Sunday Links

Sunday, February 20th, 2011
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154 Responses to “Sunday Links”

  1. #1 |  sirhcton | 

    Are the domain seizures just an electronic equivalent of “new professionalism?”

  2. #2 |  JThompson | 

    Re Wisconsin: A several thousand word article of persecution complex from a libertarian that demands the peasants know their place. Who’d have thought it?

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could return to the time when we could shoot cannons and pour boiling tar on those dirty unions? Or at least cheer on the robber barons as they did it.

  3. #3 |  damaged justice | 

    JThompson: Your precious unions are nothing more than medieval guilds dressed up in ugly modern trappings. Royalty and privilege should have been burned to ashes centuries ago and the earth salted to prevent further regrowth, but instead we get jacktard apologists like you who think it’s just grand that poor, unskilled people get shut out of the market and are denied even the opportunity to exchange their labor for substance. But it’s never surprising to see a statist yammering how peasants need to learn their place.

  4. #4 |  random guy | 

    JT, were long past the point where dogs and fire hoses are turned on union laborers. Its funny that you make a comparison to robber barons when the entire article is about public sector unions. Government workers whose unions have been making back room deals with politicians for decades to drain the public coffers for sub-standard work. Government unions have gotten to the point where they inhibit the democratic process.

    Remember when California tried to legalize marijuana? Remember how the three unions that put the most money into opposing the legislature were the police union, the prison union, and the drug enforcement officers union? Of course you don’t. We’ve reached some kafka-esque point where in order to make political change the taxpayers have to fight an organized lobby opposed to their stance that is entirely funded by taxpayer dollars. California spends 50% of its budget on prisons and cops and any attempt to change that, even when facing bankruptcy, is fought tooth and claw by the prison industry and cops. A public servant should not get to determine how long their services are required to the detriment of everyone else.

  5. #5 |  JThompson | 

    @damaged: Oh noes, I’m a statist. Whatever shall I do? Puhleeze.
    Statist is probably one of the stupidest insults ever invented. As if admitting the government could possibly serve a useful purpose is a bad thing. I forgot, anything but faith in the “Free Market” religion is a bad thing. As if the opinion of a neo-feudalist matters to me.

    @random: Oh, so you support private sector unions?

    The blind hatred of unions puts lie to the libertarian idea that every man has a right to negotiate for his labor. Apparently there’s a footnote that reads “As long as it doesn’t inconvenience real people. You know, the ones with the most money.”.

  6. #6 |  damaged justice | 

    “As if the opinion of a neo-feudalist matters to me.”

    I know you are, but what am I?

  7. #7 |  Radley Balko | 

    … from a libertarian that demands the peasants know their place.

    Given that the aggrieved protesters here work for the state, I think your medieval metaphor is mistaken. The peasants here are the ones paying for the $200K pensions, the double-dipping, and the meritless pay raises and promotions. Government employees live in a bubble that isolates them from accountability, or actually having to produce something of value in return for the paychecks. (I’m not saying none of them do, I’m saying it isn’t required of them.) Which makes them more like medieval lords and landowners than peasants.

  8. #8 |  Radley Balko | 

    The blind hatred of unions puts lie to the libertarian idea that every man has a right to negotiate for his labor.

    I don’t hate unions. I think they’re fine, and have produced some positive social change over the years. I am opposed to public sector unions, because when union leaders negotiate employment terms with the very politicians they helped elect, there seems to be someone left out in the cold. Which would be the taxpayer. I also resent the end product, which the idea that there is a right to a government job, and that all government jobs are permanent.

    I also have moral objections to closed shop states, which mandate union membership in some professions.

    But if you want to unionize and can convince your fellow employees to agree to collective bargaining without resorting to coercion, go for it.

  9. #9 |  Pete | 

    Re: Wisconsin – Radley, how abreast of the Wisconsin situation are you? (And everyone else, while I’m at it.) Some of pieces I have read on it say Governor Walker is trying to squeeze a $140 million budget deficit out of the unions, but he’s the one who created the deficit in the first place after ushering through a lot of special interest legislation that totals… in the neighborhood of $140 million.

    I’m definitely on board the anti-union bus (well, one leg onboard) when they negotiate backroom deals and continually operate out of greed instead of fairness, and DEFINITELY both-legs-onboard with public-sector unions who make sure their industries are paid far more than their private sector counterparts, and I have no real opinion on whether those union employees in question in Wisconsin are being overpaid other than “they probably are because most public-sector union employees are.”

    But I don’t see a difference in a state governor taking money from unions to pay special interest donators back via legislation and any other politician paying union support back with a cushy new negotiation. They both stink.

  10. #10 |  Maria | 

    The comparison of unions to medieval guilds seems like an fitting and interesting comparison worth further discussion. I’d throw in accreditation requirements (for trades that don’t risk safety or life (ie. interior designers)) and most (not all) trade organizations into that pot as well.

  11. #11 |  Irving Washington | 

    I was seriously worried about Obama’s kowtowing to the unions during his campaign. I had no idea it would be this bad.

    I know this sounds crazy, but could Obama actually have a worse record on freedom and liberty issues than Bush?

  12. #12 |  Davis | 

    Remember when California tried to legalize marijuana? Remember how the three unions that put the most money into opposing the legislature were the police union, the prison union, and the drug enforcement officers union?

    Of course, the police union is one of the few excluded from the proposed Wisconsin reforms.

  13. #13 |  nospam | 

    Hey JT, maybe you help me with something. Why and how are public sector unions given the divine right to be totally shielding from having to take their place in line for a bite of the shit sandwich that all us schlubs in the private sector are enduring? Is it because the government workers don’t put on their pants one leg at a time? Is it because their shit smells better than ours does? I know, I know…it’s our lot in life to pay a larger share of our declining incomes to make sure they never ever have to take a step back from the trough, but I was hoping you could tell me why that is.

  14. #14 |  dingdongdugong | 

    @JTompson @Radley Balko

    This letter has been circulating lately. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445

    The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

    All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

    Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”

    -FDR

  15. #15 |  Highway | 

    There is an ‘ideal’ of unions… and then there is the way they’re implemented in the US. Because of the ‘first past the post’ nature of unions, the same way the government elections work, all unions, public and private, have the same incentive: Get as many votes as possible. Then they can lock up everyone else due to the nature of the laws about unions (only one certified union, all workers must pay into the union whether they’re members or not).

    If the good workers in a company want to be in a different union? Too bad. If they want to negotiate a different way? Too bad. So basically, the way unions are implemented is such that they overserve the least productive, and drag on the most productive. If that’s the case, why would you bother being the most productive?

    As far as public sector unions go, nearly every reason that people keep going to for why unions are needed are redundant. Originally unions fought for *safe* working conditions. Now it’s *better* working conditions: lower required hours, more holidays and vacations, insulation from being fired.

    And there’s no brake on it. If a union runs a company out of business, then they killed the goose with the golden egg. They’re out of jobs. Look at the US auto industry. But you can’t run the government out of business. There is an effective limit on how much money the government can take in, but until a theoretical limit is reached (of 100% tax rates, let’s say), people don’t actually believe that the government is out of money.

  16. #16 |  Les | 

    I know this sounds crazy, but could Obama actually have a worse record on freedom and liberty issues than Bush?

    It’s not worse, but just as bad. And that’s pretty terrible.

    The fact that Walker excluded police and firefighters unions is a pretty clear indicator that he’s acting in bad faith. Those unions are just as guilty as any other of abusing the pension system.

  17. #17 |  Rune | 

    New Professionalism Danish style

    Summary: During the climate meeting in Copenhagen 2009, a young man was mistaken for a US terror suspect and arrested along with his wife and three others. The man alledges that he was dressed in white coveralls, had his hands tied behind his back with strips and driven around the streets of Copenhagen for hours. He was denied something to drink and when he had to urinate, had to do it in a bottle, with his hands still tied behind his back. His wife has complained of very rough treatment as well. BUT surprise, surprise, the cops involved cannot be found, since all relevant reports and other paper trails have disappeared. Apparently a year is also such a long time that the cops involved seems to have forgotten, because nobody has owned up to being a part of the arrest. Though I do begrudgingly give the Danish police credit for being skeptical about adding tasers to their arsenal, it seems that when push comes to shove, they are not any different from their US brethren.

    google translation of Danish article

  18. #18 |  claude | 

    “The fact that Walker excluded police and firefighters unions is a pretty clear indicator that he’s acting in bad faith. Those unions are just as guilty as any other of abusing the pension system.”

    Those unions contributed to his campaign.

    Im on the pro-union side here. I do wish it was a private sector union tho.

  19. #19 |  claude | 

    “Remember when California tried to legalize marijuana? Remember how the three unions that put the most money into opposing the legislature were the police union, the prison union, and the drug enforcement officers union? ”

    If i remember right, the prison union ended up staying out of it. The beer industry did campaign against legalization tho. BTW, do you remember california and what happened when governor arnold went after unions?

  20. #20 |  Rune | 

    Unions, a perspective from a Scandinavian Wellfare State.

    Here in Denmark, public sector workers are by law denied form being market leaders in pay with comparable jobs in the private sector. This means that in the negotiations currently taking place now that will covewr the next couple of years, the public sector workers (yes, this includes cops and soldiers) will not see a pay increase next year, meaning an inflation adjusted pay-cut (with the exception of childcare workers who are payed 17% less than comparable jobs in the private sector). But of course, we are all evil communists in these parts, so don’t look to us for solutions =)

  21. #21 |  claude | 

    “Here in Denmark, public sector workers are by law denied form being market leaders in pay with comparable jobs in the private sector.”

    How it used to be here is that public sector jobs held benefits that were comparable to the private sector. They had to be to attract employees. Slowly over the last 30 years, many of the benefits and higher wages were taken from the private sector (the middle class is being decimated here), their unions were weakened, etc… The public sector unions were weakened so they were able to keep what they fought for. So, rather than questioning how private sector bennies ended up reduced, some people prefer to attack those who managed to hang on to theirs. Its baffling.

    http://tarpley.net/2010/09/14/labor-struggles-have-delivered-economic-progress-not-the-cartelized-free-market/

  22. #22 |  claude | 

    “The public sector unions were weakened”

    sh/b “werent”

  23. #23 |  Les | 

    Those unions contributed to his campaign.

    There you go. And unfortunately, anyone who questions the benefits of public-sector unions will be associated with that clown.

  24. #24 |  claude | 

    “There you go. And unfortunately, anyone who questions the benefits of public-sector unions will be associated with that clown.”

    They r backing out. From the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association:

    http://www.wlea.org/

    Tracy Fuller, Executive Board President

    Feb. 16, 2011

    ” I am going to make an effort to speak for myself, and every member of the Wisconsin State Patrol when I say this.

    I VALUE THE CAPITOL POLICE, AND THE U. W. POLICE. I VALUE ALL OF THE POLICE COMMUNICATIONS OFFICERS OF ALL OF THE AGENCIES IN OUR UNION, AND THE STATE TROOPERS, AND THE INSPECTORS OF THE STATE PATROL. I VALUE “ALL” OF THE SUPPORT STAFF OF ALL OF THE AGENCIES AROUND THE STATE. I DON’T KNOW HOW ANY OF US COULD FUNCTION WITHOUT ANY OF US AROUND THE STATE WE ALL NEED EACH OTHER.

    I VALUE THE BUREAU OF FIELD SERVICES, FIELD AGENTS OF LOCAL THREE, NO LESS THAN ANY OF THE OTHER MEMBERS IN THE UNION. I AM HERE FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THIS UNION AND ALWAYS THOUGHT I HAD BEEN UNTIL THIS WEEK.

    I SPECIFICALLY REGRET THE ENDORSEMENT OF THE WISCONSIN TROOPER’S ASSOCIATION FOR GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER. I REGRET THE GOVERNOR’S DECISION TO “ENDORSE” THE TROOPERS AND INSPECTORS OF THE WISCONSIN STATE PATROL. I REGRET BEING THE RECIPIENT OF ANY OF THE PERCIEVED BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNOR’S ANNOINTING.

    I THINK EVERYONE’S JOB AND CAREER IS JUST AS SIGNIFICANT AS THE OTHERS. EVERYONES FAMILY IS JUST AS VALUABLE AS MINE OR ANY OTHER PERSONS, ESPECIALLY MINE. EVERYONES NEEDS ARE JUST AS VALUABLE. WE ARE ALL GREAT PEOPLE!!”

    Scott Walker is finished, and im looking forward to doing everything i can to help make that happen.

  25. #25 |  Jeff W | 

    Hey guys, regular reader and occasional poster here. Since I’m from Wisconsin I figured I’d clear up a few misconceptions.

    The bill currently being debated is a budget repair bill for the 2009-2011 biennium, which has a $140 Million shortfall. You’ve probably seen a lot of people (Rachel Maddow in particular) saying that Scott Walker passed $140 Million in tax cuts, and so this whole deficit is his fault. That is false. First of all, Walker’s tax cuts are for the 2011-2013 biennium, and have no impact on the 2009-2011 deficit. Second of all, those tax cuts are rebates for any company that moves into Wisconsin or creates new jobs – so all of those rebates will be counter-balanced by the income tax on the new jobs created. So even for the 2011-2013 biennium those tax cuts aren’t contributing to the $3.6 Billion deficit that Walker was handed.

    Second of all, the biggest police & fire unions backed Walker’s opponent in the 2010 general election. It’s not a surprise to see them continue to hammer Walker.

    The unions have really screwed this one up. The teachers have illegally shut down the schools in Madison and in several other parts of the state for almost the entire week, and parents that have real jobs are having to hire babysitters because they can’t get paid to skip work. In order to hold their illegal strike the teachers have had to get fake “sick” notes, and there is plenty of footage of doctors handing out “sick notes” by the thousand at the Capitol. One of them was so stupid he actually gave Andrew Breitbart a sick note on camera, unaware of who he was. Those two things have ruined any good will that the protesters had. The people of Wisconsin aren’t too excited about the Democrats staying on vacation in Illinois and shutting down the government, either.

    Walker has more than 2-to-1 support on this bill, and it will pass as soon as the Democrats return to the state.

  26. #26 |  nospam | 

    Oh, I was on the fence here, but after seeing the response of the top pig in ALL CAPS, he’s swayed me over to his side! [/sarcasm]

  27. #27 |  supercat | 

    #5 | JThompson: //The blind hatred of unions puts lie to the libertarian idea that every man has a right to negotiate for his labor.//

    The very purpose of governmentally-recognized unions is to *deny* workers the right to negotiate for their labor as individuals. What more basis should a libertarian need to oppose them?

    There’s nothing wrong with a union which is voluntarily supported by enough quality workers that an employer would be better off seeking employees on the union’s terms than it would be trying to find enough non-union employees to do the job. That’s not how today’s unions work, however. Today, in many states, if 51% of the workers someplace want to make certain demands of the employer, other workers and prospective workers are forbidden from negotiating such demands individually. Doesn’t sound very protective of “individual rights” to me.

  28. #28 |  Aresen | 

    Looking for a crib?

    I like the way that guy’s sick mind works.

  29. #29 |  claude | 

    “Oh, I was on the fence here, but after seeing the response of the top pig in ALL CAPS, he’s swayed me over to his side!”

    LOL, yeah ill agree. That is very annoying. I almost didnt post it due to the caps. I usually respond to that in a similar manner as you, cuz if its one thing that makes me take you more seriously and really believe in your cause… type it in all caps and ill know you mean business!

    Wait til March 14th when Walker releases his budget and people realize hes going to privatize prisons and mess with the prison guard union. Personally, i dont believe in private prisons at all.

  30. #30 |  J sub D | 

    Re Wisconsin: A several thousand word article of persecution complex from a libertarian that demands the peasants know their place. Who’d have thought it?

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could return to the time when we could shoot cannons and pour boiling tar on those dirty unions? Or at least cheer on the robber barons as they did it.

    The raison d’etre for unions (protecting) workers from being exploited from the capitalist owners of the means of production) is a non sequitur as it relates to public employees.

    I’ve heard it crowed loud and often that public employees being better educated and more experienced than their private sector counterparts explains their better compensation. I’ll take them at their word and wish them the best of luck cashing in with private businesses because they no longer can engage in collective bargaining.

    Wisconsin is not outlawing public sector unions/professional associations, they are merely limiting what issues government is allowed to collectively bargain on.

  31. #31 |  Danny | 

    Regarding Wisconsin: I am surprised and disappointed that Radley appears to be so blithe about the carve-out for police unions. When it comes to cop unions, there is much more than bloated payrolls at stake.

    Surely Radley knows the role police unions have in keeping rotten cops on the force. Does he really see this startling and politically-naked carve-out for the police unions as just a matter of incremental imperfection?

    It seems to me that if he is going to be true to his stated mission, Radley should have a lot more to say on this than an off-hand ‘not far enough’ side-comment.

  32. #32 |  Jeff W | 

    Danny, in politics you can never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This bill is an improvement. The bill would be better if the police & fire unions weren’t exempt, but hopefully that’s something that will happen down the road.

  33. #33 |  GeoffB | 

    “I am opposed to public sector unions, because when union leaders negotiate employment terms with the very politicians they helped elect, there seems to be someone left out in the cold.”

    Radley, this is an honest question: how is the idea of a public sector union influencing elected officials more pernicious than that of any other interest group? I’m not trying to troll the thread here, but it seems to me that if we allow Corporation X to fund an electoral campaign for a politician in exchange for their support, it’s more or less identical to the situation alleged here. The fact that public sector unions are paid directly by the state, while the company receives less direct benefits, seems irrelevant.

    As a result, I’m not sure how to rationalize principled support for, say, Citizens United as “free speech,” with principled opposition to public sector unions. Why aren’t the latter entitled to exactly the same privileges?

    (Lest this question be hijacked, note that this question in no way depends on whether you believe that unions are inherently good or evil.)

  34. #34 |  Frank Hummel | 

    RE: History’s lost black cities.

    Detroit is gonna make that list soon…

  35. #35 |  Danny | 

    #32 — Jeff W.:

    First, it is pretty obvious that nothing is going to “happen down the road.” The GOP and the police unions have a shared police-control agenda going back to the Nixon years, and it is not about to come apart anytime soon.

    Second, and more importantly, this elevation of cops above other employees makes things WORSE. It underscores a message of police ELITISM and police IMPUNITY in the most unmistakable terms. It says that “bad teachers” are unacceptable, but that violent and lawless cops are just a cost of doing business.

    This is just what I would expect from today’s GOP, but it is definitely not something I see as an incremental gain.

    I would analogize to certain versions of the assault-weapons bans that propose give retired or off-duty cops the prerogative of owning assault weapons, to the exclusion of all other civilians. That type of law would, in my estimate, be much worse than an assault-weapons ban that applies equally to all.

    This is not in any way a matter of the “good versus the perfect.”

  36. #36 |  Jeff W | 

    Well, the major police unions in Wisconsin endorsed Scott Walker’s Democrat opponent in 2010. But aside that, it’s pretty obvious that they looked at the politics of this and decided that their best shot to pass it was to exempt police & fire. And I know quite a few people who work at the Capitol in Madison, and I can assure you that many of them believe that once this bill is done that the police & fire unions should be dealt with in the 2011-2013 biennium.

    One of the biggest problems we libertarians have is that we obsess over making every bill perfect, and oppose bills that make things better because they have flaws. Well, we’re never going to have perfect bills. If a bill makes things better then we should support it.

    By the way, as for your idea that somehow this bill sends a “message” that police are above everybody else… that’s a minor exaggeration, don’t you think? The reason police always have huge compensation and are constantly exempt from pay cuts aren’t because of some sinister “control agenda” with the GOP, but rather the same reason why Washington can’t cut federal doctor compensation. It’s because they’ll run commercials with tinkling pianos and sad looking cute white children saying “They’re cutting our pay and people are going to die. Why do they hate us? Why do they hate children?” It’s an almost un-winnable PR battle.

  37. #37 |  Tweets that mention Sunday Links | The Agitator -- Topsy.com | 

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martell Thornton and Mary Jane, FoxArtCultTech. FoxArtCultTech said: Sunday Links http://goo.gl/fb/W6Ukl […]

  38. #38 |  Pam | 

    I happened to be down in Mississippi the weekend of the film fest and was able to see the documentary, “Mississippi Innocence”. At was good especially the Levon and Kennedy who are genuinely likeable people. There were groans when Forrest Allgood was “splaining” the reasons for what he did and how because no one died, the justice system worked. That’s debatable because an innocent little 3 year old girl died due to the negligent railroadeding of the wrong person. The overall audience’s least favorite character aware goes to Forrest Allgood who elicited groans. He did try to seem genuine and likeable, but really just came off smug and disingenuous and I dare say, stupid.

  39. #39 |  celticdragon | 

    @ Jeff W

    The teachers have illegally shut down the schools in Madison and in several other parts of the state for almost the entire week,

    Illegally?

    Are you suggesting that free people can be forced by police powers to come to work against their will?

  40. #40 |  Rich | 

    The domain seizure are the first shot in the battle to allow the government to kill the internet, they government will be sued, inevitably because they have added the key words child porn into the mix, The judges will find that in the interest of protection they will be allowed to do this, That precedent will then lead to what the Dictator in Egypt was allowed to do when the sources of propaganda can no longer be controlled by the Dictators or the corporations,
    Sounds Paranoid no that is exactly what this is about. Controlling the false flag events that start wars.

  41. #41 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Is it too late to say Walker sucks and so do the unions?

  42. #42 |  Carl-Bear | 

    #25 | Jeff W | February 20th, 2011 at 4:46 pm said: “The teachers have illegally shut down the schools in Madison and in several other parts of the state for almost the entire week, and parents that have real jobs ARE HAVING TO HIRE BABYSITTERS because they can’t get paid to skip work.” (emphasis added. -cb)

    And there we have it; the real use and value of the public schools and these overpaid teachers.

    Babysitters.

  43. #43 |  Whim | 

    Regarding WI Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to cut the state’s $3B deficit, he did not create the deficit problem. He inherited it. He assumed office on January 3, 2011. There was also a regime change in the state legislature with the GOP taking over the majority in both houses of their legislature in January.

    The state is facing big financial problems created by former spend-aholic Gov. Doyle and his Democrat Party minions in the state legislature.

    To correct a misnomer, Public Employees Unions do not “negotiate” wages/benefits with those making the decisions about the size/composition of those raises in wages/benefits.

    Instead, the Public Employees union selects and funds candidates (almost always Democrats) who in turn, once elected, readily agree to give the public employees unions everything they want. Besides, it’s OPM:

    Other People’s Money.

    Unlike an industrial union negotiating with its employer, if the employer becomes uncompetitive, the union workers will eventually be laid off, and the plant closed or moved offshore.

    Possible Compromise Solution:

    Maybe the public schools systems in WI can import guest workers from India to teach the public schools. They’re probably smarter and more motitivated, speak English, and would happily work for one-half the $100K paid to the WI public school teachers on avg.

    That would work.

  44. #44 |  Jason | 

    Radley –

    What is wrong with several people getting together to form a union and setting as a cost of their labor an agreement with an employer that they will only hire members of their union? That’s all a closed shop is. It no more forces a person to be a member of a union than a business setting a wage for certain labor forces people to work for that wage. The traditional arguments against this are anti-trust, but those seem in conflict with other arguments you’ve made as a libertarian.

  45. #45 |  Les | 

    Boyd, it’s never too late for an appropriate amount of cynicism.

  46. #46 |  luvzbob | 

    THe average teacher in WI does NOT make $100K, period, this is FOX news misinformation. Our school district (and we pay above average) has an average total cost (salary and all compensation, including payroll taxes) of $57K per teacher. That includes health care and pension contributions. Further WI teacher total compensation has been essentially capped by the QEO laws and strict district revenue laws since 1993. So you your claim that the unions have gotten everything they want from candidates they fund is totally false – teachers in wisconsin have seen their salaries increase more slowly than inflation since 1993 – and total education spending compared to GDP has DECREASED by 12% since then.

    A recent study shows that public employees with a bachelors degree (a requirement for teachers) earn about 8% less than private sector employees INCLUDING BENEFITS. Even though the unions agreed 100% to the economic elements of the bill (reducing their take home pay about 8%) Walker refuses to even talk to them – indicating this bill isn’t about the budget at all, just union busting.

    You guys are full of misinformation.

    It always amazes me how libertarians rail against the abuses of government, but are in lock step opposition to those who advocate for the people when its called a union.

  47. #47 |  Jeff W | 

    Jason, nobody has a problem with a group of people getting together and choosing to negotiate together. That’s a straw man. The problem is when the government FORCES people to be in the union or quit their jobs.

    And public sector unions are different from private sector unions. The reason is that public unions can’t have true “negotiations”. They’re trying to squeeze money from the taxpayers, yet the taxpayers have no seat at the table, and the unions get to spend millions of dollars electing the people they’ll be “negotiating with”. The deck is stacked.

    Even without unions, public sector workers are going to end up being overpaid relative to private workers because of the nature of government. They never have to worry about their company going bankrupt, or losing their pension, or (for the most part) losing their job due to incompetence.

    Of course, Walker’s bill doesn’t get rid of public sector unions. It simply requires their membership to vote every year for them to stay certified (i.e. it will finally build some accountability into the union) and requires the union to collect their own dues (it’s wildly unethical and inappropriate for the government to collect millions of dollars from its employees just to hand it over to a private political lobbying organization, which is what the AFL-CIO is).

  48. #48 |  Radley Balko | 

    GeoffB:

    I’m opposed to closed-door meetings with corporations, too. And I’ve written about my opposition to the all the benefits they get from the federal government.

    Public sector employees covered by unions have to join the union. Many have money deducted from their paychecks by the government that then goes to the union to . . . lobby for more government. Whether they agree with that or not. That seems to me to be much more pernicious.

    There’s also the matter that public sector employees’ ultimate bosses are taxpayers. If a private company negotiates a foolishly lucrative union contract, they’ll suffer for it in the marketplace. The government has no competitors. And the people negotiating the contracts owe the unions patronage.

    The demands of unionizied public employees are butting up against the interests of taxpayers. Some of these pensions, for example, if paid in full, are going to require massive tax increases to pay out. I guess this boils down to whether you think the government’s ultimate responsibility is to public employees, or to taxpayers. I think it’s to taxpayers.

    I do think the promised pensions need to be paid out. I also think that it’s time to stop promising defined-benefit pensions. And I have no problems with voters dictating the terms you have to agree to follow if you want to get a paycheck from the government.

  49. #49 |  luvzbob | 

    “The fact that public sector unions are paid directly by the state, while the company receives less direct benefits, seems irrelevant.”

    In many cases the company, through government contracts, receives MORE direct benefits. At least the union represents the selfish interests of the people.

  50. #50 |  Irving Washington | 

    Illegally?

    Are you suggesting that free people can be forced by police powers to come to work against their will?

    I don’t think that’s what’s being suggested, but an illegal strike is supposed to eliminate job protections under a CBA. Reagan vs. the air traffic controllers, as an example.

  51. #51 |  Radley Balko | 

    Surely Radley knows the role police unions have in keeping rotten cops on the force. Does he really see this startling and politically-naked carve-out for the police unions as just a matter of incremental imperfection?

    It seems to me that if he is going to be true to his stated mission, Radley should have a lot more to say on this than an off-hand ‘not far enough’ side-comment.

    I’ve written extensively on the problems with police unions. And in my one post on Wisconsin, I noted that it was wrong to exclude the police unions from the bill. If you want more than that, write it yourself. I’m not your blogging monkey. If that makes me “untrue to” my “stated mission”, whatever that means, so be it.

  52. #52 |  perlhaqr | 

    That’s the real problem with you, Balko. You’re just not serious enough about the problems of overpowered police. *eyeroll* ;)

  53. #53 |  Jason | 

    Wisconsin’s pension system is 97% funded right now. It’s been well-managed. I favor moving the pension system as close to a 401k as possible, but that’s argument for what ought to be negotiated, not stripping negotiating rights.

    I don’t know where the 100k average number came from. That’s absurd.

    I have no problem with voters dictating terms to labor if they want to get a job with the voters. I think labor just should have a right to counter with their own terms. If those terms come from a collective association of people, then so be it.

  54. #54 |  Jason | 

    Jeff W –

    If I say I’ll work for an employer if and only if my friend Joe is hired, it’s ultimately up to the employer to either hire me and submit to my terms or not hire me because it finds my terms unacceptable. That’s all that’s happening here.

  55. #55 |  Jason | 

    Jeff W –

    Walker’s bill strips unions of their ability to negotiate for anything but wage increases, which would be capped at the inflation rate unless overridden by referendum. Unions would be forbidden from negotiating for health and retirement benefits, workplace conditions, vacations, hours, management relations, etc. So on the one hand, the law restricts the purpose of unions significantly. On the other, it prevents deduction of dues from checks, requires yearly secret ballot elections (that require over 50% from all employees rather than those that voted), and makes union dues voluntary. This encourages free riders and undercuts union funding. All of that taken together is meant to make it difficult for unions to operate while they don’t have much to operate for. The collective effect is to kill the unions. You’d have to be blind not to see it. You should support it if, like Radley, you think public sector unions should not be allowed to exist.

  56. #56 |  luvzbob | 

    Your opposition to collective bargaining is at odds with your libertarian principles. You wouldn’t argue with the right of walmart (which is, as you know, a free association of people), to set prices, so why do you oppose the right of a union to set prices for the its product (labor)?

  57. #57 |  derfel cadarn | 

    To the public service employees unions in Wisconsin when the host dies the parasites (you) starve. OK in little words of two syllables or less The host is dying. Would it not be better to have 85% of a job over no job? Think about how much more fortunate you are than many others in this country, now stop whining and get back to work.

  58. #58 |  james | 

    ‘Only some people deserve rights’
    – Radley Balko

  59. #59 |  The Johnny Appleseed Of Crack | 

    James, are you quoting Radley? Quotation marks are for quotations.

  60. #60 |  Jeff W | 

    Jason, first of all, your numbers are wrong. For example, the average teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system earns a little over $100k per year in wages + benefits. They love to talk about how they only make $54k or whatever it is in wages, because they want people to forget about the $50k in benefits.

    And it’s the fact that those benefits are out of control that precipitates what Walker needs to do. And that’s why public sector unions are banned in many parts of this country, and were banned nationwide until about 50 years ago. You’ll struggled to find any prominent economist who would disagree. Even the founder and first President of the AFL-CIO didn’t think public sector unions should exist. Public sector unions should not exist. Walker’s bill is moderate.

    The unions can bitch about what they are or are not allowed to negotiate on. But what about the taxpayers? They don’t get to negotiate the wages OR the benefits. How is that fair? Unions only make sense in a private environment, where you have both the people receiving the wages and the people paying the wages at the table, negotiating in good faith.

  61. #61 |  GreginOz | 

    Radley, see link below for awesomenest (sic) Australian TV moment! Unlike “Nipplegate” Aussies laffed n laffed!!!

    http://www.zimbio.com/Jennifer+Hawkins/articles/qe711awf0Bl/Jennifer+Hawkins+Wardrobe+Malfunction+Pics

  62. #62 |  EH | 

    And it’s the fact that those benefits are out of control

    Oh BS. Teachers should be making $100K a year.

  63. #63 |  Jeff W | 

    Yes, EH, teachers should be getting tons of pay. But Wisconsin has a $3.6 Billion deficit and already had one of the highest tax rates in the nation. If we had infinite money and Scott Walker was withholding it from teachers then you can be mad, but what’s the option here? Either benefits have to get cut or the state has to default.

    In fact, this was known for a while now by anybody who was educated on the Wisconsin budget situation. Even if the Democrat had beaten Scott Walker he’d be cutting benefits. The unions were living in denial. And just yesterday the union finally admitted that they lost this battle, and has said that they’ll agree to the benefit cuts Walker is asking for if he’ll keep the union collective bargaining rights the same. But Walker can’t allow this to happen again. A two year band-aid won’t fix things long term, because the next time there’s a Democrat governor he/she will pass extravagant benefit increases to make up for the cuts. No, the only way to fix the budget long term is to sever the monopoly power that the public sector unions have.

  64. #64 |  Jeff W | 

    Also, let me add that while I would love it if teacher’s wages could be higher, I want it to be WAGES. And that’s why it’s good that Walker is targeting benefits instead of wages. Benefits are what bankrupt municipalities because they make pension and health care promises without putting money under their pillow so they’ll be able to pay it down the road. It’s best to pay out the money in wages – that way the money goes in and the money goes out, and municipalities aren’t paralyzed long term by promises made decades earlier. Wages can be cut down the road if there’s a budget crisis. Pension promises can’t.

    If wages went up and benefits went down, that’s a good trade for the fiscal position of the state.

  65. #65 |  Aaron | 

    Off-topic, but apparently suing the police *can* work:

    http://www.eagletribune.com/latestnews/x253819531/City-pulls-plug-on-police-legal-bills

  66. #66 |  Jason | 

    Jeff W – The 100k average number is make-believe, and rather humorously so. You should cite your sources.

    Wisconsin does have a serious structural budget deficit that has been patched over and over with shortsighted fixes going back to the latter part of the Thompson administration. The 3.6 billion dollar number is almost certainly inflated, though, as it assumes that all department requests for the new biennium will be funded. That never happens.

    Seeing how public unions already have negotiated fairly large rollbacks in compensation, the idea that they need to be stripped of their negotiating rights in order to fix the budget is preposterous. Unless the argument is that the budget deficit should be fixed entirely on the backs of public employees, which is also a strange assertion. They obviously won’t stand for that so long as they are able.

    Finally, given that the unions already negotiated an approximate 11% cut in total compensation, roughly comparable to what Walker is proposing now, in the previous lame duck session puts lie to this being something they finally submitted to now. The compensation levels are just being used as an excuse to union bust.

  67. #67 |  luvzbob | 

    ” OK in little words of two syllables or less The host is dying”

    How so? THe deficit in Wisconsin is less than 1% of GSP. A tiny amount of the economy. The only reason it exists is that choices have been made to reduce revenue.

    “Benefits are what bankrupt municipalities because they make pension and health care promises without putting money under their pillow so they’ll be able to pay it down the road”

    Wisconsins pension system is fully funded and in good shape. The concenssions the governor is asking for (and the union agreed to) don’t effect the pensions or healthcare promises, just take home pay.

  68. #68 |  luvzbob | 

    “Either benefits have to get cut or the state has to default.”

    or the state could raise taxes a small amount, say a 1% sales tax.

  69. #69 |  Jeff W | 

    Yes, Jason, it’s “hilariously made-up”. Oh shoot, I guess I have a source for it:

    http://maciverinstitute.com/2010/03/average-mps-teacher-compensation-tops-100kyear/

    The fact that you are ignorant about a topic does not mean that you should make snark retorts to anybody who challenges your pre-conceived assumptions. It just makes you look even worse when you’re proven wrong.

    By the way, no “rights” are being taken away here. I suggest you re-read the US Constitution, as well as some of the great liberal thinkers that inspired it, to refresh yourself on what rights are.

  70. #70 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, Wisconsin has one of the highest effective tax rates in the country (in large part due to a massive tax increase passed in the last biennium that drove much of the private sector out of the state), and you could set the tax rate to the highest in the nation and the state would STILL have a budget deficit. As with the federal government, there is not a revenue problem, but a spending problem.

    If you want to talk about what caused the budget deficit, look at things like the previous administration raiding $1 Billion from the transportation fund and over $200 Million from the patient’s compensation fund, and also using a ton of federal stimulus funds, to paper over the state’s fiscal problems, and to leave the real problems for the next administration.

  71. #71 |  Cyto | 

    If the teacher’s unions are so worried about limits on public employee’s union bargaining capabilities, maybe they should back a change that addresses all the problems. Privatize all schools. Use “money follows the kid” voucher funding and escape all those nasty restrictions on public employee unions. Strike all you’d care to. Demand any benefits you want. And may the best schools win.

  72. #72 |  albatross | 

    If there are states that do and don’t allow public sector unions to engage in collective bargaining, then there should be some data about how that all works out, in terms of state budget, quality of schools, etc.

  73. #73 |  luvzbob | 

    How do you tell when a libertarian is lying: His fingers are moving.

    “Wisconsin has one of the highest effective tax rates in the country”
    WSJ ranks tax burden per capita as 20th.
    http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/89702927.html

    ” massive tax increase passed in the last biennium ”
    http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/downchart_gr.php?year=1993_2021&view=1&expand=&units=d&fy=fy12&chart=F0-total&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&title=&state=WI&color=c&local=s

    total revenue has not significantly increased, just been shifted around.

    “drove much of the private sector out of the state”

    Oddly- much of the private sector remains in the state. Wisconsin has had LESS change in private employment than most other states and lower total unemployement rates.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_unemployment_rate

    ” tax rate to the highest in the nation and the state would STILL have a budget deficit.”

    False. an additional tax of 1% of GDP would MORE than balance the budget.

  74. #74 |  BSK | 

    In my experience (limited, but perhaps more than others here), teachers are not necessarily required to join unions. When I was student teaching in MA, part of my requirement was to learn about this aspect of working in the public schools. I met with one schools union rep and another senior teacher at the school who opted not to participate in the union. As a matter of practice (not sure if it was a legal requirement or simply practical), non-union teachers worked under the same salary scale and benefit structure as union teachers. But they lacked other protections, such as legal support and such. They didn’t pay dues and, while they may have felt pressure from other teachers, they certainly were not required to join the union.

    I don’t know if this is still the case or if Massachusetts was an outlier in this way. I don’t know the specifics of Wisconsin. But some people seem to be operating under the assumption that all teachers must join a union or lose their jobs. Which I don’t believe to be universally true.

  75. #75 |  Jeff W | 

    BSK, it depends on whether a state is a “right-to-work” state or not. In many parts of the country all public school teachers have to be members of the same union, without any say.

  76. #76 |  Radley Balko | 

    Your opposition to collective bargaining is at odds with your libertarian principles.

    I already explained this. It’s different when the employer is the taxpayer. There’s no competitor to the government to pressure it to hold out for a better deal. In fact, every incentive for politicians and policymakers pushes them toward making the deal for public employees as sweet as possible, given their political power. Which is exactly what has happened.

  77. #77 |  luvzbob | 

    “In fact, every incentive for politicians and policymakers pushes them toward making the deal for public employees as sweet as possible, given their political power. Which is exactly what has happened.”

    Wow – actually its the opposite. Public employees are paid less than their private counterparts, and government is much more responsive to corporate donors than public employee unions. WI teachers have been losing ground against inflation since 1993 – there isn’t anyway you can say they have a deal “as sweet as possible”. Please inform yourself as to the actual facts.

  78. #78 |  Charlie O | 

    re: The Domain Seizures.

    “Fuck the Constitution. It’s for the children”

    –the government

  79. #79 |  Brandon | 

    “Please inform yourself as to the actual facts.”

    Because all the facts that have been presented before don’t mesh with Joe Biden’s argument, so they’re not “actual” facts.

  80. #80 |  BSK | 

    Jeff W-

    Thanks. That seems to indicate the difference between what I saw in MA and what is being talked about elsewhere. I’m not sure if “right-to-work” states require union membership or don’t but, whichever is the descriptor that indicates those which do require membership… well, yikes.

    In general, as a teacher (though currently in the private sector), I struggle with some of the angst aimed towards teachers unions. It is often predicated on the notion that they are too focused on their own interests and not enough on education. But since when were unions expected to put the health of the industry above that of its workers? Do we rail against auto workers unions who resist measures that might improve the efficiency or safety of car production at the expense of union jobs? No. Because we recognize that unions are designed to protect jobs. Education (in more ways than just this) is treated different than other industries (perhaps rightly). When teachers push for more money, we somehow think they are being greedy or violating the noble tenets of their field, which they should engage in selflessly for the children with little regard to their own compensation. When construction unions push for more money or other agendas, we don’t question their character or dedication.

    I realize that the criticism here is not reserved uniquely for the teachers (in fact, it seems centered on the fact that other unions were spared), but I do think that sometimes certain unions suffer from an unfair perception bias.

    Of course, I also see the current state of teachers union as a huge harbinger to the improvement of the educational field. That is why, for all her warts, I really liked the plan that Michelle Rhee put in place in DC, where teachers had the opportunity to opt out of union contracts and all their protections, submit themselves to higher standards, but also have the opportunity for greater compensation for higher performance. I had some problems with the methodology, but the ideology was sound.

    In general, teachers unions are complicated beasts (as most unions are). I generally agree with the right to unionize, though am bothered by what Jeff W described with regards to states that require membership. Radley’s articulation about the unique issue of public sector unions is interesting and reminds me of the problems we see with professional sports unions (because of the de facto protections offered through anti-trust exemptions by the government). If the NFL locks out, the players don’t really have an option because there isn’t an opportunity for true competition to the NFL.

    As long as we have public sector jobs (which I know many here would prefer we didn’t), it seems logical that the employees should not sacrifice their right to collectively bargain. However, the lack of competition is a problem. Perhaps if unions negotiated with individual districts, we’d see some more competition; there is also some competition between the states, but probably not enough to make a difference. But with multiple unions and multiple employers (school districts), we might see better balance.

  81. #81 |  Radley Balko | 

    luvzbob:

    There’s a reason why nearly all private companies have eschewed defined benefit retirement packages. Why haven’t state government done the same?

    From what I’ve read, Wisconsin teachers average more than $100K per year when you include benefits. And public school teachers in general make much more than their private counterparts.

    And we’ve had this conversation before. Public employees on average make more than their private counterparts, and they make much more when you include benefits. Study after study has shown this.

    And I don’t disagree that government is responsive to corporate donors. And I’m opposed to just about every way government responds to them. But it’s also a completely different relationship than a collective bargaining negotiation.

  82. #82 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, federal workers on average make double in total compensation what the average private worker makes, and state/local workers make about 50% more than their private counterparts. Those facts are not in dispute.

    If you’ve seen a study that says private workers make more money, it’s been put out by a union-funded thinktank, and I’ll explain to you exactly how they come up with those numbers. They acknowledge that public workers make more money, but they argue that since public workers on average have more college degrees, that when you compare what public workers “deserve” to be paid they are underpaid. This, of course, is a deceptive argument. For example, public workers with only a high school degree make far more than private workers with only a high school degree. The balance comes from those with masters degrees. Teachers have masters degrees, but so do investment bankers, and obviously investment bankers make more money. But this is, after all, what public sector unions do. They raise wages to astronomical levels for those that have no education and skills, while preventing those that have a lot of education and skills from being rewarded.

    Let me also add that all of those stats like “WI teacher’s wages have been going down relative to inflation since 1993″ and whatnot are all, again, WAGES. It’s fascinating how the union leaders continue to try to pretend that benefits don’t exist, even though it’s the benefits that they’re squeezing out of government that they’re always bragging to their membership about getting (if you’ve ever been in a public sector union, as I have, you are familiar with that). Nobody is trying to cut wages of public employees in Wisconsin. The dispute is over the benefits – the Cadillac health care plans and the unfunded pension plans. Those are what have gotten out of control, and those are what Walker is trying to get under control.

  83. #83 |  BSK | 

    If the bulk of the difference is indeed from the benefits, that complicates things a bit. It’s possible that the teachers’ situation hasn’t really changed… just the cost. For instance, suppose teachers averaged $40,000 a year in 2000 and got 80% of benefits covered. Let’s suppose that the entire cost of those benefits (not including the pension) was $10,000, resulting in a total payout from the state of $48,000 per teacher.

    Fast forward to 2010. Salaries might have gone up less than inflation (as luvzbob insists). Let’s assume they are only at $42,000. But benefit premiums have doubled to $20,000 (premiums have gone up at a rate far higher than inflation). The government still pays 80%. So now the average per teacher is $58,000. That is a HUGE jump in terms of what the state is paying out. But not necessarily a big difference for the teacher. Obviously, with the numbers as they are, the state might have preferred to pay less than the 80% or not cover benefits at all.

    It seems the truth is somewhere in the middle. Teacher take home pay might be lower relative to inflation. Total money paid to teachers (including benefits) is up. All in all, it’s a bit of a lose-lose. Except for the insurance companies, I suppose.

  84. #84 |  BSK | 

    Please note: All my numbers are entirely theoretical.

  85. #85 |  BSK | 

    My question is… why does the government agree to these conditions? Personally, I am bothered with any attempts to retroactively withdraw pension benefits previously guaranteed… but why do they continue to agree to them? The union is not blameless, but do we really want to throw it at their feet that the government keeps agreeing to such flawed contracts? I know unions are powerful, but given that most public sector unions are legally barred from striking, it would appear they are somewhat limited in leverage.

  86. #86 |  Jeff W | 

    The government agrees because it’s where the incentives are. Very few non-union members have any idea what the union contracts are. But the unions will spend many millions of dollars smearing any politician that gets in the way of their hand-outs. Plus, whenever they have Democrats in charge, they know that no Democrat that values their political future will ever stand up to the unions.

    Imagine in a private company if the employees got to elect the person negotiating the contract with their union, and if the company couldn’t be put out of business by doing a poor job of negotiating? Do you think benefits will go up or down? The answer is obviously that they’ll go up.

  87. #87 |  Highway | 

    BSK, you are mistaken when you say that other unions, especially private sector unions, aren’t taken to task over considering the situation with the employer.

    One of the major reasons for the auto bailouts of the last few years were the union contracts which had made it impossible for GM and Chrysler (and Ford, btw, although they didn’t get bailed out explicitly) to compete. The labor costs were too high, without having a measurable quality impact on the vehicles that would allow them to increase the prices to offset the high labor costs. One of the *major* results of the bankruptcy that GM went through was that the UAW pension fund was made a major stockholder / owner of GM. But essentially, the union contracts helped ‘kill’ GM as it was. They were on the way to killing Ford, which is now moving better toward profitability. But even in Ford’s case, the UAW is talking about ramping up the pressure on the employer, when they’re just barely afloat.

    Same thing is currently happening in the NFL / NFLPA negotiations. The owners say they need more of the revenue to deal with increased costs, while the player’s union isn’t willing to change the percentage to them downward. Now, I don’t know which is right and which is wrong, but it’s still a case where the profitability of the industry as a whole is something that the union must take into account.

  88. #88 |  BSK | 

    Jeff-

    Thanks. What a screwed up situation. I still wonder if my idea about unions having to negotiate with individual districts would make a difference. Especially if they were forced to negotiate with people who weren’t elected (such as a school principal). Obviously, that person is likely selected by elected officials, but it might remove some of the intense conflicts of interest cited here.

  89. #89 |  luvzbob | 

    “federal workers on average make double in total compensation what the average private worker makes, and state/local workers make about 50% more than their private counterparts. Those facts are not in dispute.”

    THis IS in dispute. The government hires very few burger-flippers, so comparing the salary of a group that contains a lot of people with advanced degrees vs. a group that includes walmart greaters is phony. The FACTS that AREN”T in dispute is that the average government worker makes LESS (including benefits) than the equivalent private sector worker. Study after study has shown this.

    “When comparisons are made controlling for the difference in annual hours worked, full-time state and local government employees are undercompensated by 4.8%, compared with otherwise similar private sector workers. To summarize, our study shows that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin’s private sector.”

    http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/6759/

    There is a reason for this – employees vote with their feet. Gov’t workers tend to have higher job security than private sector workers, the result is that they are willing to accept a 5% penalty to work in the Gov’t sector.

  90. #90 |  luvzbob | 

    “Fast forward to 2010. Salaries might have gone up less than inflation (as luvzbob insists). Let’s assume they are only at $42,000. But benefit premiums have doubled to $20,000 (premiums have gone up at a rate far higher than inflation). The government still pays 80%. So now the average per teacher is $58,000. ”

    In Wisconsin TOTAL compensation is considered by the laws governing teacher salary, not just salaries. So if health care goes from $10K to $20K the teachers salaries would have to be reduced to pay for the same level of benefit (correcting of course for the small amount total compensation is allowed to increase each year).

  91. #91 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    My point was more about the public perception of the unions and their members. There are definitely recent examples of other unions that were bashed, but I don’t think in the same way as teachers unions. I know many people who say, “The teachers unions are advocating for their jobs! Shouldn’t they be advocating for education?” That, to me, shows a fundamental failure to understand the purpose of a union OR an entirely out-of-line expectation put upon teachers unions that we don’t generally see for other unions.

    The head of the auto parts union doesn’t give a shit about my car. And the head of the teachers union doesn’t give a shit about my kid’s education. If we believe that the latter is wrong while the former is not, then that means we see education as an industry as inherently and fundamentally different than the auto industry. Which very well may be the case. But, if that is indeed the case, then we should be viewing and treating them differently in many other ways, as well.

    Again, I’m not absolving the teachers union of blame, either in regards to their negotiating tactics or the overall negative effects I feel they’ve had on the state of education. I just don’t know that it is right to demand something of the teachers union that we don’t demand of others. It goes to the inherent flawed perception we have of certain service industries (education, health) wherein we assume that people go into such fields because of passion and devotion to service and, as such, there is something unbecoming of them if they talk money. Teachers and doctors/nurses are selfish when they push for higher pay. Everyone else is just a reasonable employee.

  92. #92 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, we’ve all seen that EPI “study”. It’s the one the AFL-CIO is passing around in their talking points memos (obviously you got the memo). The problem is that the EPI is a union-funded leftwing thinktank. Seeing as how this is subjective number-crunching, obviously the EPI is going to come up with an answer the unions want to hear.

    And no, my numbers are not in dispute. Federal workers make double what private workers make on average. State/local workers make 50% more. This is not in dispute.

    Saying that “comparable” public workers make less is a ridiculous argument because most public workers have no comparison. How do you compare police wages to private wages?? It’s a wildly intellectually dishonest argument.

    You are right that public workers will be happy to accept lower pay because of the job security and the fact that they often can’t get fired for incompetence. But that’s precisely the proof of the power of unions – that despite the fact that public workers will happily work for less than private workers, they are in fact making much, much more.

    Of course, the fact that public sector unions would wield huge amounts of power was predicted by… every economist on the planet. It’s why public sector unions never should have been legal in the first place.

    By the way, since it’s been shown that the average Milwaukee public school teacher makes over $100,000 in total compensation – would you be kind enough to provide us evidence that in 1993 these teachers were earning over $100,000 in 2011 dollars? I want you to look that up for yourself because you’ll find out that the talking points you’ve been fed have been intentionally dishonest. They only talk about WAGES, and ignore the exploding benefits.

  93. #93 |  luvzbob | 

    Let me also add that all of those stats like “WI teacher’s wages have been going down relative to inflation since 1993″ and whatnot are all, again, WAGES. It’s fascinating how the union leaders continue to try to pretend that benefits don’t exist, even though it’s the benefits that they’re squeezing out of government that they’re always bragging to their membership about getting (if you’ve ever been in a public sector union, as I have, you are familiar with that). Nobody is trying to cut wages of public employees in Wisconsin. The dispute is over the benefits – the Cadillac health care plans and the unfunded pension plans. Those are what have gotten out of control, and those are what Walker is trying to get under control.

    Its AMAZING the level of ignorance we see here. WI total expenditures on K-12 education has BEEN DECREASING compared to GDP. If the unions were bankrupting the state WHY IS TOTAL EXPENSE (including benefits) DECREASING. Those “cadillac” benefits that are bankrupting the state> Well the WI pension plan IS FULLY FUNDED. So why did you lie and say it was unfunded?

    And walker’s bill doesn’t reduce public employee benefits AT ALL – it just increases the deductions (reducing take home pay) for them. The net result is about an 8% cut in total compensation. It is the exact same effect as an 8% wage cut – there is no difference to the state or the employee.

    Most of the “opinion” in these comments it based on “Fox news” propoganda rather than facts.

  94. #94 |  luvzbob | 

    “And no, my numbers are not in dispute. Federal workers make double what ”

    OK – show me ONE study that says that comparable (same level of education/experience, equivalent jobs) federal workers make double what private sector workers do. This is a false claim and you know it. Its like saying the average IBM employee makes twice what the average walmart employee does so IBM must be overpaying.

    “Of course, the fact that public sector unions would wield huge amounts of power was predicted by… every economist on the planet”
    Why shouldn’t they, aren’t they people to? Why should walmart be allowed huge amounts of power and public sector employees not?

  95. #95 |  luvzbob | 

    ” I still wonder if my idea about unions having to negotiate with individual districts would make a difference. Especially if they were forced to negotiate with people who weren’t elected (such as a school principal). Obviously, that person is likely selected by elected officials, but it might remove some of the intense conflicts of interest cited here.”

    Uh – union DO negotiate with individual districts and they DO negotiate with administrators not directly with boards. How can you not know these basic facts before forming your opinion?

  96. #96 |  BSK | 

    luvzbob-

    Then why are we talking about the state of WI? I know that there are variances district to district, but the overarching provisions are negotiated at the state level. Which is why we’re seeing what we’re seeing in WI.

  97. #97 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, you have committed the logical fallacy of moving the goal posts. I stated, quite correctly, that the average federal worker earns double what the average private worker makes, and that the average state/local worker earns about 50% more than the average private worker. I said those facts are not in dispute and I was correct. You retorted by demanding that it is in dispute that workers in comparable jobs make more in the public than private sphere. That is not what I said – you have moved the goal posts.

    As I stated, comparing “comparable jobs” is an exercise in futility. Many federal jobs do not have comparable jobs in the private sphere, and vice versa. It’s a subjective apples-to-oranges analysis from which biased people can come to any conclusions they want.

    When you consistently misrepresent what others are saying, and continue to block-headedly make outrageous statements without any attribution whatsoever (like that spending on education has gone down in the past 20 years), all you do is make yourself look like a fool. You hurt your own cause.

  98. #98 |  Jeff W | 

    By the way, let me throw you a few links so that you can see what the statistics really are. Here are stats are national education spending:

    http://www.rockinst.org/pdf/education/2007-06-26-fiscal_report_k-12_education_spending_by_state_and_local-governments_drop_in_state_revenues_after_last_recession_continued_in_2005.pdf

    And this study includes very detailed stats on education spending in Wisconsin:

    http://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/publications/otherpublications/wisconsinprimer/2002/StructuralDeficit2002.pdf

    As you can see, education spending has been on a steady climb, both in Wisconsin and nationally, even after accounting for inflation. Wisconsin did pass laws in the mid-90s that reduced the growth in education spending, but what that achieved was lowering the annual rise in education costs from 3.1% greater than inflation to 2.5% greater than inflation. Certainly education spending hasn’t been going down.

    You have to put down the AFL-CIO talking points and actually look at the stats that have been presented by me and others here. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  99. #99 |  BSK | 

    Jeff W-

    One thing worth pointing out (and I didn’t go through all your links, so perhaps this is accounted for) is that increased funding for education doesn’t inherently mean that teacher salaries or going up OR that the totality of the increase is a function of wage/benefit increases. A major driving factor in the growing costs of education has been special education. Since the passage of the ADA and other acts, districts have been on the hook for providing services to special education students. Some of this does go towards teacher salaries, as most special educators are paid more than general educators (owing to increased schooling and credentialing and supply/demand). However, a lot of the costs of special education are not personnel based or, if they are, are not teacher based. For instance, many students are in facilities that no one would traditionally describe as schools and with support staff that no one would describe as teachers. Many are in what amount to assisted living facilities beyond the age of 18. Others might be in schools with highly paid special educators, but also requiring special transportation and/or equipment for health and physical needs.

    Again, none of this is intended to mitigate your position (I’m not really sure that I have a dog in this fight and, if I did, which side it’d be on). And I fully concede that this very well may have been accounted for in the link provided. But, in case it wasn’t, or in case anyone is jumping to the conclusion that increased educational funding has a linear relationship with teacher salaries, I thought it was worth pointing out that the picture isn’t quite so simple.

  100. #100 |  Reg Reader | 

    Heh, heh. “Blogging monkey”

  101. #101 |  luvzbob | 

    “Then why are we talking about the state of WI? I know that there are variances district to district, but the overarching provisions are negotiated at the state level. Which is why we’re seeing what we’re seeing in WI.”

    This is false. All contracts are negotiated at the district level in the state of wisconsin. Where are you getting this false information?

  102. #102 |  BSK | 

    luvzbob-

    Everything I’ve read, seen, and heard indicate that the labor strife is a result of the state budget’s deficit and desire to cut wages, benefits, and/or pensions for teachers. If I’m wrong, please provide some evidence other than simply saying, “You’re wrong.”

  103. #103 |  Jeff W | 

    BSK, you’re right, there are a lot of ways that educational money is being wasted. But that’s not the fault of the state government. The amount of money that Wisconsin spends per capita on students in K-12 has gone up more than 50% since 1993, and the unions rule the schools. If they’re not spending that money the way that the teachers want them to, the teachers can take that up with their union bosses. It’s not the Governor’s fault.

  104. #104 |  luvzbob | 

    “http://www.lafollette.wisc.edu/publications/otherpublications/wisconsinprimer/2002/StructuralDeficit2002.pdf

    As you can see, education spending has been on a steady climb, both in Wisconsin and nationally, even after accounting for inflation. Wisconsin did pass laws in the mid-90s that reduced the growth in education spending, but what that achieved was lowering the annual rise in education costs from 3.1% greater than inflation to 2.5% greater than inflation. Certainly education spending hasn’t been going down.”

    If you bothered to read the study you link you would find that all its data after 2002 WERE PROJECTIONS. And they are wrong – they show and upward trend will the truth is the opposite. Your first report from 2005 showed DECLINES in education spending AND those declines have continued.

  105. #105 |  luvzbob | 

    “The amount of money that Wisconsin spends per capita on students in K-12 has gone up more than 50% since 1993, ”

    This is false. PER capita per unit of GDP spending is LOWER than 1993. In inflation adjusted dollars it has been flat since 1998.

    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_gs.php?year=1993_2008&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=fy12&chart=21-total&bar=1&stack=1&size=m&title=&state=WI&color=c&local=s

  106. #106 |  luvzbob | 

    Everything I’ve read, seen, and heard indicate that the labor strife is a result of the state budget’s deficit and desire to cut wages, benefits, and/or pensions for teachers. If I’m wrong, please provide some evidence other than simply saying, “You’re wrong.”

    Actually the strife is due to the proposal to eliminate bargaining rights. THe states unions have agreed to the cuts in compensation:
    http://onevoicetulsa.com/index.php?ht=display/ContentDetails/i/4337109

  107. #107 |  Medicine Man | 

    Re: Goalpost moving

    It is fair to ask that comparisons between the compensation of public and private workers be made between those of similar education and experience; at least if you are talking about education, where there are private counterparts to draw comparisons to. If you are in fact comparing the average compensation of educated workers (teachers) to the average compensation of *all* private workers, including unskilled labor, then you are not arguing in good faith, Jeff W.

  108. #108 |  luvzbob | 

    “For instance, many students are in facilities that no one would traditionally describe as schools and with support staff that no one would describe as teachers. Many are in what amount to assisted living facilities beyond the age of 18. ”

    Really? OK – point me to such a facility (name, location) that is paid with school funds that is an assisted living facility. Or admit you are making this up.

  109. #109 |  luvzbob | 

    THere is one other reason to support public sector unions. They are really the only source of money/influence on government not associated with big corporate money. We need this balance.

  110. #110 |  BSK | 

    Jeff-

    You are right that how the money is used is not necessarily the government’s decision. But neither is it the teachers’ or the unions’. Schools often try to deny funding for certain special education students or programs but the law is against them. Again, my point was not to undermine anyone’s argument, but simply to provide more information. Before the ADA and other acts that impacted SpEd, schools often just institutionalized, ignored, or rejected students with special needs. They no longer can do that. They need to meet the needs. They do get some federal funding to help, but generally not enough. So often, per pupil spending is up, but what that really amounts to is the same or less spending for regular ed pupils and grossly higher amounts for special needs students. I’m reserving commentary on this particular issue and instead am simply offering this up as data.

    luvzbob-

    I worked in such a program: the Boston College Campus School. While the “students” did not live there 24/7, for many of them, their time spent there was essentially adult day care. And many of them were there on public money because their needs couldn’t be met in public schools. These facilities do exist.

  111. #111 |  Jeff W | 

    Um, luvzbob, you do realize that GDP per capita adjusted for inflation is a lot higher in 2011 than it was in 1993, right? So when you claim that education spending is down and then try to prove that by posting a link of education spending vs GDP being flat, you are actually disproving your own point. Do you not realize that?

    Medicine Man, read what I said. I was very clear about the facts. The average federal worker makes twice the average private sector worker. Period. That’s a fact, and it’s not in dispute. So is the fact that state/local workers make about 50% more than private sector workers on average. luvzbob tried to “move the goalposts” (a technical term – look it up on wiki) by countering with an EPI study that did not challenge those facts whatsoever..

    Comparing between “comparable jobs” is impossible. For example, those police chiefs making $500k per year in salary + benefits, how do we know they’re overpaid? I mean, we have no private sector comparison! Don’t you see how that argument goes awry? Yes, the EPI claims that by their secret calculations public workers are underpaid by 4.8%. The EPI is also a union front group that gets all of their money from big labor and other far left special interest groups. So is it shocking that they juked the stats to get the answer they wanted?

    None of this changes the fundamental premise that basically every economist on the planet agrees with, which is that public sector unions should not exist. And if public sector unions want a bonus I can offer them about a $1000/annual bonus overnight – stop paying your union dues.

    Public employee salary+wages have been exploding in this country while they’ve been basically flat for private workers. Either that means that public workers have suddenly gotten way more educated, hardworking and qualified (and anybody who has dealt with any government worker recently knows that’s a load of nonsense), or the public sector unions have grown more powerful.

  112. #112 |  Jeff W | 

    BSK, who do you think sets those rules in schools? Public schools can’t change the color of the curtains without AFL-CIO approval.

    Over and over again we see unions wasting taxpayer money, and then screaming for more taxpayer money to fix those mistakes.

  113. #113 |  BSK | 

    Jeff-

    I don’t know that the complete elimination of unions is the best approach, if only because it seems to be an improper restriction on association. Really, governments should just refuse to negotiate with unions, unless it is in their own best interest. Unions could still exist, but they’d likely be ineffective. Only if it was advantageous to both employer (government) and employee (unionized teachers) would the two work together. Otherwise, the government would just hire individuals. Like most other jobs do.

  114. #114 |  luvzbob | 

    “Um, luvzbob, you do realize that GDP per capita adjusted for inflation is a lot higher in 2011 than it was in 1993, right? So when you claim that education spending is down and then try to prove that by posting a link of education spending vs GDP being flat, you are actually disproving your own point. Do you not realize that?”

    Do you realize that tax revenues and average compensation closely follow GDP per capita – and as education spending shrinks relative to GDP per capita then education takes a smaller and smaller piece of the revenue pie, and compensation must decline relative to other workers. Do you realize that?

  115. #115 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, how is Big Labor any different from Big Oil or Big PhRMA? Other than the fact that they’re reliably Democrat?

    Big Labor spends more money on politics and has more power than any of those individual industries. If Big Labor changed their mind and started giving all of their money for Republicans, they would retain your personal support for about half a second.

    Libertarians are principled in that we take our positions without caring whether those positions will harm or help Team Red/Blue.

  116. #116 |  BSK | 

    Jeff-

    My experience has taught me that many of those decisions are out of individual teachers’ hands. I could be wrong, but that is what I’ve found to be the case. With SpEd students, the schools’ hands are tied by the federal legislation. I suppose there is some local ability to make decisions which might be impacted by the unions, but not in the way that you seem to be thinking.

  117. #117 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, education isn’t shrinking relative to GDP. It’s flat. So as I said, education spending per capita in Wisconsin and nationwide is up more than 50% since 1993 relative to inflation. If your idiot leaders in the unions can’t figure out a way to spend 50% more money properly, it’s not the fault of the taxpayers.

    Public salaries+benefits in this country have been on a sharp incline for 20 years, while private salaries+benefits have been basically flat over that same period. Once again, that is a fact not in dispute.

    I will repeat again: you are welcome to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

  118. #118 |  Jeff W | 

    BSK, of COURSE it’s out of the hands of teachers. The teachers are at the whim of Big Labor. Teachers want to be able to give raises to the best teachers and to fire the worst teachers. Teachers want more freedom in the classroom.

    The teacher’s unions have consistently been on the opposite end of the table from students and the average teacher. They don’t care what teachers want or need. They just care about their own profits and power.

  119. #119 |  luvzbob | 

    “Boston College Campus School” Yes, a private facility with 43 students, the only one like it in the state. Breaking the bank, hardly.

    “Medicine Man, read what I said. I was very clear about the facts. The average federal worker makes twice the average private sector worker. Period. That’s a fact, and it’s not in dispute”

    And yet you can’t provide a single study that says so when comparing similar jobs. And yes the comparisons can be made: government and private sector both have procurement agents, legal staffs, administrative assistants, etc. As for that police chief- compare his salary to the that of a ceo with an equivalent budget – I guarantee the CEO will make much more. You can criticize my study – but its way better than the zero evidence you produced. Just stating something is a fact don’t make it so.

    “Public employee salary+wages have been exploding in this country while they’ve been basically flat for private workers”

    OK, LINK PLEASE?

  120. #120 |  BSK | 

    Jeff, I’d make a few edits to your comment, but would otherwise agree:

    “TALENTED, QUALIFIED, and DEDICATED [t]eachers want to be able to give raises to the best teachers and to fire the worst teachers. TALENTED, QUALIFIED, and DEDICATED [t]eachers want more freedom in the classroom… They just care about their own profits and power AND INEPT TEACHERS.”

    The NYC teachers who’ve been rubber roomed for years (essentially put on desk duty with no interaction with students yet still receiving full pay and benefits while they wait for a hearing about their future employment after fucking up on the job) who demanded that the union fight the school system’s attempt to expedite the process are very much in favor of the union.

    The union protects the below average and bad teachers at the expense of the good teachers.

  121. #121 |  BSK | 

    luvzbob-

    You asked for one example. I gave you one. Now that’s not enough. You really do move the goal posts. Fight fair or sit down and shut up.

  122. #122 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, it is impossible to objectively “compare” jobs between public & private. What part of that do you not understand. What do we compare police chiefs making $500k per year to?

    And I agree, BSK. Most teachers just want to teach the best they can. They hate seeing students stuck with bad teachers making six-figures when there are great teachers leaving the profession because they have no seniority and are making near-poverty wages.

    It’s a shame that Big Labor lackies like luvzbob cover up for the massive crime that Big Labor has committed against our nation’s youth for decades.

  123. #123 |  Radley Balko | 

    THere is one other reason to support public sector unions. They are really the only source of money/influence on government not associated with big corporate money. We need this balance.

    I doubt very much that this is true. The Kochs spend money to fight public sector unions because they’re libertarian ideologues. Just out of principle, they support a lot of causes that have nothing to do with their company. But they’re the exception. Most corporations try to influence government in areas where government can benefit them. Same with public sector unions. I don’t see many areas of overlap. Both spend money to expand government in their own interests. It’s not like AFSCME is lobbying to kill of farm subsidies or other corporate welfare.

    I don’t think it’s even true with partisan support. It’s probably true that generally speaking, corporations are more likely to support Republicans than Democrats, but it varies by industry, and it varies over time according to who is in power. The tech and entertainment industries are far more likely to give to Democrats, for example. And everybody shifts their donations when the other party takes over.

  124. #124 |  BSK | 

    Jeff-

    That is why I’ve long contended that if real reform is going to happen, it’s going to need to come from within teaching circles. Teachers like myself need to stand up and say, “I don’t want to be associated with those shitty teachers any more. I’m not going to associate myself with an organization dedicated to their protection.” Obviously, this is easier said than done. But it is one of the reasons why I was so excited about Rhee’s plan in DC.

  125. #125 |  Jeff W | 

    BSK, I wish you luck. If we can ever get to the point that we can reward good teachers and fire bad teachers that will be a remarkable achievement for our country.

    I second your support for Michelle Rhee.

  126. #126 |  BSK | 

    Oh, Jeff…. we already do that! In the private sector, at least…

  127. #127 |  perlhaqr | 

    A law forbidding public sector employees from engaging in collective bargaining is every bit as libertarian philosophy justifiable as a contract between a union and a company requiring new hires join the union. (Which, it is. It may be suicidally stupid, but it’s still a legitimately negotiated contract.) In fact, it’s precisely the same thing, only in reverse.

    If you don’t want to join the union, don’t apply at the contractually mandatory union shop. You don’t want to deal with not being in a union, don’t apply at the contractually forbidden to unionize shop.

  128. #128 |  perlhaqr | 

    BSK: Really, governments should just refuse to negotiate with unions, unless it is in their own best interest. Unions could still exist, but they’d likely be ineffective. Only if it was advantageous to both employer (government) and employee (unionized teachers) would the two work together. Otherwise, the government would just hire individuals. Like most other jobs do.

    “Most other jobs” have a profit incentive. There’s zero to very little incentive for governments to refuse to negotiate with unions, because it’s not their money that’s getting spent. They get to just keep demanding more and more money from the taxpayer, until, of course, the taxpayer gets so fed up with it that they elect someone to come in with an axe to make spending cuts. Which appears to be precisely what we’re seeing now.

    Also, given that “the bosses” in public sector employment are elected, and thus significantly subject to influence via campaign donation, often times the Unions end up negotiating with someone they themselves helped put in place. Say what you want about the private sector and their relationship to governments, it’s pretty much never the case that the employees get to pick the CEO that they then end up negotiating their own salaries with.

  129. #129 |  BSK | 

    perhaqr-

    That wouldn’t be a law, but a condition of employment. That may be a distinction without a difference, as the condition would be put in place by the government, but it would seem to make a difference in terms of how it’s applied, enforced, and, if desired, change.

    Writing into a contract that employees cannot collectively bargain requires active agreement on their behalf. It also allows the employer and employee to change this agreement at will. Lastly, the punishment for violation would be termination, not jail time.

  130. #130 |  EH | 

    I don’t really care one way or the other about unions, but if your only sense of teachers making decent (in whatever sense is most humiliating to those current deciding these things) money occurs when everybody else is billionaires or whatever, then please save your ideas. The whole problem is people like you who think teachers are rightly and by nature the last to benefit.

  131. #131 |  BSK | 

    EH-

    If public schools weren’t basically willing to hire anyone, the quality of education be damned, perhaps the talented teachers would actually be in a position to negotiate. As long as a half-blind monkey can gain certification in most states, teachers will continue to be paid shit (with most of them deserving far less).

  132. #132 |  luvzbob | 

    “it is impossible to objectively “compare” jobs between public & private. What part of that do you not understand. What do we compare police chiefs making $500k per year to?”

    How about to a CEO of an organization with the same number of employees and budget. It beats your comparison that compares the police chief to a Walmart greeter!

    How about just comparing jobs that are equivalent in both private and public sectors: Nurses, Doctors, Procurement officers, legal counsel, receptionists, administrative assistants, IT specialists… Most jobs in public sector have private equivalents – and when you compare them you find the public employee generally has less total compensation.

    The reason that the average difference has been increasing is because government has been contracting out low level employees, custodial services, food service, etc. -they are now counted as private sector and don’t bring down the averages.

  133. #133 |  luvzbob | 

    “The Kochs spend money to fight public sector unions because they’re libertarian ideologues”

    BS. The Kochs are spending money in their own self interest.

  134. #134 |  Jeff W | 

    Many of those police chiefs earning $500k per year preside over police departments with 10-15 deputies. Please find me a CEO who has 10-15 employees who makes $500k per year. If there are police chiefs leading 35,000 deputies – I’ll tell you what, I’ll be fine with that guy making big bucks. Okay?

    And as for comparing jobs, I hope you realize that the EPI study DOES NOT DO THAT. The study compares education levels only. So for example, it compares the annual wages of teachers that work 35 hours a week for 9 months a year and do not ever have to show the ability do their job well to the annual wages of investment bankers that work 80 hours a week, 12 months a year and constantly have to perform or will be fired.

    Surely you can’t read this blog regularly and believe that public employees are more than twice as qualified/educated/hardworking as private employees. You surely must be a troll sent from somewhere else who has never read a single thing posted here, right? Are you being paid to be here, or were you just linked here from some union-slurping website?

  135. #135 |  Jeff W | 

    Yes, luvzbob, you’re right. It’s definitely in the selfish interest of the Koch Brothers to pay Radley to show why police dogs often make mistakes, and to show SWAT teams over-reacting and setting homes of innocent people on fire.

  136. #136 |  Jeff W | 

    It’s also definitely in the selfish interest of the Koch Brothers to pay Reason magazine to promote marijuana legalization and gay marriage.

  137. #137 |  Radley Balko | 

    BS. The Kochs are spending money in their own self interest.

    Your knee is jerking. How is my work in their interest? Jacob Sullum’s? How is it in their interest to support the work Reason and Cato do criticizing corporate welfare? The work Julian Sanchez does? David Rittgers, Jim Harper, and Tim Lynch?

  138. #138 |  perlhaqr | 

    BSK: Writing into a contract that employees cannot collectively bargain requires active agreement on their behalf. It also allows the employer and employee to change this agreement at will. Lastly, the punishment for violation would be termination, not jail time.

    I was thinking that since the employer of public sector employees is the gov’t, that laws were basically equivalent to employment policies. But I see your point about “fired vs: jail”. Though I think there may be enough of a civil vs: criminal law divide that that wouldn’t necessarily apply. Probably better to reverse the condition, and make the law more along the lines of “No public service department may accept a union negotiated employment agreement” and make it a procedural statute. But I am not a lawyer.

    As for “the employer and employee being able to change the agreement”, that’s an argument in favor of making it a law, IMO. With the employer in this case not being the one to ultimately pay the bills, making it a law makes it harder to alter the policy, which is in the taxpayer’s benefit.

  139. #139 |  Andrew Roth | 

    The state of the American labor movement is the inverse of what it was until circa 1970. The basic rhetoric remains, but the demographics and workplace dynamics have been turned upside down.

    Unions started in the private sector, where they won some very important concessions from abusive, reckless and, in some cases, frankly sadistic employers. Only sociopaths object to employees demanding enough pay to support a family at a level above abject poverty or short enough work hours to avoid exhaustion and spend time with their families. Only sociopaths consider it reasonable for employees to be killed in factory fires because the emergency exits were locked, be blown up in steel mill boiler explosions, be pinned between railroad cars, or die of black lung because their mine superintendents refused to provide breathing equipment.

    Unions fought against conditions such as these. Over time they made American industry very much safer than it had been and helped establish a broad middle class.

    As an aside, anyone who even insinuates that this history is socialist propaganda is either ignorant or twisted. Period. It is very well documented. I mention this because the public debate on unions has again become infested with people who imply that the private sector is somehow free of human sin. That’s patent bullshit, but it gets a following among people ignorant of their nation’s history, and it is extremely useful to predatory businessmen.

    Now for the part that the public sector unions conveniently ignore. The early union movement had no presence in the public sector. What did have a presence in the public sector, contemporaneously to the unionization of much of private industry, was the civil service reform movement. The public sector generally had good working conditions, but it was rife with corruption, cronyism and nepotism. In short, the reform movement established the civil service as a stable meritocracy. The spoils system and old-boy networking remained in some agencies and jurisdictions, but overall the reforms were thorough and comprehensive. It became a lot harder for some senator’s idiot nephew to take office, fire all the technocrats, and allow his drinking buddies to run extortion rackets until the opposition’s next electoral victory.

    Probably the biggest flaw in the logic of public sector unions is that so many of their members had either de facto or de jure job tenure prior to unionization. Civil service protections are almost universally entrenched. There is very little need for public employees to be further protected against arbitrary or wrongful termination or demotion. For about a century they have had exceptionally good job security, and for longer than that they’ve had relatively good working conditions. In this context, union representation looks like little more than the vehicle for a prolonged wholesale money grab with the force of contract.

    The private sector is another matter entirely. On the whole, private sector unions have been hollowed out, pay and benefits reduced, retirements jeopardized (their financial effects on employers aside, 401(k) plans are simply not as reliable for retirees as defined-benefit pensions), and job security all but eliminated. Predators who would be unable to hijack a civil service apparatus have run amok in the private sector with no regard for the welfare or safety of their employees. Judging anecdotally, I’d say that managerial ethics in the private sector are at an eighty-year low. (Again, systemic checks in the public sector constrain bad actors.)

    Public sector employees don’t really need unions. A lot of private sector employees really do need them. The unions are in all the wrong places.

  140. #140 |  luvzbob | 

    “Many of those police chiefs earning $500k per year preside over police departments with 10-15 deputies.”

    You just keep pulling facts out of your ass, don’t you?

    The average chief of police makes $66,000-

    http://www.indeed.com/salary/Chief-of-Police.html

    You are a font of misinformation.

  141. #141 |  Jeff W | 

    luvzbob, I welcome you to spend some time on this blog. Maybe you’ll disappear as soon as your AFL-CIO check runs out, and I assume they’re not paying you to learn here, but maybe you’ll do that on your own time. Go read up about the disaster in several California towns. Some of them actually have former police chiefs that retired and are earning over $500k per year in PENSIONS.

  142. #142 |  luvzbob | 

    “Your knee is jerking. How is my work in their interest? Jacob Sullum’s? How is it in their interest to support the work Reason and Cato do criticizing corporate welfare? The work Julian Sanchez does? David Rittgers, Jim Harper, and Tim Lynch?”

    Spillover. The useful idiots at Cato provide much of the bogus “intellectual” basis for climate science skepticism- and helps keep the US from acting on the very real threat of global climate change – actions that would cost the kochs a great deal of money. The fact that Cato does other things is irrelevant to the kochs.

    One of the first initiatives of the koch funded wisconsin walker administration was an attempt to create rules that would have eliminated future wind development in wisconsin. Wind power development that is in direct competition with the kochs core energy business. Yes, your “libertarian” funders are behind heavy handed government regulation designed to take private property by preventing land owners from installing windturbines. Libertarian my ass – the Koch’s are big government conservatives who live on big government energy subsidies and tax breaks and use government to suppress competition.

  143. #143 |  luvzbob | 

    ” Some of them actually have former police chiefs that retired and are earning over $500k per year in PENSIONS”

    Yes, there are one or two corrupt towns where the former police chiefs get inflated pensions. But everyone agrees this is wrong, and it certainly is not typical. the average advertised salary for a “chief of police” is $66,000. Get real

  144. #144 |  EH | 

    BSK:
    If public schools weren’t basically willing to hire anyone, the quality of education be damned, perhaps the talented teachers would actually be in a position to negotiate. As long as a half-blind monkey can gain certification in most states, teachers will continue to be paid shit (with most of them deserving far less).

    Yeah yeah, the beatings will continue, yadda yadda. I get it. Maybe some day teachers can rise to the average level of training among law enforcement officers, right? We can only hope.

  145. #145 |  BSK | 

    EH-

    Not sure I see your point. Can you elaborate?

    If I seem to be implying that teachers get beat on (not my point), I would add that the beating, in general, is deserved. Many (perhaps most, but I’ll be optimistic and leave it at many) teachers do suck and do deserve to get paid shit. Someone above made a comment about people unfairly harping on teachers who are already pretty far down on the totem pole. While I obviously would prefer that teaching be both more prestigious and better compensated, I realize that there is no justification for that happening right now. Too many teachers just don’t deserve it. And part of that is on the teachers. But part of that is on the schools as well, with their insanely low standards. That doesn’t excuse the practices of the union or the low quality of teaching. It’s just a factor in the situation we have found ourselves in. And the unions absolutely have some blame because they continually to fight any attempts to raise standards.

    It is hard for teachers, as a whole, to ask to be treated better when, at the same time, we demanded to be babied. No performance review! No professional standards! Tenure after 3 years! Seniority as the primary measuring stick! We can’t hold that party line and then complain that we don’t get the same recognition or salary as other professions. Yes, I realize that teaching as a professional industry is in its infancy relative to many other fields, but that means we need to put our big boy pants on before we get to sit at the grown-up table. We can’t ride the backs of other industries while still insisting we’re not ready for the scrutiny.

  146. #146 |  Andy | 

    Radley, you’re making some great points, but this is ridiculous:

    In fact, every incentive for politicians and policymakers pushes them toward making the deal for public employees as sweet as possible, given their political power.

    Surely corporate donations count for something, right? And if a corporation wants a lucrative gov’t contract that would displace public workers, it stands to reason that they’d lobby against the unions. And their cash would follow politicians willing to weaken them.

    Hell, it’s not even a hypothetical – look at Texas. Look at Accenture’s contract with HHS, or any other number of corporate welfare recipients that gave generously to state politicians. You can’t tell me that these donors don’t have an interest in keeping unions weak in the South.

    I think there’s an understandable northeastern bias to this thread, but if you’re going to assess public unions in the U.S., you need to expand your scope to the states that have abolished or never even allowed collective bargaining for state workers.

  147. #147 |  Andy | 

    Also, this:

    Government employees live in a bubble that isolates them from accountability, or actually having to produce something of value in return for the paychecks.

    …is willfully ignorant. You know about the Sunset Commissions. Gov’t employees lose their jobs all the damn time. I can personally point you to assessments that resulted in entire departments being eliminated, if you’re interested.

    Again, broaden your perspective to include what’s actually happening in *all* the U.S. You’re the one living in a bubble.

  148. #148 |  Les | 

    One of the first initiatives of the koch funded wisconsin walker administration …

    The Koch’s are funding the Wisconsin Governor’s office? What?

  149. #149 |  luvzbob | 

    “The Koch’s are funding the Wisconsin Governor’s office? What?”
    The Koch provided significant funding to Walker, other republican candidates and an undisclosed (i’m sure walker knows exactly how much) amount of indirect funding in the form of independant expenditures.

    THe Koch’s contributed $40,000 directly to walker, and contributed $1M to the republican governors association which spent $65K supporting walker and $3.4M on attack ads of his opponent.

  150. #150 |  Les | 

    So, the Kochs aren’t funding his administration, but rather they funded his campaign. I understand your point, but it’s important to be clear during disagreements.

    I’d also advise against hyperbole, but it would be lost on both sides of this argument, I fear.

  151. #151 |  albatross | 

    BSK:

    I’ve always suspected teachers get beat on a lot for failing to solve problems (the black/white performance gap, the large gap between middle class + and poor kids, kids screwed over by their parents bad choices or bad genes) that were fundamentally too big for them to solve. And also for failing to make every parent and interest group happy, from parents with advanced kids they want pushed, to parents with special-needs kids, to parents with normal kids they want to have a pleasant and useful education, to parents whose kids are beating on the other kids, to parents whose kids are getting beaten on, to parents who want some information excluded or included on the basis of their religious or scientific or other beliefs. There is simply no way to make them all happy, or even to solve multi-generation social pathology in a classroom.

    Now, teachers’ unions are negotiating on the teachers’ behalf, not the students’ or the citizens’. And so it’s not surprising if they want more pay and less accountability. But most of what p-sses people off about the public schools seems to me to have much less to do with teacher quality and feedback than it does with dumping unsolvable problems and irresolvable disagreements on the schools, and demanding some kind of solution.

  152. #152 |  EH | 

    BSK:
    While I obviously would prefer that teaching be both more prestigious and better compensated

    You’re a liar, a bully, and your logic is weak. I don’t know what the public school system did to you, but it doesn’t deserve your derision.

    And my point was that teachers make less than idiot cops. This point doesn’t seem uncontroversial to me.

  153. #153 |  KochSister | 

    “The Kochs spend money to fight public sector unions because they’re libertarian ideologues.”

    Funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

  154. #154 |  BSK | 

    albatross-

    Great points, all around. Further up the thread, I pointed out that we often expect the teachers union to act in ways we don’t expect other unions to. I don’t fault the union for protecting teachers’ (even bad teachers’) jobs… that is what they are paid to do. I’m just railing against the general system. But you are spot on that we expect teachers and the schools to solve problems that the rest of society cannot or will not.

    EH-

    Please provide some evidence. How am I a bully? What have I lied about? Where is the weakness in my logic? I’m happy to engage your argument, but you don’t seem to be presenting one. And basing your understanding of my position on an incomplete quote is just nonsensical.

    I understand full well that teachers make less than idiot cops (among many other professions). But when there are still areas where you can become a teacher with an associate’s degree and a passing grade on a test that requires a 7th grade education, it is hard to argue that, as a whole, the profession is underpaid. Many great teachers are severely underpaid. Most are probably paid appropriately (especially when you factor in benefits and the work schedule, which isn’t as comfy as most people presume but still allows 2-3 months to earn additional salary). And many are grossly overpaid.

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