Saturday, March 05, 2011

Public Employee Unions need to Get Real

Government Workers and the New Reality
Too bad the showdown with public employee unions has come to this, however long in the making. One can be pro-union and still feel a growing resentment at these workers' ability to set their own dream retirement benefits as the private sector's were being amputated. Not that they are to blame. They got what they could -- it's the American way -- though they overplayed their hand by resisting honest efforts to reform government, schools above all.

The public workers respond that rather than race to the bottom, others should rise to their level. But the difference between them and others is that they got to fire their employers at the ballot box. Their payoff came in the form of future goodies that wouldn't hit the taxpayers until the politicians were long gone. Hence, retirements at age 50 and gold-plated health coverage for life.

"Do you know how much of our retirement plan we are funding ourselves?" an aggrieved teachers union official asked. To which I replied, "No, I don't know, but I happen to be funding 100 percent of mine."

Public employees are fighting to keep their old-fashioned defined-benefit plans, which have all but disappeared in the private sector. Such plans promise to pay a set amount to each qualified retiree. If the investments can't keep up with the promises, the employer must make up the difference -- in the case of government workers, the taxpayer. [...]

The Gravy Train is over. Taxpayers like me who have to provide for my own healthcare and retirement plans will not tolerate having to provide for cushy union pensions as well, promised to the unions decades ago by some now forgotten politicians, who conveniently passed the debt on to future generations. MY consent was not given for it, and it's my tax dollars they are wanting to take.

Rosen: Unions are "busting" taxpayers
[...] I agree with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

The Battle of Wisconsin has focused public attention on a fiscal reality. Whatever the necessity and value of public-sector jobs, federal, state and local governments simply can't sustain their current costs. Irrational unionists and media liberals have preposterously compared duly-elected Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin to anti-democratic dictators. In fact, it's just the opposite. This is democracy at work. Wisconsin voters in 2010 ousted Democrats and gave majority control of their legislature and the governor's office to the GOP. Walker campaigned on exactly the measures he's now taking in regard to balancing the budget, reining in excessive compensation for public employees and restricting their collective bargaining privileges, as is done in 24 other states.

In response, 10,000 angry unionists have laid siege to the state capitol, shaking their fists, shouting epithets and waving signs. So what? That was to be expected. They're defending their rice bowl and their self interest. Meanwhile, millions of non-union Wisconsinites who work in the private sector and whose taxes support the angry unionists haven't descended upon the capitol. Those who voted for Walker and other Republicans are getting what they were promised. In our system of government, free elections trump demonstrations. [...]

The unions aren't being destroyed. They ARE getting a reality check. One that, IMO, is long overdue. They need to learn to deal with reality, like the rest of us.

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