The Price of Government Union Power
Ohio’s government unions have a privileged status that comes at taxpayer expense. They’ll say and do just about anything to maintain power, while claiming to be a bipartisan coalition of unappreciated serfs.
Have you noticed the opponents of union reform rely exclusively on emotion and never cite specifics? Here are some of the allegedly hateful changes Issue 2 would have put in place:
- Issue 2 replaces automatic step increases with merit pay for public workers.
- Issue 2 asks all government employees to pay 10% of their pension costs and 15% of their health insurance costs.
- Issue 2 ends forced payment of “fair-share” fees for government workers who don’t want to join a union.
- Issue 2 puts a stop to last-in, first-out firing policies, requiring considerations other than tenure when making layoffs.
- Issue 2 does not affect bargaining over wages or working conditions
If you’re interested in more facts, see highlights below or thumb through everything I’ve written about Senate Bill 5!
Ohio’s Broken Status Quo
Our existing government union law makes it far too easy for union bosses to squeeze local taxpayers. As a result, expect huge tax increases or widespread layoffs now that Issue 2 has failed. Take a look at the per-resident school district deficits forecast in October 2010; the problem existed long before Governor Kasich took office.
- 458 districts projected deficits greater than $100 per resident
- 260 districts projected deficits greater than $500 per resident
- 59 districts projected deficits greater than $1,000 per resident
- 17 districts projected deficits greater than $1,500 per resident
For specific district deficits, see the numbers and source data for yourself:
We Are Ohio Funding
“We Are Ohio” is a friendly team of non-partisan Ohioans with the public’s best interests at heart. Unless you believe your lyin’ eyes.
When I describe We Are Ohio as a union front group, I am not exaggerating. Review the numbers behind this chart, which come directly from the Ohio Secretary of State.
Crazed Union Boss Rhetoric; Even Crazier Compensation
Union bosses make a living turning public employees against the public, and they don’t like it when taxpayers complain about footing the bill. In the Ohio Education Association alone, dozens of union employees take more than six figures per year from public workers!
Issue 2 Racists Anonymous
Do you support government union reform? Supporting government union reform means you’re a racist, according to We Are Ohio’s wildly dishonest smear campaign.
Not to worry; you aren’t alone. If you’ve recently learned from Ohio’s public union bosses that you’re a minority-hating bigot because you expect public employees to answer to the public, Issue 2 Racists Anonymous is for you:
Here are the Dispatch quotes for the first and second We Are Ohio TV spots, as well as the citation from We Are Ohio’s helpful “Jim Crow” radio ad.
Union Bosses Are the Best! Union Staff Who Say Otherwise, Prepare to be Silenced
According to We Are Ohio, only the cooperation experts of the Ohio Education Association (OEA) can make our school districts work. That’s why OEA needs enormous negotiating power, whatever the cost!
Never mind that OEA’s management is so incompetent, the union’s employees went on strike just last summer. Never mind that, over the past 2 years, OEA employees have had all sorts of negative things to say about their bosses. Disregard union attacks against teachers who speak out of turn, and union mistreatment of retirees. You could find these complaints on an official OEA staff blog… until it was shut down after I started publicizing its content.
Lest photos from the September 2010 strike at OEA headquarters get the same treatment, I’ve copied some to Flickr; feel the solidarity!
Union Talking Points, Dulled to Nothing
If the past few resources aren’t enough to convince you, don’t worry. We Are Ohio and their leftist enablers have been repeating the same hacky lines since winter, and I’ve enjoyed stepping on all of them!
Here’s a (relatively) serious list, from an early August post:
Issue 2 will devastate Ohio’s economy by stealing pay from government workers!
Senate Bill 5 doesn’t take away bargaining for wages, and this argument relies on a complete ignorance of economics. Do you believe money can be spent or invested without first being taken from taxpayers? If so, you’re too smart for the union bosses, and their chief talking point crumbles.
Issue 2 will make police and firefighters less safe!
This shameless scare tactic suddenly became popular when polling indicated most of Senate Bill 5 resonates with Ohio voters despite months of union distortion. It remains entirely untrue, as Senate Bill 5 does not affect bargaining over safety equipment.
Issue 2 is an attack on the middle class by greedy special interests!
Wrong in so many ways. Senate Bill 5 protects the jobs of government workers – a slim portion of Ohio’s workforce – by freeing school districts and local governments from unsustainable health and pension costs. If you think the unions actually care about workers, think again.
Issue 2 is fueled by envy! Why not increase everyone’s benefits instead of robbing government workers?!
More proof leftists can’t comprehend the word “growth,” and view the economy as a static pie from which government should dole out slices as politicians see fit. Senate Bill 5 will allow local leaders to focus on sustainable budgets instead of unaffordable union demands. This, in turn, will prevent tax hikes, making it easier for businesses to create more jobs and more wealth.
Issue 2 will drive the best teachers and government workers out of Ohio!
This one’s actually funny, if you remember the unions also insist merit pay is a terrible idea because teachers and government workers aren’t motivated by compensation like everyone else on the planet. Given unemployment rates throughout Ohio and the nation, no one really expects mass turnover based on a slight adjustment in health and pension benefits – especially when compared to benefits in private industry.
And more, from a post at the end of May:
- Reducing public employee pay will cripple the economy, but taking more from taxpayers will have no such effect.
- Corporations employing hundreds of thousands shouldn’t pay their CEOs seven-figure salaries from earnings, but union bosses employing a couple hundred activists deserve six-figure salaries from member dues.
- Public union members are the middle class, even though they make up a tiny percentage of the working population.
- Government employees are more educated than the average worker, so they deserve better pay – regardless of how much benefit they provide to the public.
- Government unions create good jobs… by demanding unsustainable pay which leads to higher taxes and fewer jobs.
- Public union members love paying dues, but making payment of union dues optional is a political attack.
- Government union reps speak for all their members, even when preaching far-left politics and financing far-left politicians.
- Government union employees are paid six figures even as dues-paying members are axed, but government unions are selfless organizations in command of the moral high ground.
- Unions and the Democratic Party are attached at the hip, but forced unionization for government workers keeps politics out of the workplace.
- Union members are wonderful, underpaid, unappreciated - and incapable of emailing a local newspaper or TV station if there’s a problem at work their supervisors won’t address.
- Government unions are effective and innovative, but expecting public worker compensation to be based on merit is madness!
- Wealthy CEOs should be punished for their greed, but wealthy union bosses and the wealthy politicians they fund are heroes of the middle class.
What Sort of Wall Street Fraudster Am I, Anyway?
I live in Ohio, as I have since birth. I’m a Miami University alum, an Ohio State University employee, and a Franklin County taxpayer.
I’ve never been paid, promised, or offered any compensation for my work here. I caught the government union reform bug during the 2010 election campaign, after I stumbled across abuses in the Franklin County Clerk of Courts office. I’ve been following the Ohio General Assembly’s efforts since then.
For Issue 2 updates, watch this space or follow me on Twitter – @jasonahart.