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  • Morning Bell: Government Unions vs American Taxpayers

    The Washington Post reports today that “the daunting tower of national, state and local debt in the United States will reach a level this year unmatched just after World War II and already exceeds the size of the entire economy, according to government estimates.” But there are a number of big differences between our national debt now and the debt in 1946. The Post reports: “State and municipal governments from Sacramento to Madison to Harrisburg have racked up about $2.4 trillion in debt, or more than 15 percent of GDP.”

    And even this total is understating the problem. Recent studies show that state and local governments are severely underestimating their pension and benefit promises, including a $574 billion shortfall for the nation’s top major cities and a possible $3.4 trillion shortfall for the states. The cause of these crippling pension and benefit obligations is no secret. The Post explains: “Public employees often enjoy more generous pension and health-care benefits, and these are at the root of the long-term budget problems confronting many states.”

    How did this happen? Why did so many state and local governments not only spend too much today but promise future spending far beyond the means of taxpayers to pay for it? Government unions. And across the country, legislators and governors are beginning to fight back.

    The professional left (including the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the NEA, AFSCME and President Barack Obama) is trying to portray these budget battles as an assault against all unions. But as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R), who is pushing legislation to curtail government union bargaining power, explained last night, this is just plain false:

    The bill I put forward isn’t aimed at state workers, and it certainly isn’t a battle with unions. If it was, we would have eliminated collective bargaining entirely or we would have gone after the private-sector unions. But, we did not because they are our partners in economic development. We need them to help us put 250,000 people to work in the private sector over the next four years.

    Walker is right: Government unions are inherently different from private-sector unions. The purpose of private-sector unions is to get workers a larger share of the profits they helped create. But government is a monopoly and earns no profits. All government unions do is redistribute more tax dollars from taxpayers to unions. The left used to understand this. Not only did President Franklin Delano Roosevelt write in 1937: “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” but as recently as 1959, the AFL-CIO Executive Council stated that “government workers have no right [to collectively bargain] beyond the authority to petition Congress—a right available to every citizen.”

    Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) also recognizes the key difference between private-sector and government unions, telling the Associated Press Monday:

    We have an $8 billion budget hole in Ohio. We have a third of our college students that leave Ohio after three years. We’ve lost 600,000 jobs in the last 10 years. Only California and Michigan have lost more than that. And part of the reason why we are pushing collective bargaining is we frankly want to give the managers in our local communities and our schools the ability to control their costs so they don’t have to raise taxes and drive businesses out and more jobs out.

    By granting government workers the power to collectively bargain, government unions have completely politicized the civil service. State and local employees in 28 states are required to pay full union dues or get fired. Using this government coercion, government unions have amassed tremendous financial resources that they use to campaign for higher taxes and higher pay for government workers. The top outside spender in the last election was the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees ($91 million). Governor Mitch Daniels (R–IN), who signed an executive order ending state worker collective bargaining his first month in office, spoke in support of Walker yesterday:

    The people who are doing the demonstrating, and their allies … spent that state broke. … The most powerful special interests in America today are the government unions. They’re the leading financial contributors. They have muscle, a lot of times their contracts provide for time off to go politick and lobby.

    And lobby and politick government unions have. Across the country, from Arizona to California to Minnesota to Maine to New Jersey and more, government unions have pushed legislation and ballot measures that raise taxes and spending. In Trenton, New Jersey, last night, Governor Chris Christie (R) framed the debate:

    In Wisconsin and Ohio, they have decided there can no longer be two classes of citizens: one that receives the rich health and pension benefits, and the rest who are left to pay for them. These ideas are not red or blue. They are the black and white of truth.

    Conservative governors across the nation should absolutely work to reform the way public-sector unions drain our economy. As Governor Christie told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ today: “We’re not trying to break the unions, the unions are trying to break the middle class.”

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    73 Responses to Morning Bell: Government Unions vs American Taxpayers

    1. Dale Evans, Honolulu says:

      Here in Hawaii, the law requires that all counties and state workers must bargain as one, not as separate sovereign entities — so one or two counties could be coerced into bargaining agreements just because of this all for one, one for all type of law.

    2. Mike, Chicago says:

      The issues in Wisconsin aren't about the financial shortcomings created by Walkers corporate welfare (much smaller than the budget shortfall his predecessor was able to overcome) but about political control, and wont be solved by the party that creates debt for generations to come. This is another attempt by the right wing to destroy their opposition, and will be the end of the Regan Revolution one way or the other. The Koch brothers and their employees are either going to revitalize those that want to live in a Democracy to bring Democracy to the US, or they're going to kill off the last vestiges of Democracy and usher in a completely Fascist government.

    3. toledofan says:

      The unions don't belong in the governement sector because there are no capitalists or profit involved. This entire debate is really about socialism versus the free market; do we let the prevailing wage determine the salaries or the politicans. Once the politicans are inviolved it becomes a matter of redistrtributing wealth and panning for votes. What is really despicable is that the Democrats, lets face it they must carry the brunt of the why we are at this place in time, skipped town and don't even have the decency to stand on their principles and debate the issue. How concerned are they regarding the majority of the citzens in their states.

    4. Mary............WI says:

      God Bless WI republican elected officials. You have to wonder how they got through their assembly session yesterday into the night with all the rude, ignorant union members and their distracting noise. Stupidity is not a virtue!

      My husband and I still stand behind Gov Walker. It is the fair and right measure to make at this time when WI taxpayers and the state need reform NOW. Union members need to buck up like the rest of Wisconsinites and quit acting like parasites on the backs of the WI taxpayer….we have no more to give!!!!

    5. Jim --New Haven, Ct. says:

      First, we can thank JFK for the mess we're in. He granted municpal/federal /states employees the right to bargain. I may be overly optomistic, but I think we've seen the end of the union workers bleeding us. What they don't understand that the tax payers who pay their salaries out number them and are starting to speak at the polls. People in the private sector are aghast at what government workers salaries, benefits and retirement packages cost them. And when teachers scream because they're being asked to pay 12% of their health care, the blood boils. My employees paid 40% of their health care premiums, and we're happy to do so.

    6. Roger TN says:

      As a strong believer in the Constitution, including the 10th Ammendment, the states should be able to control their own destiny. That is as long as the other states do not have to pay for their bad (corrupt) management. If you want to give away the store and vote the elected officials into office again and again, fine but pay your own way. Should you choose to pay your government employees more than the average and permit benefits better than the majority of the state citizens, again fine by me. BUT be prepared to pay for it from within. Unions have destroyed our private industry and now are working on the government using the same failed tactics that eliminated so many jobs in the private economy.

    7. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      2- 23 -11 FROM – Ken Jarvis – LVKen7@Gmail.com

      Erik, TX on February 22nd, 2011 at 3:09pm said:

      Ken from Lost Wages, How is your question germane to the subject?

      Since you asked, I “side” with the people who PAY the teachers and were wise enough to elect the representative politicians and charge them with getting the state budgets in line.

      *** Erik –

      Unions NEVER spent a Cent of Public $$$,

      so WHY blame them for the Debt?

      Blame the Politicians.

      They are the ones that WASTE OUR TAX $$$.

      ===

      Dave W. Provo. UT on February 22nd, 2011 at 3:28pm said:

      Ken for over 20 years I had to belong to the teacher’s union and 1/2 half of my dues went to the national NEA who decided with out local input where they would spend the money–very little ever spent on helping children learn but a lot spent to buy political candidates. It was gross taxation with out representation.

      *** Dave did you take the UNION NEGOTIATED SALARY? AND OTHER BENEFITS?

      Did YOU set up ONLINE Learning for your students?

      Did YOU use the Internet to teach them in your spare time?

      Or, NOW, 20 years later you complain.

    8. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      Bad Students should be expelled.

      If they can't make a C grade

      they shouldn't get to come to school.

      Going to Public School should be a PRIVILEGE

      and ONLY deserving Students should be allowed to attend.

    9. BARB, MN says:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/22/walker-u

      Gov. Walker Informed That Bill Targeting Unions May Cost State $46 Million In Federal Funds

      WASHINGTON — Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.

      Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate "collective bargaining rights" that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as "protective arrangements" or "Section 13C arrangements," is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

      It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass — in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

      The governor is certainly aware of this. While the potential loss of funds may have escaped the attention of many observers, sources familiar with the state's transportation policy tell The Huffington Post that Walker's office has been informed of the relevant legal language. Moreover, in an a nearly unnoticed report filed by the state's Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the non-partisan budget scorekeeper, the stakes are laid fairly bare.

    10. Frank, Florida says:

      The total Federal Debt to GDP ratio is now about 100% and we now increase total Federal Debt (about $14 trillion) at over $1 trillion/year. That is not counting all the other government debts (state, city, county). Greece is in financial crises & has a debt to GDP ratio of about 130%. The USA will soon be in Greece's shoes in a few years… but before that happens, it is likely the US Dollar will lose its status as the world's reserve currency. Confidence in the US Dollar might collapse OVERNIGHT!! Yes, when you are sound asleep at home it will be daytime in China & with 24 hour computer trading worldwide, the Asians might start "dumping" the Dollar, this will continue overnight as in daytime Europe they also start panic "dumping" of the Dollar. By the time you wake up & the Markets open in the USA, the US Dollar could have lost 90% of it's value. What will Americans do then? Imagine skyrocketing prices of food & gas & everything else! If Republicans & Democrats alike want to avoid this scenario, we need to make DRASTIC budget cuts now. Even then, it may be too late, but we should try. Government workers in unions should have benefits equal to union workers in private companies, and no more. Anything else is a ridiculous rip-off of taxpayers that we no longer can afford.

    11. LibertyAtStake, Alex says:

      Private Sector union membership is around 7% of the workforce. About 36% of Public Sector employees are unionized. In 2010, 7.6 million public sector employees belonged to a union, compared with 7.1

      million union workers in the private sector. (from http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.nr0.htm)

      iow – The union bosses are collecting more than half of their vig from the wrong side of the street. The union bosses are upside down on the mortgage and foreclosure is right around the corner for them.

      d(^_^)b
      http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com
      "Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

    12. Robert, North Richla says:

      Unfortunately, we (American taxpayers) are fighting a lot more than government unions. 100,000,000 welfare recipients, 12,000,000 unemployment recipients, plus 25,000,000 irresponsible senior citizens (those without savings, life insurance, or investments – in other words they are totally dependent on social security, medicare and the U.S. government) and the people in government unions – which are more people than work (or run a business) in the private sector. Combined, these people do not want to see ANY spending reductions that might affect their check. I have heard people say they "can't believe Obama got over 69 million votes." Seriously, I can't believe he didn't get 125 million votes. Actually, the positive thing is this: over 50 million of these deadbeats either don't show up – or they have enough patriotism left to vote for a responsible candidate.

    13. Doouble Ace says:

      I couldn't agree more with this article. I am tired of reaching into my pocket to give money to the state coffers so they can turn it over to unions workers to pay for their benefits. Why doesn't the state pay for my benefits? How do union workers sleep at night knowing they are taking money out of my pocket (another middle class American) to pay for their benefits. How owuld they feel if the private sector required them to pay for my families benefits. I am tired of paying over 50% of my earnings to Federal, state, and local governments topay for these benefits.

    14. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      I find it amazing that professional people cannot meet and discuss fees and agree what is reasonable. If done, the FTC will file suite for "price fixing" declaring that the activity is creating a monopoly and anti free market. But government unions can strike to "fix income." Clearly a double standard.

    15. William Hurst, Canog says:

      We must be able to examine the real cost of a government employee vs their salary. To compare a private workers pay to a government worker, misses the sometimes lifetime benefits and pension that government workers receive after they no longer are public servants. I continue to hear about pensions at 90% of salary plus health care after 20 years of "service". I have heard of teachers being paid to sit in a room while they are being investigated for all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors. We can no longer afford a system that pays people who no longer are actively serving the public. Any pensions, healthcare or services must be self sustaining after the person leaves public service.

    16. Carol,AZ says:

      My comment regarding the 14 missing Senate, Dems, hidding-out in a Best Western, in WI. represent;

      the audacity of stupidity, mirrored by our own Federal Government, all suffering from an acute case of Obamaism..

      To these spineless electors; being supported by the tax payers in WI, with dire fiscal deficit; The Dem's offices should be locked-down, all fired on the spot, for deleliction of duty.

      Where in America, can you walk out of your job for nine days and continue to get paid, have benefits, and expect to return to your job?

      These elected Dems, in WI reinforce the continuum of hoplessness in American government leadership.

      We have no leadership at the helm in America.

      Gov. Walker, WI , Gov Christie, N.J. and Gov. Brewer, AZ, have been forced for their state's fiscal survival, all made difficult decisions to save each state.

      Other states will follow making these hard choices, the ones that don't, will cave.

      It's called Democracy.

      The root Demo, from Latin, mean self.

      The word Democracy, self governemt, by the people.

      In the month of Feb, over 400,000 American lost jobs.

      Gov Walker has stated clearly, that over 5000 WI, citizen will be given pink slips IF fiscal concessions are not met.

      To Gov. Walker, Gov. Christie, and Gov. Brewer, America thanks you for making the hard decisons and having the starch to do so.

      The Doctor's with full duplicity, handing-out medical notes to allow the pro-union protesters to strike, and also get paid by fraudulent medical notes, have broken the law.

      We are 14 T dollars in debt in America and growing higher each week.

      DO Amerians finally understands Economies don't function carrying debt?

      America IS, at the weakest point in our American history. The Federal Gov. can not, or will not, make decsions to cut out the carp, the pork, the entitlements, and expose the fraud that exist within.

      Thank you Governor(s), for holding the line in your states and enforcing the due process of Democracy for the majority.

    17. LISA CROKIE OHIO says:

      we need to take back our country from the thugs that are killing us. we need to push the issue of obamas eligibility , why has he spent so much to keep his records closed. and get the muslims out of our country, obama does nothing about this , he actually sides with these people. the people had better wake up or we won't have a country.

    18. Don,TX says:

      Get in their face, and shame them for driving Americas educational systeem AND economy into the ground. No ifs, ands, or buts. PUSH HAS COME TO SHOVE IF WE ARE TO SURVIVE AS A NATION. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    19. Bruce J. Kolinski says:

      Great article. Thank you.

      Today's unions are not "for" workers. They are about "using" workers to further their Marxist agenda. Union workers are now in the position of supporting their corrupt, freedom hating unions against their own self interest. Barack Insane Obama and friends are all about this.

      The profound ignorance of the demonstrators in the city of my alma mater, Madison, Wi. saddens me, but is not surprising. One wonders how teachers in Wisconsin who are now graduating nearly half their 8th graders unable to read, stand shamelessly tall in defending their dedication to our kids. Reality is the demolition of our kids futures and the demise of American health and well being.

      Today's teachers, who have stood cowardly by in allowing school administrations to lower standards are quite literally creating an "underclass" of uneducated Americans. History shows what happens when these disadvantaged underclasses become impotent. They rise up and hurt you.

      It strikes me as odd here in Arizona, that we're now arguing about whether illegal kids should be educated. Who are we kidding? We aren't even educating our own legal kids. Freely admitting illegals into our schools is pretty much a guarantee that they will be as poorly educated as our own children. Are there any adults left in this country?

    20. Dr. Henry D. Sinopol says:

      I am in total agreement with the legislative leaders attempting to control the influence of public unions. But…has anyone noted the bloated pensions, per diem payments, yearly pay increases and perks of our state legislative members. In Pennsylvania they meet all year, which is not necessary, get great pay, get per diem and WAM (walking around money) as well a s super perks. They also have large staffs that get the same things, except WAM.

      We see the world reacting to politicians who have been in power for 30+ years who have wasted public funds in Libia, Egypt, etc., but do not think about the lifers we support for years that have put our great country on the rocks.

      Charity and saving should start at home. Examine all the waste…

    21. Doug Whaley, Lake Ha says:

      A good way to solve the problem of pensions is to eliminate them just as corporations have. Instead of defined benefit plans everyone should have a defined contribution plan. This would eliminate the problem of governments at all levels underfunding these retirement plans. It would also put every worker whether they are government employees or corporate or private employees on the same playing field. Government employees would contribute the same amounts as their fellow workers do in the private sector. Governments could match these contributions just as the private sector does. The result is more equity among all workers, less budget problems and more capitalists paying attention to what is going on in the world since their pensions depend on it rather than acting like they are part of a ruling class and deserve something the rest of the people who are paying for their bloated pensions have.

    22. Larry, Austin TX says:

      There are 5.6 million people living in the state of Wisconsin. The state is spending $32 billion per year. That's $5,714 per person. The per-capita income of the state (how much each person living in Wisconsin earns per year) is only $25,000. Thus, the people of Wisconsin are spending 20% of their total income on their state government. You can add another 20% to pay for the federal government… and another 2%-3% for local government. When you add it up, you'll find government now makes up more than 40% of the economy. The same is true almost everywhere in the United States. It should be obvious to any rational, thinking person that when we're spending more than 40% of our GDP to govern ourselves, we are doomed.

      This isn't a political issue. What really matters here is the plain truth: The people of Wisconsin (substitute your state) cannot afford their government. That's not a political statement. That's an economic fact.

      A fact that more and more people not on the gravy train are waking up to and working to correct by electing representatives to reverse the intrusion of government into the finances and liberty of Americans.

    23. KC - New Mexico says:

      The comment “the unions are trying to break the middle class.", hit hard this morning. I believe this is the case that Americans need to change. There is no need for unions in governmental work. These are workers paid for by tax payers. Unions represent the weaker employees, in a private sector job – they would have been fired if they did not show up for work. I have never been forced to join a union and most of my career has been in private sector jobs. The last three years have had pay cuts, no raises, furloughs, and a loss to benefits. At the same time, government workers have had it sweet! However the output of their jobs and the level of customer service is pathetic!

      Teachers on strike or protesting as they are today have lost all credibility and sympathy. So have the so called doctors handing out the “I am sick” slips while on the streets. Even the media interviews with the protesters are sickening – these folks are stupid – and we trust them to teach our children!

      It is time to dissolve all government unions – starting with the Whitehouse, Congress, and Court staffs. They need to work, or get replaced with some of the millions of out of work Americans who would work! Their pay and benefits need to be aligned with the private sector. Their job performance process needs to be revised.

      It is time for the Republicans, Tea Party, and the “in bed with union” democrats to wake up and make real changes that will starts bring this country back on track. That does not include a tax hike!

    24. Meremortal says:

      The citizens (who are working people too) of the states having budget problems are not Robber Barons forcing public employees to work for subsistence wages under dangerous conditions. The idea that government employees need to be protected from citizen taxpayers is ludicrous.

      This situation will take care of itself when the deficits can no longer be financed. It can be taken care of with some pain now, or a lot of pain later. Overspending always self-corrects, the only question now is will we correct through sensible cuts, or face draconian cuts and depression era pain in the near future due to unwillingness to face reality. The goose had laid all the golden eggs it can, and the union say that's not enough. Something has to give, and will.

    25. R. Hurt, California says:

      This Ken sounds European to me-in American-education is a priviledge for all US citizens. Notice I said US citizens-not illegals-as well as the priviledge to work; only with the understanding with common knowledge that work is not a guaranteed right for every citizen. The government unions are a clear example of Socialism and Communism-work and rights for the few. This clearly speaks out as to who these people really are-idiots, socialists-in the worse case senerio, selfish anti-Americans that feel priviledged beyond common decency. As a US citizen, we need to think of the private sector because it still feeds the majority of people and maintains the healthy level of the middle class as well as the tax payer base. It is neccessary to see the left for what it has become-a Socialist-Communist-Facist-Democrat, that has only itself in mind and not the country that feeds and gives them the freedom to question the common decency of America citizens.

    26. Lee-White Tanks AZ says:

      In as brief and direct language as possible, public employee unions violate a fundamental tenet of good law and good government. We have a monumental case of Conflict of Interest.

      The taxpayers can be extorted to pay extra for the very services for which they currently pay taxes. Collective Bargaining beyond wages has no place in public enterprise.

    27. Jeann Marie Buckbee says:

      I think the people in office NEED to start looking at themselves and THEIR pension and benefit plans!!!

      Why do they have special health care and retirement plans?

      Why don't they have what the legislate for the common man??????

      This REALLY makes angry!!!!!

      What's good good enough for us — should be GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM!!!!

    28. Cindy, Oregon Coast says:

      Your headline is completely redundant. The union IS the taxpayer! What are they thinking? Where is President Obama's, "Spread the wealth" ideal now? The people are slitting their own throats with the governments knife. What good is a pension when the government decides they'll use it to pay off our $70,000.00 debt for every man, woman, and child? When they change the law to make it so when someone dies, their beneficiaries get nothing? Get smart people!!! Let it go. And why aren't they saying that it's only state workers that are getting 60 bucks for every dollar they invest and not federal?

    29. Mark, Green Bay says:

      There is no correlation between states that allow collective bargaining and right to work states. They are all running deficits. Texas a right to work state is 30 billion in the hole. This is only about busting the last instutions that stand against corporate greed. The sponsors of this legislation (search Koch Brothers) want all US workers to earn third world chinese wages so they can compete in the global marketplace and remain multi-millionaires.

    30. Janet, Lancaster says:

      "Everyone" lives at the expense of everyone else these days. However, "everyone" only blames others and not themselves for fiscally ruining America instead of stopping their own stealing. Our family does not want to pay for supposed conservative's Medicare, Social Security, government monopoly education and two school meals per day for their children, corporate welfare, and do nothing government jobs. If the supposed conservatives would actually stop taking do nothing government jobs and the "government": money that they want while simultaneously criticizing others for taking government money, conservatives would be taken more seriously. As long as "everyone" makes excuses and tries to justify their owning stealing while condemning their neighbor's stealing, nothing will change nationally because we as a people will not have changed.

    31. Lorraine White - Has says:

      I am so glad that people are finally speaking what needs to be spoken – I really appreciate Gov. Christie for finally putting words to what we all have been feeling!!

    32. Kat Oliver says:

      It cannot be exaggerated that the states and the federal government get a handle on our financial problems. Our very standard of living and well being is at stake. We have delayed doing this and now it is time to pay the piper. If we do not-our currency will no longer be the reserve currency. Do you ever wonder why we pay less for gas than any other country? Because oil is purchased and sold with dollars. If we default, if states go bankrupt, if the treasury keeps printing more dollars-depreciating the value-watch out! These governors are doing the absolute right thing. Wisconsin and Ohio cannot attract business because they are not a right to work states. Wisconsin just lost out to Virginia on a large business setting up shop there. So teachers-go ahead and keep taking your unfair pensions-bleeding the state dry. Your students will not be able to find a job in Wisconsin.

      And I am totally aghast at the Democrats who will not show up to work. All during the last 2 years-Republicans showed up-argued their points-stood tall in their convictions-even though they did not have the majority. You are children who cry and run to mama with their ball because they are not assured of winning-boo hoo! By doing that-you have lost the argument and all respect-I feel sorry for your districts-I hope they fire you!

    33. Gary says:

      Let's see. Public sector unions are paid with tax revenue. Therefore, they have a guaranteed source of income regardless of what happens to the economy. So, they take money from everyone that is the taxpayers. They then use it to elect politicians who are indebted to them and who reward them with pay and benefit packages well beyond what the people who pay their salaries can get. The unions and their politicians both get much better pay and benefits with a lifetime guarantee. Isn't this arrangement a case of democracy being two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch?

    34. tmy, St. Louis, MO says:

      Tax payers pay the salaries and benefits of unionized government workers . Government workers in turn give some of this money to the unions in the form of dues.

      The union officials then gives much of this money to the political party that will continue to enable them to take increasingly more of the taxpayers money to increase the union members salaries and benefits to increase the amount of dues to increase the amount of donations to the politicians.

      How much money is given to democrat politicians by the unions of government paid workers? All of this money given to politicians by the unions comes directly from ALL of the taxpayers.

      This is not a fight against teachers or office workers who are paid by us, but, it is a recognition that there is a corruption of our system of government when, we the tax payers are forced to finance the livelihoods union officials, and the campaigns of democrat politicians who work against the betterment of all for the few. Those democrat politicians who are shirking their duties at the state capitols, state paid workers who are shirking the duties in state offices and schools are a manifestations of this corruption. We all lose!

    35. KC - New Mexico says:

      Gosh, even in the great state of NM, the democrats are in bed with the unions, maintaining a huge government work base compared to the private industry. They are also in bed with the illegal alliens from Mexico and the gays! No wonder we are falling apart as a country!

      Today – the president even declared that the bill in Congress that declares a man and a woman = a marriage is unconstitutional. Time for him to leave office!

      May be it is time for a revolution – remember the 60's and Nam! Americans who care need to step up to the plate and demand change!

    36. John Berger says:

      I don't object to collective bargaining per se; I object to it being mandatory. And I object to paying dues for it which only benefits the unions themselves.

      Were I to work in an enterprise, govenment or private, I would simply tell the union I'm not joining a I prefer to bargain my own pay and benefits. My positionsn would be that if I can get a better deal, I earned it through my bargining prowes. If I get a worse deal than the union can negotiate, I'll accept my failure.

      Then I'd refuse to have dues taken out. I'd then come to work as usual. If the union tried to keep me out, I'd tell whoever they sent – once – not to touch me unless they wanted to spend some quality time in the hospital. Then I'd sue both the union and the enterprise.

    37. Bonnie, The Villages, FL says:

      Only 12.5% of the country are union members. They think that just because they yell and whine they deserve to be treated better than the rest of us. With the union thugs leading the assault aided by our president the fire is only fueled. When are these members going to wake up and see what the bosses are doing with their dues and they have no imput into how it is spent. Why do you think theses thugs are out there leading the demonstrations – follow the money. The bosses live extravegant life styles and you the union member support this and the democrats. You are a meal ticket for them, with billions of your dues going directly to them. Why don’t these unions fight for the kids instead of always trying to get more money for the adults in their contracts?

    38. Wayne Clark says:

      I have been writing columns for over a year about the problems with Public Sector. Oklahoma, with a $16.5 billion funding gap has a significant problem as well. Unfortunately, the new legislature seems determined to protect as many of them as possible. Continue your fine work as will take an enormous effort to inform and educate the public as a significant percentage of the voters are simply ignoring the problem. It is not a question as to whether the problem is significant in every state, it is only a question of when the consequences will damage the economy beyond repair.

    39. Al, Glenwood says:

      If a public sector employee costs a future taxpayer one dime, the agreement made by our representatives, (local, state of federal)

      was irresponsible, and I'm convinced it's vote buying. My children should not be paying for their public employees, AND my generations employees.

      Pay a fair wage/salary and insist the employee fund their own retirement.

    40. Kevin H, college par says:

      I'm shocked that the major corporations have finally duped so many people into being against unions. Unions are responsible for so many wonderful things – they are the ones that made companies offer health insurance, set a limit for number of hours we are forced to work without a break, set standards on conditions we can work in, etc…

    41. Brian, Michigan says:

      With so many Wisconsin legislators avoiding their duties………does Wisconsin have a "recall" provision in their state constitution?

      If so, the voters should be organizing huge "Sign the recall" petition rallies outside the capitol. Maybe then these fools would get the message….

    42. Bobbie says:

      For every dime lost in the state of Wisconsin, due to their personal choice of actions of those democrat cowards and misled teachers and government goons called unions, needs repay by those accountable. If you notice, government contracts involve policies that PROTECT INCOMPETENCE AND UNACCOUNTABILITIES, WEAK! INDIGNANT! No protection to the people they serve!

      government unions are sects of dictatorships…

    43. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      It appears as though too many people have forgotten the causes that brought forth collective bargaining that we know as unions. If I remember correctly they emerged from such abuses as child labor, excessive hours without a break, poor pay, inadequate time off for routine things like family, rest and attend/serve at church and of course egregious safety issues. I’m confident those basic issues have been more than adequately addressed.

      It seems rather odd to me that public service employee unions think it is just fine to have such tremendous pay and benefits and the ability to retire so early in life simply for exchanging their precious time for all those sheckles over the years without barely having to contribute to their pension or pay for healthcare benefits.

      Why is that when politicians wanted to cut the Department of Defense (DOD) budget about twenty years ago they found the largest category of the DOD budget was the personnel pay and benefits with a very large portion being retired pay and benefits that they thought it was just fine to arbitrarily mandate the services conduct a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) to prevent the government from paying out this money? Just remember, active duty service members don’t get summers off plus sick days, Christmas Break, Spring Break and other perks. They do not get the plush healthcare insurance that public service employee union members are offered but they do get a restricted form of healthcare, more so than their dependants in terms of what will be effectively treated, what medications are authorized and what their recourse for medical malpractice is. And, of course, they get to go places you wouldn’t dream of like Iraq and Afghanistan during combat or even counter insurgency operations.

      Perhaps the State Governors of the numerous states with a budget deficit should conduct a RIF of ALL workers in the state regardless of specialty, education or office agency worker who is already 75% of the way to retirement and either pink slip you (to save money and eventually balance the budget) or, if they feel magnanimous, give you some cash to leave without the chance of benefits or a retirement that many think they are entitled to for simply showing up (or not in the case of the “Fleebaggers” who elected to go AWOL rather than do their duty).

      Then these governors can change via eliminating collective bargaining for such groups as educators and other public service employees before hiring new, younger employees who are out of work but capable.

      I’m confident those who were RIF’d wouldn’t find it too difficult to find work since they seem to have all this education, knowledge, skills and abilities plus so many years of experience! Then they too can learn the difference between earning your pay, pension and benefits versus a simple redistribution of wealth.

    44. Stewie, Northeast US says:

      We are broke in NY, NJ, CT, VT, NH, and Maine. We cannot afford the liberal agenda anymore. That the NEA was allowed to gain so much influence and that Democrats are so solidly in bed with unions is a crime. Socialism does not work, and unions are the front lines of socialism.

      The parasitic actions of the unions have eaten the legs of capitalism, and the Democrats pushed this. They still do not understand what they did, and believe they were doing good. They also do not understand that the majority will no longer stand for their bullshit. We are tea party, and we are the majority.

    45. greg madison wi says:

      I side with Governor Walker–all the way. The public unions here in madison have made life so incredibly rich for the members. Its appears all about power, Democrat power, and Obama power. And its taxpayer money that keeps them singing their song, while not making even one widget; the private sector making the profit. Roosevelt was correct in 1937. If fascism exists in America, it really appears to be in the Left's corner. Spell Left… ''UNIONS''.

    46. Dave W. Provo. UT says:

      Chicago Mike tell the whole story–The former govenor used Obama stimulus money, that was to be spent on infrastructure, to pay the union pension bills thus kicking the problem down to today. States with out balanced budget or right to work laws are the ones with the largest money problems and no way to solve them but lay people off. Look up what progressive FDR said about public employee unions, he warned they would create huge problems for us. Unfortunately he was correct.

    47. craig Sacramento says:

      We need to get unions out of government. Either we break the unions or they are going to break us!

    48. John, California says:

      Large state budget deficits over the last several years are the result of the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and the accompanying deep recession, plain and simple. When taxpayers lose their homes and/or jobs, they aren't paying state or property taxes, hence the big decline in revenues to state and local governments. The conservative narrative of blaming public sector employees is a red herring and very dishonest. The truth is, conservatives have been pining to eliminate collective bargaining in both the private and public sectors ever since WWII and are now using the cover of a deep recession as leverage. The solution to the budget crises at the state level is create jobs, not throw more people out of work or cut their wages and benefits. But I seriously doubt that my opinion will ever be published on this website.

    49. Bobbie says:

      Private sector unions with no government backing CAN BE trustworthy. The government has labor laws in place so unions are not necessary. Government unions indoctrinate the members, extort, corrupt and work against the freedom of the market and the tax payers, government union thugs steal from. Government unions protect incompetency and hold no accountability. NON-PRODUCTIVE AND EXTREMELY UNFAIR! Government unions are a conflict of interest as they bargain with tax payer dollars where the tax payer is excluded from the bargaining of their hard earned money. People themselves are realizing unions aren't worth their costs.

    50. Tdog says:

      Unions gave over 400 million dollars to the owebama campaign. In the 2010 elections, the top 20 unions gave nearly 70 million dollars to elect democratics. These are the same people that negotiate and approve the public sector union contracts. This is a direct conflict of interest. Perhaps the unions should have given these millions to help their members?

    51. Bill Allen, lake cou says:

      There is no question that this mess has to be cleaned up but let us put a major share of the blame where it belongs and that is on the slime ball politicians and public officials who not only allowed this to happen but caused it to happen.

      It is not possible to successfully argue with the fact that no union ever got anything that was not agreed to by a company in private sector or a government agency in public sector.A contract with a union is signed by both parties or it is not a contractual agreement.This came about as the result of a symbiotic relationship between politicians and public sector unions.You contribute to my campaign and get out the vote for me and I will see that you are rewarded.

      Making matters worse is the absolute fact that public sector organizations at all levels have taken a nuetral position with regard to union organizing which is why

      the percentage of public sector workers in unions is five times that of private sector and for the first time in our history there are more union members in public than private.

      We have met the enemy and it is us certainly applies to politicians and government officials in this case.

    52. Lil, San Diego says:

      I do believe the article was quite clear in the summation of private-section unions vs. public sector unions—the private sector wants to share in the profits they created; govt. unions what profits do they create????

    53. JR says:

      I find this utterly amazing. All the people screaming about unions and taxes in Wisconsin and paying more than their share while out of the other side of their mouths they continue to give the dairy farmers their incentives (which are derived from taxes). Just yesterday they voted to give the incentives once again. I'd like to know when the people will tire of buying every farmer a new $50,000 pickup every year while allowing the farmers to keep the profits from their crops too. This Whole issue speaks of favoritism (the government in favor of the rich and against the working people who will never get the perks).

    54. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Government employees can't strike. It's illegal under federal law. So why should they

      be unionized?

    55. Sue Marie Detroit says:

      This is about government destroying the middle class. The American middle class is the goose who lays the golden egg. Obama's adminstration along with the unions are trying destroy the middle class. When the unions say they want to protect the working families they are talking about the middle class. I do not know a single individual who does not work. We all are working families. Earning wages or salaries in the private or public sector is work. Government Unions heads are stealing the fruits of workers (aka tax payers without their permission).

      Obama meets and talks with Government Union heads two or three time a week while not meeting or talking to his cabinet for two years. Obama is truely a community organizer not a commander and chief of the united states of america.

    56. Robert F. Whittier, says:

      Sorry to be nitpicky, but I hold the Heritage Foundation to a high standard. One of your sentences implies a nonsensical relationship due to a dangling participle. I know what you're trying to say, and I agree with the intended sentiment, but please reconsider the following sentence, which implies that public sector unions granted themselves the power to collectively bargain.

      "By granting government workers the power to collectively bargain, government unions have completely politicized the civil service."

      It was politicians colluding with unions who did this.

    57. Nick in Pittsburgh says:

      Toledofan hit the nail on the head. The government provides service and is associated with profit. Collective bargaining is based upon profit and if there is none, nothing can be bargained. The only means by which government servants gain raises and benefits is through taxation of the private sector. Although the government servant pays taxes also, it is merely recycled tax money to begin with.

    58. Michael R. Citro Jr. says:

      Worker Unions in this day and time are the same as communisum [sic] because the not so skilled or smart workers get the same pay rate as the trurly smart and skilled at an inflation and cost of services provided. Case in point I am a self empioyed automotive tect. Working as a subcontracter at an independent shop with 30

      years expirience and the education of both Lincoln Institute and General Moters factory schools. There is no union for us as am told because our skills are so Ivaried I am paid 42.50 flat rate per hour with paid uniforms and health insurance because who I am not for any other reason

    59. william says:

      I think this should be taken to another level. The citizens should be allowed to determine what these elected officals receive for pay and compensation at all levels of government, city, state, federal. Any that are caught taking money or gifts of any sort from unions or corporations or special interest groups should be immediatly removed from office pending sentencing for jail.

    60. Gene MN. says:

      well i do like public unions we do not need them at all. private unions are ok, government not taking money out of my check to support them. however most unions give millons to the liberal party. i also believe that the republican party in wisconsin, ohio, new jersy will lose. lets face it the republican is still weak, have not won anything important since abraham lincoln.

    61. Anthony, Las Vegas, says:

      What's sad is that the OP didn't provide as much detailed information on this topic as did the commentary. Which is actually the case for most media out there. That's why people are so misinformed nowadays. Debate has become mostly rhetoric on both sides in the media. How about some facts? Why do I have to scroll down blogs to the comment section for facts?

      It upsets me to know that there are real experts out there with real solutions to problems like this whose research isn't getting published in news media. I'm tired of having to change my stance on these issues every 6 hours simply because I find new information that overrides the old.

    62. Sharpshooter, Cheyen says:

      Just remember: collective bargaining makes a labor cartel.

    63. Doouble Ace says:

      To Barb, MN: Do you truly not see the problem with your comment? The tax dollars that the Feds are talking about come from the taxpayers of Wisconsin as well as everywhere else. Why should the Fed govt take our money then use it to threaten a state when they don't like what the State is doing politically or otherwise. The federal government should be there for the national defense. They should not be involved in state issues. Perhaps the states should outlaw the collection of Federal income tax and keep the money in their state and use is accordingly (i.e. to support the people who pay the taxes not the freloading unions, or the lazy welfare recipients, etc).

    64. Doouble Ace says:

      Kevin H, College Park, Well said, sounds like you listened well to your professors, and have been totally brainwashed. You either are a professor or a graduate who has not lived in the real world long enough to figure out that about 90% of the Bullshit you get in college is socialism. The unions are also reposnsible for the financial demise of this nation. They have forced small businesses to close, and have raised benefits and pay to such an outrageous level that the employer can no longer afford to pay them. The government should shut it's doors and turn off the lights and let's see how long it would be before those who support unions coming begging for their jobs back, without union representation.

    65. Doouble Ace says:

      These people who think that the taxpayers should support them and their families have obviously never been taught any responsibility. They were raised in welfare families, who have for generations depended on the system to support them. They now think it is the government or a unions responsibility to get them everything they can get. I think the teachers union is a prime example of what is wrong with our educational system. American students went from first in the world to 16th or 17th, not coincidentally the unions have gained a powerful position in the educational system during the same time period. I was raised to believe it is my responsibility to get a job and support my family, not ask someone else to fund my medical and retirement packages. Now the government see's that I have done that, and they are looking at my 401k and IRA and thinking maybe it would be better if they took it and just gave me a monthly stipend (much like they promised with social security, and we all know where that has gone). It is time government was drawn down and put in it's place subservient to the people of the United States. The government works for us not the other way around. This country needs to rebel against our government, put them in their place.

    66. pippo valley stream says:

      You know how the private sector put the employee defined pension fund is in a separate account and is protect by ERISA

      The public union pension is part of the government general budget and not protected by ERISA in another word public sector union pension is not separated for the government budget and therefore the government does what it pleases with their pension and writes I owe you

      Because of irresponsible government official now we are at the cross roads where you decide either raise tax or cut programs or file bankrupt to satisfy the union pension payment

      It’s the public union leadership fault to allow this irresponsible politician to squander their pension fund and not keeping it separate from the general budget like it’s done in the privet sector

      Now the bill is do but there is no money to pay for it and the current politician is stuck with the problem

    67. Denise, Massachusett says:

      Are public employee pensions legally protected from bait and switch laws? Public sector employees who have worked, saved and planned for their old age based on pension promises should not now have the rules changed. Remuneration is take home pay and deferred compensation in the form of benefits $, which are future dollars.

      We need to look hard at current pay scales for all employees in public service including and up to presidents of colleges and congressmen etc. While the mice fight, the cats gobble up the cheese. Corruption will continue if we allow petty arguments to cloud the issues. We must stand together as realists with integrity, careful to look not only to our own interests now but to those of our neighbors. If we are quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry we will avoid turning our monetary problems into a blame game and we will be successful at achieving and maintaining our balance on the tight rope.

      Cut current pay scales and holidays if need be, from the top to the bottom, but if pay is to be changed, let it be current pay not promised pensions.

    68. John Hubbell, Minnet says:

      I'm not sure the argument in Wisconsin is being framed in a way that is understandable to most people. It should be made clear that for many years, the government of the state of Wisconsin has been required to collect the dues for the teachers' union and hand them over to the union, when then uses them to finance the elections to public offices of people who support the unions. Gov. Walker simply wants to stop collecting the dues on behalf of the unions. He wants to leave this money in the members' paychecks and tell them to do as they please with it — i.e., if they want to pay dues to the union with it, go ahead. Or use it to pay for health care insurance; or do whatever they want with it. The unions have erupted in anguish because they know that if their members are allowed to decide whether or not to pay their union dues with it, a lot of them will do other things with it, reducing and possibly eliminating the unions' chokeholds on elections. The situation as it exists is utterly corrupt.

    69. Pingback: Louisiana Union Rally A Misguided Show Of Solidarity

    70. gorio says:

      Walker is just doing the obvious, the democratic bureaucracy created the self distructive union leaches as a revenue source because they were unable to raise campaign money any other way. The idea that government workers are allowed to unionize is very european, Dutch soldiers have a "union" and are quite useless as are our unionized bureaucrats. If we are so liberal that we want our servants, government workers, to have a union we should at least have an ironclad control over their pay, but we don't, eventually they will make us the "servants" and will only allow us pocket money so they can "manage" our activities. WAKE UP AMERICA, the government leach on your back is really ugly!!!!

    71. Amanda - Wisconsin says:

      It's no wonder schools are suffering.. parents are still blaiming their shortfalls on teachers. Teachers can be no stronger than the community that supports them. If parents want their "failing" students to pass.. guess who passes…Until teachers have the support and parents who hold their own kids accountable, things will not change or get better. Schools now have to feed kids breakfast and lunch and snacks.. because parents don't (just the beginning), then they try to bring up responsible citizens when parents complain and call them in sick breeding lack of respect for the teachers that are trying to help students succeed… Start sticking up for your teachers, support them when you can, volunteer in the classroom and show some respect so that students will have some respect and ownership for their educations and will grow and learn!! If you have no been in your school volunteering and seeing what your teachers are doing for your students then you should zip your mouth shut because you have no idea the time, money, sweat and tears they are spending to instill values and an education in your students!

    72. Bobbie says:

      "Teachers can be no stronger than the community that supports them?" What does that mean? They do no more maybe even less than what is expected? Indoctrination of the unions? And no offense, Amanda but we'd rather our children weren't influenced by someone elses values that could be in conflict to ours as parents.

      Good teachers are priceless. They don't answer to corrupt unions. They'd help out because they do love to educate and would help out anywhere that is asked of them. The results of their students is seen. Good teachers don't conduct their behavior like undisciplined children who need "union strong" backing.

      I agree on the free breakfast and lunch accommodations. It's not the responsibility of government and if parents aren't feeding their children within their own means or the free food stamps they get, the children should be taken away.

      Nothing should be for free, as everything that is, is taken advantage of. Parents lie to get this for nothing and if they were expected to take on their rightful parental obligation we wouldn't have government worried about everyone getting equal food distribution according to what the government determines.

    73. pettiho says:

      why can't we find other things to cut? Like. . .Governors and Senators. How bout their benefits and pensions? How bout stop spending money on other countries wars. . .There are definitely other things to cut.

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