Sunday, March 06, 2011

New York Public Unions Crush State Budget

William Jacobson says:
Having secured very sweet contracts for their members through political influence, the public sector unions have no incentive to change. They know from history that politicians eventually back down or move on, and the consumer of public sector services ends up paying through higher taxes and diminished services.

The current system also pits older union membership, which has vested in all these benefits, against younger members, who will bear the cost of cutbacks and likely never will see such sweet deals for themselves because there simply is not enough money.

The cause of the problem is not just the terms of a particular public sector union contract, it is the system which allows public sector unions to pass costs onto future generations of taxpayers and union members.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is correct to recognize that collective bargaining for benefits is the cause of the problem, and that it is not enough to treat just the symptoms.

Steve Malanga goes further:
When they can’t win favorable new deals from state legislatures, unions are adept at persuading lawmakers to protect the old ones, including when they’ve expired. In states like California, New Hampshire, and New York, government unions have won passage in the legislature of so-called “evergreen” clauses, which require old union contracts to remain in force until new agreements are reached. Such clauses give unions incentives to reject concessions during tough times because they can keep their old contracts active, sometimes with automatic pay increases. Last year in California, public unions used the evergreen clause of the Dills Act, which grants collective bargaining rights to state workers, to resist proposed changes to work rules. (The state’s Democrat-controlled legislature had the power to override the evergreen clause but sided with the unions.) New York’s evergreen clause, known as the Triborough Amendment, lets union members drag their feet on contract negotiations while their annual seniority-pay increases keep kicking in. So even if Governor Andrew Cuomo manages to freeze state workers’ pay this year, as he has suggested, taxpayers will still be on the hook for $140 million in seniority-pay hikes.

Read both the sites for a better understanding of the problems public unions pose to governments trying to balance budgets.

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