Arnold Kling  

Public Sector Unions vs. Taxpayers

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Accounting Standards... Markets vs. Government...

The Washington Post reports on cuts proposed in the budget in Montgomery County, Maryland.


The proposed budget cuts in Montgomery, which require county approval, reflect not just the recession but also decisions made by officials over many years. Salaries and benefits have risen sharply over the past decade. "There is pain in this budget, for our county and for our county employees," Leggett told subdued county employees and others gathered in a Rockville auditorium Monday. The total budget is down 3.8 percent. "There are some things we will do differently, and some things we will not do at all."

Historically, the public employee unions have owned this state. Until I see a "teacher-approved" candidate lose, I assume that the public employee unions still own the state. My guess is that the proposed cuts do not do nearly enough to reduce salary and benefits for "teachers" (probably half of the teachers' union members never set foot in a classroom under our featherbedding system) and other overpaid county workers. And my guess is that when deciding which cuts to approve the County will try to maximize the impact on services while minimizing the impact on employees.


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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Les writes:

It seems to me that the very existence of public employee unions should be banned, because:

1) Government is a monopoly, and strikes by public employee unions mean a total suspension of vital services such as the military, police, 911, firefighters, emergency medical care, jails, courts of law, public defenders, parole officers, bridges, public highways, government health services, and public schools. We cannot tolerate suspension of vital services.

2) Since we cannot tolerate suspension of vital services due to public employee union strikes, then public employee unions are deprived of their major power. Once public employee unions are deprived of their major power, their very reason for existence is absent.

Therefore the very existence of public employee unions should be banned.

Andrew writes:

Les,

In many cases where strikes by public employee unions are prohibited, binding third party arbitration is the result. This actually is a worse result.

If the employer-government entity & union reach an impass (not often), the arbiter looks to other nearby contracts that cover the same work and chooses the proposal that most closely matches the others. This greatly limits any government entity's ability to make drastic changes or cuts or even curtail wage & benefit growth below other areas.

Of couse when it's time for bargain in those jurisdictions, they look to the first one's contract and others. So the circular justification goes...

Les writes:

Andrew, thanks for your comment. But note that you assume an impasse between a government agency and a public employee union. I will gladly stipulate that you are correct about arbitration of an impasse between a government agency and a public employee union.

And that adds yet more force to my argument that no public employee unions should even be allowed to exist.

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