Friday, March 04, 2011

A less perfect union ~ By Walter E. Williams

Major states like California, New York, Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey – and the federal government – are on the verge of bankruptcy. Large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., Newark and Detroit are facing bankruptcy, as well. Does that tell you something? It tells me that we can no longer afford to do what we've done in the past. We must make large cuts in spending. Spending on public employee salaries is just a drop in the bucket.

I have posted several columns in the last few days regarding the public employee unions. Professor Walter Williams adds one more column to the mix that I am hoping people will see. The problem is, politicians, mostly Democrat, get large campaign contributions from labor unions, and then when in office, they make sure that the unions are rewarded.

Until the chaos began in Madison, Wisconsin, I had never given much thought to public-sector employee unions. It was an issue that had not seen the light of day in the press. But thanks to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker taking on the unions, and the protests that resulted in Madison, I have been learning a lot about what amounts to a massive scam on the taxpayers. You will not only want to read the this column in full, but also the stories shown below under RELATED STORIES (if you haven't already!). It will help you to connect the dots like I have.

Unions' collective disregard for taxpayers ~ By Herman Cain
A union of corruption ~ By Patrice Lewis
Here's something worth protesting ~ By Erik Rush

A less perfect union

By Walter E. Williams

March 02, 2011 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2011

With all of the union strife in Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey, and indications of more to come, it might be time to shed a bit of light on unions as an economic unit.

First, let's get one important matter out of the way. I value freedom of association, and non-association, even in ways that are not always popular and often deemed despicable. I support a person's right to be a member or not be a member of a labor union. From my view, the only controversy regarding unions is what they should be permitted and not permitted to do.

According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions that voted for you.

Given the relationship between politicians and public employee unions, we should not be surprised that public employee wages and benefits often average 45 percent higher than their counterparts in the private sector. Often they receive pension and health-care benefits making little or no contribution.

How is it that public employee unions have such a leg up on their private-sector brethren? The answer is not rocket science. Employers in the private sector have a bottom line. If they overcompensate their employees, company profits will sink. The company might even face bankruptcy.


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