June 11, 2012

Striking back

Maybe the noisy teat-suckers should have thought twice about that whole "recall" thing:

On the heels of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's history-making recall victory, the governor of nearby Indiana with his own record of curtailing union benefits suggested public-sector unions are past their prime and should be abolished.

Obama famously said, after the election results came in on June 5, that "no one can dispute the strong message sent to Governor Walker," but...

(Gov. Mitch) Daniels said (the Wisconsin) vote should send a message about the problems with public-sector unions.

"I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table."

Posted by EBD at June 11, 2012 12:06 AM

People are still incredibly thick headed about public sector unions. I'm amazed the number of times I've argued with people who cannot fathom why a public sector union is any different from a private sector one.

It's bad enough that roughly 1/3 of voters can essentially vote for themselves on election day, they're also able to hold monopolized services hostage to get their way and have special privileges and protections to do so.

What I cannot understand is why there wasn't a bigger backlash against PSUs in the 60s. Instead, it all became established and the unions became entrenched in law and culture. The public sector class ate the middle class and now considers themselves the middle class that needs protecting.

Posted by: TOutcast at June 11, 2012 12:11 AM

Yep the PSU shoulda jus' let it be...

Big look...a lot of states/municipalities are now making noises...

Posted by: sasquatch at June 11, 2012 12:25 AM

Why did Harper legislate the posties back to work? And that rotten airline? Why not let them die on the vine in a labour dispute? That would remove 50,000 plus from the dues paying union-graft scam, and all the evil that these funds support.

Evil that will fight Harper and, common sense. Evil that will squeeze us less privileged serfs even more.

Why don't the Tories introduce legislation that removes the Rand formula?

Posted by: trappedintrudopia at June 11, 2012 12:29 AM

I would hope the Wisconsin Landslide is noticed throughout North America and for that matter the rest of the civilized democratic world...its a freaking wake up call.

Seems to me that revolutions, violent ones have started over similar issues: arrogant Haves legally preying on the have-nots. I'm not suggesting anything on the order of wealth distribution...more like leveling the playing field.

As a taxpayer I am held hostage by politicians that could care less about where the money comes from (you n me), and care more about "labour peace" so.? they Kiss the Unions A$$.!

Seems to me we need the Ronald Reagan method to be implemented. Next time "Quebec Air" (Air Canada), pilots em all. ok, who's next..?? Posties.? fire em all and so on.

Enough of this embezzelment.

Posted by: steakman at June 11, 2012 12:54 AM

"I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table."

OMG how do we spread this TRUTH to Canada?!? Whether it be municipal or provincial or federal, sooooooooooooooooo often this is the case.

One vivid example is the situation of public education in Vancouver. Negotiations between the Left and the Far Left, spending taxpayer monies, is not a healthy thing for society!!!

Posted by: Robert W. (Vancouver) at June 11, 2012 1:17 AM

Don't overlook the big repudiation unions recieved in votes that went against them in San Diego and San Jose - it is no coincidence that WI and CA two of the most progressive states in the union are now passing anti-union laws - it is in states like them where unions have committed the most egregious swindles of taxpayers.

Posted by: Gord Tulk at June 11, 2012 1:37 AM

Gord makes a great point. The places where the over-reach was the biggest are now seeing the reaction.

Of course this is due to simple survival. You threaten the core bureacracy then they will fight back. As well, the head politicians can smell a shift in the wind with the best of them. So I wouldnt expect it to be permanent or as deep as it needs to be in Cali.

San Jose, and San Diego in particular have significant conservative populations, permanent minorities. I would be more impressed if the cutback happened in San Fran proper, Marin County or the East Bay.

Perhaps the solution is sinking in....and you are left with one simple question. Is the spending at the Federal level due to stupidity (i.e. keep helping my friends because there is no danger) or venality (we have almost reached the tipping point and I just have to push a little further)?

Posted by: Stephen at June 11, 2012 6:15 AM

We can only stifle productivity for so long, and when faced with the public debts that have been racked up by union methods, (don't do that today, we need something to do tomorrow, don't work so fast you make the rest of us look bad) well the tipping point is here. In the 36 years of running my own show, I've taken 3 days off for hurts or flu, no choice, no work no money, if I had been a union teat sucker I would milk those sick days, milk that maturnity leave, milk that compassionate days off thing, on and on, but WHO PAYS, well it's me and every other taxpayer out here running their own show so we can submit for this mother of all Ponzi schemes. The tide is now going out, leaving the ugliest of humanity, (union leaders) exposed for the productivity sucking, overpayed scum they are.

Posted by: bartinsky at June 11, 2012 8:30 AM

The bottom line is that Obama and Axel- Roid (Hemme not Ste - roid) stated that the public sector was hurting, and the private sector is fine. 100's of thousands of layoffs in the public sector.

But none in Wisconsin.

Posted by: Greg at June 11, 2012 8:31 AM

All great posts. TOutcast says it well:

"It's bad enough that roughly 1/3 of voters can essentially vote for themselves on election day, they're also able to hold monopolized services hostage to get their way and have special privileges and protections to do so."

Exactly. We have enabled a parasitic set, an elite privileged set of workers to emerge with salaries, benefits and pensions far above that of the private sector which pays for it all, and with much of those benefits and pensions 'paid' not from their salaries but as extra untaxed 'rights'.

After all, the WI fights were in large part because the public sector were being asked to contribute to their benefits and pensions rather than it being fully funded by the taxpayer!

As well, this elitist sect have jobs for life, can't be fired, can get early retirement, bonuses and so on. All of it paid for by the taxpayer. All of it 'negotiated' by them, not between us who pay for it and them-- but between two internal sets of civil servants: the unionized workers and management.

Meanwhile, Obama, who talks endlessly about 'paying their fair share', speaks out in favour of these parasitic unionists who most certainly don't pay their fair share.

Posted by: ET at June 11, 2012 8:53 AM

Stephen: true, parts of SD and SJ are more republican-leaning than much of coastal CA, but as Michael barons points out, the reversal is very dramatic nonetheless

"where San Diego and San Jose voters Tuesday voted 66 and 69 percent to cut back public-employee pensions. Those cities voted 63 and 69 percent for Barack Obama in 2008."

Posted by: Gord Tulk at June 11, 2012 9:47 AM

Where are our liberal trolls today? Hiding under their desks in the wastepaper baskets like good little federal/provincial/municipal bureaucrats!

Posted by: oldfart at June 11, 2012 9:56 AM

I wonder how decertifying civil service unions would go up here - considering they essentially run Ontario and Quebec government, have the federal government intimidated into impotency, and are now branching out to radicalize volatile minority groups with their extortionist entitlement Bolshevism.

Kanada's public sector union are this nation's defacto Bolshevik party and it has gained a vast amount of political power and wealth not through mandate in the democratic system and donations but by raw intimidation and extortion. IMHO modern public sector unonism is organized crime. We need look no further than Caledonia to see the social and economic fallout of union agitating fomenting civil turmoil.

Time to seriously look at decertifying public sector unionism - at least indicting their agitators who work undermining community cohesion.

Posted by: Occam at June 11, 2012 9:59 AM

I don't see a single party in Canada prepared to do what Wisconsin had the gonads to do. As we sink into the financial abysis the fingers should be pointed at ourselves. Public sector unions have gone well beyond the ballot box to influence policy. They control the very bureacracy that pays them. Politicans are simply superficial fluff.

Where is Canada's Ron Paul?

Posted by: ct at June 11, 2012 10:09 AM

I think it is important to notice that public unions are losing support with their own membership. Once people are not forced to join the union (public servants or private companies), many choose not to. No one knows better than a union member about the flaws and bizarre mentality of union/union executive. This is good news and conservative/libertarian politicians should use this opportunity to create an alliance with non-militant union members.

How long before the Party of Stupid blows this chance by alienating this group?

Posted by: LC Bennett at June 11, 2012 10:23 AM

What Obama meant to say on the topic is that "The private sector is doing all right. If only we in the public sector could have created 4.3 million more jobs during the same period then this whole jobs number would be all right and I'd have an easier path to re-election!"

But the rest of the electorate (and even those thinking public servants who realize that they will not get their entitlements if they bankrupt their employer) is starting to realize the "beard" that public sector unions are and public sector bargaining is. They provide the appearance of opposing interests that allows the knowledgeable politician to get 1/3 of the vote all the time by getting the public sector on their side.

Let's hope they continue to vote to strike during the last few days of crop insurance filings, and continue to promote a blanket no zero policy, and not man snowplows during blizzards.

I worry about Justice Ball's decision that freedom to collectively bargain also includes the right to strike. This is going to take some undoing and if it is not undone is going to create havoc throughout Canada. Perhaps it is surfacing at the right time. The population has its pitchforks and torches out.

Posted by: rroe at June 11, 2012 10:26 AM

TOutcast, well said.

"I think the message is that, first of all, voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table."

When I heard the clip of Mitch Daniels saying this on FoxNews radio on XM yesterday, I thought, wow, the truth is openly being discussed and maybe there is hope after all. It was about time that the taxpaying public started to wake up.

Occama and ct are right.

Brad Wall, take note.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at June 11, 2012 10:33 AM

Along the same lines there was a very interesting panel on Roy Green's show discussing education. The teacher that gave out zeros was on the panel. All the teachers were in agreement with him that the school boards and government education mandates were a complete disaster for the students.

The two university professors stated that students coming out of high school were in many, many cases functionally illiterate. Their basic skills in math, English, grammar, problem understanding were incredibly poor.

Of course the teacher's unions bleat, Its all about the children", well, yes it is and you have failed them miserably.

Posted by: dave at June 11, 2012 11:14 AM

Its a wonder those union guys can talk, what with being out of breath from running with their tails between their hind legs and all.

Posted by: robins111 at June 11, 2012 11:17 AM

Wisconsin aside, when can we have a national conversation about mandatory union membership in Canada? The charter apparently includes freedom of unassociation. It's time for a new supreme court ruling, methinks.

Posted by: marco at June 11, 2012 11:21 AM

Where are our liberal trolls?

Posted by: ∞ ≠ ø at June 11, 2012 11:23 AM

We actually need to fire incompetent Management.

A goal focused Management level does not exist in the public sector. The management are promoted due to thier ability to be "liked" by the Union, & other management types, not by measured results... The "don't rock the boat" worthless turds do well in civil Service....

I am not suggesting that management should not be liked, but the Union must be held responsible for the membership.

The whole system needs to be changed...If a member leaves the union they will not see any difference because incompetent management are still coddling all the workers...


Posted by: Phillip G. Shaw at June 11, 2012 11:54 AM

There is not a conservative government in Canada that would do anything like what Wisconsin and Indiana have done. Brad Wall is likely the most conservative of Premiers and he wouldn't go there.

By making public sector union dues voluntary, Scott Walker has allowed tens of thousands of teachers and others to leave and de-fund "their" unions. Can anyone imagine what would happen in, say BC, if Premier Clark tried that? Or McGuinty, (an Axelrod client)!!!

Posted by: John Chittick at June 11, 2012 11:58 AM

Occam et al:

Now that the wildrose is in opposition in AB for four years RTW reform pressure will not be applied internally - it will be left to the US and the individual states to move the ball along.

Indiana went RTW this year. Romney has promised to bring it in nationwide (he likely will need a filibuster-proof majority in the senate (60 GOP seats) when elected (likely in his first 12 months). Rust belt states other than indiana are taking a look at RTW - emboldened by The recent votes and by the success of RTW in Indiana.

And if either MI or OH go RTW - Ontario will HAVE to go RTW. And if ON goes RTW Que will HAVE to go RTW.

Posted by: Gord Tulk at June 11, 2012 12:25 PM

No time to celebrate-Michigan is the next big battlefield!

Posted by: LAS at June 11, 2012 12:30 PM

Hopefully after November, there are still jobs that Obama can qualify for, for example p*ss boy like on Mel Brooks History of the World.

Posted by: RFB at June 11, 2012 12:36 PM

Canada is a Country of Nervous Nellies, who fairly faint away at the very thought of precipitate action,thus Harper has to reform slowly,an inch at a time.

The legislation requiring transparency from the Unions is the first small step, once the public becomes aware of how Union funds are wasted and exploited for the the benefit of a few radicals at the top, the ensuing outrage will allow them to take further steps.

There are still plenty of Canadians who believe the public sector Union members are hard working,underpaid,selfless heroes,doing the tough jobs the rest of us won't do. Unions have convinced a good percentage of the public that civil servants sacrifice a lot to "work for the people".

Harper has to start somewhere,and he has with the new legislation on transparency. If we are astute enough to give Harper the support he needs now,instead of constantly crying about our disappointment that he hasn't done enough, he will get the job done.

He has forty years of liberal /Liberal governments to overcome,and it can't be done overnight.

Posted by: dmorris at June 11, 2012 12:39 PM

dmorris - thank you for your excellent insights.

It's not only forty years of Liberal governments but a generation of socialist education in our schools that has set up Canadians as considering that unions, and public service unions, have a thing to do with ...'public service'.

Posted by: ET at June 11, 2012 12:54 PM

"I don't see a single party in Canada prepared to do what Wisconsin had the gonads to do."

Wildrose would have done it in Alberta if they'd won the election. The had plans all drawn up, starting with privatization of many sectors currently done directly by the provincial government, which would have blunted the strike power of the PSUs.

bartinsky at June 11, 2012 8:30 AM you supported and voted for Alison Redford's Progressives. You're part of the problem, not the solution.
Just keep crying those crocodile tears and I'll be here to point it out each time.

Posted by: Oz at June 11, 2012 12:59 PM

Wish we could make Quebec into our Wisconsin. Though we haven't a Scott Walker in all of Quebec, all sane people having long since left!

Posted by: larben at June 11, 2012 1:03 PM

Further to my earlier comments, the National Post's Kelly McParland joins the rest of the MSM and lauds Elizabeth May for her courageous fight against the government's omnibus budget.

Harper has to battle four Opposition Parties and the MSM Party, 24/7.

Posted by: dmorris at June 11, 2012 1:08 PM

Re: the idea that public sectors unions are all about 'public service' (ET @ 12:54), the superb blogger Daniel Greenfield (Sultan Knish) published an excellent essay yesterday that addresses, in part, that issue.

The relevant excerpt (all emph. mine):

Unionization has moved away from the classic labor unions and toward public sector unions, which control public services. The best unions are those that appear to have a moral imperative, like teachers or nurses, and that can elect the politicians that it bargains for a new contract with. This forms a simple but perfect power relationship. Unions help elect a mayor or governor. The mayor or governor agrees to a generous union contract. The unions reward him by supporting him in the next election.

The latter part, about public sector unions's (ab)use of "democracy" to ensconce their power, were addressed in Gov. Daniel's observation (variants of which have been said many times before) that government has become "it's own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the (negotiating) table."

Greenfield notes that this very built-in feedback loop, part of the "artificial infrastructure" that ensconces public sector unions, is also potentially its Achilles heel:

The left may appear more powerful than the right, but it is also more vulnerable, because it relies on an artificial infrastructure that is vulnerable. Where the infrastructure of the right is organic and not dependent on government funding or a corrupt system of dirty deals, the infrastructure of the left is almost entirely dependent on it...[...]...When the left is shrinking, then it is less likely to attract new recruits. Careerism is a big part of its appeal. When a movement no longer looks like it can offer as many spots to activists and researchers, then suddenly it doesn't look as appealing anymore. That is a simple human reality, and it can be used against the left."
Posted by: EBD at June 11, 2012 1:21 PM

Lets not sully the cause of reining in/eliminating PSUs by supporting "right to work". RTW is an immoral interference in the relationship btw employer and employed.

Posted by: LAS at June 11, 2012 1:55 PM

I don't see how conservatives can lose on this issue. We can just sit back and watch. Lefty states and municipalities can either make some necessary changes or stay the course and go broke. Just look at Vallejo, CA:

Posted by: Mkelley at June 11, 2012 2:06 PM

I think the battle (and it is and will be a battle) over the public service unions is vital.

It has started to become more open, in such areas as Right To Work states; in the Walker recall; in other areas such as Toronto, which took several years to finally get the Transit system ruled essential and not allowed to strike.

Strikes in public services are attacks against, not the so-called management, but against the citizens who are held hostage. Public services have a monopoly on their services: transit, garbage collection, civil offices etc. And there is no fundamental 'right to strike'.

But the enormous disparity of the salaries, benefits, pensions and work style - between the public and private sector can no longer be hidden. And most certainly not justified.

Salaries that are 30 to 50% higher than in the private sector with annual increases twice that of the private sector. Benefits that include cashable 'sick days', extras such as computers, cell phones, paid travel, conference trips, paid meals, and medical and dental benefits that are not paid by the employee but the government (the taxed private sector). Pensions that are unknown for the generosity in the private sector and again, paid by the taxpayer not the employee. And, jobs for life with no accountability.

This has set up an elite sector of employment in the nation. Unionization has moved their focus from public service to self-service. The union focus is to get more employees (more dues for the union); higher wages (more dues). After all, a union is not a service system; it is parasitic on workers; its income comes from their dues.

Canada has an entrenched public service unionization but I think that the grassroots awareness of the problem, in blogs and the internet, is a major step towards giving government (ie Harper) the power to start to reduce their power.

Posted by: ET at June 11, 2012 2:09 PM

All government-union negotiations must be done in the open. All deals must be made public before ratification takes place so we can know what is going on in our name and have an opportunity to have our opinions heard. If this was to happen there would be no backdoor deals like McGuinty made to bypass a supposed 'wage-freeze'. There would be no deals made that would give the unions anything better than what is offered in the private sector. Of course this will never happen because the union leaders would be ripped to shreds by the public if we ever knew what was really going on.

Posted by: Chris at June 11, 2012 2:22 PM

dmorris and ET, thank you for the excellent comments.

RTW should be a goal as soon as possible. We saw what happened when Governor Walker freed the workers, half of them took a powder from the unions.

Posted by: Ken (Kulak) at June 11, 2012 3:04 PM

RTW in the private sector is an affront to freedom KK.

Canada has an entrenched public service unionization but I think that the grassroots awareness of the problem, in blogs and the internet, is a major step towards giving government (ie Harper) the power to start to reduce their power.

Harper has the power to do that now. He's never going to.

Posted by: LAS at June 11, 2012 3:46 PM

LAS - just because you have a majority in government does not give you sovereign power over the people. The two: a parliamentary majority and sovereign will - are not the same.

You may legally be able to overturn an infrastructure that has been in place for 60 plus years by a government majority but if that infrastructure is part of the basic and common world view of the public - then, your doing so is not an act of parliament but an act of Sovereign Will.

A parliament may have the legal authority but it does not have the moral authority to take such a Sovereign action. Government, after all, must be by and for the people.

Harper has to allow and encourage a grassroots movement against public service unions to emerge. Just as he allowed and encouraged public rejection of the HRCs and the long gun, and open door immigration and so on. How does a parliamentary leader 'allow and encourage' an action? By opening up discussions and debate on it, by having various people bring the subject up, by publicizing his point of view; that is, he must persuade the public not assert His Sovereign Will.

Posted by: ET at June 11, 2012 6:44 PM

ET, you have some sequences wrong. Harper got in because the people were ahead of him in opposition to gun laws, HRCs and immigration.

Posted by: denis at June 11, 2012 7:40 PM

Actually, denis, you're kind of making ET's point: Stephen Harper listened to the his constituency, and nurtured/nudged/encouraged their views, rather than ruling as if he had "sovereign power", as ET put it.

Any really significant reduction in the level of public sector unionization in this country would/will require a concomitant cultural/political shift among Canadian voters. There are signs that it's happening already, but these things take years to fully manifest themselves through government. The old analogy about the ship of state being like a massive tanker that can't turn on a dime may be a cliche, but it's true.

Posted by: EBD at June 11, 2012 8:10 PM

Can I also make up trendy terms in place of actual arguments/evidence?

Posted by: LAS at June 11, 2012 8:36 PM

Pretty much everything you say is in place of actual arguments/evidence, LAS, so yes, I'm sure you can.

Posted by: EBD at June 11, 2012 8:53 PM

ET - I believe Justice Ball of the Saskatchewan Court of Queens Bench decided that public sector unions have the right to strike as part of their rights to associate and bargain. He also decided that the right to strike can be abrogated if done in a balanced manner. This matter is under appeal and there are many intervenors for obvious reasons.

I agree that our first poster's analysis smacked it out of the park.

We now need to consider how far the need for services provided by public employees extends and whether their license to provide those services is exclusive of competition.

Posted by: rroe at June 11, 2012 11:21 PM

"We now need to consider how far the need for services provided by public employees extends and whether their license to provide those services is exclusive of competition.
Posted by: rroe at June 11, 2012 11:21 PM "

How far??? Security(which includes offense/defense),fire fighting/policing, and infrastructure maintenance.
EVERYTHING else should be PRIVATE,as only private companies produce wealth,not gubermints.

Posted by: Justthinkin at June 11, 2012 11:30 PM

Excellent insight being delivered here as always.
Just to add, with regards to the Wisconsin debate, this was about having the union members pay 5% towards pensions, 12% towards their healthcare and whether they had to belong to a union.
This is what needs to be exposed...the lavish overall benefits this coddled bunch have voted themselves.

Posted by: Cappy at June 12, 2012 7:53 AM