Madison, WI Union Debate (part 3)

A helpful primer on the rise of government unions and the monopoly power given to them through collective bargaining.

Chris Edwards wrote an excellent article “Madison Protest: Unions are Angry– but Wisconsin Should Go Even Further,” Feb 18, 2011, Cato Institute and I will posted portions of that article the next few days.

High cost of “generosity”
Defined benefit pension plans are available to about four-fifths of state and local workers but just one-fifth of private workers. And public sector plans are typically about twice as generous as remaining private plans. That generosity has led to a $3 trillion funding gap in public sector pensions. That gap will create a huge burden on future taxpayers unless benefits are cut, and unions often stand in the way of such reforms.

Unions increase government costs in other ways. They often protect poorly performing workers, and they usually push for larger staffing levels than required. Unions typically discourage the use of inexpensive volunteers in government activities, and they create a more bureaucratic and inefficient workplace.

Unionism seems to coincide with poor state government management. States with higher public sector union shares tend to have higher levels of government debt. And the states with higher union shares do more poorly on grading by the Pew Center regarding the quality of public sector management.

Public sector unions are powerful special interest groups. The teachers unions, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union have more than seven million members combined. They have well-financed political war chests and are very active in political campaigns.

Disaster emergency vehicle drives

A disaster emergency vehicle drives through debris in Minamisanriku, northern Japan, on snowy Wednesday, March 16, 2011, after Friday’s earthquake and tsunami

A disaster emergency vehicle drives through debris ...

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