Unions in this country got started because industry took advantage of workers. But these days, it seems to be the other way around. I am not talking about unions in the private sector. Private sector union workers should be free to get what they can. If private sector unions get too much (health care, pensions and pay), it is the fault of company management.
Public sector unions are a different story all together. Public sector unions do not operate in the real world where there is profit and loss. These unions work in a world of politics and taxes. This is a place where the unions’ needs line up against the people who pay them—the taxpayer. The unions think they are entitled to rich pensions and medical plans when they retire. If there is not enough money in a state or city budget, then they think taxes should be raised. For example, take the recent union protest over budget cuts in Illinois. A crowd of 15,000 union members were chanting, “Raise my taxes!” Yes that’s right, “Raise my taxes.” Check it out for yourself in the video below:
Many public sector union members get health benefits when they retire for free or nearly free for the rest of their lives. A friend’s mother retired from a Northeast state DMV. She was a clerk. She has medical coverage for life with $2 co-pays! Her pension was just raised $4,000 a year. What clerk gets that in the private sector? It is also not uncommon for public pensions to be high 5 or low 6 figure amounts. Why should taxpayers pay for lavish health care plans and pensions that most do not get themselves?
This is an outrage that is coming to light because nearly every state in the union is facing severe budget problems. It is partly the fault of politicians who promise gold plated health and pension plans without funding them. Politicians play fast and loose with taxpayer dollars just to get a block of union votes at election time. This is why I think unions working in the public sector should be outlawed. Take California for example, it has a $500 billion public pension problem. Less than 2 weeks ago, Governor Schwarzenegger called it “the single biggest threat to our state’s fiscal health and future.” Below is video from his weekly address that is stark and dire:
It is fascinating to me that this is barely covered in the mainstream media. This is a half trillion dollar problem—for just one state! Most states in the union are facing dreadful budget problems. This has been met, by and large, with a yawn from the mainstream media. States cannot print money. They haven’t been able to do that since the Civil War. So, they will be forced to raise taxes, cut services, get federal bailout money or file bankruptcy. That’s my favorite because it will wash out all the commitments; and cities, states and the unions can all start over.
Public unions across the country do not want to curb their pay, medical benefits or pensions, even though there is great pain and expense to the taxpayer and the economy. Public unions are not the entire reason states are in financial trouble, but cutting those benefits are certainly part of the solution. The good of the union cannot supercede the good of the public which pays them. Look for more protests and backlash from unions as they are asked to take cuts. Look for more outrage and push back from the public as they are asked to pay for the lush benefits. I predict public unions will either take some big cuts voluntarily or be forced to do so through bankruptcy. This money fight will not play well with hard working voters in the private sector this fall. Remember, the private sector is the only place where real wealth and prosperity is created. The public sector does not generate revenue, it only confiscates taxpayer money. Taxpayers need union employees to work for them–not against them.
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Greg is the producer and creator of USAWatchdog.com. The site’s slogan is “analyzing the news to give you a clear picture of what’s really going on.” The site will keep an eye on the government, your financial interests and cut through the media spin. USAWatchdog.com is neither Democrat nor Republican, Liberal or Conservative. Before creating and producing the site, Greg spent nearly 9 years as a network and investigative correspondent. He worked for ABC News and Good Morning America for nearly 6 years. Most recently, Greg worked for CNN for shows such as Paula Zahn Now, American Morning and various CNN business shows.