§ “No option but layoffs”

I find it appalling that while private industry is instituting pay caps and wage cuts, states have been adding workers to the already Brobdingnagian government payroll (keep in mind, almost all of these states are deeply in debt). And when mere hints of that great financial reckoning to come do come, the unions march to their mandated-37-hour-per-week barricades.

This is the case in Rhode Island, where Governor Governor Carcieri says he’ll be forced to layoff 1,000 workers. His original plan was to sensibly shut down the government for 12 well-publicized days throughout the coming year. Sensibility happens to be against the union contract in Rhode Island, who promptly took the matter to court. A judge has stayed the governor’s order.

Both of my parents are public school teachers and also teach at the local state university. My girlfriend works for the State of Illinois. I understand government’s necessity, and how essential these jobs are.

What I cannot understand and will not abide is public service unions who do anything but serve the public. Their preoccupation with further tightening their grip around the gasping throat of the state is dangerous and, indeed, unjust. Dangerous for its implications for taxpayers and budgets, and unjust in that they are an organization, funded by taxpayers, who actually work against taxpayer interests. Does anyone really think layoffs are better than days off?

Even if the governor’s arbitrary 1,000 number is posturing, the necessity of layoffs will be very real, and even that’s just papering over a crumbling wall. The state’s budget gap next year is predicted to be $450 million. Services, like buses and transit, are already poor. Are 12 days really hurting the unions that badly?

In some states, like New York, these unions have almost complete control of the state’s political agenda. Not surprising, since they’re also the largest campaign contributors.

Unions play an important role in protecting worker rights and bettering working conditions. But the good they do should not prevent even their staunches supporters from denouncing these would-be oligarchs funded at our expense.