Union Watch Highlights

Union Watch Highlights

Union workers are above middle class

Letter, April 12, 2011, Daily Herald

So the public employee unions say they are the middle class. That’s funny, most people don’t get the large pensions of union members, particularly when you consider what they contribute to their pension. Most people also don’t just refuse to go to work and inconvenience thousands of other people so they can get their way. Most people don’t get their salary increased toward the end of their career so they can have a nice fat pension. There’s nothing middle class about public employee union members, they have it much better than most other people. If the unions are middle class, is it right for them to ask the lower class to pay for their pensions? (read article)

UK: A cleverly designed package of pension reforms will still arouse the unions’ ire

Editorial, March 10, 2011, The Economist

From Wisconsin to Greece, pensions are being trimmed as governments try to get to grips with unsustainable state spending. In America and Britain a particular target is public-sector pensions, and the exercise is painful. On March 10th teachers, nurses and millions more learned that they would have to work longer before getting their pensions, as well as pay more towards them. Rumours of massive strikes are already rumbling. (read article)

Huge Disconnect Between New Hampshire’s Public Employee Unions and Those Who Pay Their Compensation

Editorial, April 10, 2011, Union Leader

If you doubt that there is a huge disconnect between public employee unions and those who pay their compensation, here is proof. Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to scale down the generously portioned pension benefits that public employees in New Hampshire receive. Firefighters and police officers would have to work 25 years instead of 20 before retiring and would have to be at least 50 years old, instead of 45. They would have to contribute a few percentage points more toward their pension plans (about two percentage points under each chamber’s plan). The sticking point is when to start those changes. (read article)

Sure, unions benefit some workers

By Gary M. Galles, April 8, 2011, Orange County Register

In the spreading disputes involving government worker unions, the most frequent defense of unions I have heard is someone asserting that a union benefitted them or their family, followed by the conclusion that all Americans gain from them. Unfortunately, some gain from unions and union-backed policies by harming the vast majority of Americans. Unions leverage special government-granted powers to eliminate competition from other workers (illegal in any other circumstance). Displaced workers go elsewhere for jobs (or become unemployed), increasing labor supply and decreasing wages for nonunion workers, funding the resulting union wage premium from other workers’ pockets. And “others” make up 93 percent of private-sector workers. (read article)

Card Check Blazing Through California Assembly

By Katy Grimes, April 7, 2011, CalWatchdog.com

With a sucker punch from the Assembly Speaker’s office, the public notice rule for legislative hearings was suspended on Wednesday. That allowed an Assembly committee to push through a quick hearing about Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s card check bill. Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, was not present to discuss the bill, instead sending representative Charles Wright again in his place. “SB 104 does not eliminate the secret ballot — it just adds the new option to the secret ballot process,” Wright said. (read article)

Unions resist Massachusetts pension system reforms

By Matt Murphy, April 7, 2011, Boston Herald

A plan from Gov. Deval Patrick to address the long-term pension costs facing the state by altering benefits and raising the retirement age drew criticism on Thursday from retirees and unions who argued that the reforms would unnecessarily penalize future employees. With the state facing an unfunded pension liability of $18.8 billion as of Jan. 1, state officials, including Patrick and Treasurer Steven Grossman, have endorsed reforms to the system that would increase the minimum state retirement age for roughly 90 percent of state workers to 60 from 55. (read article)

Wisconsin’s dead-heat judicial election shouldn’t deter state reformers

Editorial, April 7, 2011, Wall Street Journal

We believe the battle between public unions and taxpayers will define the next decade in most U.S. states, and this week the union empire struck back in Wisconsin. Big Labor went all-in to seek revenge against Governor Scott Walker’s public union reforms, and they may have taken over the state Supreme Court in the bargain. Union efforts were aided by an unfortunate Wisconsin law that lets voters register immediately before casting a ballot. A similar Minnesota law helped Democrat Al Franken narrowly win a Senate seat in 2008. Because identification requirements are scant, the law creates different standards at different polling places and is an invitation to fraud. (read article)

Providence, Rhode Island’s Mayor Keeps Double Pension for City Union

By Stephen Beale, April 7, 2011, GoLocalProv

Providence’s largest union has scored big in its new labor contract with the city—keeping a decades-old double pension deal along with other extra benefits that had been targeted for a possible cut earlier this year. Under the new contract, members of Local 1033 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America will receive a second, union-administered pension in addition to their regular city pension. (read article)

The Facts Behind the Battle to Save Costa Mesa, California

By Curt Pringle, April 6, 2011, Red County

Last week, Mayor pro tem Jim Righeimer presented to the OC Taxpayers Association the case from the Costa Mesa City Council majority’s perspective regarding how they are looking to balance their city budget. It was good to hear this presentation firsthand. There has been a tremendous amount of one-sided spin on this proposal by some media outlets, not to mention the over-the-top aggressive stance of the employees’ association in its attack on the council, coming close to claiming or implying that the council action to rein in the city budget somehow led to a city employee taking his life. The story of Costa Mesa isn’t being fully explained through the newspaper, nightly TV news or the blog postings. (read article)

Hawaii labor unions rally against government cuts

By Mark Niesse, April 5, 2011, BusinessWeek

Labor union members cheered and chanted Monday at the Hawaii Capitol against cuts in government that would come out of their pockets. Several hundred supporters gathered in Honolulu as part of nationwide demonstrations to support workers’ rights on the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Fifth-grade teacher Suzie Wood of Kailua said public employees have done their share already when they took furloughs, and the state’s budget shouldn’t be balanced by taking away union rights and benefits. (read article)

California Unions won’t get free hand for supporting Brown, Democrats

By Thomas D. Elias, April 5, 2011, Mercury News

No one in California politics believes this state is about to see anything like the unprecedented statehouse live-in occupation staged earlier this year in Wisconsin, where public employee unions faced the threat of losing not just salary and benefits, but also their hard-won bargaining rights. Because public employee unions like the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union were among the largest contributors to Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign and also are prime funders of many Democratic state legislators, they will enjoy a free hand as long as their people stay in power. But that’s not necessarily so. Just look at Los Angeles, where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — a former union organizer — frequently opposes the United Teachers of Los Angeles and other unions as he confronts both an underperforming school system and an unprecedented municipal deficit. (read article)

San Diego labor leader echoes class-warfare rhetoric

Letter, April 5, 2011, San Diego Union-Tribune

The interview with Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council (“Warrior on the job for workers,” Business, April 4), works well as propaganda. She paints a picture of the poor worker pitted against big business/Republicans, Midwestern governors and CEOs, all of whom evidently exist to destroy unions and enslave workers. It is classic class-warfare rhetoric. There is a difference between unions in the private sector and the public sector, one that Gonzalez ignores. Private-sector unions negotiate with businesses whose management answers to the owners of the business. In the public sector, governments collect union dues from union members, which are then used to elect politicians who then negotiate, among other things, pension benefits with the unions. (read article)

OCEA and others using Costa Mesa employee suicide for political advantage

By Brian Calle, April 5, 2011, Orange County Register

The suicide of Costa Mesa city employee Huy Pham was a terrible tragedy for the city of Costa Mesa and friend’s and family of Pham. There is no denying that fact. Using the suicide of the young man for political favor though should be unthinkable and absolutely appalling. But a TV attack ad funded by the Orange County Employees Association, the government union for OC employees, does just that. the video is below so you can judge for yourself: (watch video)

Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.com, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!