Referring to the need for transparency in government, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” The judge would be smiling these days since the sun is shining brightly in Madison. Exposed to all voters is the unholy alliance between the Democratic Party and public sector unions, whose members are paid by taxpayers who make far less in compensation and benefits than those whom their taxes support.
Here’s how the cozy relationship between public sector unions and the Democratic Party works. You pay state and local property taxes; those taxes then pay the salaries and benefits of public sector union members, such as teachers. Automatically deducted from their checks are union dues. Those dues end up as campaign donations to Democrat candidates for public office. So even if you’re a Republican or Independent, your tax dollars are going into the campaign coffers of the Democratic Party. This is just plain wrong.
But this partnership between public sector unions and Democrats gets even sleazier: in effect, after winning office the Democrat sits across the table to bargain with the union. This is the same union who funded a large part of that Democrat’s campaign. Does this sound like a conflict of interest to any reasonable citizen? You bet it does. So the Democrat grants very generous pay and benefit packages to the union members in return for the union’s campaign contributions. Who ends up holding the proverbial bag? The taxpayer does.
The consequence of this quid pro quo system is out of control spending that is ruining the fiscal health of states that can no longer sustain it. The unions are protesting because they fear the end of the gravy train compensation packages granted by friendly Democrats. The Wisconsin Democrat State Senators are in hiding because they fear the end of the gravy train campaign money supplied by taxpayers via the unions.
Do government workers really need a union? Of course they don’t. Former President Franklin Roosevelt didn’t think government workers should ever unionize when he said, “All government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining cannot be transplanted into the public service.” The reason former President Kennedy lifted the ban on government unions was traditional organized labor, the backbone of the Democrat Party, was beginning to lose membership. The plan worked for the Democratic Party.
In the last election, AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union – gave $87 million to candidates, with 99.5% going to Democrats. “We’re the big dog,” said Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME’s political operations. “But we don’t like to brag.” The three major public sector unions spent over $171 million in the 2010 election plus an estimated $250 million equivalent value of volunteer activity. During that election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Education Association union donated 96% to Democrat candidates and the American Federation of Teachers 99.7% to Democrats. These are YOUR tax dollars my good friends.
In 2010, public school teachers in Wisconsin earned a combined $75,587 in total average compensation for nine months work – wages and benefits –according to figures from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. They contribute a fifth of a penny on a dollar of wages to their pensions and one-fourth what private-sector workers pay for health insurance. I believe the time has come for a school voucher system, whereby the free enterprise system creates competition in our education system. Competition makes everyone better – all to the benefit of our children.
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