Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A victory over special interests in Wisconsin

In general, I have no problem with private sector unions. They represent workers and negotiate with companies who have strong incentives to cut costs in order to make a profit. Public sector unions, on the other hand, are a completely different story. They are employed by government, whose goal is not to make a profit but to get votes. If anything, government has an incentive to overpay their workers in order to try to get their votes. It is also not fair that public sector unions, who take their money out of the taxpayer-funded salaries of public workers, are free to donate vast sums to political parties. Finally, we have George Meany, the former President of the AFL-CIO, who said in 1955 that "it is impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

Public sector unions, basically, are just another one of the special interests that are currently infesting governments throughout the country. Thus, I believed that Scott Walker's bill which limited the collective bargaining power of public sector unions in Wisconsin was a step in the right direction. Predictably, Democrats fought Gov. Walker tooth and nail, first by fleeing the state, then by organizing an attempted recall of the six Republican lawmakers they saw as most vulnerable. They needed three of the six seats to regain control of the Wisconsin senate.

What happened? Despite staggering amounts of money and effort from organized labor, the Democrats only managed to win back two seats--one in a solidly Democratic district, the other held by a man who had left his wife and moved outside his district to live with his mistress. The other four recall elections were not close.

It certainly helped that Walker's bill helped school districts save millions of dollars by eliminating the teachers union's monopoly power on health insurance contracts, and that Walker's administration has had a very good record on jobs. It's good to know that people can still stand up to powerful special interests.

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