Some years ago I wrote several articles on public sector trades unions (follow those three links for more information). They were intertwined with political interests in Federal and state government, making sure (through political donations) that their interests were entrenched in public policy, and even subsidized with taxpayer funds when that was possible. They’re indisputably part of “the Swamp” that President Trump is trying to drain.
Evidence of that has emerged (yet again) in New York state, where unions have succeeded in undermining a possible setback to their influence that may be delivered by the US Supreme Court.
Count New York’s government-employee unions among the biggest winners of this year’s budget battle — with taxpayers as the big losers.
In the dead of night, the Legislature adopted language that aims to protect public unions’ political power from a likely US Supreme Court ruling.
That ruling, expected this spring, would bar the mandatory collection of dues-like “agency fees” from non-members by declaring all public unions’ activities political, since they negotiate contracts with government, not private employers.
And forcing people to pay dues for political activity violates the First Amendment, the court is expected to rule.
Agency fees make up a key source of cash for public unions, as much as $110 million a year in New York, notes the Empire Center.
But in a pre-emptive strike, the Legislature (Republicans included) moved to let unions deny non-members covered by collective bargaining contracts all services (like free legal help) beyond salary and basic benefits — providing a powerful incentive for workers to join the union.
The bill also makes it harder for workers to withdraw, requiring the government to begin deducting dues within 30 days of someone being hired.
As Doug Kellogg of the watchdog group Reclaim New York told The Post: “It’s strong-arming government workers . . . to protect politically powerful special interests.”
So many people and special interests have become dependent on government handouts and protection that it will be extraordinarily difficult to break their stranglehold on US politics. They won’t go quietly. What’s even worse is that their tentacles extend into both sides of the aisle. It’s no good saying that Democrats are pro-union, while Republicans aren’t. The truth is (as just demonstrated in New York’s state legislature) that both sides will “follow the money”. If union (or other) lobbyists can buy their time and influence, the politicians will dance to their tune.
Term limits are just about the only way I can think of to break this stranglehold . . . but since politicians will have to approve them, and that would mean voting themselves out of a job, I daresay it will never happen. Meanwhile, you and I will continue to be exploited by those who want nothing more than to ride the taxpayer-funded gravy train.