Even before the current economic crises, private sector union workers in America’s industries have borne the brunt of sacrifice. Active workers have seen pay reductions and massive layoffs. They have seen their pensions and health care benefits disappear. Even retired workers have seen health care plans eliminated and pensions reduced.
All this has occurred while public workers have been receiving raises. Public worker’s retirement and health care benefits are unmatched in private industry and have been immune to the laws of economics. This immunity is due to the government’s ability to to simply raise taxes to cover the costs of generous contracts. And now they can go to the Federal Government for more funding. Unlike private industry, governments do not have to compete.
This is not to say that public workers do not deserve good pay and benefits. They do. However, the rules for sacrifice ought to be the same for both the public and private sector.
When private industry goes to Washington for help it is subject to strict scrutiny of worker pay and benefits. Those who work for these organizations are expected to grant concessions in return for government assistance. Layoffs are the norm.
When the states come to Washington for their share of the bailout they should follow the lead of the auto CEOs and bring the public worker union leaders with them to explain how they are going to contribute to correcting the problem. Government officials decry the possibility of public worker layoffs. They speak as though teachers, policeman and firefighter were the only public employees when these positions only occupy occupy a part of the total state and local payrolls. There’s no need to lay off these essential workers, but there surely are lots of other places to trim.
If you worked for a private company and have been laid off you have a right to be upset the next time you see one government worker on a shovel and three supervisors standing around on a public job. What’s worse is that when you do return to work your taxes will be used to perpetuate public inefficiency.