Big Labor Payback Will Hurt Our Communities
Controversial Bill May Impact Local Emergency Response Staffing
June 23, 2010
The Grand Island Independent
As Big Labor works feverishly to force unionization on small businesses across the country, their friends in Washington, D.C. continue the ‘payback,’ most recently working to secure passage of the misnamed Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the legislation would federalize the unionization process for police, firefighters and other emergency response and law enforcement personnel. And it would be a boon to union bosses because it would strip control of public safety wages from local and state governments and put them into the hands of negotiators and arbitrators on a national level.
The result would break the banks of city, county and state governments, which would be forced to abide by the outcome of these negotiated deals, which historically have resulted in lucrative salaries, fat bonuses and rich health care and retirement plans that far exceed what these local governments can afford even in good economic times.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorialized against this bill, saying, “All across the nation, cities, counties and states are confronting billion-dollar budget deficits and multibillion-dollar shortfalls in the retirement benefits they’ve promised to their unionized workers. Senator Reid’s bill would worsen the burdens put on private-sector workers and businesses and heap all-new unfunded liabilities on local governments.”
If Senator Reid succeeds in getting the votes, millions of local tax dollars would ultimately wind up helping fund already insolvent Big Labor pension plans and other perks instead of helping to fight crime, make our communities safer and get first responders where they are needed most. That is why it’s imperative that we know where Senator Ben Nelson stands on this issue.
You might be wondering why labor’s supporters on Capitol Hill would push something that would heap heavy burdens on states that are already economically distressed. In reality, we shouldn’t be surprised, as these same Members of Congress have spent the last year working to pass the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act (EFCA), which would add at least $35 billion to labor coffers by increasing membership through forced unionization. EFCA eliminates the secret ballot in union-organizing elections exposing workers to immense pressure and intimidation at the hands of these same labor bosses. Furthermore, once a collective bargaining unit has been formed through the coercion and bullying of employees, a small business has a matter of months to agree to union demands or the government sends in an arbitrator and a contract is forced on the employer. Neither the workers nor the small business owners have any say or right to appeal the contract terms, which include changes to wages, benefits and workplace conditions.
And if the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act sounds oddly familiar in nature to the Employee ‘Forced’ Choice Act, it is because there are common elements between them. Both place workers and critical sectors of our society and economy at risk to benefit one special interest, labor bosses. The question to ask is, why? The fact is that after decades of mismanagement and recklessness on the part of bosses, union pension funds are woefully funded and have reached critical status meaning they cannot meet their commitments to workers who have paid in to the programs for years. As a result, the unfunded liabilities are massive and Big Labor is expecting representatives they spent millions to elect to bail them out yet again.
To date, Senator Nelson hasn’t taken a position on the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, but it’s time we know where he stands – on the side of Big Labor or with Nebraska communities, which rely on local emergency response personnel and small businesses?
Katie Packer is the executive director of the Workforce Fairness Institute (www.WorkforceFairness.org) and resides in Alexandria, Va.