Chances are we all know someone who is or was a member of a public union, whether it be Mom or Dad, a relative, a friend or you. So when the discussion comes up about public-sector unions bankrupting your state or another state, it’s not so easy for us conservatives to call for cuts when those we know and love are impacted by them. Yet what few of us ever see up close are the layers upon layers of wasted positions and spending that public-sector union leadership jam into the system through its destructive collective bargaining agreements.
At the heart of the fiscal mess at the state and local level are collective bargaining agreements negotiated between union leaders and the politicians they’ve helped get elected. This progressive bunch have feathered their beds with hardly any public scrutiny. After all, they’ve got a monopoly on certain services, like the police force, for example, and once the ink has dried it’s nearly impossible to break these uncompetitive collective bargaining contracts.
If you can believe it, 26 states have collective bargaining for essentially all state and local workers. Twelve or so states have collective bargaining for a portion of their state and local workers, leaving only 12 states, such as Virginia and North Carolina, that don’t have collective bargaining.
With collective bargaining agreements in place, public-sector unions have captured an endless stream of cash dues automatically deducted from their members’ paychecks. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers collect about $2 billion a year in member dues, mostly in non-right-to-work states. So they lead the screaming masses when politicians, like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, successfully remove automatic dues deduction within the state’s collective bargaining agreement.
Union leaders know that giving public-sector workers a choice whether or not to pay dues is a death blow to the prospect of the dues ever being paid—and their business-as-usual modus operandi. And that’s what scares the union leaders the most. Take Indiana, for example, which removed collective bargaining rights in 2005. The number of employees paying dues plummeted from 16,408 to only 1,490 today, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
If union leadership at places like the NEA really cared about the fiscal health of states rather than protecting their own uncompetitive contracts, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with. Public-sector union workers and retirees are bombarded at every turn with emails like the one below, deriding the cuts we as a country have to make. Public-sector union leaders fear the truth that taking away collective bargaining is one of the few clear paths to state solvency.