As cities, counties, and states across the country continue to face mounting budget deficits, disputes between government unions and the populations they serve are becoming a significant issue, as local and state governments are forced to face the realities that are the outgrowth of unionization of government employees. Work stoppages and slowdowns by teachers and other non-public safety government employees are an indication of what some cities and counties have faced, or may be facing among their union and non-union employees. The recent recall election results in the State of
No less a Progressive icon than President Franklin Delano Roosevelt foresaw the inherent problem with letting government employees unionize, writing in 1937: “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.” This warning applies at all levels of government.
Unlike the private sector, governments have no competitors. When a union reaches a contract with a private firm that grossly increases costs, that firm loses out to competitors. When a union extracts a generous contract from government, there is no check on that spending. Instead of being disciplined by more efficient competitors, the government most often pays for higher spending with service cutbacks, higher taxes, or borrowing.
Government unions gained the upper hand through generous political donations and collective bargaining backed up with the threat of work stoppages and strikes; but states, counties, and municipalities across the
facing $2.8 trillion worth of deficits in pension and benefits
liabilities. The City of USA is included within that group. Punta