Unions lose Members as they Spend Millions in Union Dues on Liberal Candidates and Causes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 30th, 2012

Week in Review

The past few years haven’t been great for organized labor.  They’ve spent a fortune in union dues to win President Obama’s reelection.  But though they won that battle they may be losing the war (see Spending large sums in state labor battles adds to unions’ problem of losing members by FOX News/AP posted 12/23/2012 on FOX News).

Unions represented roughly 30 percent of the country’s workforce in the early 1980s, when the federal government started tracking those numbers, but they now represent 11.8 percent.

The declining numbers are in part the result of the country’s shrinking manufacturing sector, but the situation has been compounded by recent efforts in Michigan and Wisconsin to limit unions’ power.

Unions had already spent roughly $22 million in Michigan on a failed November ballot issue regarding collective bargaining, before Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation this month that stops unions from making workers pay dues or representation fees to keep their jobs…

They also spent more than $20 million in Wisconsin to remove Republican Gov. Scott Walker this year in a recall election after he signed 2011 legislation stripping most public employees of much of their collective-bargaining power, but Walker still won that election.

The unions also spent roughly $24 million last year in Ohio to overturn an anti-union measure.

But unions spent more in California this year to defeat a ballot measure that would curb dues collection than they did total on political efforts in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

James Sherk, a labor expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, estimates Michigan unions, including United Auto Workers, will lose an additional $100 million annually as a result of the changes and members leaving.

Workers have already “left unions in droves in Wisconsin, Idaho and Oklahoma,” he said.

If you do the math that adds up to $66 million for Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.  Double that to add in California and that brings it up to $132 million.  Throwing in the estimated $400 million in the 2012 elections that brings the total up to $532 million.

That’s half a billion in union dues they spent for political purposes.  Perhaps explaining why workers are leaving the unions in droves where they can.  Especially when the American people identified themselves at the end of 2011 as 40% conservative, 35% moderate and 21% liberal (see Conservatives Remain the Largest Ideological Group in U.S. by Lydia Saad posted 1/12/2012 on Gallup).  As a lot of those union dues go to support liberal candidates and liberal causes they no doubt bothered the 79% of the population that isn’t liberal.  Especially those paying those dues.

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Michigan Vote to become Right to Work show a Political Realignment in the Rust Belt?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 16th, 2012

Week in Review

First Wisconsin and Indiana and now Michigan.  Something is happening in the Rust Belt states.  These union strongholds appear to be going through a midlife crisis.  The marriage between the unions and the people appears to be not as strong as it once was.  As if the unions can’t satisfy the needs of the people anymore.  Who are looking to get out of a failing marriage (see Snyder Wades Into Angry Debate Over Michigan Union Dues by Chris Christoff & Esme E. Deprez posted 12/12/2012 on Bloomberg).

Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who portrays himself as a pragmatic unifier, plunged Michigan into conflict by signing so-called right-to-work legislation.

Less than a week after Snyder ended his neutrality on the issue, lawmakers yesterday approved two bills that prohibit compulsory union dues for employees in organized workplaces. The governor signed them hours later.

“As a nonpolitician, I don’t respond to political pressure,” Snyder, 54, said at a Lansing news briefing. “I try to do what’s best for the citizens of Michigan.”

His decision to make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the U.S. made the self-described nerd and non-ideologue a new nemesis to Democrats and their union allies. Similar fights in Wisconsin and Indiana this year and last brought protesters into the streets, accusing Republicans of trying to gut labor’s power in its Midwestern stronghold…

About 17 percent of Michigan workers belong to unions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In the early 1960s, about 40 percent did…

Snyder said unions started the battle when they led an unsuccessful campaign to enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the Michigan constitution. The ballot proposal was defeated Nov. 6, despite a $23 million drive funded mostly by labor…

Supporters said the laws, which affect all government and private employees in organized workplaces except for police and firefighters, let workers withdraw support from unions they view as ineffective or politically unpalatable.

Then again, with only some 17% of the Michigan workforce unionized and an unemployment rate that was north of 10% for almost 3 of the past 4 years one can see why the people would want a divorce.

The interesting thing is that Michigan has a Republican legislature and a Republican governor yet this state voted for President Obama in 2012.  How is that possible?  How do you reject liberal policies at the state level and yet vote for them at the federal level?  Rust Belt states Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all have Republican legislatures AND Republican governors.  And yet all but Indiana voted for President Obama, perhaps the most liberal president in U.S. history.  How does the national election NOT reflect the state elections?

Union supporters in Michigan are saying Governor Snyder ran as a moderate and then bowed to big money on the Right.  Of course that doesn’t explain the Republican legislature.  It would appear there is a political realignment in the Rust Belt.  Perhaps there will be a recall drive in Michigan.  Like there was in Wisconsin.  Of course, before the union spends another $20 million in a recall attempt they should note that Governor Walker won that recall election with a slightly larger margin than the election that brought him to office in the first place.

It could be that the people want jobs.  And to get jobs they need businesses to come to Michigan.  The Big Three (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) have been in Michigan forever.  They’ve been bastions of union power.  But every new manufacturer since the Big Three chose to build in some state other than Michigan.  Most of them locating in the Right to Work South.  Something no doubt the people in the Rust Belt are tired of seeing.  Especially when your state has an unemployment rate higher than the national average.

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Wisconsin Takes a Step Forward, the UK Takes a Step Back

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 9th, 2011

 A Foul Stench Wafts across the Rheine

Empires come and go.  But one truly transformed the world.  And still is today.  The British Empire.  Their representative government, property rights and economic policies unleashed unimaginable growth and prosperity.  They gave us the Industrial Revolution.  And we’ve never looked back.  Great nations started as British seedlings.  Canada.  Australia.  India.  New Zealand.  To name a few.  And, of course, the United States.

Sadly, the UK strayed in the 20th century.  As many nations did.  Including the US.  Thanks to a foul stench that wafted across the Rheine.  Karl MarxFriedrich Engels.  They wrote a book.  The Communist Manifesto.  And their goal was to replace capitalism with socialism.  And then replace socialism with communism.  The ultimate welfare state.

The British government exploded in the 20th century.  They nationalized industries.  Raised taxes.  And empowered unions to the point that the nation was at their mercy.  If they didn’t get the pay raise they wanted you didn’t have any electricity.  Their strikes were notorious.  People called them the British Disease in the Seventies.  But help was on its way.

Thatcher and Reagan cut Taxes to Economic Prosperity

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister during the Eighties.  And she started turning the UK around.  Like her counterpart did in the US.  Ronald Reagan.  Both cut taxes.  And nearly doubled their tax receipts (see High income tax will cost the country dear by Telegraph View posted 3/9/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

Between 1979 and 2009, UK corporation tax rates fell by half, even as the revenue from the tax rose by half – hard evidence that lower taxes encourage economic activity and boost Treasury receipts.

People deride ‘trickle-down’ Reaganomics in the US but it worked.  And it worked in the UK, too.  Because jobs are everything.  If you don’t have jobs your economy goes into the toilet.  If you have jobs your economy soars.  It just doesn’t get simpler than that.  And how do you create jobs?  You give people a reason to be brilliant.  Give entrepreneurs an incentive to create something.  Let businesses be profitable and they will take every opportunity to grow their businesses.  To be even more profitable.  All the while creating jobs.  Every step of the way.  The more they grow the more jobs they create.  And the better life gets for everyone.

Of course, remove that incentive and it’s the opposite.  If you raise taxes you reduce profits.  And that removes incentive.  Well, they are raising taxes again in the UK.  And what will the genius entrepreneurs do?  Well, what would you do?

Behavioural changes prompted by the higher rate – with entrepreneurs departing for more benign tax regimes or devising ways of avoiding the new tax – are set to flatten economic growth and lead to a collapse in tax revenues. The think tank estimates that the cost to the Treasury over a decade could be as much as £350 billion… Why should wealth-creators stay here when almost two thirds of their income is taken from them? The answer is that they won’t.

History has shown that higher tax rates rarely bring in the money the government expects.  While lower tax rates bring in more money than any of the naysayers ever dreamed.  So why, then, do they keep raising taxes?  Politics.

The Deed is Done in Wisconsin

Big Government needs supporters.  With the wane of private sector unionization, it’s getting harder and harder to get people to support Big Government.  Because people who work and enjoy life have no need for government help.  So they need to find people who do.  Or create them.

Enter the public sector unions.  These people beg for high taxes.  Because they are paid with tax dollars.  So the more people in the public sector, the more people there are to support big government spending.  It’s a little of the old you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.  And to sweeten the deal, public sector workers not only get pretty decent pay, they get outrageous benefits.  All paid for courtesy of the taxpayer.

And this is what is at issue in Wisconsin.  The union was ready to cave on everything but the collective bargaining.  Because that’s how they pass the full cost of their benefits onto the taxpayer.  Without the taxpayer having any say in the matter.  Until now, that is (see G.O.P. Tactic Ends Stalemate in Wisconsin Union Fight by Monica Davey posted 3/9/2011 on The New York Times).

The bill makes significant changes to most public sector unions, limiting collective bargaining to matters of wages only and limiting raises to the Consumer Price Index unless the public approves higher raises in a referendum. It requires most unions to hold votes annually to determine whether most workers still wish to be members. And it ends the state’s collection of union dues from paychecks.

So now if they want a raise larger than the Consumer Price Index (as a lot of raises are determined in the private sector for COLA raises), they have to ask the taxpayer to approve the raise.  And you can see why they are against this.  They want to keep getting big raises without the people paying them having any say in the manner.

And the whole choice thing about staying in the union?  And making people write checks for their union dues?  Why, if people do that, some are not going to stay in the union.  Not all union members vote Democrat.  But nearly all union dues go to Democrat candidates.  So, of course, the unions don’t want any of these changes to come to pass.  Or government.  Because the little arrangement they had was a nice way to dump bushels of taxpayers’ money into Democrat pockets.  Often against their will.  Or without their knowledge.

Public Sector Union – A Vehicle to Steal Money from the Private Sector

Everyone knows what we need for economic prosperity.  Thatcher and Reagan showed how to do it in the Eighties.  And they turned around nations that were in a pretty sorry state.  Tax cuts spurred that economic activity.  And filled government coffers.  However, Thatcher cured the British Disease.  And Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.  They stood up to the unions.  And that choked off a lot of money funneled (i.e., laundered) to the opposition parties.

And this is what the Left fears in Wisconsin.  That responsible government beholden to the taxpayer may waft out from Wisconsin and infect other states.  Thus turning off the great spigot of coerced political contributions.

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The Struggle in Wisconsin is Similar to the French Revolution

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 5th, 2011

 Technology Kills Jobs and Unions

Here’s something that probably won’t bother a lot of people.  We may have fewer lawyers in the not so distant future.  Why?  Because technology is replacing them (see Technology Eats Lawyers by Douglas French posted 3/5/2011 on Ludwig von Mises Institute).

In 1900 America only had 100,000 lawyers, now there are somewhere around 1.2 million. However, lawyers are now the ones in the cross-hairs of technology’s death ray. Artificial intelligence has advanced to the point where “e-discovery” software can analyze documents faster and cheaper than humans.

“From a legal staffing viewpoint, it means that a lot of people who used to be allocated to conduct document review are no longer able to be billed out,” said Bill Herr, who as a lawyer at a major chemical company used to muster auditoriums of lawyers to read documents for weeks on end. “People get bored, people get headaches. Computers don’t.”

This new legal software is clever, allowing lawyers to determine the internal goings on within companies upon analyzing emails and other internal documents.

A computer replaces a lawyer?  Is that even possible?  A computer reads and interprets human language?  Nuance and slang?  Well, yeah.  Just ask Brad Rutter.  Or Ken Jennings.  Two of the biggest Jeopardy champions of all time.  Who lost to Watson.  A computer.

Technology marches on.  Always.  And it changes things.  Changes the world.

Back in 1900 over 40 percent of the America’s workforce was employed in agriculture. One hundred years later the percentage had fallen to less than two percent. What happened was technology. Tractors, balers and fertilizer meant that yours truly despite growing up in farm country didn’t get stuck down on the farm.

It’s happened to industry after industry and progress marches on. Any job that is mindless and repetitive, over time it’s likely going away. Some machine or technology will do it better and faster. And this is a great thing. Imagine what America would be like if almost half of us had to work on the farm producing food. Most of what we take for granted each day wouldn’t have even been thought of if half of us were slopping hogs and mending fences.

A century earlier most of us were farmers.  That’s why unions weren’t a significant political force around 1800.  Most were farming land they owned.  As the Industrial Revolution transformed America, cities grew.  People left farms to work in factories.  Following World War II, when Europe’s industries were in shambles, American industry exploded.  As did the power of unions.  It was the sweet-spot of the labor movement.  We rebuilt war-torn economies around the world.  Our factories were humming.  And they were organized.  The sky was the limit.  Because there was nowhere else to go.  So wage and benefit packages were very generous.  Then something happened.  The world’s economies recovered sometime in the 1960s.  All of a sudden, you could go somewhere else.  Not pay those high American prices.  And people did.

The unions grew strong when they could.  When there was no competition.  But when competition returned, the unions lost their power.  Because there was a limit to what they could demand.  You see, unlike before, businesses could not pass on higher and higher union costs to the consumer.  Companies that tried saw losses in market share.  So they had a choice.  Go out of business.  Replace people with robots.  Or outsource.  And they did all three.

Union membership in the private sector has declined since the ‘sweet-spot’ of organized labor.   From approximately 35% to less than 10%.  Interesting, though, this is not the case with public sector unions.  During the seventies, public sector workers belonging to a union jumped above 35%.  And has stayed there ever since.

Public Sector Unions:  Stealing from the Poor to Give to the Rich

So what’s the difference between the private sector and public sector that accounts for this divergence in union membership?  In a word, competition.  Where there is competition, union membership has declined.  Where there isn’t competition, union membership has grown and held steady.  Why?  Because of taxes.  States and municipalities have the power to tax.  And when they need more money for those generous salaries, health care and pension benefits, they go to the taxpayer. 

But there’s a problem.  You can’t keep raising taxes.  Especially when the people paying for the benefits have to sacrifice their own retirement and health care in the process.  And when we’re all living longer now (see How to fix the public sector pension system by Michael Johnson posted 3/5/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

There are two aspects to consider; affordability and fairness. A DB [defined benefit] pension provides the retiree with certainty of income until they die but, as the private sector has discovered, the cost of providing such certainty is now prohibitive, primarily because people are living longer in retirement. Indeed, the Government expects more than ten million people in the UK today to live to see their 100th birthday.

Private sector occupational pension provision has almost become a DB desert, replaced by defined contribution (DC) schemes, in which pensioners assume their own longevity risk. At retirement, unless a lifetime annuity is purchased (increasingly expensive), pensioners’ subsequent income is uncertain because they do not know how long they will live, nor how their assets will perform.

Conversely, public sector workers have access to valuable, state-provided longevity protection, care of their DB schemes (as well as no investment risk concerns). Their income is assured, irrespective of how long they live, but even after the introduction of higher employee contributions, tax-paying private sector workers would still be funding the bulk of the cost. It is unreasonable to expect them to assume, and pay for, the longevity risk of others, whilst not being able to enjoy a similar facility themselves. Furthermore, because our population is ageing, the number of workers supporting each pensioner is declining. Consequently, the tax burden is likely to rise, leaving our private sector workers with less to save for their own retirement…

Were such a DC framework for the public sector not to materialise, the Government would be tacitly signalling its acceptance that the quality of pension provision in the (wealth-creating) private sector is to remain second class.

And this is what the debate in Wisconsin is really about.  The ‘right’ for public sector unions to collective bargain isn’t about their salaries.  They are more than willing to give up some of that money.  It’s the benefits they’re worried about.  And what their ‘right’ of collective bargaining has given them.  That bargaining power has passed all those benefit costs onto the taxpayer.  Without the taxpayer’s consent.

This is indeed a class war.  Like there was in circa 1790 France.  Only the sans-culottes are the taxpayers.  And the ‘knee-breeches wearing’ aristocracy oppressing them are the public sector workers.  This development reminds me of a Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch.  When Dennis Moore steals from the rich to give to the poor.  First stealing lupines.  Then valuables.  After awhile, though, the rich become poor.  And the poor become rich.  This verse near the end of the sketch says it best in song.

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Riding through the land
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Without a merry band
He steals from the poor
And gives to the rich
Stupid bitch

After this verse a confused Moore is struck with the realization of what he’s done and says, “Blimey this redistribution of wealth is trickier than I thought.”

Yes it is.  Indeed.  And the taxpayers get poorer while the public sector gets richer.  Thanks to collective bargaining against the taxpayers.  Public sector unions.  Just like Dennis Moore.  That stupid bitch.

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Collective Bargaining in Wisconsin – Greed versus the Taxpayers

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 25th, 2011

Democracy in Action and Whiny Democrats in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Democrats need to take a refresher course in democracy.  Because democracy isn’t oligarchy.  The minority power can’t have its way.  No matter how unhappy they are.  Elections have consequences.  Like Obama said.  The Obama Administration governed without the consent or input of the minority power.  It may not have been nice or what he said he would do during the campaign.  But it was legal.  And democratic.  So Obama governed against his campaign platform.  And the American people.  The people didn’t like that.  And gave the House back to the Republicans in the 2010 mid-term elections.

You see, that’s how democracy works.  You don’t whine and cry when you can’t have your way.  You compete in the arena of ideas.  Win elections.  And govern accordingly.  And when you lose elections you don’t govern any more.  Unless you’re a bunch of whiny cry babies in Wisconsin (see Capitol Chaos: Assembly Passes Budget Repair Bill by Charles Benson, Jay Sorgi and the Associated Press posted 2/25.2011 on todaystmj4.com).

Shortly after 1:00 a.m., after more than 60 hours of debate on this, the Republicans quickly called for the vote, which ended all debate.

Some of the Democrats were so taken aback by what had happened, they didn’t get a chance to vote. 

The vote happened so fast, within seconds, that the bill pass with Republican voting for it, but while they were voting, Democrats kept yelling, “No!  No!  You can’t do this!”…

After it passed, Republicans started walking off the floor, and the Democrats started yelling “Shame!  Shame!  Shame!” as Republicans walked off, one by one, and left the Assembly floor.

Obamacare was hustled through a lot faster with a lot of bribes.  There was no debate.  Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass it to learn what was in it.  The Democrats had no problem with that vote.  The vote in Wisconsin, on the other hand, they do. 

The people of Wisconsin, unhappy with the Democrats, voted in a Republican controlled legislature.  And a Republican governor.  The Republicans had the majority.  The Democrats didn’t.  It’s called democracy.  Which they’re all for.  When they are in power.  But when they’re not in power democracy just isn’t fair.  And they whine.

Of Course they’re Over-Compensated

After the vote layoff notices went out.  The UPI reports teachers are so anxious that they were breaking out in tears.  And for good reason.  They have some pretty nice jobs.  All public sector workers do.  I mean, they wouldn’t be making such a big fuss if those jobs were as bad as they would have us believe.

We the taxpayers pay public sector workers well.  And we’ve been giving them the best of benefits.  Well, yes and no, say the critics.  They’re smart.  Well educated.  And underpaid for their brains.  The critics say people in the private sector with the same education are compensated more.  That’s a little hard to believe.  Because few give up those public sector jobs once they get them (see Everything You Need to Know about Whether State and Local Bureaucrats Are Over-Compensated, in One Chart by Daniel J. Mitchell on 2/25/2011 on CATO@Liberty).

The data on total compensation clearly show a big advantage for state and local bureaucrats, largely because of lavish benefits (which is the problem that Governor Walker in Wisconsin is trying to fix). But the government unions argue that any advantage they receive disappears after the data is adjusted for factors such as education.

This is a fair point, so we need to find some objective measure that neutralizes all the possible differences. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and this “JOLTS” data includes a measure of how often workers voluntarily leave job, and we can examine this data for different parts of the workforce…

Not surprisingly, this data shows state and local bureaucrats are living on Easy Street. As the chart illustrates, private sector workers are more than three times as likely to quit their jobs.

The reason someone doesn’t quit a job is simple and straight forward.  They can’t find a better one.  Over in the private sector, they say the way to increase your compensation is to make a few moves to other companies.  Let private employers bid up your salary.  This isn’t how it works in the public sector.  Pay and benefits have nothing to do with ability.  You get in and you stay put.  And let the union shake down the taxpayers for ever more generous pay and benefits.

Greedy Teachers and the Poor Taxpayers they Shake Down

Wisconsin teachers are calling in sick to show up at these protests.  They are using fraudulent doctor’s notes handed out at the protests to excuse their ‘sick’ days.  That’s not very ethical.  And probably not very legal.  Or a good lesson for the children they teach (some of which have joined them in the protest as useful pawns for the children can’t possibly understand what’s really at stake here).  So why would they go to these lengths?  Will the governor force them to choose between food and medicine?  Will they have to eat cat food?  I doubt it.  For it looks like they’re currently enjoying champagne and caviar (see Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin by Robert Costrell posted 2/25/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

The average Milwaukee public-school teacher salary is $56,500, but with benefits the total package is $100,005, according to the manager of financial planning for Milwaukee public schools.

Wow.  That’s like having one job and getting two paychecks.  And they only work 9 months out of the year.  And get a lot of time off when they do work.  That is some pretty sweet compensation.  I can see why they protest.  They are a privileged elite.  And like elites, they don’t like giving up their elitism.

So how do the benefits add up to $100,005 in total compensation for an average public-school teacher?  Well, thanks to collective bargaining, they get pensions and health care benefits like no one does in the private sector.

•Social Security and Medicare. The employer cost is 7.65% of wages, the same as in the private sector.

•State Pension. Teachers belong to the Wisconsin state pension plan. That plan requires a 6.8% employer contribution and 6.2% from the employee. However, according to the collective-bargaining agreement in place since 1996, the district pays the employees’ share as well, for a total of 13%.

•Teachers’ Supplemental Pension. In addition to the state pension, Milwaukee public-school teachers receive an additional pension under a 1982 collective-bargaining agreement. The district contributes an additional 4.2% of teacher salaries to cover this second pension. Teachers contribute nothing.

•Classified Pension. Most other school employees belong to the city’s pension system instead of the state plan. The city plan is less expensive but here, too, according to the collective-bargaining agreement, the district pays the employees’ 5.5% share.

•Health care for current employees. Under the current collective- bargaining agreements, the school district pays the entire premium for medical and vision benefits, and over half the cost of dental coverage. These plans are extremely expensive.

This is partly because of Wisconsin’s unique arrangement under which the teachers union is the sponsor of the group health-insurance plans. Not surprisingly, benefits are generous. The district’s contributions for health insurance of active employees total 38.8% of wages. For private-sector workers nationwide, the average is 10.7%.

•Health insurance for retirees. This benefit is rarely offered any more in private companies, and it can be quite costly. This is especially the case for teachers in many states, because the eligibility rules of their pension plans often induce them to retire in their 50s, and Medicare does not kick in until age 65. Milwaukee’s plan covers the entire premium in effect at retirement, and retirees cover only the growth in premiums after they retire.

No one in the private sector gets these benefits.  No one.  Unless they make very large contribution towards them.  Whereas the teachers get them totally free.  Is that fair?  People bitch about CEO compensation but at least it’s the shareholders who have last say on that.  In Wisconsin it is doubtful the taxpayers even know what their public-school teachers are making.  Courtesy of their tax dollars.

Overall, the school district’s contributions to health insurance for employees and retirees total about 50.9 cents on top of every dollar paid in wages. Together with pension and Social Security contributions, plus a few small items, one can see how the total cost of fringe benefits reaches 74.2%.

What these numbers ultimately prove is the excessive power of collective bargaining. The teachers’ main pension plan is set by the state legislature, but under the pressure of local bargaining, the employees’ contribution is often pushed onto the taxpayers. In addition, collective bargaining led the Milwaukee public school district to add a supplemental pension plan—again with no employee contribution. Finally, the employees’ contribution (or lack thereof) to the cost of health insurance is also collectively bargained.

As the costs of pensions and insurance escalate, the governor’s proposal to restrict collective bargaining to salaries—not benefits—seems entirely reasonable.

And there you have it.  Why the Left is panicking about what’s going on in Wisconsin.  And it ain’t about the children.  Health care benefits and pensions can’t get any less about the children.  Collective bargaining has given the public sector workers great pay and benefits at the taxpayer’s expense.  All without having the taxpayer to approve these generous compensation packages.  Unlike shareholders in private corporations. 

Collective bargaining for public sector workers enables the transfer of huge sums of money from the private sector (the taxpayers) to the public sector.  Union members pay dues.  And guess who unions support in elections.  Democrats.  If other states follow suit the Democrats stand to lose a lot of campaign cash and foot soldiers.  And this is what it’s really about in Wisconsin.  Greed.  The greed of public sector workers.  And the greed of Democrats.

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Governor Scott Walker Takes on the Public Sector Unions in Wisconsin

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 18th, 2011

40 Percent of Teachers Call in Sick…in West Bloomfield, Michigan

We start not in Wisconsin.  But in Michigan.  Another of the other Great Lakes States where the Republicans won control of their state house.  And there’s teacher trouble in one of their fair cities (see The West Bloomfield Teacher ‘Sick Out’ by Tom Gantert posted 2/18/2011 on Michigan Capitol Confidential).

About 40 percent of the West Bloomfield High School teachers didn’t show up for work on Feb. 15 in the midst of bitter contract negotiations.

Goodness, that’s a lot of teachers.  Pay and benefit packages for teachers in the West Bloomfield school district must be awful.

West Bloomfield teachers do not do any premium sharing for health insurance and do not have a deductible in their plan, Andrees said…

The total compensation of a West Bloomfield teacher grew 173 percent over an 11-year period, going from $47,346 to $129,637, according to information that was presented at a school board meeting in December.

The teacher’s salary started at $31,881 in 1999-00 and grew to $85,836 in 2010-11. Meanwhile, insurance payments climbed from $9,309 to $19,304 per year, and retirement contributions jumped from $3,717 to $16,854 per year.

Wait a tic.  Isn’t Michigan one of those states suffering from record unemployment?  Even though the federal government just spent billions of dollars to bail out GM and Chrysler to save jobs?  I mean, it’s pretty horrible in Michigan.  But I guess we need to put this aside and focus on what’s important.  There are teachers there who have been working a 9-month year for the measly compensation of $129,637.  What vicious, heartless bastards they must have in Michigan.

Incidentally, teachers get the good months off during the year.  The summer months.  How many of you would like to get paid $85,836, get $19,304 worth of healthcare insurance per year free with no deductible, retirement contributions totaling $16,854 per year AND have the three summer months off?  Not to mention all the holidays and breaks during the school year.  I dare say many people would like this.  Especially the taxpayers who pay for this while they themselves get little in compensation compared to this.  So I don’t see a mass outpouring of sympathy for these teachers.

You know, it’s good to be a teacher.  In the public school system.

Public Sector Unions Impoverishing States, Cities and their Trade Union Brethren

Public school teachers are part of the public sector.  And belong to a public sector union.  In the public sector, there is no competition.  We pay the public sector workers with tax dollars.  Unlike their counterparts in trade unions.  These people who build useful things for us are not paid with tax dollars.  The private sector pays them.  As such, they have to respond to market forces.  Unlike their brethren in the public sector (see Labor’s Coming Class War by William McGurn posted 1/4/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

Suddenly, it’s a different world. In this recession, for example, construction workers are suffering from unemployment levels roughly double the national rate, according to a recent analysis of federal jobs data by the Associated General Contractors of America. They are relearning, the hard way, that without a growing economy, all the labor-friendly laws and regulations in the world won’t keep them working.

What’s more, “blue-collar union workers are beginning to appreciate that the generous pensions and health benefits going to their counterparts in state and local government are coming out of their pockets,” says Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Not only that, they are beginning to understand the dysfunctional relationship between collective bargaining for government employees and their own job prospects.”

They get it.  All pay and benefits come from the private sector.  Whether paid from business profits.  Or taxes on business profits.  (Or taxes on our private paychecks.)  All taxes come from profitable business operations.  But excessive taxes dampen economic activity.  And kill jobs.  Everybody knows this.  Even some union people.  So something has to change.  And some state governors are stepping up.

The signs of this new awakening are gathering. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie rightly becomes a YouTube sensation for taking on his state’s obstinate public-sector unions…

Over in New York, meanwhile, newly inaugurated Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a similar battle. Mr. Cuomo campaigned on a cap on property taxes and a freeze on state salaries, both anathema to the powerful state-employee unions…

Elsewhere, in 2005 Republican Govs. Mitch Daniels and Matt Blunt used executive orders to end collective bargaining with state employees in Indiana and Missouri, respectively. Now the incoming Republican governors of Ohio and Wisconsin—John Kasich and Scott Walker—are targeting collective bargaining for government workers in their states.

Scott Walker and Wisconsin.  But more of that later. 

In some ways, this new appreciation for the private sector is simply back to the future. FDR, for example, warned in 1937 that collective bargaining “cannot be transplanted into the public service.” In the old days, unions understood economic growth. Mr. Malanga points to AFL-CIO President George Meany’s strong support for the JFK tax cuts as an example.

These days the two types of worker inhabit two very different worlds. In the private sector, union workers increasingly pay for more of their own health care, and they have defined contribution pension plans such as 401(k)s. In this they have something fundamental in common even with the fat cats on Wall Street: Both need their companies to succeed.

By contrast, government unions use their political clout to elect those who set their pay: the politicians. In exchange, these unions are rewarded with contracts whose pension and health-care provisions now threaten many municipalities and states with bankruptcy. In response to the crisis, government unions demand more and higher taxes. Which of course makes people who have money less inclined to look to those states to make the investments that create jobs for, say, iron workers, electricians and construction workers.

Now, with that background, let’s look at Wisconsin.

40 Percent of Teachers Call in Sick…in Madison, Wisconsin

Just like in Bloomfield, Michigan, teachers are calling in sick (see Schools in Wisconsin’s capital close after protesting teachers call in sick posted 2/16/2011 on myfoxorlando.com).

MADISON, Wis (NewsCore) – Public schools in Madison, Wis., were closed Wednesday after 40 percent of the 2,600 teachers protesting a controversial budget bill called in sick.

School officials were forced to cancel classes, as there were not enough substitute teachers available to cover the absentees, Madison Metropolitan School District superintendent Dan Nerad told local newspaper the Journal Sentinel.

Though in Wisconsin they’re saying little about what their current pay and benefits are.  One can only assume they are as generous as they are in West Bloomfield.  Because if they are awful they would have told us how awful they are. 

President Obama Declares War on Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

So how awful are things really in Wisconsin?  From the media reports it sounds like the end of world.  That Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, is bringing back slavery.  Even the president is joining the fight against the elected government of Wisconsin (see Obama joins Wisconsin’s budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill by Brady Dennis and Peter Wallsten posted 2/18/2011 on The Washington Post).

The president’s political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to mobilize thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals.

Their efforts began to spread, as thousands of labor supporters turned out for a hearing in Columbus, Ohio, to protest a measure from Gov. John Kasich (R) that would cut collective-bargaining rights.

By the end of the day, Democratic Party officials were working to organize additional demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana, where an effort is underway to trim benefits for public workers. Some union activists predicted similar protests in Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

So much for federalism.  Thank God Thomas Jefferson didn’t live to see this.  This meddling by the executive power into a state’s affair is worse than he even feared.  Even Alexander Hamilton would not approve.  And he was in favor of a strong executive.

The Worst of the Assault on Public Sector Unions – Asking them to Live like the Rest of Us

So what is so vile, so repugnant, so evil in the state of Wisconsin?

Under Walker’s plan, most public workers – excluding police, firefighters and state troopers – would have to pay half of their pension costs and at least 12 percent of their health-care costs. They would lose bargaining rights for anything other than pay.

Well that doesn’t sound so bad.  People in the private sector often pay 100% of their retirement.  A pretty hefty share of their health-care costs.  And something like 90% of the private sector doesn’t even have any bargaining rights.  Other than quitting a job if it is so vile, so repugnant and so evil.  And, you know what?  Those jobs in Wisconsin must be pretty damn good.  I mean, to protest like that can only mean one thing.  That these jobs are the best jobs around.  For there isn’t a chance in hell they’ll find anything as good in the private sector.  Which is why they simply don’t quit those ‘God-awful’ jobs.

Beyond their short-term fiscal problems, many states face pension and retiree health-care costs that some analysts say are unsustainable. Some states already are curtailing retirement benefits for new employees, although many analysts say it will take much more to bring their long-term obligations in line.

The huge debt burdens coupled with the impending cutoff of federal stimulus aid later this year have spurred talk of a federal bailout. The White House has dismissed such speculation, saying states have the wherewithal to raise taxes, cut programs and renegotiate employee contracts to balance their books.

What?!?  Our federal stimulus paid for those fat pension and healthcare benefits?  Wasn’t that money suppose to stimulate economic activity?  Create jobs?  Could it be that it was a slush fund all along to reward loyal Democratic supporters?  Good God, can it be that Rush Limbaugh was right?

In Wisconsin, state Democratic senators staged a protest of their own Thursday, refusing to show up at the Capitol for an 11 a.m. quorum call – delaying a vote that would have almost certainly seen the spending cuts pass.

I guess elections only have consequences when Democrats win.  When Barack Obama won, he told the Republicans, sure, you can give me your ideas about how to fix the economy.  I won’t use any of them.  Because elections have consequences.  And I won.  Perhaps the Republicans should have hid during the Obamacare vote.

“Many of the companies I went by, like so many others across the state, don’t have pensions, and the 401(k)s they have over the last year or two, they’ve had to suspend the employer contribution,” Walker told Milwaukee radio station WTMJ. “So, not a lot of sympathy from these guys in private-sector manufacturing companies who I think reflect a lot of the workers in the state who say what we’re asking for is pretty modest.”

What’s good for the private sector is good for the private sector.  The public sector apparently deserves better.  And with record unemployment, I’m sure they’ll get a lot of sympathy from the taxpayers paying their salary and benefits.  Not.

Public Sector Unions and the President are trying to Maintain a Privileged Elite

FDR got it.  The trade unions get it.  And most of the taxpayers lucky enough to still have a job in the worst recession since the Great Depression get it.  If you don’t have a healthy economy there is no money for anyone.  High taxes kill economic activity.  And there is only one way to pay generous public sector pay and benefits.  High taxes. 

We have come to a crossroads.  In one direction there is prosperity.  In the other there isn’t.  The governors in New Jersey, New York, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and, of course, Wisconsin, are trying to go down the road to prosperity.  While public sector unions and the president are trying to maintain a privileged elite.  At the expense of the ordinary American.  Who will win?  We’ll find out in Wisconsin.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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