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A Small Victory Against Public-Sector Unions

22 Jun

The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that public-sector unions cannot take special fees from “dissenting members” or “nonmembers” for the purpose of effecting political action.  The challenge was brought against the SEIU by some “dissenters” who had had additional fees taken out of their pay a few years back.

 “This aggressive use of power by the SEIU to collect fees from nonmembers is indefensible,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., speaking for the court’s majority. “When a public-sector union imposes a special assessment or dues increase, the union … may not exact any funds from nonmembers without their affirmative consent.”

“This case is pretty revolutionary because it says we’re moving from an opt-out system to an opt-in system,” said Paul Secunda, a law professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “It will make it harder for unions to raise money and fight for their values.”

 Full text of the article I used as source may be found at



Public Union Losses in WI and CA

13 Jun

Steve Greenhut has written a good account of the public union reactions to losses at the polls in Wisconsin and California (mostly about California).  Published on City Journal.  In this piece, Greenhut discusses what the unions plan to do about these losses, including court challenges.  See it here:

Excerpts from that piece:  [Bolding is mine]

The nation’s public-sector unions have become so emboldened by years of political victories, and so insulated from voter concerns, that they apparently never considered the possibility that voters, given a clear choice, would turn against them. Last Tuesday was as close as the nation gets to a clarifying election, the result of union overreach in Wisconsin and union intransigence in California. “Election results in California and Wisconsin this week are being viewed as a turning point for organized labor—to its detriment,” reported the Los Angeles Times, echoing a story line repeated nationwide.

The biggest news, of course, came from Wisconsin, where angry and increasingly militant public-sector unions tried to recall the governor, lieutenant governor, and three state senators . . . . Governor Scott Walker pulled out a strong seven-point victory . . . . The California results were almost as impressive, as San Jose voters approved a pension-reform measure with 70 percent of the vote.

 Meantime, San Diego voters also overwhelmingly approved serious pension reform, as well as a measure banning union-exclusive “project-labor agreements” that inflate public-sector contracting costs by keeping out non-union competition. The top vote-winner in the city’s mayoral primary was pension-reform advocate Carl DeMaio.

So the results in deep-blue California are clear. Even in Democratic Party bastions, such as San Jose, voters said “yes” to pension reform and “no” to union priorities by an overwhelming majority. As I wrote previously for City Journal, San Jose’s Reed made the progressive case for pension reform: he argued that the government programs liberal Democrats care about are endangered by a pension burden that now consumes 20 percent of the city’s general-fund budget. He distinguished between union Democrats and progressives, a distinction that will serve pension reformers well as proposals go forward in blue states.

. . . this much is certain: the unions can no longer count on winning in the court of public opinion.

[End of excerpts]

Personally, I agree with FDR, at least one of the heads of the AFL-CIO, and millions of others who believe that public employee unions should not be allowed.  One sees many lengthy arguments as to why they should not be allowed (or SHOULD be, for that matter), but to a straightforward guy like me, it just seems like a SEVERE conflict of interest, with public employees bargaining with those government officials who seek their votes – talk about a win-win – give the unions more money/benefits and they will give you campaign dollars and votes.

Your thoughts?

The Democratic Party Case for Pension Control — Cool!

9 Jun

The Democratic Mayor of San Jose CA, Chuck Reed,  has made some tough decisions about public employee pensions, in spite of union opposition (and opposition from other Democrats, as well).  His position could be a big winner for Democrats, if more would embrace it.  Here are a few excerpts from a piece in City Journal by Steven Greenhut, along with a link to the full essay.

Excerpts:  [Bolding is mine; also the italics]

Reed numbers among a small but growing group of California Democrats making the “progressive case” for pension reform: if local governments spend so much money on retiree pensions, they won’t have enough left to provide the government services that liberals care so much about. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pension advisor, David Crane, also a Democrat, has told the legislature that one cannot be a progressive without embracing pension reform: ignoring it imperils government services. It’s no surprise, then, that Crane views Reed as the most “courageous” leader in California.

In California and other blue states, serious pension reform cannot happen without Democratic leadership. . . .

“There’s a difference between being a liberal and progressive and being a union Democrat,” Reed explained. “If you drain money out of services and pour them into retirements, people suffer.” He said that San Jose has shut down community centers and libraries and doesn’t have enough police and fire services. He showed me an op-ed by Councilman Sam Liccardo, a liberal Democrat who represents downtown San Jose. Wrote Liccardo: “Although conservatives have long called for pension and arbitration reform, I supported these measures not in spite of my progressive values, but because of them. Progressive advocacy for affordable housing, environmental stewardship, marriage equality and immigrant rights doesn’t preclude the pragmatic pursuit of fiscal reform.”

Reed also is dismayed by how unionization has corrupted public service: “My experience with unions, it’s always about money, not about the public. . . . It’s all about money, about enhancing an already generous retirement. . . . The focus on money is different than a focus on public service.” He argues that the reform issue doesn’t break down across ideological lines, but between unions and everybody else—and he’s right.

[End of excerpts.]

 I consider myself a conservative, and certainly don’t want to gush too much about a liberal reformer, but this guy has it right.  If Democrats would take up the banner of pension control in the cause of being able to provide other services important to the good of the entire public, they would have a killer message.

 Your thoughts?

Wisconsin Recalls, etc.

6 Jun

I was exceptionally pleased that the Wisconsin voters declared FOR fiscal responsibility over union/Democratic-Party thug-ism.  Maybe this victory for fiscal responsibility will inspire other states to get their houses in order — could it inspire the federal government to get ITS house in order?  Nah — I doubt it.

Excerpts from the Weekly Standard:  [Bolding is mine]

“Remember how this whole thing started. Early last year, when Walker proposed his budget, Democratic state senators fled the state to keep it from coming to a vote. While union members were staging sit-ins and protests in the state capitol, the actual elected representatives of the people of Wisconsin were hiding in Illinois . . . . that’s just insane.

“But it was just the beginning. Instead of recognizing that they had a losing hand, making the best of it, and regrouping, Wisconsin Democrats kept doubling down. They went to court just to keep the budget bill from being published. Then they went to court to dispute the bill . . . .  Then, when they lost at the state supreme court, they tried to recall the supreme court judges who voted against them. When they lost those recall votes, they tried to recall the governor himself.

“Remember, we’re not talking about , , , a bunch of activists here. We’re talking about the actual Democratic party professionals—the men and women who get paid to be ruthlessly clear-eyed about political reality. What they’ve done over the last 18 months constitutes political malpractice. . . .

“You expect that sort of thing from activists and partisans. The professionals are supposed to know better. In Wisconsin, they didn’t.”

I couldn’t agree more.  This was, simply put, just a power grab by the public unions and the Democratic politicians.  Fortunately, in spite of the Herculean effort put forth by those entities, the people’s common sense won out in the end.

Someone want to give a different view?

Unions and Central Planning

31 May

John Stossel wrote a good op-ed piece a couple days ago entitled “Improving Life for Workers.  I recommend it.  John is the host of a show called “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network, and has authored  “Give Me a Break” and “Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity.”  :

 The following are brief excerpts from John’s piece:

 Unions once helped advance working conditions, but now union rules hurt workers because they stifle growth by making companies less flexible. . . .

Unions eventually hurt union workers because unionized companies atrophy. Non-union Toyota grew, while GM shrank. JetBlue Airlines blossomed, while unionized TWA and Pan Am went out of business. Unions “protect” workers all the way to the unemployment line.

When I criticize compulsory unions and regulations, it’s not because I want rich employers to get fat off the labor of workers. It’s because I’ve learned that markets are fluid — and the best way for more workers to find good jobs is to leave everyone free to make any contract they wish. . . .

Advocates of “kind” central planning overlook the gradual, piecemeal improvement that markets make. Focused on government’s promise of once-and-for-all solutions (promises that rarely lead to actual solutions), people miss how free markets gradually help humanity solve problems.

Economic historian Robert Higgs joked that it will always be easier to rally politically inclined people behind unrealistic, revolutionary causes than to rally them around subtle economic progress, because no crowd marches behind a banner proclaiming, “Toward a Marginally Improved Society!”

[Bolding is mine]

How Does He Get Away with It??

24 May

Two foundational elements of Obama’s campaign are Romney’s overall qualifications for the office of the presidency, and the damage that a Bain Capital (or venture capitalists, in general) can do to the economy.

1.  Take experience:  How in the WORLD can Obama criticize Romney’s qualifications for the job when Obama himself had less than 10% of Romney’s experience when he had the audacity to run for President in 2008?

2.  And take Bain:  How in the WORLD can Obama criticize the restructuring work of Bain Capital when restructuring is EXACTLY what Obama did when he bailed out GM and Chrysler?  They shuttered plants, laid off thousands of workers (not just  in GM and Chrysler, but up and down the supply chain), and took the companies through a bankruptcy and restructuring.  The difference being that Obama managed to pander to the unions, and use taxpayer money to effect the bail-out — money we will probably never see.

How does Obama get away with this kind of campaigning?????

Romney/Bain responsible for GST Steel demise?

21 May

The Wall Street Journal from May 18th has a great expose of the Obama campaign claim that Bain Capital raped and murdered GST Steel.  I found this  chronology at

In short, the Obama campaign ad seems to be pretty much a complete lie — and I’m sure that Obama himself knows it.

The Cliff Notes version goes something like this:

1.  Bain bought this plant from another company that was on the brink of bankruptcy, and Bain sunk $100 million into successfully turning it around.

2.  This plant became part of GS Industries under Bain management, and was thriving for several years — until . . .

3.  There appeared on the scene a wave of Asian steel imports, and American steel companies were dropping like flies.

4.  Bain tried to get concessions from the union to allow the plant to stay in business, but the union not only would not give any concessions, but got pretty ugly about it.

5.  Ultimately, the doors had to shut.

6.  This bankruptcy occurred 2 years AFTER Romney had left the company.

Bottom line, Bain extended the life of this company for eight years before the Asian imports and union inflexibility did them in.

If the above is true, the Obama campaign ad is a shameful string of lies.

Can anyone disprove the WSJ version?