Is public sector collective bargaining a euphemism for conspiring against the taxpayer?
When Wisconsin Democrats fled the state in order to avoid voting on splendiferous public sector union contracts, did they happen to notice that the rest of the country is in the midst of a massive recession?
For years, Democrats have been using taxpayer money so that their buddies in public sector unions never have to know when there's a recession. People who are already suffering have to suffer more so that those who are doing pretty well don't have to suffer at all.
The high salaries and magnificent benefits paid to government employees are used to fund the public sector unions, which then funnel a portion of that money back to the Democrats, who vote for the pay packages of government workers. The unions function as a pass-through from the taxpayers straight to Democrats running for re-election.
As a result, taxpayers are paying people to continually raise their taxes.
In 2010, three of the five top campaign contributors to the Democrats were public sector unions. Service Employees International was No. 2 at $11.6 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, the National Education Association was No. 3 at $8 million, and the American Federation of Teachers was No. 5 at $7 million. (To put that in perspective, that's even more than the $1 million given to Obama in 2008 by his second-largest contributor, Goldman Sachs!)
Liberals don't love big government because they think it's efficient, compassionate, fair or even remotely useful. They support big government because they are guaranteed the support of nearly everyone who works for the government.
Public sector employee contracts are written by the union and rubber-stamped by Democrats -- and the taxpayers only find out years later that public school teachers are allowed to get a full year's pay for 30 days' work over three years after they retire -- as is the case in Green Bay, Wis., where one out of every 12 teachers retired this year to take advantage of the "emeritus" scam.
This is what all the commotion is about in Wisconsin. Republican Gov. Scott Walker isn't even trying to eliminate collective bargaining for government workers' salaries. He only wants to eliminate collective bargaining over their conditions of employment, which has led to massive inefficiencies.
Thanks to union grievance procedures, the union representing school crossing guards filed a formal complaint over a sweet old man volunteering to get the kids across the street in Wausau, Wis. Warren Eschenbach, an 86-year-old retiree, had been volunteering each morning as a crossing guard at a school near his home. But according to the union, only a highly paid government employee should be permitted to do that job.
Fifth-grader Megan Sichterman, told WAOW, an ABC affiliate, "I was really sad because all the kids really like him. He's really nice to everybody, and I was kind of scared at the same time that we wouldn't see him on the corner anymore."
Even in the middle of the battle over collective bargaining rights for government unions, just last month the snowplow operators' union filed a grievance against Racine, Wis., to demand paid days off for snowplow operators ... after a snowstorm.
After a massive storm shut down the city for two days, snowplow operators thought they deserved two paid days off on account of all the snow, like other government employees got.
The snowplowers' union also filed a grievance against the city for hiring private plowing services to help with the snow removal. Perhaps it was that troublemaker Warren Eschenbach showing up with a snow shovel and volunteering to help clear the streets.
No government snowplow operators were laid off and plenty of them worked overtime after the blizzard -- but the union thought Racine should remain immobilized by snow for a week so that government snowplow operators could get even more overtime.
In the private sector, a company that capitulated to such ludicrous union demands would go out of business -- as would have happened to General Motors if the government hadn't taken it over. Offered substandard products at exorbitant prices, the consumer would buy from a competitor.
But with government, the consumer has no choice: We have to buy from the company store. Government employees will always have more passion and commitment about increasing their own salaries and perks than will the taxpayers, who have to worry about their own jobs and salaries. The public -- especially the taxpayer -- will always lose.
That is simply a fact about government jobs that can't be avoided. What doesn't make sense is to implement a system that invites this kind of mutual back-scratching between the Democrats and public sector unions -- to wit, collective bargaining where there is no "management," but only co-conspirators against the taxpayers on both sides of the bargaining table.