“Public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and citizens,” Barack Obama said in defending the Wisconsin state’s public workers unions’ assault against the Governor’s economy plans. “Contributions” for sure. Unions contributed $400 million to his 2008 campaign and state, county, and municipal employees contributed $90 million to Democrats in 2010.
Obama made clear almost the moment he took office that he was union-owned. On Feb. 6, 2009, he signed Executive Order 13502 establishing Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). They require contractors on any large project to hand over exclusive bargaining control to pay inflated wages and benefits to unions, undermining a fair bidding process.
Money speaks louder even than the frenzied shouts of thousands of
union slackers. The White House wing of the Democratic National Committee reportedly was in full support of the union siege in Wisconsin, bringing in protestors from around the country.
No matter how the current battles between public-worker unions and various state governments turn out, public-sector employees face growing resentment across America in the future. The major reason: everywhere in the country public employees—whether union members or not–are seen as over rewarded in pay, benefits and pensions compared to compensation for Joe and Jane Average Citizen. This disparity is especially true on the West Coast and in the North East.
Most state governments are sitting in red ink and increasingly desperate as to how they can bring balance to their budgets as required by all the states except Vermont. Governors and legislatures are examining every means of trimming costs, including reducing overly generous rewards for public unions. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia face budget shortfalls in 2012.
While some of the unknowing sympathize with the union position that they should cling to their bargaining rights–as if they had the weight of human rights–few know what the provisions of any union contract are.
For instance: in Wisconsin, elected union delegates or alternates to the biennial convention of the union “shall be granted time off without loss of benefits, not to exceed a total of 10 workdays to attend such convention.” The time off may be charged to vacation credits, holiday credits, compensatory time or to administrative leave without pay and without loss of benefits, as the individual employee may designate.
The union shall be allowed to prepay the retirement contributions for employees who are on leave of absence without pay for contract negotiations.
Local union officers and stewards may use existing telephone facilities during non-instructional hours for union business. Likewise with e-mail facilities.