• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • The Government Union Right to Viagra is Bankrupting You

    According to the liberal version of events, the ongoing fight in Wisconsin between Gov. Scott Walker (R) and government unions centered on the unions’ “right” to collective bargain for wages and benefits. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, there simply is no “right” to collective bargaining. And just what are the “benefits” that government unions use their collective bargaining privileges to take from taxpayers? Today, The Washington Post reports on Montgomery County, Maryland’s very similar budget troubles:

    At a time when public employees unions are fighting for their lives elsewhere in the United States, the munificence of Montgomery’s benefits package was captured in an e-mail this month notifying workers, in the understated prose of a Q&A fact sheet, that “the County will no longer cover the cost of purchasing medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).” …  Officials said ending the ED benefit for county government employees, retirees and their families would save $400,000 a year.

    Forcing taxpayers to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for government union Viagra is not unique to Montgomery County. In fact, the very same government unions that were demanding their “right” to collective bargaining in Wisconsin have repeatedly fought for their “right” to Viagra as well:

    In 2002, through collective bargaining, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association won the inclusion of Viagra in its members’ health plans, and by 2004, 10% of union membership (which isn’t a male-dominated set) was subscribing to the benefit — at a cost of more than $200,000 per year to the Milwaukee school district. Not until 2005 was the school district finally able to convince an arbitrator to drop the coverage.

    Last year, while the school district faced a $10 million budget shortfall, the MTEA decided it was time to revisit those drug benefits and filed a lawsuit demanding their reintroduction to union health plans—at a projected cost of $786,000 in 2010.

    It may look like the union trying to raise costs for taxpayers, but MTEA spokeswoman Kristin Collett insists that it’s really a matter of fundamental rights: “this is an issue of discrimination, of equal rights for all our members.”

    Of course, there is no “right” to Viagra, just as there is no “right” to collective bargaining. All Americans do have a First Amendment right of freedom of association. But that does not mean that unions have any right to force their government employers to sign exclusive contracts benefiting their members at the cost of taxpayers. And those costs are real. Government unions are so powerful in Montgomery County that politicians give campaign contributions to the union, not the other way around. The result? Montgomery Country faces a $608 million deficit this year and structural deficits looking far into the future. And what is the driving force of Montgomery County’s structural deficits? Government union benefits like Viagra. According to the Montgomery County Office of Legislative Oversight:

    Between FY02 and FY11, the primary driver behind higher personnel costs was not an increase in the size of the workforce but rather the increase in average costs per employee. Across the four agencies, employee salaries grew by 50% in the aggregate and by higher amounts (up to 80%) for individual employees, while the costs of health and retirement/pension benefits increased upwards of 120%. In FY11, the combined agency cost of employee benefits is almost $740 million, or 22% of all spending.

    And remember, that 22% of all spending is just for employee benefits. According to the same report, 82% of all tax supported Montgomery County spending goes to employee compensation.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to The Government Union Right to Viagra is Bankrupting You

    1. George Colgrove VA says:

      G R E E D !

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      This is one of those issues that one would expect other public workers would start standing up for the taxpayer and against this extravegant "benefit". Where are they? Their silence is far more E V I L than the people asking for these things. We need their support NOW!

    3. kevin - Foresthill,C says:

      I also heard that the wisconsin unions are going store to store asking owners to side with them or they will boycott their bussiness. The unions definitly don't help america in any way shape or form.

    4. Bobbie says:

      This is disgusting. Anything to gain power! Pampering those that can't let nature take it's course. Wonder what effects will be endured, eventually? Like Pelosi and her years of phoniness added to her face and body!

      Viagra- gets the wrinkle out! (SNL?) Just ridiculous.

      PAY FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL DYSFUNCTION! …IT'S NOT LIFE THREATENING! unless of course government unions spin it into one and the puppets will agree…

    5. Rachael, Moon Townsh says:

      Unions are breathing their last breath in this country. That's all this is. They are an outdated concept and we the people should not have to pay higher taxes for them to have cushy jobs with cushy benefits when I have had my costs go up 57% in two years. And they should most definitely NOT be able to collectively bargain essentially against me.

      I want to start a family, however the cost to insure a family through my employer's plan is nearly 60% of my total income. That's just unaffordable…. and my local school district just went on strike because they did not want to contribute more to their healthcare. According to the website, they pay $25 A MONTH for a family plan. They are going to strike again because they disagree with the arbitrators decision, which I'm sure will result in higher property taxes for myself. If teachers chose to be teachers for cushy jobs and good healthcare, they went into the profession for all the wrong reasons and need to find a new line of work.

    6. Dave, cincinnati says:

      Govt (economically nonproductive) employees demand their "rights". Govt education (welfare system) has permeated their beings with the expectation of ever increasing job perks (Viagra, etc.,) regardless of actual employee achievement. 420,000 govt, employees in a 4,200,000 Wisc. state population?!! Absurdity supreme. The police threatening merchants whom the police are supposed to protect!!

    7. Pingback: The Government Union Right to Viagra is Bankrupting You : USACTION NEWS

    8. Randy131 in Florida says:

      Its amazing that the members of these government unions don't have a conscious and are extremely happy to rip-off their fellow citizens, their neighbors. They smile all the way to the bank, while passing their neighbors in the unemployment lines, the welfare lines, the food stamp lines, and the social security lines, where they beg for a raise in their social security payments. But keep those citizens and neighbors paying for their access and consumption of viagra, for they need it to get it up after they've spent all day screwing the public.

    9. Dave G., Crofton, MD says:

      Also, remember union plans get WAIVERS from PPACA, so their members don't have to pay taxes on their richer-than-yours benefits.

      Plus, the new preventive benefits mandated by PPACA (intended to bend the curve) will actually becomes a source of future cost increases. The reason is the many and various "health lobbies" are expected to push for more and more services to be deemed "preventive." These represent new federal "mandated benefits" on top of state mandated benefits, which are NOT going away under PPACA.

      There is no limit on the number of "free" preventive services a health plan can provide, other than the premiums you must charge to pay for them. Hold onto your hats folks….you ain't seen nothin' yet.

    10. Wes in cincy says:

      Instead of giving the government unions Viagra, I think we ought to give the unions

      an enema and flush the whole bunch of them out of here.

    11. Corky, Howey in the Hills, Fl says:

      Unions are nothing but losers. If they have the “right” to collective bargaining then I have the “right” to FIRE all of them! Get rid of them and hire unemployed folks to step in and take over. Kill two birds with one stone…

    12. Auggie69, IL says:

      Even FDR said there's no place for unions in the government, and he was the poster child for Democrats! He found it "unthinkable and intolerable".

      If you want to be a public servant, then serve. If you want to make money, work in the private sector.

      When did the reverse happen??? Now it's if you want to make a million, work in the public sector, if you want to be a servant work in the private sector.

      Unions are outdated, we have laws in place to protect workers. Why are they still bleeding money from taxpayers?????

      Think about it. Your tax dollars pay for the public workers (garbage collectors, police, teachers, etc.), a portion of your tax dollars (that pays their salaries) then go to public union dues. That money then puts money in the coffers of the people they want to keep in office that will benefit the unions.

      It's not a democracy, it's a money laundering scheme.

    13. John N Florida says:

      The sad part about this whole controversy is that both sides could have what they want. If the counties could get the Viagra from Canada, they would save 2/3rds of the cost. If the unions upped the copay for that particular class of drugs, it reduces the cost further. A win – win for both sides.
      Us usual, what we have here is a failure to communicate. It used to be called 'Negotiation', but that word has been stricken from the Republican lexicon.
      Carrot or stick? The Republicans have chosen the stick and use ear plugs to lessen the din of noise.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×