“Our political principles are pretty straightforward. We’ll support those that support us.”
This comes from Harold Schaitberger, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), as quoted earlier this week in a Huffington Post article entitled “Firefighters, Cops Warn Republicans [that] Anti-Union Stance Has Consequences.”
Since 82 cents out of every dollar of political contributions by the IAFF has historically gone to Democrats, this is a fairly empty threat. But it’s interesting to see what the primary principle is that governs this union: money and influence. Do what we say – or we will target you in the next election. Is this what the average firefighter wants from their union? Do 82% of firefighters vote Democratic? And why are firefighters and police, who wear badges and are sworn to protect the public, and who are paid by taxpayers, engaging in politics at all?
This rigged system, where unions extract money from taxpayers through union dues, then use it to elect the politicians who they negotiate with for raises and benefits, has led cities, counties and states throughout the U.S. to the brink of bankruptcy. In Costa Mesa, for example, the unwillingness of public employee unions to permit sufficient cuts to their compensation and benefits has led to painful layoffs of personnel. Meanwhile, the average firefighter in Costa Mesa makes $179,000 per year in total compensation, and the average police officer makes $174,000 per year. And these costs will increase dramatically if and when CalPERS decides to lower their projected rate of long-term investment earnings, and when cities begin to be required to pre-fund their retirement health-care obligations to employees.
Everyone knows that public safety personnel, who take risks every day to protect the rest of us, deserve to be paid a premium for their service. But when the average unionized public safety employee makes more than four times what the average private sector worker makes, and the result is layoffs of city workers, service cutbacks, and tax increases, something is terribly out of balance. Listen to this video by Harold Schaitberger entitled “The IAFF Fights Back Against Political Attacks.” As you listen, take note of the tremendous power his union wields, and multiply that by the many other public employee unions who have negotiated for government workers rates of compensation that, on average, are now twice what private sector workers earn.
Public worker union leaders like Harold Schaitberger may howl about “political attacks,” all they like, but it is their organizations who have overreached. It is these unions who have attacked the pockets of taxpayers, raided the budgets of good government liberals, and jeopardized the economic future of this country. Reformers who believe that public sector unions are special interests who have taken over our cities and states are not playing partisan politics. They have simply looked at the economic and political realities and concluded enough is enough.