Let me quote the innocuous Ann Coulter regarding government unions.
It used to be widely understood that collective bargaining has no place in government employment. In 1937, the American president beloved by liberals, FDR, warned that collective bargaining “cannot be transplanted into the public service.” George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO for a quarter century, said unions were not appropriate for civil servants. As recently as 1978, the vast majority of states prohibited unionization of government employees.
The unholy alliance of government and union has reached its pinnacle. Your average government worker earns twice in salary and benefits than his private sector counterpart who foots the bill.
As the graph above shows, while the government salaries are substantially more than their private sector counterparts, benefits are up to 400% that of the private sector. This is obscene. So now finally the middle class taxpayer has had enough and in Wisconsin they have had enough. They elected a Republican legislature and a Republican governor who propose to put an end to collective bargaining for benefits. Seems reasonable, but you have seen the manufactured chaos that has ensued.
Let’s look at this from another angle. Collective bargaining. In order to bargain, there have to be two parties seeking some mutually beneficial relationship. But for decades, this relationship and the ensuing benefits have all been one sided because the other negotiating party (Democrat controlled government) has been bought and paid for.
But the Democrat Party were only the negotiators. The real party involved here is the people. So, last November, the people exercised the only legitimate collective bargaining for government employees, they held an election. An election that threw the Democrats out, in large part specifically because of the unholy spending alliance they have forged with Unions. We can’t afford it.
So, in effect, the union thugs protesting in Wisconsin are protesting against collective bargaining rights, the collective bargaining rights of the people. The people who have had enough and are no longer willing parties to this abusive relationship. No more.
Unions are not appropriate for government employees because the unholy alliance between union and party is unavoidable.
Elections are the only legitimate form of collective bargaining for Government employees and the people of Wisconsin have exercised that right in a very modest way. The Union response in Wisconsin serves only to bring awareness to other one-sided abusive relationships around the country. So now I suspect that their will be a lot more collective bargaining in the future, the kind of bargaining that says, “We will let you stay employed under these conditions…”
So look for the union label, the people’s union label, it says “GOP.”
February 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm
I avoid allying myself with a particular political party – taking sides under a title – but rather vote my conscience. As a resident of Wisconsin though, there is no getting away from this very party-divided situation. Despite the Dems vs GOP rhetoric framing it, I appreciate this reasonable look at things. The principles expressed in this post are exactly why this is happening. I just hope fairness and the common good prevail!
February 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm
You'll find claims that gov't employees "are paid less" than people in "equivalent positions" in the civilian workforce; it's a little like those charts that show that military spending is most of discretionary spending– it's slight of hand.
One assumes you'll believe that base pay is the only way they benefit from a job, the other assumes you'll believe that 'discretionary' means 'the money we don't really have to spend.'
(To rephrase: that you'll ignore bonuses, retirement and medical bennies, or that you'll ignore 'discretionary' means 'determined by a prior program if it's not altered.)
I think the 'paid less' claim is years old–assume 15 years, since I remember the same claim being made a decade ago– and includes military personnel in the calculation– a few nuke techs, some nurses, figure out something very high class for an Admiral to be equivalent to and ignore anything that's not base pay, and it adds up fast– so it's not flatly dishonest, it's just highly misleading.
I really hope that the folks who talk about military being most of the "optional" spending are just ignorant about what 'non-discretionary' means. I can see why Dem pols would really want a hands-off approach to things like cutting the free birth control program used by rich college kids going to school on their parents' dime. (if you think that's sour grapes, the complaints from said thirty-year-old children when the state considered cutting it is exactly how I found it existed)
February 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm
It's "spreading the wealth" from the people who create the wealth to those who vote for the goons who spread it.
February 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm
There's another (economic) reason why collective bargaining for public-sector employees is a bad idea.
The private sector is subject to market forces so when the negotiating balance tips too far towards labor, the corporation becomes uncompetitive and will shrink or go out of business. It's another management failure (giving up too much to labor or failing to otherwise adjust the business model to increase productivity) akin to building the wrong products at the wrong prices. Private companies can't force the market to buy their services – since someone else will see the opportunity and enter with a competitive product or service.
In the public sector, the company (government) has the monopoly on violence and *can* force you to pay (taxes) on threat of garnishment or imprisonment. This means that individual citizens have little ability to resist buying undesirable services. The citizenry as a whole does have the ability to resist – either by elections or (at worst) the whole "When in the course of human events…" approach.
Not to distract from the immediate issue, the one place this dichotomy breaks down is when government interferes in the working of the private market (can you say "Fannie, Freddie, and Obamacare"?). In this case, favored rent-seekers in the private sector "hire" government's monopoly on violence (or perhaps government disguises its foot-soldiers in the pin-striped uniforms of corporate execs).
February 24, 2011 at 5:26 pm
I don't trust these numbers. How did they calculate these? Surely, factoring in CEO pay would skew private sector pay quite a bit.
Seems like a sham article, considering you start with an Ann Coulter quote..
February 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm
Grant B, you're not making sense– the "private pay" does include CEOs. There just aren't that many CEOs compared to, say, Target shelf-stockers. You could check the BEA.gov site, if you doubt the numbers.
That said, what on earth does having an Ann Coulter quote have to do with an objection that would send private compensation down if it's valid?
Here's a more detailed argument on public vs private pay, with links. (sometimes two or three deep links, but they do source)
February 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm
That graph does not say what you want it to say. The difference between local gov't and private sector is nowhere near the double and 400% you claim. And for the difference between federal and civilian, there is no way of knowing the average skill level of those employees which might make the pay higher.
There's no reason to be feeding people this horses**t.
February 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm
….Reading comprehension, Anon.
BENEFITS. Are UP TO 400% more.
The big blue chunk? The one that's 10k for private, and 41k for federal?
There's no reason to be feeding people this horses**t.
Indeed. So why are you doing it?
February 24, 2011 at 7:47 pm
Federal workers do not have the collective bargaining rights which the state workers in Wisconsin have. In other words,Governor Walker wants the same kind of flexibility as Barak Obama already has in regard to government employees, and rightly so (which makes it all the more appalling that President Obama has tried to intervene in this whole affair). Strong unions are not necessary for government workers in this country, because we have such robust civil service protection.
And besides, even in the private sector unions often end up hurting the very same workers they claim to help. I live in the south, where many car factories have been built, starting in the 1990s (while car factories in traditionally industrial states were closing). In the south, the manufacturing base grew because we have "the right to work"- meaning that workers do not have to strike just because their union does. In this case at least, weak unions = jobs, with decent pay/benefits commensurate with one's job.
February 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm
reading comprehension, indeed
i really was in agreement with your earlier point. Which is why the other sentence addressed the difference between federal and civilian. His point was that government wages and benefits are way out of whack; i was explaining why the graph does not show that. The use of "up to" only hides the huge difference between state and federal earnings.
February 24, 2011 at 8:54 pm
That graph does not say what you want it to say. The difference between local gov't and private sector is nowhere near the double and 400% you claim.
Now, it's been a little while since I graduated, but last time I checked…. 40k is roughly 400% of 10k. So I pointed it out.
You then said:
His point was that government wages and benefits are way out of whack; i was explaining why the graph does not show that. The use of "up to" only hides the huge difference between state and federal earnings.
Roughly double the total compensation, and roughly four times the "benefits," between private and federal– and you want to claim the graph doesn't say that.
All you've got is claims, insults and hand-waving that claims government workers might be more skilled than private.
February 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm
local is 16, not 40; last time i looked at the graph.
"between private and federal"
The post does not specify federal but is talking about government wages as if there were no vast difference between federal and local/state. The post is totally misleading on this point. The post claims that the "average government worker" is earning twice as much as the private. But these drastic differences only apply at the federal level.
and "no way of knowing" is not a claim that one knows.
February 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm
Yes…. and….? That is why he put the phrase "up to" in the description. That is why there are three bars on the graph.
The post is totally misleading on this point.
No, it's not, unless you're someone that thinks folks are so foolish they can't understand the phrase "up to" and realize that there are multiple bars, clearly labeled.
and "no way of knowing" is not a claim that one knows.
Which is why I specifically said that you claimed they MIGHT be more skilled– true, I did assume that you're not claiming that they should be paid such vastly higher amounts because they might be less skilled, and given your conversation thus far I apologize for making such an unwarranted assumption.
The "unknown" state of employee skill would apply to private just as much as public employees, and given the evidence of how hard it is to fire public vs private employees, the balance of evidence is that you'll find more skill in private employment than public. (As pointed out in many places in this argument, those workers who are highly skilled may even be underpaid, since skill doesn't factor into pay the same way it does when your boss can fire you for not doing your job.)
February 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm
The "up to" is misleading because he is using it to refer to all government workers, and the much greater difference is between the first bar and the other two, rather than between government and private.
It would be like recommending one work for a state government because gov't employees earn significantly more than private — and up to 400% more in benefits. Snake oil.
February 25, 2011 at 12:10 am
No sensible, honest reader would find that statement misleading in conjunction with this graph.
February 25, 2011 at 6:51 am
Scott Walker just blew his Koch cover. His unprecedented radical assault on public employees has nothing to do with the budget deficit (a deficit caused by the $200 million tax cut for the rich he just passed). It’s about denying basic rights to organized labor and state workers and punishing those that traditionally do not vote Republican. It’s political war, and it must be stopped.
February 25, 2011 at 5:13 pm
As someone who is lucky enough to live in the tax hell known as Wisconsin, allow me one or two observations.
Neither side on this fight has right on their side, I'm afraid. Governor Walker had an historic opportunity handed to him last Fall and instead of sitting down and speaking face to face with friends and enemies alike he came out with both barrels blazing going after the bargaining rights of the unions. Now, I happen to agree that government employees should have no right to bargain for wages that are paid to them by extracting these wages out of hapless taxpayers, but that is a fight he could have, and should have, put off till another day. Now you know why the late, great Sam Francis dubbed the Republicans "the Stupid Party"; they are the only ones who can snatch defeat out of victory.
This is not to minimize Mr Walker's good qualities; it is only to point out that, strategically speaking, he blew it. And those undeniable good qualities he has should not blind us to some of his bad points which is a fairly obvious cozy relationship with Koch-like oligarchs. Not good. Also, he is a horrible communicator with an inability to look you in the eye. Economically speaking he is a typical Austrian school/big business type, which entails the kind of "capitalism uber alles" thinking that is woefully inadequate in the fight against the Socialism of the Democrats. A pox on both those houses.
There is a "third way", a Catholic way, of looking at economics. Alas, neither the bargain basement Communism of the Democrats or the corporatist fascism of the Republicans will ever get interested in going down that road.
An unemployed Democrat is hurting just as much as an unemployed Republican. There, in a nutshell, is the historic opportunity that Mr Walker has now lost forever. And it is that economic stupidity of his, coupled with his slavish love of the capitalist menace, which will, I assure you, derail any of his pro-life efforts (provided he even makes any effort on trying to end the horrors of abortion). He has well and truly shot himself in the foot.
February 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Historic opportunity to do what, exactly?
Kick the can, again? Nothing historic about that.
No matter where this fight happened, it would be big– the public worker unions realize that if they lose their ability to force membership and dues, they lose their ability to buy politicians, which will lose them more money.
If they lose here, they're going to lose elsewhere– so the big guns are out.