This issue affects me personally. For the past 18 years I have been teaching at The University of Akron. Economics is not only my vocation but my avocation. Ohioans must support SB 5 with a YES vote in November to help Ohio out of its economic free-fall.
Collective bargaining for private sector workers is not at issue here, though the unions have attempted to confuse you. SB5 relates to state government workers only. What is at stake is whether public servants work for the people of Ohio, or whether the people of Ohio work for a “public servant” aristocracy enjoying far greater pay and benefits than the taxpayers who are forced to subsidize them.
For years, many of the officials who run our state and local governments signed suicide pacts, spectacularly unaffordable compensation deals, with public employee unions. Often when these retirement deals were cut, the public officials and the union leaders were, in effect, seated on the same side of the negotiating table. The politicians essentially pledged future tax dollars in return for the support and cooperation of the public sector unions. Because those pension and health obligations didn’t legally have to be funded immediately, politicians could avoid the repercussions of raising taxes. The taxpayer cannot realistically be expected to cover all of these exorbitant salary and retirement promises.
Consider for a moment the absurdity of a process where neither side has to contribute their own resources when negotiating the policies that are creating this spiraling mountain of debt. We are enabling a permanent class of politicians and government workers, who conspire to steal from the productive wealth creators of society, to fill their pockets with taxpayer money. At least 43 states face shortfalls in this year’s budget. This trend cannot continue if the states are to remain financially viable. There are two options. The problem can be addressed now by reducing the power of public sector unions opening the door for financial reform. Or, the states can go bankrupt abolishing the power of public sector unions opening the door for financial reform. The decision as to which option Ohio will adopt is in the hands of the voters of Ohio this November.
Here are a few facts you might want to consider before casting your ballot:
- Ohio has a dramatic need of budget reform as it is facing a 10 billion dollar budget deficit in 2011. The state has lost over 600,000 private sector jobs in the last ten years. The economic reality of lower tax revenues dictates the state can no longer afford the perks the public sector unions’ demand.
- Ohio’s government workers receive far more compensation than their private-sector counterparts. The median government worker in Ohio makes 24.6 percent more than his or her private-sector counterpart. A YES vote on SB5 would remove automatic pay raises and introduce merit-based rewards.
- Ohio’s state and local government employees’ pensions are severely underfunded. A recent study by The Pew Center on the States found that Ohio is the fifth worst state, underfunded by 20 billion dollars. That liability falls on the shoulders of the taxpayer.
- Ohio’s government workers pay little of their health care and pension costs.
Government workers in Ohio pay 17 percent of their health care coverage compared to the private sector worker who pays 23 percent. In addition, taxpayers pay 14 percent of government employees’ pension costs compared to the private sector where the average employer contributes 5 percent of a worker’s pension costs. Simply requiring government workers pay what the private sector worker pays would save Ohio taxpayers $335,871,000 annually.
What is more un-American than a law that utilizes the absolute power of government to force Americans to financially support an ideology that they do not believe in or even worse, are vehemently opposed to. This is what forced unionization has done to millions of public workers in Ohio. Isn’t this how the likes of Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez attained and maintain power? They get 99% of the vote because the Chavezes of the world use the force of government to intimidate the population into support.
Thomas Jefferson put it best:
“To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
All Ohio public sector workers are forced to pay union dues whether they wish to or not. Ohio collective bargaining is inconsistent with the right to freedom of association since many members may disagree with the views of the monopoly union. Freedom of association is the individual right to come together with other individuals and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests. While the United States Constitution’s First Amendment identifies the rights to assemble and to petition the government, the text of the First Amendment does not make specific mention of a right to association. Nevertheless, the United States Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Alabama that the freedom of association is an essential part of the Freedom of Speech because, in many cases, people can engage in effective speech only when they join with others. Thus, since the freedom of association has been found to be an integral part of the First Amendment, how can forced unionization be Constitutional, particularly when it applies to government workers? SB5 would give state workers the option to contribute to union initiatives or not. Maintaining SB5 would free Ohio government workers from supporting issues they do not agree with.
Public employee unions epitomize conflict of interest, kickbacks and graft. In the private sector, managers live in an environment of real world profit and loss.
When negotiating with unions, they must consider the financial ramifications of their decisions. There is survival instinct pushback to counterbalance the union demands.
The public sector has no such counterbalance to consider. Governments cannot be driven out of business. They gain their revenue forcibly through taxes. As a result, there is no market limit to how much such unions can milk the public.
The unions themselves help choose who negotiates with them on behalf of the people. The unions provide support for politicians at the ballot box and through campaign contributions. The politicians in turn repay the unions by capitulating to their every demand. The difference is that the money to increase the union’s salaries and benefits does not come from the wallets of the politicians, it comes from the taxpayer. Neither party negotiating has anything to lose. The only loser is the taxpayer. This inherent conflict of interest leads to oppressive political corruption. There is no limit to the plunder of the public by government unions. Taxpayer money laundered through government union dues is the root of political corruption.
These are the reasons why even an ultimate liberal like Franklin Delano Roosevelt agreed that there should be no collective bargaining for public servants. Roosevelt said:
“All government employees should realize that the process of collective
bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public-personnel management.”
Ohio cannot afford to remain in a state of denial. If Ohio is to continue to be a state of entrepreneurs, producers and innovators who create wealth in the private economy, we cannot create unsustainable compensation for public employees negotiated by short-sighted politicians from the dwindling wallets of our neighbors. I urge you to vote YES on SB5.