End of Collective Bargaining in California?

It is not often I side with economic professors. However, a proposal by Lanny Ebenstein to kill public union collective bargaining in California makes me stand up and salute.

Please consider Benefit buster Lanny Ebenstein

Lanny Ebenstein wants you to vote to kneecap the state’s public workers unions by banning their right to collective bargaining. Other measures scrambling to qualify for the November 2012 ballot would drop the hammer specifically on public employees’ pensions or increase their retirement age, but Ebenstein’s may be the most uncompromising.

Ebenstein, a lecturer in economics at UC Santa Barbara, believes that it’s too cozy for unions to be bargaining with bosses they’ve likely campaigned to elect — and the state’s economic doldrums are one result. An eight-year veteran of the Santa Barbara school board and the author of volumes about conservative economists Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek, he’s now got a metaphorical book he wants to throw at public employee unions.

Interviewer Patt Morrison: Some people disagree with your numbers, and with your dislike of collective bargaining in the public sector. You cite a 1937 letter from FDR: “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.”

Ebenstein: I believe the principle of collective bargaining was never meant to pertain to public employees. The public sector unions have been able to exert undue influence on the political system to receive an undue share of resources from government.

Morrison: You’re raising money so you can begin to collect signatures to put this on the ballot.

Ebenstein: We need $2 million. We are trying to get commitments of a million dollars. We only need two of those, but it’s more like getting individuals to commit $100,000. We have several people who’ve committed $100,000 if we can get a million dollars.

Morrison: Are you asking the Koch brothers? They controversially put money against public employee unions in Wisconsin.

Ebenstein: We haven’t gone to the Koch brothers yet, but we may. In the same way that the problem was created by Democrats and Republicans, the solution is going to be created by Democrats and Republicans. You have to unite Republicans who are concerned about taxes with Democrats who are concerned about public services.

Bid Filed

The Sacramento Bee reports Lanny Ebenstein filed Initiatives to End Collective Bargaining for Public Employees

The first measure would ban recognition of all public-sector labor unions and prevent government authorities from collectively bargaining with them.

The second would impose a higher tax burden on pensions paid through CalPERS or CalSTRS.

The third would raise the retirement age for state employees to 65. Public safety workers would see their retirement age rise to 58.

A spokesman for a public employee group said he doubted Ebenstein’s group could raise the money needed to campaign successfully for the three measures.

Collective Bargaining Neither a Privilege Nor a Right

I wish Ebenstein well. We all should.

This is why: Collective Bargaining neither a Privilege nor a Right.

Instead, collective bargaining drives up costs at taxpayer expense. Here is a recent case in point from the LA Times: New contract for California prison guards lifts cap on saved vacation

Gov. Jerry Brown negotiates a new contract for California’s prison guards, who will be allowed to save unlimited amounts of vacation, potentially leading to massive payouts when officers retire.

The track record proves public unions and union officials get in bed with corrupt politicians willing to buy votes, and that is why prison guards with only a high school education can make more in retirement than they do is a short career working.

The same thing applies to bus drivers, transit workers, trash collectors, and every facet of public service.

About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.

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