“The swamp” is not only in Washington D.C.

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.”

There’s more at the link, and in this report.

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.



  1. Fixing the problem requires that Congress and state legislatures enact laws they will never enact. If a politician can receive contributions from govt. employees, whose salaries they vote – the swamp will never be drained. It would be called a 'conflict of interest' in any other situation – however in this case, it's perfectly fine.

    And looking back historically, ancient Rome had the same problem. It's not unique to us.

  2. I guess I'm not quite understanding something here. What services are being denied to non-union members? What's 'basic benefits'?

    Free legal help? If the help is being supplied by the union and being paid for by union member dues, that seems only logical that non-members wouldn't receive it. That's what the union is supposedly for after all; to fight for their members in contract negotiations and disciplinary actions. Why would non-members receive such union help?

  3. And looking back historically, ancient Rome had the same problem. And I think we're headed for the same end as the Roman Empire. Sooner rather than later.

    We see problems like this literally everywhere, and nobody will fix them. We see career bureaucrats telling those elected to fix things being told, "I was here before you and I'll be here after you". They refuse to fix things. The only conclusion is that collapse is inevitable, it's just a matter of timing. Captain Capitalism has a book called "Enjoy the Decline" based on that.

  4. They should have never allowed public employees to unionize and that horrible decision needs to be rectified. Until that happens, politicians should be barred from accepting campaign money from public employee unions and have lifetime bans on lobbying for them, working for them or acting in any capacity for them. This should also extend to close family members.

    If we must have public employee unions we sould at least bar them from political activities. You can have your union but no political contributions or lobbying.

  5. Any time a government entity is established doesn't matter the size or the style, a 'swamp' will develop. It's of the less desirable traits of Homo Sapien Sapien.

  6. Now we know why the establishment are such ardent supports of environmental regulation. It's because they want to prevent the draining of the swamp.

  7. Pournelles Iron Law of Bureaucracy rules here too …

    Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people":

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

    Note that this was written many years ago so ignore the NASA reference, for obvious reasons.

    Phil B

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