Unions Under Siege Across the Nation

Big Labor is Fighting Us

By Rebekah Rast – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has started a revolt — a pro-democracy revolt in favor of taxpayers and workers.

Acclaimed economist Lawrence Kudlow writes in the Washington Examiner, “Nationwide, state and local government unions have a 45 percent total-compensation advantage over their private-sector counterparts. With high-pay compensation and virtually no benefits co-pay, the politically arrogant unions are bankrupting America — which by some estimates is suffering from $3 trillion in unfunded liabilities.”

Taxpayers are fed up with it as well as fiscally conservative state leaders.  And many of the states taking on the extravagant pay and demands of the union bosses are winning.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is the most recent state to pass separate right-to-work bills through its House and Senate.  The chambers are working to reconcile their legislation with an eye toward getting such a majority that a veto by the governor would be inconsequential.

The bill would allow workers who opt out of a union to stop paying union fees.  If New Hampshire passes this legislation, it would join 22 other states that have adopted similar laws.  Additionally, pressure is building on the state to deal comprehensively with public employee collective bargaining rights.

State Senator Raymond White, a Republican, described the bill: “I thought it was simply a freedom-of-choice issue.  At the end of the day it’s simply a bill about does a person have to pay union dues?”

Massachusetts

A Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House took the nation by surprise when it overwhelmingly passed legislation that limits the rights of municipal workers to negotiate over healthcare.

After the vote, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo stated, “By spending less on the health care costs of municipal employees, our cities and towns will be able to retain jobs and allot more funding to necessary services like education and public safety.”

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) praised the Massachusetts House saying, “If even Massachusetts sees the need to rein in public sector unions, in this case by restricting the health care benefits of public employees, then nothing should be holding back other states from doing so.

“This legislation, primarily backed by Democratic-elected representatives, proves that responsible elected leaders, regardless of party or philosophy, can see the absolute necessity of rolling back the lavish benefits that have been granted to government workers,” Wilson continued.

This bill now goes to the Massachusetts Senate.

New York

Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Democratic governor, has gone against his defined party lines by ending its millionaire’s tax and reducing its budget by 3.4 billion compared to last year’s.

But he didn’t stop there.  He managed to squeeze $450 million in concessions from unions, telling them if they didn’t comply, then New York could say goodbye to 10,000 government workers.

The New York Post quoted Gov. Cuomo saying, “The old way of solving the problem was continuing to raise taxes on people, and we just can’t do that anymore.  We’re going to have to reduce government spending.”

Wisconsin

The state that started it all.

Wisconsin continues to win battles against the public unions.  The latest Dewey defeats Truman moment in Wisconsin proves that organized public-sector union employees can’t win — even when they give it everything they got.

Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg declared herself the winner too soon in a race that caught the nation’s attention as a labor union vs. taxpayers’ issue.  “Kloppenburg’s classic Dewey Defeats Truman moment is all the more stunning due to the millions of dollars spent by organized labor to flip the Court in response to Governor Scott Walker and legislative Republicans reform of public employee collective bargaining law,” writes ALG’s Rick Manning.

Unable to deal with the loss, Kloppenburg asked for a recount.  Currently, the recount has left the election numbers virtually unchanged.

Ohio

Following the path of Wisconsin Gov. Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich restricted the collective bargaining rights of 360,000 state workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters and banned them from striking.

The New York Times reports, “Under the Ohio bill, when there is public-sector bargaining and management and union fail to reach a settlement, the legislative body, such as a county or school board, would make the final decision on what offer to accept. But if the legislative body refrains from selecting either side’s last best offer, the public employer’s last offer would become the agreement between the parties.”

But the public union employees don’t want the bill and are doing all in their power to repeal it.  Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine gave public workers permission to begin their journey to repeal the law, which requires about 231,000 signatures to get it on the November ballot.

Michigan

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is attempting to fix Michigan’s budget woes.  The Daily Caller reports that the state has to deal with a $1.4-billion budget shortfall and on top of that, in 2009, Michigan had the worst domestic product decline in the nation.

To date, Gov. Snyder has signed a law giving emergency financial managers the authority to break existing labor contracts and is proposing deep cuts to the education budget as well.

The governor is up against much opposition.

To prepare for a possible illegal uprising of teachers, Michigan House’s Committee on Education discussed two bills aimed at upping the consequences on teachers who strike illegally.

Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels has signed a bill restricting collective bargaining agreements for teachers.  The bill will prohibit contracts between school districts and teachers unions from including anything other than wages and wage-related benefits starting July 1.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said, “Governor Daniels and Indiana’s legislators have put students first by giving local school leaders the freedom to run local schools.  Today, our students won the right to attend schools focused purely on meeting their needs and securing their academic success.”

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More and more states are realizing the need to roll back benefits that have simply been handed out to public sector union employees.  The demands cannot be afforded and unions should equally foot the bill for budget woes in every state.

“The costs imposed by public sector unions are breaking the backs of state and local governments across the country, particularly health care benefits to government workers,” says ALG’s Wilson.  “The key to reining in spending, whether at the state, local, or federal level, is to rein these mandatory forms of spending.  And that necessarily must include the privileges that have been given without question to the public sector unions.”

Kudlow concludes his article in the Washington Examiner saying, “A nationwide taxpayer revolt against public unions can save the country.”

After witnessing the protests in Wisconsin, perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker deserves a giant thank you from America’s taxpayers.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG).  You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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