"Well, it's sundown on the union And what's made in the USA Sure was a good idea 'Til greed got in the way." ----from "Union Sundown" a song by Bob Dylan from "Infidels" (1985)
Even an ultra liberal artist like Bob Dylan came to the conclusion quite some time ago that for all intents and purposes most unions have outlived their usefulness. As far as I am concerned this is especially true with the public sector unions. We live in an era of bloated bureaucracies at all levels of government where public employees now earn substantially higher salaries and astronomically higher benefits than the rest of us who toil in the real world of private industry. According to the latest available statistics (2008) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the typical federal worker is paid 20% more than a private-sector worker in the same occupation. Furthermore, these salary figures do not include the value of health, pension and other benefits, which averaged $40,785 per federal employee in 2008 vs. $9,882 per private worker, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Add in other goodies like generous vacation time and sick days that you can accumulate ad infinitum and provisions that allow these people to retire in their 40's and 50's and you can well understand why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. In addition, many government plans offer retirees fully paid health insurance for themselves and their families for the rest of their lives! And guess what? These folks are too young to retire so they are often competing with the rest of us for what few good jobs there are out there. They can tell the potential employer that they do not need health insurance. Wonder who will get the job? And the problem has been exacerbated considerably by the inane policies of President Obama and the irresponsible Democratic Congress over the past couple of years. This is a train wreck waiting to happen with unfunded pension liabilites that cities, states and the federal government will simply be unable to meet. Is there any way out of this mess?
I believe that the country took a big step forward in 2010 with the emergence of the grassroots Tea Party movement and by electing a whole lot more conservatives to the Congress and to state legislatures all over this nation. The electorate seems to be way ahead of the curve on these issues and are desperately looking for leadership. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has become an emerging conservative hero, mostly by standing up for fiscal sanity in the Garden State. Almost immediately upon taking office he passed significant benefits and pension reform. Now public workers must contribute to their own health care. Welcome to the real world folks! We need more leaders like Chris Christie to stand up to the unions and demand concessions because at the end of of the day most of these union members are not going to get what they have been promised. The money is simply not there so the government unions should be realistic and try to strike the best deal they can.
Did you know that as we approach 2011 only about 16% of private industry workers have a pension? Most of us now must rely on our 401(k) plan where absolutely nothing is guaranteed. The rest of us in this country are tired of paying for pensions for government employees when we don't have one ourselves. It's too bad that this has turned into an "us vs. them" situation but the American people have made it perfectly clear that we can no longer afford these outlandish benefits that government employees now recieve. And if our leaders fail to respond in the next couple of years then rest assured that there will be another wave of Tea Party conservatives elected in 2012. We can no longer afford to wait. The time for action is NOW!
For an interesting illustrated history of government employee unions please see the wiki.
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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Throughout American history -- and as recently as the 1950s -- there were no unions for government workers. Public-sector employees were expected to earn a bit less than their private-sector equivalents. The reasons they did so included an interest in public service, job security and reasonable benefits.
But that changed in the late fifties with New York City Mayor Robert Wagner's cynical appeal to the votes of city workers. He signed an executive order authorizing them to unionize, and soon other local and state Democrat legislators around the country followed his lead.
These efforts culminated in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy granted federal employees the right to collectively bargain. Since then, public sector union membership has skyrocketed while, in the private sector, unions have fallen out of favor.
In 2009, private sector union members were outnumbered for the first time by their public sector counterparts.
The historical basis of unions revolved around workers receiving a reasonable share of a company's profits. But that tenet is nonsensical when applied to public service. Governments don't make profits; they simply assess taxes.
The aims of public sector unions conflict directly with the interests of taxpayers.
And because it has been exceedingly hard to fight public sector unions, the salaries...