Entries by Steven Greenhut

Union Greed Drives California to Bankruptcy

Few non-local people pay much attention to the goings-on in Stockton, a hard-pressed Gold-Rush-era industrial city of 300,000 that sits in the agriculturally rich San Joaquin Valley at the eastern edge of the California Delta. But bondholders, taxpayers and government officials throughout the country will be listening to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein’s expected ruling […]

Politicians Prefer Scare Tactics to Genuine Reform

Not many of my friends or neighbors are sitting on pins and needles, worrying that the world as we know it will end as the federal government “slashes” spending as part of the automatic sequester cuts mandated by a previous budget bill. And not many people have been thinking, “Geesh, there’s nothing we need more […]

California A Model For Other States?

California’s modern-day progressive Democrats keep crowing about the huge success they’ve had in taming the state’s budget deficit, thanks to Proposition 30’s tax increases and other “reforms,” and now are championing the Jerry Brown model as a blueprint for the nation. Is that realistic? It’s one thing that other states have to deal with our […]

Public Borrowing for Union Benefits: Brown Still Not Scaling Wall of Debt

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to pose as an iconoclast who is willing to make the tough choices necessary to keep California afloat, but his new budget is more evidence that he remains the cat’s-paw for the state’s public-sector unions. “I want to advance the progressive agenda,” Brown said at the news conference unveiling his supposedly […]

Fullerton Police Union Intimidates Reform Candidates

Many people were outraged this summer after a private investigator, with ties to a law firm that represents 120 police unions in California, made an apparently false police report that a Costa Mesa councilman stumbled out of a bar, appearing drunk, and was weaving all over the road as he drove home. When police showed […]

Another Union Giveaway Almost Becomes Law

If California voters grant the state government the billions in higher taxes in Proposition 30 that Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have been demanding, those same officials might be expected to squander the money by shoveling even more benefits to already well-compensated government workers. Evidence for such an expectation is a scheme to enrich […]

Unions, Not Lack of Funding, Afflict Public Education

It is hard for education reformers to be too optimistic about the post-strike prospects for Chicago schools. The resulting contract significantly boosts teacher pay in exchange for some modest changes such as a lengthened school day and improved teacher testing. As school officials figure out how to pay for the new deal and bolster vastly […]

California Voters Still Embrace Unionized Government

California residents are depressed about the economy and see little hope for change in the near future, yet they seem more reluctant than ever to change the current high-tax, union-dominated political course that has led to the struggling economy. As the Field Poll revealed in July, “Californians have had an extremely gloomy view of the […]

Chicago Teacher Strike Pits Liberal Democrats Against Unions

Chicago’s public school teachers went on strike last week over a modest plan to extend their work day and subject them to the type of standardized performance testing they typically administer to students. The walkout provided a fresh reminder that teachers unions exist to expand the pay and protections for teachers, not to help “the […]

How Union Power Corrupts Police Departments

City officials across California typically spare police officers from even modest reductions in the pay and pension packages that are a leading cause of municipal budget problems, even when the alternatives are reduced public services or even municipal bankruptcy. The common explanation is that politicians are afraid of the cop unions’ political muscle. That is […]

Can Californians Learn from Progressive Wisconsin and Confront Government Unions?

During recent travels to Madison and Milwaukee for some research about reform-minded Gov. Scott Walker’s survival of a union-backed recall in June, I found little residual anger among the friendly folks there, despite the campaign’s seemingly endless pitched political battles that divided families and led to angry water-cooler discussions. Perhaps the central issue – Walker’s […]

Unions: It’s Just Pension Envy

Rhode Island’s Democratic state treasurer, Gina Raimondo, is fond of saying that pension reform is about math, not politics. Other blue-state politicians, ranging from New York governor Andrew Cuomo to Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, have moved toward fixing unsustainable pensions. But California’s top statewide political leaders have mostly shrugged at the problems caused by excessive […]

The Bankruptcy Dominoes Begin to Fall in California

First, Vallejo, in 2008. Next, Stockton, then Mammoth Lakes and, now, San Bernardino and soon, perhaps, Compton. As Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach told Bloomberg News, the bankruptcy dominoes are starting to fall. One California city after another – following a decade-long spree of ramping up public-employee pay and pension benefits, as well as redevelopment […]

The Bankruptcy Tsunami

First Vallejo, then Stockton, then Mammoth Lakes and now San Bernardino.  As Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach told Bloomberg News, the bankruptcy dominoes are starting to fall. One California city after another — following a decade-long spree of ramping up public-employee pay and pension benefits, as well as redevelopment debt — are becoming insolvent. Not […]

Fairness prevails in union-dues ruling

For people who truly are interested in a just and fair society, there’s one easy test for sorting through some seemingly complex issues: Turn the tables. For instance, while considering a controversial law affecting a particular group, it’s best to t getting back with an ex> hink about how fair it would seem if that […]

U.S. Supreme Court Rebukes Union Totalitarianism

For people who truly are interested in a just and fair society, there’s one easy way to sort through some seemingly complex issues: turn the tables. If, for instance, one is debating a controversial law affecting a particular group, it’s best to think about how fair it would seem if that law were applied in […]

The (Union) Empire Strikes Back

Following big victories for public-pension reform in California, the union empire takes to the courts. 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 […]

Surly Unions Make Wisconsin the Badgering State

Before Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became a recall target for his efforts to reform collective bargaining in his state, I was a guest on a Madison radio show discussing the influence of public-sector unions and the significance of the state’s unfunded pension liabilities. Instead of “Wisconsin Nice” – a euphemism for the polite, conflict-avoiding nature […]

California Legislature Votes to Allow Government Workers to Hide Property Ownership from Public Records

Democrats and Republicans in the California Legislature once again have broadcast this troubling fact: They are far more concerned about the ever-expanding demands of a relatively small group of public-sector union members than they are about the welfare of the citizens of our state. On May 17, the Assembly voted 68-0 to support the most […]

Occupy Movement Should Focus On Unionized Government

Occupy Wall Street protesters are reminiscent of writer R. Emmett Tyrrell’s criticism of radical feminists: They don’t know what they want, but they want it very badly. On May Day, the protesters tied up the streets of Oakland, San Francisco and elsewhere. They are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it […]