Bribery Is No Crime for Public Employee Unions


MARCH, 2011


In the real world, ordinary citizens who bribe lawmakers for favors suffer serious consequences. Big fines and/or jail time are the rule. But this is not so with public employee unions. These groups donate thousands of dollars to the election campaigns of lawmakers, who in turn, favor them with gold-plated health and pension plans that bankrupt their municipalities.

Unlike unions in the private sector, public sector unions negotiate with people they can hire and fire by donating (or not donating) unlimited financial support to their election or re-election campaigns. This is a serious conflict of interest at play here.

Politicians are easy targets for such union bribery. It’s much simpler for candidates to raise campaign funds in big lump sums from unions, rather than to do the hard work necessary to collect small change from their constituents.

When politicians or their agents negotiate with unions, it is not collective bargaining. It’s more like, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Their constituents, the taxpayers who foot the bill, aren’t even at the table. With these kinds of politicians, and there are plenty of them, their own re-election trumps the solvency of their communities. As a result, private sector workers, who don’t have health plans that are as good, who barely have pensions at all, and have no job security, end up paying all the bills through tax increases.

Seeing that public outrage at all this is turning sentiment against them, the unions now say, “OK, we will pay more for our health care and pensions.” (Still much less than the private sector.) Big deal! This is not enough. The next politician that comes along may have less financial discipline and matters will again getworse. Health care and pensions that have driven municipal costs through the roof must be taken off the bargaining table. Federal employees cannot bargain for such benefits, nor are they allowed to strike. Locally, right to work laws allowing public sector jobs without having to join a union must prevail. Workers deserve the right to choose. It’s the American Way.