Saturday, November 26, 2011

When Are Conservatives Going to Quit Whining About Public Employee Union Contracts

Do They Just Not Understand That Management Has to Sign Off on Any Contract?

One of the many things Conservatives are united about is that public employee unions have imposed huge unmanageable costs on state and local governments, and that is the reason why those governments have financial problems.  Even worse, from their point of view, it is the reason why those same government cannot enact big tax cuts for the wealthy.

The latest to join in whining is somebody from the Mitt Romney Massachusetts administration,

Mr. Costrell, a professor of education reform and economics at the University of Arkansas, served as chief economist for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 2003-2006 and education adviser to Gov. Mitt Romney from 2005-2006.

whose major qualification would seem to be that his political position is in sync with the editors of the Wall Street Journal.

And here is some of his whine.

In the heated debates over government collective bargaining, a simple fact is often lost: Benefits for teachers and municipal workers are often more expensive than they are for state employees, let alone for workers in private business. The disparity between runaway local costs and more restrained state benefits is the key rationale—often misunderstood—for the efforts of Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Ohio and other states to limit local collective bargaining over benefits.

In local bargaining, the employer is outgunned by unions with state and national affiliates behind them, and numerous provisions in state law tilt the table in the unions' favor.

Maybe This Is What Government Needs to Stand Up to
Public Employee Unions Who Don't Even Have
the Right to Strike

Wow, public employee unions who in most cases do not even have the right to strike are more powerful than government, who has very deep pockets and can withstand a strike far better than a private company.  Who would have thought that state and local government officials are so pitiful, so impotent, so lacking in basic management skills that they cannot engage in successful collective bargaining.  But they must be according to Mr. Costrell.

Here is the core of Mr. Costrell’s argument

In Cleveland, for example, the collectively bargained contribution by teachers is $75 per month for family health coverage, a fraction of a state employee's $205 monthly contribution. Ohio state employees face an out-of-pocket maximum of $3,000 per family for in-network coverage, including a deductible of $400 and a co-insurance rate of 20%. For Cleveland teachers, the out-of-pocket maximum is zero—there's no deductible and no co-insurance. These provisions are written into Cleveland's union contract. They will be very difficult to remove.

Very difficult to remove?  No, Mr. Costrell it is very easy to remove those provisions.  When the contract expires and a new one is being negotiated management just says we are changing that and reaches agreement on what management wants.  It’s called collective bargaining Mr. Costrell, and with government at the table it is far more powerful than any union. If you and your fellow Conservatives are not up to it, the thing to do is not destroy collective bargaining, but for you and your ilk to cede political offices to those who are.

We would all appreciate it.

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