Government Worker Unions: The Long Good-bye

The "Madison Uprising" is the beginning of the end of the incestuous relationship between government and the unions.  That fact has been recognized by the public sector unions and the Democratic Party and is why they have pulled out all the stops and reverted to their 1960's playbook in order to maintain the status quo.  However, it is a battle that the unions and the Democratic Party will lose regardless of the immediate outcome in Wisconsin.

The Democratic Party has sold its soul to the public sector unions.  In the 2010 mid-term election, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees poured over $87 million dollars into the election. (A new spending record).   AFSCME's $87 million was greater than the campaign spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($75 million) and American Crossroads ($65 million).  Other public sector unions also ratcheted up their spending such as SEIU ($44 million) and the National Education Association ($40 million).

The three major public sector unions spent over $171 million in the 2010 election plus an estimated $250 million equivalent value of so-called volunteer activity such as get out the vote efforts, door-to-door campaigning and poll watching.

There is nothing wrong with private people or organizations, including private unions, spending money on political campaigns as institutional sources are disclosed.  However, AFSCME, the NEA, the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) or the public union sector of SEIU are government employees.  Their salaries are paid by the taxpayers and a portion of their salaries go to union dues which are slush funds for political activity and the promotion of left-wing causes. In 2008 the NEA and the AFT made contributions and grants totaling over $96 million of union dues; all to liberal organizations irrespective of the desires of the rank and file or the taxpayer.

It is wholly inappropriate for public employees to spend dues money on political contributions.  Public officials are chosen through popular elections and the government employee should be indifferent as to the outcome of the election.  However, by maintaining such a heavy hand in not only monetary contributions but election activity the politician becomes too dependent upon the union largess and is essentially blackmailed into acquiescing to all the demands of the union, particularly pay and benefits which have sky-rocketed and are now unsustainable.

President Franklin Roosevelt, the Progressive icon, recognized this problem back in 1937.  In a letter to Luther Steward, then President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, he wrote that "meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government".  He went on to say that government employees should not have bargaining rights or a closed shop similar to private sector unions.

However, since the public sector unions were granted those rights beginning in the 1960's they have achieved the virtual ownership, together with the private sector unions, of the Democratic Party.  In the 2010 election cycle, per the Center for Responsive Politics, AFSCME donated 99.5% of contributions to Democrats; The NEA donated 96% and the AFT, 99.7%.

These dues were funneled to Democratic candidates who promised to raise workers salaries and hire more public sector workers-even though statistics show that total compensation for federal and state workers is nearly 50% higher than for private sector employees.

Government workers have access to elected officials during negotiations to set wages and benefits and can hold the promise of campaign contributions over these politicians' heads during negotiations.  There is, in effect, no one representing the taxpayer who is the source of all income to the government.

This means runaway compensation for government workers, higher taxes for the general public and higher deficits.  The taxes go from the electorate to government paychecks to union dues-then to more campaign contributions until the state, municipality or the federal government faces bankruptcy.

The clout of this unholy alliance was further on display when the unions were able to siphon off roughly $160 billion dollars of the 2009 stimulus to save the jobs of state and local workers.

The unseemly goings-on in Wisconsin portray, in microcosm, the disastrous policy of allowing government workers to unionize and bargain for wages and benefits. The unions are fighting to preserve their source of income and clout (i.e. union due) and the Democrats have shown the world their cowardice and dependence by slinking out if the state in order to maintain their bought status.

By these actions they have drawn back the curtain for all to see the true nature of this incestuous relationship and the impact on the future of the country.

It has taken Wisconsin and the near bankruptcy of the country and of many states and municipalities to finally awaken the American people to this fraud and theft.  They must demand that public-sector unions can only be associations that can seek better workplace conditions or to facilitate employer-employee disputes but cannot have bargaining rights or mandatory dues.