Proposal 1 – Yes! We need an adult in the room.

Proposal 1 can be described as the “adult in the room” proposal. Voting “Yes” keeps a strong Emergency Financial Manager law in place.

Public service unions oppose Proposal 1 on the same basis they push Proposals 2 and 4: Maintaining their advantaged economic position.

Proposal 1 is about changes to an existing Emergency Manager law passed after Rick Snyder was elected governor. The old law did not allow an Emergency Manager to recommend that the state amend a local government’s collective bargaining agreements. That mainly affects pensions and health insurance in insolvent local jurisdictions, like Detroit. The new law must be kept for that provision alone. Pontiac provides an example:

Pontiac is one city where the new law appears to have worked. The EM there is Lou Schimmel, who has served as emergency financial manager for another city under the old law and also served as a court-appointed receiver for one city. Among the necessary changes in Pontiac that were made possible by PA 4 [the new, stronger law]?

* Pontiac contracted out its police force to Oakland County and saved $2 million annually while increasing enforcement personnel in the city;

* Pontiac contracted fire duties to Waterford Township and expects to save more than $3 million a year; and

* The city consolidated 87 city health care plans to one; saving $5 million annually while still offering very generous benefits at a cost of $20,000 per employee.

Any supporter of regional cooperation must logically support a stronger Emergency Manager law.

Employee benefits are a major expense in most local government units. But don’t take my word for it, let’s visit the problems faced by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero:

Lansing taxpayers will foot the bill for more than $16 million in fringe benefits – including retirement and health care – for Lansing police officers in the next year, according to budget documents obtained by MLive.com.

That’s nearly $3 million more than they’ll pay in salaries for officers in the same time frame.

Responsible local governments will never need an Emergency Manager. Corrupt and/or irresponsible local governments have demonstrated they desperately need a strong Emergency Manager law: A law that gives them the tools needed to prevent fiscal collapse.

You will recall a “Public Safety” millage was passed in Lansing in 2011; targeted for police, fire and roads. Without it, Lansing residents were told public safety would suffer and policemen and firemen would face layoffs. Turns out most of that money will go for “Pension Safety.” Even Virg Bernero gets it:

Out-of-control pension costs are seriously undermining our ability to continue providing essential city services and threaten our ability to keep police officers and firefighters on the job protecting our residents. We must take action sooner rather than later to control these costs or we will be in a very serious predicament very quickly.

…Bernero has said more than two-thirds of the new revenues generated by a voter-approved millage have been dedicated to health care and pension costs.

Without concessions from the unions, the city would have to use all the millage funds to cover the increased retirement and health care costs, and supplement that with money from the city’s general fund, the administration said in the release.

The millage is expected to generate about $7.6 million annually.

This issue boils down to whether Lansing keeps a promise on police pensions or is forced to continuously downgrade public safety. In the private sector, this choice is known as bankruptcy vs. reinvention.

I’m not happy when a promise isn’t kept, but I understand that if keeping it is not sustainable, everyone will end up with nothing.

Stein’s law applies: “Something that can’t go on forever will stop.” The question is whether it will stop because adult decisions are made, or because it collapses in chaos. Bernero is suggesting an adult decision. The unions, like those in Detroit, prefer their perks to keeping police on the beat. Bernero:

“We can’t force changes if we have a contract in place. We have to honor the contract, and I don’t want to have to lay off anymore officers.”

“We’re saying in a time like this, put (funds) into a Police Officer Preservation Fund because our challenges are getting worse from year to year,” Bernero added. “I don’t want to have lay off anymore officers. If I had one rallying cry it’s no more layoffs.”

Lansing has been realistic, relatively, in addressing this issue, though battles with the unions continue. Union parasites may prefer keeping the promise alive until their host collapses. I do not.

The current Emergency Manager law should be retained by voting “Yes” on Proposal 1.

NO! 2 4

That title is intended to make it easy for you to remember to vote NO! on the two most dangerous proposals on the Michigan ballot. If you do nothing else, remember: NO! 2 4.

You will bring your own opinon about the present day contribution of public-sector unions to this post, and will probably leave with that unchanged. However, the world has changed and the response of the public sector union elite has been unconscionable. They have decided exploitation is fine, as long as it’s taxpayers being exploited. That’s Proposal 2; To enshrine collective bargaining rights in Michigan’s Constitution.

For better or worse it’s been decades since the UAW had to strike. The Pinkertons haven’t busted a strike, or a head, in nearly a century. Nine year olds haven’t been forced to work 7 day-a-week, 18 hour shifts in coal mines since before Dickens’ wrote about it. In any case, none of those memes apply to any government workers in this country today. And they never did.

Here’s a fact that does apply: It has been 70 years since Big Labor and Big Government denounced the idea of public sector union collective bargaining. Proposal 2 runs counter to the considered opinion of that champion of collective bargaining and creator of the New Deal, President Franklin Roosevelt. On August 16, 1937 he wrote to Mr. Luther C. Steward, President, National Federation of Federal Employees, as follows:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

Even the labor movement considered the idea of public employee collective bargaining an idiotic idea. George Meany, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O had this to say in 1955: “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” He meant that collective bargaining with the government was like two wolves and a sheep debating on the dinner entrée. “Bargaining,” as it is commonly understood, involves two parties discussing their differences. It does not mean two parties deciding how a third party should be exploited.

Public sector union collective bargaining has brought us the highest cost for education in the world along with less than mediocre results. Despite the economic conditions in this country, and despite the fact that 40% of Chicago high school graduates are functionally illiterate, the teachers in Chicago just got a 17% increase in pay: As a result of a strike FDR would have considered illegal and immoral.

The consequences of collective bargaining with government are bankrupting Illinois and California due to skyrocketing pension and retiree health insurance costs.

Since 2002, for every $1-an-hour pay increase, public employees have gotten $1.17 in new benefits; private-sector workers, meanwhile, have received just 58 cents in added benefits.

We know the financial impact of Proposal 2 would be huge, but what about changes to existing law? As the MEA has noted, Proposal 2’s Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution could effectively repeal many laws, unexceptional in the private sector, regarding employment:

The new prohibited bargaining topics created by 2011 PA 103 and included in Section 15(3) of PERA would NO LONGER exist. This law currently prohibits bargaining over the decision or impact concerning the following subjects:
a. The placement of teachers;
b. Personnel decisions for teachers during a reduction in force, recall or hiring after a reduction in force, as set forth in MCL 380.1248;
c. Teacher evaluation systems, including the format, timing or number of classroom observations, as set forth in MCL 380.1249 and in the Teachers’ Tenure Act.
d. Teacher discipline policies, which may NOT include a standard different than the arbitrary and capricious standard; and
e. Performance-based compensation systems for teachers, as set forth in MCL 380.1250
f. Notification to parents and legal guardians that children are being taught by ineffective teachers, as required by MCL 380.1249a.

Wow. And that’s just the MEA’s early analysis.

There is, in fact, no way to be sure about all the laws which would be retroactively repealed. The audacity of this power grab by the public sector union elite is matched only by its venality.

Proposal 2 would have us place collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution. This is a pre-emptive strike by public sector unions, notably the SEIU and MEA, to prevent right-to-work legislation ever being passed in Michigan.

If Michigan wants to emulate the financial basket cases in Sacramento and Springfield we should put this fiscal time bomb into our Constitution. If we want to roll the dice on what laws the MEA wants repealed we should vote for it. Me? I’d rather we didn’t make the whole state into Detroit. A vehement NO!! on Proposal 2.

With Proposal 4, we have yet another example of public sector union greed and corruption. Proposal 4 is an attempt to Constitutionalize Jennifer Granholm’s stealth gift of $30 million to the SEIU. The SEIU dearly wants to re-institute the dues Granholm helped it loot from private citizens who had no interest in SEIU “representation.”

The SEIU wants to perpetuate a fake union in order to skim dues from government payments to individuals who provide home care for their own relatives. To grab this money, SEIU is willing to reduce the funds available for care by extracting dues from self-employed citizens who don’t want to be SEIU members. “They didn’t build that,” so the SEIU must be paid. This is the best argument for a right to work law we’ll see any time soon.

While the MEA is circulating ideas that Proposal 2 would overturn prohibited bargaining topics created by PA 103, such as teacher discipline, Proposal 4 requires background checks on people providing care for their own relatives. Those checks will initially be vetted by SEIU appointees. This amendment is designed to accomplish two things: 1-Restraint of trade in order to 2- fill the coffers of a corrupt and venal union. NO!! on Proposal 4.

Petition Check

In March, the #Wisconsin Government Accountability Board certified 900,939 signatures on a petition to recall Governor Scott Walker. Apparently, they found 4,001 duplicate names, and struck 26,109 incomplete signatures. They discovered only 5 fake names.

Whether the latter number strains your credulity depends on whether your name is Eric Holder, I suppose. I find it unlikely that there weren’t more bogus names. After all, there were as many University of Wisconsin doctors violating professional ethics in order to write fake “illness” excuses for Madison protestors a very short time ago.

Yesterday, Wisconsin held a primary to select candidates for the recall election. In total, 670,278 people voted in the Democrat primary. This means nearly a quarter million (230,661) of those who signed the recall petition didn’t vote for a Democrat. There are many conclusions that might be drawn.

1. The names weren’t fake, they just weren’t living people.
2. The 230,000 voted for Scott Walker. Though he was effectively unopposed, he garnered 626,538 votes.
3. Social pressure to sign the petitions was high, and many people signed a petition they did not believe in.
4. The 230,000 didn’t vote. They were turned off by overreaching Union tactics.

Evidence supporting number 3 is that the recall petition was heavily, nearly exclusively, Big Union driven. They managed to get a large number of signatures, but 25% came from people who didn’t care about the result of the primary they helped initiate.

Evidence supporting number 4 is that the preferred Big Union candidate needed a huge turnout to win, which she didn’t get, even though unions spent heavily on negative ads against her opponent – now the Democrat candidate for governor. Among other things, the unions said he was just like Scott Walker. We can only hope.

If we accept numbers 3 and 4 above as explanatory, we get a good demonstration of why unions want to eliminate the secret ballot from union organizing activities. This is known popularly as “Card Check.” Card Check proposes to dramatically change union certification rules. Under existing law, workers are allowed to vote for or against unionization in a federally supervised secret ballot election. Under Card Check, proposed by Orwellian inclined Democrats as the “Employee Free Choice Act,” if more than 50% of workers at a facility sign a card, the government must certify the union. A secret ballot election would be prohibited, whether workers want one or not.

By forcing workers to sign a card in public — instead of vote in private — Card Check is a recipe for intimidation and coercion.

What people do in private is different from what they do when a union rep is breathing down their neck.

Things you won’t see in the Lansing State Journal

…nor elsewhere in the statist media.

Jimmy Hoffa warming up the crowd for our president yesterday:

We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war.

President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

To be clear, the LSJ, et. al. did report on the Detroit rally, they simply fail to mention Hoffa’s “incivlity.”

No one in the MSM seems to recall our president’s comments following the Tucson shootings:

But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.

Of course, we can’t talk in a healing way to people whose motivation is asking the national government to live within its means. That’s crazy talk. As the Vice President has indicated, such people are terrorists – unworthy of civil discourse

Axis of Corporatism

Even FDR Understood: No Collective Bargaining for Public Servants

Since public servants work for the people, their wages, benefits, and working conditions are set in accordance with the will of the people, as determined by the democratic process. This is why it is not legitimate to ask the people to compromise with public servants in collective bargaining. And this is why the pay, benefits, and working conditions for federal workers are set by acts of Congress, not through collective bargaining.

Yes, the problem is they (Congresscritters and public service union honchos) think of taxpayers as their servants, not the other way around.

Unions and Medicaid

It’s not that the union position never coincides with the interests of Medicaid beneficiaries–of course they want there to be more beneficiaries, so they’re going to fight to the death against a decline in enrollment. But when it’s between them and the beneficiaries, the unions choose . . . themselves. So if the question is higher reimbursement for home health care aides, the union will always be on the “higher” side, even if that means fewer people get served, or cuts have to be made in other areas, like medical devices.

…[I]t’s going to be a fight between people who want to control the growth of health care costs in order to provide as many services as possible … and workers whose paychecks depend on further growth in health care spending.

Obviously. It should have been one of my examples yesterday.

Prescient post of the yearGiven what’s going down in Wisconsin

Just after reports of NY City union members’ slowdown in snow clearing as a negotiating tactic, Tom Smith, at The Right Coast, had this to say.

If the argument is, some [government] functions are too critical to public safety to put in private hands, then that is an argument against allowing them to be unionized. If unionized, then the state no longer has a monopoly on the power exercised by that arm, which is the whole idea of putting it in the public sphere. So if you can’t have private police forces running around, let’s say, then it makes no sense to have the monopolized force of the state colonized or even dominated by a union with interests frequently opposed to those of the public.

Some people in NYC died because the snow prevented public safety personnel from getting to them. The Snow Plowers Union didn’t think about that one way or the other.

Why should they? The interests of public-sector unions are necessarily not congruent with the public interest. Even FDR opposed unionization of government employees, because of the moral hazard involved.

That, of course, is the problem Mr. Smith brilliantly and succinctly points out. It applies equally well to the arguments of teachers’ unions. Simply change the words “public safety” to “public education.”

You go, Governor Walker. Stay the course. Governor Snyder can use a moral example.