Public Employee Unions are Killing California

  • By: Chamber President/CEO, Al Smith

The State legislature is finished for the year. All of our wise leaders have gone home after making wiser decisions on over 900 bills that were acted on. (This year less than normal)

The legislature continues to do this – finding approximately 1,000 problems they think needs to be resolved every year – with government coming to the rescue. Just for the record, that’s roughly 10,000 problems every decade that they “solve.”

What have we to show for it?

We still have a State that is crumbling from massive debt primarily because of huge public employee benefits lavished on special interests. Those interests, in return, are awarding a piece of those benefits right back to the wise men from Sacramento in political contributions.

There is only one conclusion which can be drawn from this: Public employee unions are killing California.

No should argue against the right of employees to organize in the private sector (underline the word – private) but check this out.

According to the Labor Bureau, union membership in the private sector is 7.2% nationwide. In the public sector, union membership (government) nationwide is reported to be 37.4%. But, in the state of California, public sector unions represent an astounding 84% of all employees.

That is a special-interest power that is contributing greatly to an upside-down budget precariously tipping our state to the edge of insolvency.

We have heard the news about the fiscal crisis in Greece and how its ripple effect could impact all of Europe. While we have many similarities with this delightful Mediterranean country, such as the warmth of the sun, the fields of grapes, the luscious landscapes, we also have a similar fiscal crisis.

Even the not-so-conservative New York Times stated in a recent editorial, “For decades Greece’s main political parties heedlessly expanded public payrolls to reward supporters and artificially hold down unemployment. To date, the Greek government hasn’t the courage – as of yet – to put in play – structural reforms and begin to pay down their enormous public debt.”

Hello, Sacramento!!

The Democrat controlled legislature is doing much of the same – expanding public payrolls in order to reward supporters – teachers, prison guards, labor unions and trial lawyers.

They are guaranteed generous pensions and a system that allows for early retirement and then, in many cases, allowing the employee to be hired back by government – in essence double dipping.

As in Greece and Europe, the rippling down to our County and City is a threat to bring down our economy at all levels.

The Chamber of Commerce considers itself neither a strictly Republican nor a Democrat organization. We are a business organization – understanding income and expense; profit and loss; marketable products and services and the importance of efficiency and change in an ever shifting market place.

As we move into next year’s legislative effort, reform has to be at the top of the
Chamber’s efforts.

Our elected officials need to heed the words of Winston Churchill during WWII, “Want of foresight – unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective – lack of clear thinking – confusion of counsel until the emergency comes – until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong. These are the features that constitute the endless repetition of history.”

Ours is a different war and reform must be job one.

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