Standing Up To The Public Employee Union Bullies

If politics were a schoolyard fight, the most notorious bullies would be the leaders of the influential public sector unions. Their weapon of choice: the power to collectively bargain on behalf of their members, with absolutely no consideration for the taxpayers who actually pay the bills. The expedient alliance between the union leadership and politicians of both parties has built and enabled a system that has always been unfair, but today is unsustainable. Taxpayers have been beaten up for too long, with little to no help from the elected leaders whose job it is to protect the money used to finance government functions and services.

At the end of President Obama’s first year in office, the White House released a visitor’s log that identified a prominent union leader as its most frequent visitor. Andrew Stern, the president of the Services Employee Union International (SEIU) represented one of the country’s largest public employee unions. After his organization spent nearly $28 million to elect Barack Obama president in 2008, it was clear he would have a prominent voice inside the White House at a critical time.

Stern’s 22 listed visits came as the President was considering an auto bail-out that paid for the bad deals car companies made with the unions, the stimulus package that included payments to states to fulfill their obligations to public employees and a health care overhaul that ultimately exempted the unions’ “Cadillac health insurance plans” from the same mandates and scrutiny that every other American was subjected to.

In fact, of the over 200 entities that received temporary waivers from provisions in the new healthcare law, 45 were granted to union organizations. It is no wonder that the SEIU spent $44 million in the midterm elections in 2010, exclusively on behalf of congressional Democrats. Including spending by two other labor behemoths, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State Counties and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), big labor spent nearly $150 million dollars to preserve the Democrats majority in Congress. The taxpayers and an overwhelming majority of the American people had a different idea. With the results of the 2010 elections came a realization that the American people understood the challenges facing our states and nation better than most of the politicians and special interests that have dominated the political discourse for far too long. Newly elected reform minded governors, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio, also benefited from the example of a fellow reformer elected a full year ahead of them, and who had made a decade’s worth of progress in addressing his own state’s challenges; Chris Christie. 

These leaders are doing their part to change the way their states do business and are making the tough choices that can come with a significant political risk. The unions are doing their job fighting them every step of the way, attempting to use the bullying tactics and threats that have worked for them for so many decades. For example, the New Jersey Education Association collected roughly $100 million of dues from about 200,000 members last year. How are they spending this money? In a $300,000 per week radio campaign encouraging higher taxes instead of budget cuts. Luckily, the old rhetoric of unions is lost amid the greater noise coming from the taxpayer revolt. It’s that noise that has to continue and convert into a sustained campaign among the taxpayers to counter the voices of a very vocal, and frankly better organized, minority of union interests who have never been faced with the sort of political opposition we are seeing today. When we find political leaders with the courage to do what is right, we have an obligation to back them up, not just stand on the sideline watching them fight the fight for us. We all learn in school that the only way to discourage a bully is to stand up to him. We’ve all seen that Chris Christie has the will and the backbone to endure $300,000 a week of name-calling and taunts from the teachers unions. If we see the same from like-minded reformers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, and “we the people” stand with them, we will see the fundamental change we voted for in November, become a reality. If we stand by and allow these leaders to get overwhelmed by an opposition who believes that union workers should remain a privileged class, exempt from sharing the pain of a nation suffering a genuine crisis, than we would have no one to blame for our high taxes and dysfunctional government that ourselves.

Posted: February 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Diane Gooch, Public Employee Unions | Tags: , | 12 Comments »

12 Comments on “Standing Up To The Public Employee Union Bullies”

  1. Rick Ambrosia said at 1:52 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Do you like your streets cleaned? How about garbage removal? Sewers? Snow removal? Parks cleaned? or any other public employee service? Would you rather pay per service? Maybe YOU can afford that…but most working stiffs can’t.

    Why are the people in the unions being vilified for just wanting to keep the benefits that they fought so long for. Its the republican governors that are the bullies and thugs here..along with the republican sheep that just go along with ANYTHING that’s against a union. …not the protestors who have every right to voice their anger at the elitist governors. By the way…you do know of course that there are plenty of republicans in unions…don’t you?

    Did you have a problem when the Tea Partiers were protesting? I would bet not.

  2. brian d said at 4:20 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    Ah, the 2012 campaign begins. We can’t get rid of Cupcake fast enough.

  3. Charles M said at 7:13 pm on February 28th, 2011:

    %100 right!!

  4. Tom said at 1:31 am on March 1st, 2011:

    I would have alot more respect for people that rail against union money and elections if they felt the same way about corporate money. Do any of you check off that box on your taxes to publicly fund elections? I doubt it. It has been well established that the jihad against the unions is a ruse to remove union influence in elections How about advocating for the removal of ALL non public funds – private, corporate and union- from elections- 100% publicly funded?

    Toto has pulled the curtain back and the Wizard is not a union boss but a family of billionaires who want to create an America where the John Birch Society, co-founded by their patriarch, is considered mainstream.

  5. Janice said at 2:01 am on March 1st, 2011:

    Ms. Gooch left out some other names of people who visited with President Obama, like the CEOs of ..

    Goldman Sachs
    Exxon Mobil

    Of course I could go on. I guess these are more Ms. Gooch’s type of people so no need to be upset.

  6. TR said at 11:25 am on March 1st, 2011:

    Here is the difference. The people in unions have to belong to unions to keep their jobs yet the union does not represent their political views. I know I was a Union member.
    I would have no problems with Union political activities if Union membership was not mandatory.

  7. TR said at 11:32 am on March 1st, 2011:

    No one is saying that public workers do not provide valuable services.
    The problem is that the benefit packages they have negotiated with spineless politicians are not sustainable and not in line with private industry. At one time they where under compensated but that is no longer the case. The pendulum has swung to far.

    As I recall you have complained about your property taxes being to high. Now that steps are being taken to riegn in spending your complaining about that.

    Seems hypocritical.

  8. brian d said at 11:32 am on March 1st, 2011:

    Only in the bizzaro world of Milhous and his union backers does annual elections with secret ballots represent a threat to democracy.
    If Stern, Trumpka and their ilk are the most frequent visitors to the Red House, where exactly does that leave the taxpayer??

  9. rick ambrosia said at 12:58 pm on March 1st, 2011:

    You miss the point TR, or you’re not reading and comprehending. The unions in WI had agreed to ALL the money concessions…to the tune of about an 8% decrease in their annual salaries. This isn’t about money, this is about breaking the unions. Republican governors are using clubs (metaphorically speaking) to break over their heads. Its just plain wrong.

    And really..the only thing Christie did for us is have our property taxes raised by killing state aid to municipalities and to schools. He knew all to well that taxes would go up when he did that, yet feigned ignorance and blamed everyone else.

  10. Tom said at 8:45 pm on March 1st, 2011:

    TR-you say the people in unions have to belong to unions to keep their jobs. What do you think the response to such a question would be from Chris Christie, the current anti-union idol?

    Well, when faced with a teacher addressing her low pay, Christie’s famous Youtubed response was,” well, you don’t have to do it”
    When a police officer at a Middletown town meeting asked Christie how he would afford to kick in more for benefits, the Governor said, “you won’t afford it”.

    So, given that is the Republican response to such questions, for the sake of consistency, I would think the response your problem would be that you don’t have to take a job that requires union membership nor a job where the union does not reflect your political views. What is it that Christie likes to say , Welcome to the new normal?

  11. RR said at 1:02 am on March 2nd, 2011:

    Union members a privileged class??? Give me a break, it’s the top 1% of earners who are not subject to a millionaires tax.

    So much for shared sacrifice across the board. And who is the privileged class Ms. Gooch????

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