Unions, states, and the stimulus

Since President Obama assumed office on January 20, 2009, the labor unions, in particular the public sector unions, have been the co-president in domestic matters.  One of the major players has been Gerald McEntee, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which has over 1.6 million dues paying government employed members. 

In the 2010 election cycle AFSCME spent over $87 million dollars (99.5% to Democrats), but more importantly their involvement in the writing and passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (known as the "Stimulus Bill) resulted in over $200 Billion dollars being funneled to states and municipalities in order to save public sector jobs by subsidizing state budgets while the taxpayers in the private sector were left to pay the bill.

Gerald McEntee, in an article written on February 13, 2009, praises his and the union involvement in the writing of the Stimulus Bill.  At the time of the article the unemployment rate was 7.6%.

From the article:

AFSCME made an economic recovery bill the top legislative priority in our "Make American Happen" campaign -- our effort to win long term investment in public service, reform health care and strengthen the middle class through the "Employee Free Choice Act".  [Card Check]

Now thanks to the bold leadership of President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress, help is on the way.  The historic American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will do a long way toward helping states, counties and cities provide the vital services that the public relies on in times of crisis.

The plan has more than $200 Billion for state and local governments.  [$80 Billion in new education funds; $150 Billion for infrastructure improvements; $9 Billion for flexible grants for critical public services]

AFSCME started talking about the need for state and local relief more than a year ago.  AFSCME members generated more than 40,000 phone calls, personalized letters and emails targeting members of Congress.  We also held 10 state and national press conferences.  Working with Americans United for Change, we launched ads targeting 21 lawmakers to vote yes on the bill and end the Republicans ‘:  "Just Say No: campaign of obstruction.

AFSCME marshaled our resources and worked with national organizations...to make sure that any recovery bill that came out of Congress would include substantial new assistance to state and local governments.

But we know that without this plan our members and the American people would feel much more pain.  With it we can avoid some of the most drastic cutbacks that would otherwise be made.  I am so proud of our union and what we have done to help President Obama take this first step to get our country and economy back on track.

Two years later the states are still in dire financial straits, the unemployment rate per Gallup is10%, the federal government has run up (through the end of 2011) over $4.2 Trillion in deficits and there is a brewing rebellion in the international financial markets over the profligate economic policies of the United States.

But AFSCME and all the other public sector unions succeeded in keeping their dues flowing and their rank and file employed, at least for a while, by engaging in political and campaign activities, that should be illegal and that that are anathema to the interests of the taxpayers, their ultimate employer.