Public Sector Unions Must be Abolished

The recent battle over a Federal government shutdown adds more evidence to the argument that public sector unions must be abolished. Cities are reeling under unsustainable pensions paid to government workers who are not working. And those in state government jobs are receiving the largest pensions of all. They are destroying the economy. Their contracts are not approved by voters but by secret quid pro quo arrangements with the politicians they support.

Federal collective bargaining rights were granted by executive order, not by an act of Congress. In 1962 John F. Kennedy granted collective bargaining to federal workers through Executive Order 10988. The voters of America had no say in this cozy relationship. The result is that today fFederal workers earn up to twice as much as their private sector counterparts. But since they are unionized they have a power private sector workers don't have: to force other workers to support them through taxation.

The debt created by these union pensions may be unconstitutional: the Constitution says Congress may levy tariffs and fees in support government services. If employees are no longer working and providing services, then the tariffs and fees are not providing any services. Furthermore, the money going to pensions deprives the neediest Americans of much-needed entitlements. When excessive debt is created, the service on this debt takes more money out of the Federal government, reducing its ability to help the poor even further.

Public sector unions have always been closely associated with the Democratic Party. This continues to this day with the four largest public sector unions. The Center for Responsive Politics states that according to Federal Election Commission records, the SEIU, National Education Association, AFSCME, and American Federation of Teachers, all public sector unions, are in the group of the 12 biggest campaign contributors of the past 22 years.

Illinois is one of the states most thoroughly dominated by the Democratic Party and its finances reflect it. Illinois has no law limiting excessive or improper salaries. The highest pension now is $528,000 a year, paid to a retired anesthesiology professor at the U. of Illinois. And of the top 100 pensions in the state, all 100 are received by public "educators." They raise tuition and fees at the state universities to pay for their 3% annual pension increase. It's no surprise that the two largest campaign contributors in Illinois are the two teachers' unions.

Federal union workers are closely associated with the Democratic Party and they are very much interested in keeping their jobs. This motivation contributed to the corruption of the IRS in recent years: they acted to delay or refuse tax exempt status to groups whose names contained the words "Tea Party," "patriot," or "conservative." This started when IRS employees noticed that in the 2010 election Tea Party candidates defeated Democrats. To preserve their public union status they acted to manipulate the election and obstruct the ability of the Tea Party to raise campaign money. These actions are clearly illegal and violate the Tea Party's First Amendment right to free speech. And of those IRS lawyers who gave campaign donations, 95% stated that they gave money to Barack Obama. Since the Supreme Court has already ruled that campaign donations are a form of free speech, the IRS are using their Federal bureaucratic powers to violate the Constitution to preserve their Federal jobs. They have the power to do it; private workers don't.

Public sector unions are not just taking wealth from college students through tuition hikes but are also taking benefits from the poor. In Illinois the poor are being kicked off of Medicaid rolls to preserve the luxury pensions of public sector union workers. It's a very sad but accurate commentary that the Democrats of Illinois used the "moral extortion" rhetoric to raise taxes, then removed the poor from Medicaid and did not apply one dollar of that tax raise to the so-called reason for the tax increase in the first instance.

Governor Quinn of Illinois was narrowly elected by only 20,000 union members. He rewarded them by keeping their unnecessarily high levels of salaries and benefits. But he and the unions are both out of touch: as a result of Governor Quinn's and the unions' excesses, Illinois has seen its bond rating reduced 13 times under Quinn's reign. It is now just one step above junk bond status. And the Chicago Public School System is also seeing its bond status lowered, to where it is now just three steps above a junk bond rating.

Clearly, public sector unions and the Democrats who support them have no interest in maintaining a stable economy for their voters, just in maintaining the salaries, benefits, and pensions of those who give them money. It is a shameful indictment not just of the growth of government but of Democrats themselves, who say they are not like Republicans, whom they portray as wanting dirtier air and water. For the Democrats to place themselves up on a moral pedestal, then kick the poor off of Medicaid to preserve their own outrageously high salaries, is beyond shameless.

As I have argued here, public sector unions, since they have monopoly control over their local governmental area, have been very active in promoting illegal immigration so they can keep their government jobs. The main beneficiaries are the teachers' unions, who fight to maintain the student enrollments in their schools. In Illinois they are the biggest campaign contributors and they have the willing cooperation of state politicians in providing documents to the "undocumented" they bring into Illinois and other states. Documents such as the "matricula consular" card and drivers licenses are issued by the state and county.

All of these actions have resulted in high taxes, slow economic growth, and high unemployment. The average family must pay higher income and property taxes, and since their incomes have declined, they have less disposable income. This causes a drop in spending at small businesses, which create 60% of all the jobs in the U.S.

The reason public union spending is out of control is that there are no economic constraints. They have monopoly power in their areas. Without competition there is no incentive to lower costs. And when they are allowed to contribute to the politicians who negotiate their contracts they are participating in an outrageously corrupt system that would not be tolerated in the private sector: there is no law prohibiting conflict of interest for unions working within the government.

Public sector unions have become so powerful they are now dominating the political system of the U.S. They are using every trick, strategy, rhetorical gimmick, and Machiavellian scheme they can concoct to stay in power. The unconstitutional efforts of the IRS to get President Obama reelected are just one example.

The current court battle over Detroit's terms of bankruptcy is a very important one: if a judge can rule that public unions must accept less in the states they are driving to bankruptcy, then there is some hope that the downward economic spiral caused by public unions can be slowed and eventually be brought under control.