Do Government Union Bosses Have ‘Veto Power Over Which Options Are Put Before Voters’?

Last week, American Interest blogger Walter Russell Mead commented on an extraordinary unfolding battle in the Golden State.  As Mead explained in a March 6 post (linked below), the battle is a consequence of San Diego voters’ overwhelming approval last summer of Proposition B, “a ballot measure to reform a pension system whose cost had quintupled in 12 years, eating up revenue for other activities.”

A coalition of government union bosses and their lawyers are now fighting to get Prop. B, which modifies the pension benefits of new hires only, overturned.  Big Labor contends that San Diego officials were obliged to “negotiate in good faith” with public employees’ union monopoly-bargaining agents prior to placing Prop. B on the ballot.  In other words, as Mead puts it, union bosses “believe they should have veto power over which options are put before voters.”

Government union chieftains’ ongoing efforts to squash Prop. B luridly illustrate how the California labor laws handing these men and women monopoly-bargaining and forced-union-dues privileges over public employees are in practice as well as in theory “incompatible” with popular government.  In a prophetic 1974 article for the Wake Forest Law Review, labor law professor Sylvester Petro warned this would be the case, explaining: “[T]he control of public employees . . . carries with it the power to bring local politicians to heel and the general public, especially in big cities, to its knees.”

Mead is more circumspect about the impact of government unionism, but the picture he paints is alarming enough:

The result is that the consumers of government services . . . are getting a raw deal. They are paying too much money in taxes to support a system of government that, however outstanding and dedicated some people in it may be, simply cannot deliver acceptable services at a reasonable cost.

Blue Civil War: The Battle for California | Via Meadia