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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 08 Mar 2011 09:33 am

Restoring Citizen Power: Monday’s Annapolis CAN Rally

UPDATES!  VIDEO Steven Malanga’s “Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer”| Savings from Governor Walker’s Proposed Reforms here, here, here, and here. (via Jim Simpson). FLASH! WSJ – – “Wisconsin Republicans Bypass Democrats on Collective Bargaining.”

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Supporting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s reforms is a national cause.

One way in our region to get this message across is by joining Maryland CAN’s (Conservative Action Network) planned counter-protest to the AFSCME-MD “Enough Is Enough” rally.

Readers may get in touch with CAN’s counter-protest organizers by clicking on the foregoing  link. The counter-protest will begin next Monday, March 14, at 5 PM in Annapolis.

Maryland values advocates are already doing a splendid job of lobbying and demonstrating to support traditional marriage in Maryland.  Others will rally against proposed tax hikes notably on gasoline and on vehicle registration.

But successful efforts to put voters, not public-union chiefs back in charge of state and local governments are essential.

Steve Malanga of the Manhattan Institute wrote about this danger in 2005:

“But what’s happening in American cities and states is something often far different: the rise of a political party that’s neither right nor left, strictly speaking, but rather a coalition of those who benefit from an ever-expanding government.  They’ve been gathering political power for 50 years now, quietly at first, and they have shaped and influenced municipal and state policies in ways that impose steep costs on taxpayers, ways which are not easily unravelled. Blunted in Washington by the national political movement rightward, this New New Left, as I call it, has nonetheless successfully pursued an agenda of higher taxes, more spending and social and regulatory legislation at the local level. . . . . “We see this coalition at work in the power of teachers’ unions to blunt education reforms and lobby for ever greater spending on education . . .” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Public-Employee Collective Bargaining

The Heritage Foundation’s video “Collective Bargaining 101” spells out the reach of public-employee union chiefs.

Getting Our Narrative Right   

Bob Williams in his “UPDATED: Why private sector unions are much different than government unions” explains- –

“Liberal icons New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who strongly supported industrial unions, both opposed collective bargaining by government employees because government employees enjoy market advantages too easily exploited. President Roosevelt once said, ‘The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted in the public service.’ Former AFL-CIO President George Meany also viewed government unions as unthinkable.  They all recognized the fundamental differences between private-sector unions and government unions.

One key distinction between the two is that private sector unions must respect their employer’s bottom line, whereas government unions do not. Private sector union leaders bargain for more benefits while at the same time recognizing that excesses will force the company to lay off employees or go bankrupt.  Those unions bargain face-to-face with those who pay the bills. In addition, private sector union members on strike lose their wages. Both private sector management and owners have an incentive to resist unreasonable union demands, particularly in regard to pension and retiree health care. If private sector managers make unwise concessions impairing the long-term profitability of their company, it is reflected immediately in the value of the company.

In contrast, government unions are not confined by an employer’s bottom line. For public employees, the bottom line is the bottom of the taxpayers’ pockets.  Most government unions would not exist without forced union dues.  One of the first things government union leaders bargain for is a ‘union security’ clause, which forces all government employees in the unit to pay for union services as a condition of employment. If a government employee works in a state with a ‘union security’ clause, the individual must pay tribute to the union. (Underscoring Forum’s.)

  The Wisconsin Reforms Allow Workers to Decide
Whether or Not To Pay the Union

A key part of the Wisconsin reform narrative hinges on public-employee worker freedom

“Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union.  Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

All of us should have done more earlier to spotlight the public-union stranglehold on taxpayers – – but the public-employee pension crisis has brought matters to a head.

As we wrote last week citing Josh Barro’s “Dodging the Pension Disaster” (National Affairs)– –

“Estimates from the Cato Institute and Credit Suisse put states’ unfunded health-care liabilities alone north of $1 trillion. And economists Robert Novy-Marx (of the University of Chicago) and Joshua Rauh (of Northwestern University) find that pension funds are short by more than $3 trillion. These numbers are enormous, but their true magnitude becomes more clear when they are placed in fuller context. Consider that the total outstanding bond debt of state and local governments is about $2.4 trillion. If one accounts for pension and health-care debts using the figures supplied by Novy-Marx and Rauh (among others), the total outstanding obligations of the states rises to as much as $6.4 trillion—meaning that our sub-national governments are nearly three times further in the red than they appear to be at first glance.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Barro also lays out a core strategy for cleaning up the state and local pension mess – –

“. . . [T]here are three general principles that states can follow if they want to enact meaningful reforms with a chance of staving off pension disaster.

Read more for Barro’s details.

Voters should not have to take second place to public-employee union chiefs in running our government.  We can’t fix state and local spending if we keeping capitulating to their demands or to those of their governmentalist allies! As you can tell from Progressive Maryland’s facebook, these allies have a far wider agenda than simply the salary levels of state and local employees.

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