Bloated State Budgets Thanks to Big Labor Contracts

Bloated State Budgets Thanks to Big Labor Contracts

The Fiscal Times' Liz Peeks investigates how union budgets have busted state budgets and asks "Is it possible that the real divide in the United States today is between unions and… everybody else?." The answer, unfortunately for taxpayers, is yes. From Bloated Union Contracts Have Busted State Budgets: Consider the issues making headlines: education reform, busted state budgets, the battle to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, free trade agreements,Occupy Wall Street, the fight to make Indiana a right-to-work state. What these stories have in common is the waning influence of organized labor and the all-out battle by union leaders to hold on. Take the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative. Education Secretary Duncan recently warned that several states, including New York, might not receive monies earlier awarded through that program because they have not followed through on required reforms. The stumbling block? Teacher evaluations. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out new education initiatives in his recent State of the City address, among them a proposal to give $20,000 raises to the best teachers, in return for changing the way educators are evaluated. Today, teachers are rated either satisfactory or unsatisfactory; 97 percent fall in the former category. UFT President Michael Mulgrew immediately denounced the plan, describing Mr. Bloomberg as “lost in his own fantasy world of education.” Mr. Mulgrew may be the one living in a fantasy world. Pressure to boost our country’s public schools is one of the rare priorities on both Republicans’ and Democrats’ to-do lists. Americans are appalled by our plummeting world education rankings, and by our graduates’ lack of preparedness for today’s job market. While the decline in our schools stems from a number of sources, most reformers – including Secretary Duncan – see the intransigence of unions on the “job for life” rules that perpetuate mediocre teaching as a major roadblock to progress. Likewise, the recession has forced politicians to confront bloated public employee contracts that have torpedoed many states’ budgets. Estimated at over $3 trillion, the underfunding of state and local pension plans has been described as one of our most serious fiscal problems. Voters now understand that unless elected officials overhaul pay and benefits packages they will face soaring taxes or reduced services.

Feds probe union pension scam

Feds probe union pension scam

Federal law enforcement officials have issued subpoenas and opened a criminal investigation to determine how union officials were able to work one day as a substitute teacher yet be eligible for $100,000 pension plan -- for life. From the Chicago Tribune: Federal authorities have begun a criminal investigation into how nearly a dozen union officials became eligible for inflated city pensions, according to subpoenas obtained by the Tribune and WGN-TV through an open-records request. The Chicago municipal employees and laborers pension funds each received subpoenas from a federal grand jury in October seeking "records pursuant to an official criminal investigation." The request seeks documentation on 11 labor leaders who appeared in reports from a joint Tribune/WGN-TV investigation. The reports focused on a 1991 law that allowed union leaders who once worked for the city to receive credit in public pension plans for their private union work. When they retire, the union officials' pensions aren't based on their old city paychecks but on their much higher union salaries. That opened the door for them to land public pensions that far exceeded their pay as city employees — even as they continued to earn lucrative salaries from their unions. At least eight union officials named in the subpoena who either receive city pensions or are eligible for them also earned credit in union pension funds for the same period of work, despite a state law that was supposed to prevent that. The joint investigation found that some of those labor leaders were participating in up to three pension funds at the same time, accruing retirement benefits that reached as high $500,000 a year.

Sick of being FORCED to pay for union bosses' politics? Right To Work is the Answer

Terry Bowman, a UAW member,  writes in the The Detroit News that to end forced-dues-funded politics "the best and easiest solution is to pass a Right To Work law."  And, he is right.  The surest way to end compulsory-dues for politics is to end compulsory-dues. From Mr. Bowman's editorial: A worker's constitutional rights seem to take a back seat to the political privileges of the union. Earlier this year, UAW local 898 officials displayed their political views for everyone who drove by the union hall. "Recall Gov. Snyder, sign up here!" was the message glaring from the parking lot sign for all passers-by to see. A recent Harris poll shows that 60 percent of union households say that unions are too involved in politics, and we know that 40 percent or more of union households vote Republican. Unfortunately, union members who disagree with these partisan political attacks are forced, as a condition of employment, to financially support this message. Federal laws are supposed to restrict union officials from using regular dues for political purposes. Regrettably, it still happens all the time. In a 1988 Supreme Court decision called Communication Workers of America vs. Beck, unions were forbidden to collect full union dues from non-members; only those dues that are supposed to reflect the true cost to the union as a collective bargaining agent. In other words, members could choose to resign their union membership and then only pay what is called the "agency fee" to keep their job. Obviously, there are problems with this ruling. Workers who wish to exercise these rights have to jump through hoops, and they are then persecuted and ridiculed on the job for doing so. The agency fee also includes all the educational and subjective political activities that unions engage in. Union newsletters and magazines are full of political propaganda, and union officials travel the country spewing hateful venom and a destructive worldview, yet their salaries are paid for with regular union dues. And there is so much more.

Sick of being FORCED to pay for union bosses' politics? Right To Work is the Answer

Terry Bowman, a UAW member,  writes in the The Detroit News that to end forced-dues-funded politics "the best and easiest solution is to pass a Right To Work law."  And, he is right.  The surest way to end compulsory-dues for politics is to end compulsory-dues. From Mr. Bowman's editorial: A worker's constitutional rights seem to take a back seat to the political privileges of the union. Earlier this year, UAW local 898 officials displayed their political views for everyone who drove by the union hall. "Recall Gov. Snyder, sign up here!" was the message glaring from the parking lot sign for all passers-by to see. A recent Harris poll shows that 60 percent of union households say that unions are too involved in politics, and we know that 40 percent or more of union households vote Republican. Unfortunately, union members who disagree with these partisan political attacks are forced, as a condition of employment, to financially support this message. Federal laws are supposed to restrict union officials from using regular dues for political purposes. Regrettably, it still happens all the time. In a 1988 Supreme Court decision called Communication Workers of America vs. Beck, unions were forbidden to collect full union dues from non-members; only those dues that are supposed to reflect the true cost to the union as a collective bargaining agent. In other words, members could choose to resign their union membership and then only pay what is called the "agency fee" to keep their job. Obviously, there are problems with this ruling. Workers who wish to exercise these rights have to jump through hoops, and they are then persecuted and ridiculed on the job for doing so. The agency fee also includes all the educational and subjective political activities that unions engage in. Union newsletters and magazines are full of political propaganda, and union officials travel the country spewing hateful venom and a destructive worldview, yet their salaries are paid for with regular union dues. And there is so much more.

Public Servants' Right to Work in Jeopardy

Public Servants' Right to Work in Jeopardy

The experience of state after state shows that public-sector compulsory unionism as well as private-sector compulsory unionism devours job- and income-creating opportunities for taxpaying businesses and employees. Credit: Michael Ramirez/Investors Business Daily  Union Bosses Aim to Kill Recent Buckeye State Reform Next Month (Source: October 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Over the past decade, the citizens of forced-unionism Ohio have been afflicted with one of the worst-performing state economies in the country. Across the U.S. as a whole, despite the severe recent recession, private employers' inflation-adjusted outlays for employee compensation (including wages, salaries, bonuses and benefits) did increase from 2000 to 2010, by an average of 4.3%. And many states fared much better than that. In the 22 states with Right to Work laws on the books protecting both private- and public-sector employees from being fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union, real private-sector employee compensation grew by an aggregate 11.3%. Private employees in 20 of the 22 Right to Work states experienced 2000-2010 compensation growth greater than the national average. Unfortunately, in the 28 states without Right to Work laws on the books, private-sector outlays for employee compensation rose only by a combined 0.7%, after adjusting for inflation. Thirteen of the 14 states with the lowest compensation growth lack a Right to Work law. Ohio was one of just five states with negative real private-sector compensation growth over the last decade. In 2010, Ohio's business expenditures for private employee compensation were 6.6% less than they had been in 2000. Region, Job Mix Can't Account For Buckeye State's Shrinking Private Employee Compensation When confronted with such data, apologists for the forced-unionism policies that prevailed across the board in Ohio for decades until this year try to explain them away by blaming the Buckeye State's location in the U.S. Midwest or its historically high manufacturing density for its abysmal economic record. But such excuses won't wash.

Public Servants' Right to Work in Jeopardy

Public Servants' Right to Work in Jeopardy

The experience of state after state shows that public-sector compulsory unionism as well as private-sector compulsory unionism devours job- and income-creating opportunities for taxpaying businesses and employees. Credit: Michael Ramirez/Investors Business Daily  Union Bosses Aim to Kill Recent Buckeye State Reform Next Month (Source: October 2011 NRTWC Newsletter) Over the past decade, the citizens of forced-unionism Ohio have been afflicted with one of the worst-performing state economies in the country. Across the U.S. as a whole, despite the severe recent recession, private employers' inflation-adjusted outlays for employee compensation (including wages, salaries, bonuses and benefits) did increase from 2000 to 2010, by an average of 4.3%. And many states fared much better than that. In the 22 states with Right to Work laws on the books protecting both private- and public-sector employees from being fired for refusal to pay dues or fees to an unwanted union, real private-sector employee compensation grew by an aggregate 11.3%. Private employees in 20 of the 22 Right to Work states experienced 2000-2010 compensation growth greater than the national average. Unfortunately, in the 28 states without Right to Work laws on the books, private-sector outlays for employee compensation rose only by a combined 0.7%, after adjusting for inflation. Thirteen of the 14 states with the lowest compensation growth lack a Right to Work law. Ohio was one of just five states with negative real private-sector compensation growth over the last decade. In 2010, Ohio's business expenditures for private employee compensation were 6.6% less than they had been in 2000. Region, Job Mix Can't Account For Buckeye State's Shrinking Private Employee Compensation When confronted with such data, apologists for the forced-unionism policies that prevailed across the board in Ohio for decades until this year try to explain them away by blaming the Buckeye State's location in the U.S. Midwest or its historically high manufacturing density for its abysmal economic record. But such excuses won't wash.