California, Contra Costa County and Antioch have large budget deficits, and are dealing with them in different ways. Governor Jerry Brown is trying to schmooze legislators into backing another ballot measure to raise taxes. Brown had strong union support in his run for office, as opposed to Meg Whitman who, after pledging to slash the ranks of public employees, was targeted by the California Nurses Association (allegedly responsible for the “Little Nicky” charade) .
Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa has been trying to woo concessions from 19 different bargaining units who are apparently unwilling to talk about pay freezes, pension benefits for current employees or even acceptance of an automated time card system which would save $8 million.
Antioch too has been seeking concessions. And while the majority of Antioch’s seven employee groups have agreed, we won’t know the result of final negotiations until the City Council meeting on March 8th.
Regrettably, the problem in all these negotations are public employee collective bargaining rights, which enable entire groups of public employees to retire early and receive enhanced retirement and health benefits. That’s why you’ve been hearing a lot about Wisconsin Governor Walker’s desire to eliminate bargaining rights and the strong opposition from union groups such as the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, despite Walker’s contention that doing so would save at least 1,500 jobs.
It’s a courageous stand to take, since a portion of every public employee’s union dues go toward backing liberal politicians and union bosses who make sure workers turn out to vote for the chosen candidate. (Kudos to Governor Daniels of Indiana of Indiana who did it six years ago via executive order.)
Some union bosses, however, are downright embarrassing to their membership like AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumpa who charged that those who didn’t vote for Obama
were racists, and New York’s United Federation of Teachers union boss Michael Mulgrew who authorized spending more than a million dollars last year for 130 people to party at the Hilton New York in celebration of the 50th year anniversary of the union.
Speaking of teacher unions, teacher Al Shanker who later became head of the New York teachers union in the 70s was once my husband’s boy scout leader. He took the troop, based in Queens, N.Y. to the cliffs of New Jersey for a climbing expedition where he managed to get them into a tough situation he couldn’t resolve and had to call for help. This time it’s the taxpayers who are calling for help.