'Ban Government Employee Unions'

They said it. The Washington Examiner has come out in an editorial in favor of disbanding government employee unions.

It is not the concept of unions that needs to go, as the editorial clearly states. It is the idea that government employees can agitate for higher wages against us - the taxpayer - who will end up footing the bill.

"Unions" used to mean auto workers, steel workers, and other industrial work. Now it's "white-collar Todd and Margo Yuppiecrat" working in a government office:

The breakdown of union membership make this change clear: Only 7.3 percent of all private sector employees are union members, while 37.6 percent of all government workers are unionized. Fifty-one percent of all union members are government workers.

As the Heritage Foundation's James Sherk points out, these numbers ought to be red flags for taxpayers because "government employees don't strike to get higher wages from a private business -- they strike to get higher wages from you."

"Their pay is funded through your tax dollars," he adds. "For government employee union members to get more, your taxes need to go up. So that is what unions now lobby for." And as with so much else in this country, Sherk cautions that what is happening on the West Coast is likely a portent of disturbing things to come for the rest of us:

* In Oregon, public employee unions are funding ballot initiatives to raise personal income and business taxes in order to protect gold-plated medical benefits from state spending reductions.

* In California, the Service Employees International Union spent at least $1 million on a massive television ad campaign demanding that desperate state government officials raise oil, gas and liquor taxes instead of cutting spending.

These actions point to the hard reality that the interests of government employee unions are fundamentally opposed to the interests of taxpayers.

And that's the bottom line. When you consider that the old reasons for joining a union - to prevent exploitation by bosses - don't apply in the case of working for the taxpayer, the justification for public employee unions becomes even less apparent.

I would make a couple of exceptions, however; police, fire fighters, and transit workers should be able to form local unions because politicians at the local level are notorious for trying to solve their budget problems by scapegoating those vital workers. This makes us less safe among other things.

But if politicians think they need to cut services by reducing the number of employees in a department, they should be able to make that choice without the threat that all workers will walk off the job. Holding the taxpayer hostage for higher benefits, cushier health and pension plans, and higher pay should be outlawed.

Congrats to the Examiner for taking a brave stand.


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