotence of the unions in what had been the heart of the progressive Midwest certainly won’t convince anyone not to try. Thanks to the millions spent by the unions in a failed attempt at undoing the 2010 election, Big Labor might not have the resources to fight on this scale again, especially with the national election on the horizon. Nor was this the only big loss that unions took on Tuesday night. In California, where public-employee unions have exerted a strong influence on politics for decades, two cities defied the PEUs to pass badly-needed pension reforms. That may

Big Labor 'Medicine' Making Illinois Sicker

Big Labor 'Medicine' Making Illinois Sicker

Union-label Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has run up his state's public spending and debt to Greece-like levels. Credit: www.chicagonow.com Compulsory-Unionism Stronghold State Drowning in Taxes and Debt (source: National Right To Work Committee February 2012 Newsletter) In early 2012, as the national economy continues struggling to recover from the severe 2008-2009 national recession, many states are in financial dire straits. But Big Labor-dominated Illinois is very arguably the worst fiscal basket case of all. Early last month, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Illinois debt to A2, finding its creditworthiness to be the worst of any of the 50 states, including even government union-controlled California. In its report, Moody's specifically berated Illinois's "weak management practices." On January 22, a Chicago Tribune editorial observed: "Deadbeat Illinois owes some $8.5 billion in old bills, tax refunds, employee health insurance and interfund borrowing debts. That's roughly one-fourth the state's spending this year from its general funds." Over and above that, Illinois has "nearly $200 billion in debts and unfunded obligations." Burdened by labor policies authorizing union monopoly bargaining and forced union dues and fees in both the private and public sectors and a tax and regulatory climate that are hostile to private-sector job and income growth, the Prairie State has been in trouble for a long time. Big Labor 'Cure-All' For Rapidly Rising Government Debt: Massive Tax Hikes But Illinois's outlook grew even bleaker after union-label Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and like-minded legislators acted in January 2011 to put the state, in the governor's words, "back on sound fiscal footing."

Big Labor 'Medicine' Making Illinois Sicker

Big Labor 'Medicine' Making Illinois Sicker

Union-label Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has run up his state's public spending and debt to Greece-like levels. Credit: www.chicagonow.com Compulsory-Unionism Stronghold State Drowning in Taxes and Debt (source: National Right To Work Committee February 2012 Newsletter) In early 2012, as the national economy continues struggling to recover from the severe 2008-2009 national recession, many states are in financial dire straits. But Big Labor-dominated Illinois is very arguably the worst fiscal basket case of all. Early last month, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Illinois debt to A2, finding its creditworthiness to be the worst of any of the 50 states, including even government union-controlled California. In its report, Moody's specifically berated Illinois's "weak management practices." On January 22, a Chicago Tribune editorial observed: "Deadbeat Illinois owes some $8.5 billion in old bills, tax refunds, employee health insurance and interfund borrowing debts. That's roughly one-fourth the state's spending this year from its general funds." Over and above that, Illinois has "nearly $200 billion in debts and unfunded obligations." Burdened by labor policies authorizing union monopoly bargaining and forced union dues and fees in both the private and public sectors and a tax and regulatory climate that are hostile to private-sector job and income growth, the Prairie State has been in trouble for a long time. Big Labor 'Cure-All' For Rapidly Rising Government Debt: Massive Tax Hikes But Illinois's outlook grew even bleaker after union-label Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and like-minded legislators acted in January 2011 to put the state, in the governor's words, "back on sound fiscal footing."

Union Bosses Raid Pensions

Union Bosses Raid Pensions

Taxpayers are footing the bill and business is getting the blame for the pension crisis in California but the real culprit is the union bosses of the Golden State, the Investors Business Daily reports: Reports from a variety of media reveal California state employees are spiking their pensions to stratospheric levels, leaving nothing for their brother employees. Sorry, can't blame Wall Street for this one. In a laudable instance of the mainstream media doing its job, the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, Bloomberg News and City Journal have all exposed "pension spiking" by California public employees. Basically, they manipulate rigid unionized pay and promotion systems to raise their pensions well above what they earned during their working years. The Los Angeles Times on Saturday pieced together tough-to-get data from Kern and Ventura counties and found a fiscal horror story: In Kern, 77% of public employees with pensions greater than $100,000 actually get more than they did during their working lives. In Ventura, the figure is 84%. Kern has a $761 million pension shortfall, in part due to the practice. Both the practice and the lack of transparency are signs of a rotten system. Bigger counties like San Diego and Los Angeles also permit pension spiking.

The Greece Next Door to Wisconsin

The Greece Next Door to Wisconsin

It is worth remembering that Illinois has become the belly of the beast when it comes to pleasing the union bosses at expense of the taxpayer.  Even after raising taxes at the demand of union activists, the state is still suffering through an economic crisis.  This is the point that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been making -- we can't balance state budgets without reforming the power of the union bosses.  The Wall Street Journal notices the difference between Illinois and Wisconsin in a recent Op-Ed: Run up spending and debt, raise taxes in the naming of balancing the budget, but then watch as deficits rise and your credit-rating falls anyway. That's been the sad pattern in Europe, and now it's hitting that mecca of tax-and-spend government known as Illinois. Though too few noticed, this month Moody's downgraded Illinois state debt to A2 from A1, the lowest among the 50 states. This wasn't supposed to happen. Only a year ago, Governor Pat Quinn and his fellow Democrats raised individual income taxes by 67% and the corporate tax rate by 46%. They did it to raise $7 billion in revenue, as the Governor put it, to "get Illinois back on fiscal sound footing" and improve the state's credit rating. It's worth contrasting this grim picture with that of Wisconsin north of the border. Last winter Madison was occupied by thousands of union protesters trying to bully legislators to defeat Republican Governor Scott Walker's plan. The reforms passed anyway. In contrast to the Illinois downgrade, Moody's has praised Mr. Walker's budget as "credit positive for Wisconsin," adding that the money-saving reforms bring "the state's finances closer to a structural budgetary balance." As a result, Wisconsin jumped in Chief Executive magazine's 2011 ranking of each state's business climate—moving to 17th from 41st. Illinois dropped to 48th from 45th as ranked by the nation's top CEOs.

Taxpayers to Realize More Losses on GM Bailout

Taxpayers to Realize More Losses on GM Bailout

Meanwhile, United Autoworkers Union Bosses Pocket $3.4 Billion (Source: May 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) In late 2008, GOP President George W. Bush "loaned" a total of $19.4 billion in federal taxpayers' money to the Big Labor-controlled General Motors Corporation (GM). Mr. Bush assured taxpayers they would get their money back. But by the spring of 2009, we learned we would never get back any of the money Mr. Bush had handed over to GM shortly before he left office. His successor as President, Democrat Barack Obama, announced GM would never have to settle up with taxpayers. President Obama simultaneously earmarked an additional $30 billion in taxpayers' money to by-then bankrupt GM. In exchange, taxpayers got a 61% stake in the money-losing company. Echoing Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama and his advisors insisted that, when the government eventually sold off its whole stake in GM, taxpayers would get the entire $30 billion back, and perhaps even reap a profit. Just last August, the President said it again. He told a CNBC interviewer: "We expect taxpayers will get back all the money my Administration has invested in GM." 'Government Officials Are Willing to Take the Loss'