Becky Fenger Fenger PointingAUGUST 25, 2010

Union power play

Bookmark and Share

The taxpayers of the United States were given a reprieve when Congress left town earlier this month for their Labor Day holiday vacation without the U.S. Senate passing the Police and Firefighter Monopoly Bargaining Bill. That's not for lack of trying. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi played down and dirty by trying to attach it to a "must-pass" war-funding bill. It didn't happen.

House Bill 413 is one of the biggest power grabs by union bosses this country has seen. It is designed to force firefighters,  police officers and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) in every state of the country into forced union monopoly bargaining. Just imagine the repercussions.

One organization fighting against this calamity is The National Right to Work Committee. "Policies expanding public sector monopoly unionism have played a major role in driving many states to the verge of insolvency," NRWC President Mark Mix wrote in The Washington Examiner. Ain't that the truth.

Steve Forbes has joined the fight with a video in which he calls big labor's attempt at control over all public safety workers "frightening." Forbes would have us know that HR 413 is just the first step toward forcing ALL public state, county and local public employees under big labor's thumb. No matter what your state and local officials say, it does no good to say "no." Sort of like declining an offer from the mafia.

As is common knowledge, such a setup often leads to strikes. "It would pit us against the folks who protect us," Forbes said. Swell. Just look at California if you don't believe him. Last year the City of Vallejo went bankrupt after 75 percent of its budget was spent on union police and firefighters. Seventy-five percent!

Union bosses have bragged this power grab is a big (Joe Biden word) deal. You bet it is. The cost for a city to do business in the 21 states that currently don't have collective union bargaining would skyrocket, a scary thought when we're all struggling with the lousy economy.

It is worthy of notice that the most heavily unionized states – California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin – are also the worst default-risk states in the nation. That's no coincidence. And union thugs don't give a damn as long as their pensions and benefits are fat and forever. They would rather see cities and states fold than compromise on their goodie bags.

If only National Review had the readership of TV Guide, more citizens would be aware of just how horrendous the Police and Firefighter Monopoly Bargaining Bill is by reading their editorial on the subject. "Lacking the evolutionary finesse that keeps most parasites from killing their host organisms, the American labor movement has driven the private firms that once employed its members offshore or into bankruptcy. Consequently, the only growth market remaining for the union movement is government." It's mighty depressing that there are more unions today employed by government than by the private sector. How can this be good?

Worse, it is not just the Democrats who support the bill. A half dozen Republican senators also give it their blessing: Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (of course), Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Judd Greg of New Hampshire, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, and that stud muffin Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Fengernails to this six-pack of big labor enablers.

National Review editors point out it is not just the bloated size of the paychecks that should cause cities concern. Equally problematic, they note, are other results of forced government unionization: "Inflexible work rules, the politicization of the work place, and the protection of low-performing workers."

Cited as a display of raw power by the unions is the state of Hawaii in 2001 when public school teachers and college professors put the strong arm on the state: "Education was shut down, semester schedules were disrupted, students going to on-campus jobs were harassed with impunity by union thugs." The irony is they were already some of the highest-paid instructors in the nation. Drunk with their success, they did it again a few years later.

Our work is cut out for us. You can bet Senator Harry Reid will get right on this bill after the Labor Day break. We need to scream and shout and call and write and anything else in our power to put a halt to this disastrous bill before it's too late.