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.

Big Labor Bosses Fume as Benefits of Wisconsin Reform Spread

Big Labor Bosses Fume as Benefits of Wisconsin Reform Spread

2011 All in All, 'a Hopeful Year For America' Union-label Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (left) is a bitter political foe of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s. Nevertheless, Mr. Barrett admits the governor’s Big Labor-detested Act 10 has helped his city get control over its budget. Credit: AP (Source:  November-December 2011 National Right to Work Committee Newsletter) Early this year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infuriated the union hierarchy, in his own state and nationally, when he introduced legislation (S.B.11) that would abolish forced union dues for teachers and many other public employees and also sharply limit the scope of government union monopoly bargaining. In response, teacher union bosses in Madison, Milwaukee, and other cities called teachers out on illegal strikes so they could stage angry protests at the state capitol and at legislators' residences. Government union militants issued dozens of death threats against Mr. Walker, members of his administration, and their families. Fourteen Big Labor-backed state senators, all Democrats, temporarily fled the state to deny the pro-S.B.11 Senate majority a quorum to pass the bill. In raucous demonstrations, union bigwigs and their radical followers actually suggested Mr. Walker's support for public employees' Right to Work made him similar to Mubarak, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, or even Satan. (This fall, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave his personal imprimatur to such ugly vituperation when he likened the Wisconsin governor to "Lucifer" in an interview published in Esquire magazine.) Thanks in part to public support mobilized by the National Right to Work Committee's e-mail and telecommunications activities, pro-Right to Work legislators were able to withstand the Big Labor fury and send S.B.11 to Gov. Walker's desk. On March 11, he signed into law the measure now known as Act 10. Forced-Unionism Supporters Pumped More Than $40 Million Into 2011 'Recall' Elections Act 10, formally known as the Budget Repair Act of 2011, took effect in June after fending off a union boss-inspired legal challenge in state court. Act 10 now protects most public employees from being fired for refusal to bankroll an unwanted union, but leaves untouched the forced-dues privileges of most public safety and transportation union bosses. "Despite its unfortunate exclusions, this law represents a step forward for public employees' free choice," said Committee President Mark Mix. "Not surprisingly, union bigwigs are out for revenge against Mr. Walker and the legislators who helped pass the Budget Repair Act." As part of its ongoing campaign to obtain vengeance and ultimately repeal the Budget Repair Act, early this year Big Labor launched petition campaigns for "recall" elections of many Senate supporters of the measure. In August, special recall elections in which pro-forced unionism candidates challenged six pro-Right to Work senators took place. Three union-label Democrat senators who had opposed Act 10, and temporarily fled the state to stop it from passing, also faced recall votes this summer. Union bigwigs and their Democratic allies pumped more than $40 million into the nine state Senate races. In the end, the unprecedentedly expensive legislative recall push by Big Labor enjoyed some success, as two of the six pro-Act 10 senators went down to defeat, while all three forced-unionism senators held on to their seats. However, the union political machine fell short of capturing the three seats it needed to relegate pro-Act 10 Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (Juneau) to minority status and reassume control of the chamber. Democratic Mayor: Under Act 10, Milwaukee Will Save 'At Least $25 Million a Year' And that same month, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Scott Walker's Democratic opponent in 2010 and a bitter foe of Act 10, publicly admitted that, thanks to this very legislation, his city would save "at least $25 million a year -- and potentially as much as $36 million in 2012 . . . ."

WI Gov. Walker's Recall Victory

WI Gov. Walker's Recall Victory "crucial to the future of the country"

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:  "collective bargaining in the public sector is not a right; it's an expensive entitlement." In USA Today, Nick Schultz goes to the mat for Scott Walker and his needed reforms in Wisconsin: The claim that "this presidential election is the most important election ever" is an enduring political cliché, and it's almost always wrong. Consider this year. It's likely the 2012 race for the White House won't even be the most important contest of this year, much less of all time. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is currently the target of a recall effort spearheaded by national public employee unions. If his opponents get enough signatures by Jan. 17, Wisconsin will hold a gubernatorial election this summer. The outcome is crucial to the future of the country. Wisconsin has emerged as a central battleground in the fight over the outsized political role played by, and the enormous privileges enjoyed by, public employee unions. The collective bargaining entitlement enables public sector workers to extract excessive compensation, benefits, and pension packages at the expense of taxpayers. In March, Walker signed what is now nationally famous legislation that reformed public employee collective bargaining. The bill was crucial to putting Wisconsin on a sustainable fiscal path. Guess what? It's working

WI Gov. Walker's Recall Victory "crucial to the future of the country"

WI Gov. Walker's Recall Victory "crucial to the future of the country"

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:  "collective bargaining in the public sector is not a right; it's an expensive entitlement." In USA Today, Nick Schultz goes to the mat for Scott Walker and his needed reforms in Wisconsin: The claim that "this presidential election is the most important election ever" is an enduring political cliché, and it's almost always wrong. Consider this year. It's likely the 2012 race for the White House won't even be the most important contest of this year, much less of all time. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is currently the target of a recall effort spearheaded by national public employee unions. If his opponents get enough signatures by Jan. 17, Wisconsin will hold a gubernatorial election this summer. The outcome is crucial to the future of the country. Wisconsin has emerged as a central battleground in the fight over the outsized political role played by, and the enormous privileges enjoyed by, public employee unions. The collective bargaining entitlement enables public sector workers to extract excessive compensation, benefits, and pension packages at the expense of taxpayers. In March, Walker signed what is now nationally famous legislation that reformed public employee collective bargaining. The bill was crucial to putting Wisconsin on a sustainable fiscal path. Guess what? It's working