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We are all familiar with the greedy, costly, competition and industry killer that labor unions have become over time. The quintessential example is Detroit and the automobile industry.
Potentially dwarfing their deleterious effects are the greedy public unions of the state and federal governments. These unions “negotiated” compensation and benefits that are often outrageous and far exceed what can be obtained in the private sector, the economic engine of our economy.
And guess who is stuck with the bills?
Us, the taxpayers of America!
Making matters far worse is that analysts have discovered that the state employee pension funds may be trillions of dollars in the red.
And legislation may be just around the corner that would further and quite unfairly burden (crush) the taxpayer with the responsibility for paying for these leviathan shortfalls as well.
We should all just say: NO WAY! WE WON’T PAY!
The Union Liable
Investor’s Business Daily 09/07/2010
Bailouts: State employee pension funds are trillions of dollars underwater. Some analysts believe taxpayers will be forced to make up the shortfall. But they shouldn't have to. They didn't create the problem.
A study from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University released last month found that public-employee pensions in as many as 31 states will be in deep trouble by 2030.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes the unfunded liability for these governments could be as high as $3 trillion. With a train wreck on the schedule, policymakers have a choice before them: They can either make the hard decisions, or simply go even deeper into taxpayers' pockets.
Given that their poor choices are what created the problem, they'll likely take the easy route, one researcher believes.
"Assuming states don't start defaulting on their bonds and other debts, it seems that taxpayers will be footing most of the multitrillion dollar bill for the pension promises that states have already made to workers," Kellogg associate professor Joshua Rauh said.
Stepping into this swamp is the Chamber of Commerce. It has plans to hold another meeting to discuss the problem and says this round will include representatives from organized labor, a group left out of a previous meeting on this same subject.
The Chamber is free to invite whom it will, but we don't see what the unions have to offer. Under what circumstances, if any, would unions agree to anything other than a taxpayer-funded bailout designed and implemented by Washington?
No, we can't think of any, either.
Simply put, such a bailout would be an outrage. Not every state is in trouble. Many have funded and managed their employees' pensions the right way. It's wrong for taxpayers in those states to be made liable by Washington for mistakes made by lawmakers in other states.
Bailouts also carry the risk of moral hazard. As long as state and local lawmakers can avoid facing the consequences of their poor policies, they will repeat their mistakes. Only when they are held responsible will they learn to avoid those errors.
While lawmakers are a big part of the problem, the unions that will have a seat at the Chamber's table are culpable as well.
They have demanded benefits far in excess of public employees' value and ensured that they would receive these benefits by pouring money and resources into Democrats' campaigns.
In California, for instance, firemen are retiring at 52 with $150,000-a-year pensions. With firefighters' life expectancies reaching beyond 82, according to California Public Employees' Retirement System data, they will receive pensions for nearly as many years as they worked.
Across the country in Florida, the story is just as appalling.
A 52-year-old police officer with 30 years on the job earning a final salary of $94,000 a year could collect a lump sum of $832,000, reports the Miami Herald, and an annual pension of $92,000.
No forward-thinking person would ever consider arrangements such as these as fair, practical or financially responsible. They are clearly unsustainable and have the potential to strangle an economy, even one as strong as our own.
Unions were never meant to be agents of economic ruin. But that's what they've become. Though weak in the private sector, they have enough strength in the public sector, where they were once prohibited, to cause severe harm. Rather than bail them out, Washington needs to find a way to make them pay for their runaway appetites.
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The now well publicized coordinated work slowdown by the unionized NY Dept. of Sanitation during the recent blizzard is emblematic of the unrestrained power and corruption of unionized public workers – whether they are at the municipal, state or even national level. In this most recent egregious example, the union bosses ordered the rank and file members to plow the NYC streets incompletely, inefficiently and slowly resulting in significant disruptions for millions, allegedly the unnecessary deaths of at least 2 individuals and incalculable millions of dollars from economic losses.
Unions at all levels, both in government and the private sector, have become too powerful, corrupt and unrestrained. Furthermore, they have become infinitely more expensive and less productive than non-unionize alternatives. Their outrageous compensation packages are a main reason for the tenuous financial predicaments that many states, particularly California, find themselves in. Unionized federal workers on average, for example, receive double the total pay and compensation package amounts what private sector workers receive – and it paid with our own tax dollars, adding insult to injury.
The leaders of a high percentage of the larger unions consider themselves to be outright socialists or communists and run their organizations as such. Their war chests from members’ dues are used almost exclusively to support radical, far-left agendas that often are anti-American. Political contributions and support go essentially 100% to the Democratic Party.
In order to further facilitate getting out country back on track socially, economically and financially, the powers and exclusive, outrageous rights of public and private sector unions must be drastically restricted or eliminated.
Big Labor's Snowmageddon Snit Fit
Michelle Malkin 12/31/2010
Diligent English farmers of old once shared a motto about the blessings of work: "Industry produces wealth, God speed the plow." Indolent New York City union officials who oversee snow removal apparently live by a different creed: Sloth enhances political power, Da Boss slow the plow.
Come rain or shine, wind, sleet or blizzard, Big Labor leaders always demonstrate perfect power-grabby timing when it comes to shafting taxpayers. Public-sector unions are all-weather vultures ready, willing and able to put special interest politics above the citizenry's health, wealth and safety. Confirming rumors that have fired up the frozen metropolis, the New York Post reported Thursday that government sanitation and transportation workers were ordered by union supervisors to oversee a deliberate slowdown of its cleanup program -- and to boost their overtime paychecks.
Why such vindictiveness? It's a cold-blooded temper tantrum against the city's long-overdue efforts to trim layers of union fat and move toward a more efficient, cost-effective privatized workforce.
Welcome to the Great Snowmageddon Snit Fit of 2010.
New York City Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Queens, told the Post that several brave whistleblowers confessed to him that they "were told (by supervisors) to take off routes (and) not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."
Denials and recriminations are flying like snowballs. But even as they scoff at reports of this outrageous organized job action, the city sanitation managers' unions openly acknowledge their grievances and "resentment" over job cuts. Stunningly, sanitation workers spilled the beans on how city plowers raised blades "unusually high" (which requires extra passes to get their work done) and refused to plow anything other than assigned streets (even if it meant leaving behind clogged routes to get to their blocks).
When they weren't sitting on their backsides, city plowers were caught on videotape maniacally destroying parked vehicles in a futile display of Kabuki Emergency Theater. It would be laugh-out-loud comedy if not for the death of at least one newborn whose parents waited for an ambulance that never came because of snowed-in streets.
This isn't a triumphant victory for social justice and workers' dignity. This is terrifying criminal negligence.
And it isn't the first time New York City sanitation workers have endangered residents' well-being. In the 1960s, a Teamsters-affiliated sanitation workers' strike led to trash fires, typhoid warnings and rat infestations, as 100,000 tons of rotting garbage piled up. Three decades later, a coordinated job action by city building-service workers and sanitation workers caused another public trash nuisance declared "dangerous to life and health" in the Big Apple.
New Yorkers could learn a thing or two from those of us who call Colorado Springs, Colo., home. We have no fear of being held hostage to a politically driven sanitation department -- because we have no sanitation department. We have no sanitation department because enlightened advocates of limited government in our town realized that competitive bidders in the private sector could provide better service at lower cost.
And we're not alone. As the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Michigan reported: "The largest study ever conducted on outsourced garbage collection, conducted by the federal government in the 1970s, reported 29 to 37 percent savings in cities with populations over 50,000. A 1994 study by the Reason Foundation discovered that the city of Los Angeles was paying about 30 percent more for garbage collection than its surrounding suburbs, in which private waste haulers were employed. A 1982 study of city garbage collection in Canada discovered an astonishing 50 percent average savings as a result of privatization."
Completely privatized trash collection means city residents don't get socked with the bill for fraudulently engineered overtime pay, inflated pensions and gold-plated health benefits in perpetuity -- not to mention the capital and operating costs of vehicles and equipment. The Colorado Springs model, as city councilman Sean Paige calls it, is a blueprint for how every city can cope with budget adversity while freeing itself from thuggish union threats when contracts expire or cuts are made. Those who dawdled on privatization efforts in better times are suffering dire, deadly consequences now.
Let the snow-choked streets of New York be a lesson for the rest of the nation: It's time to put the Big Chill on Big Labor-run municipal services.
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