The (Public) Union Label

Important release from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees!

As part of an ongoing effort to build the alliance of Ohioans opposing the bill that would strip public service workers of their bargaining rights, AFSCME members are holding a series of eight press events around the state in conjunction with a group of small businesses who are part of Proud Ohio Workers.

Sounds bad for Senate Bill 5, small businesses rallying to the unionized government employees’ cause and all. Until you read the sales pitch at the Proud Ohio Workers site:

The Proud Ohio Worker program was created to allow merchants across the state to show that they recognize public employee support for their shops. We are asking merchants to show their support in return for public employees by affixing our sticker to a window in the front of their store.

Union bosses: your operation is already a racket by any reasonable definition. Hounding businesses to display your colors – with the unspoken threat to boycott or demonize owners who don’t comply – may not be the best way to win believers to your cause.

Then again, I’m sure AFSCME honchos have considered how this looks and think it’s a winning proposition. After all, they pay themselves handsomely for theatrics like this, and are masters at portraying blackmail as “solidarity.”

Proud Ohio Workers wants to ensure that small shops all across Ohio will remain open. If public employee wages are reduced and jobs are cut, local businesses will suffer. Supporting the creation and retention of good paying middle class jobs is good for local economies.

The broken window fallacy again?! Stossel, give these numbskulls an economics lesson:

Public employee salaries don’t just appear, and dollars don’t grow more valuable each time the government forcibly relocates ‘em. Before public employees can spend their pay at “small shops across Ohio,” it must be extracted from Ohio taxpayers. The vital difference is that unionized public employees spend their pay after the union has taken its cut.

Like union members themselves, business owners are props in a farce that enriches professional agitators and kicks taxpayer money back to Democrats. Senate Bill 5 will return some power to taxpaying Ohioans… and that’s an indignity the unions will not tolerate.

AFSCME Recap

These poor, downtrodden AFSCME leaders did ok for themselves (with member dues) in fiscal 2009:

  • Joseph Rugola, OAPSE Executive Director: $216,939
  • Gary Martin, OAPSE Associate Director: $200,163
  • Charles Roginski, OAPSE Regional Director: $164,239
  • John Lyall, AFSCME Council 8 President: $155,482
  • Andy Douglas, OCSEA Executive Director: $151,392

They also gave boatloads of member dues to their political party of choice. Guess which one that is!

  • AFSCME Local 4 spent $2,848,216.25 on Democrats from 2001-2010 (while giving $250.00, or 0.009% of the Democrat contributions, to the GOP)
  • AFSCME Local 11 spent $1,054,561.42 on Democrats from 2001-2010 (while giving $41,000.00, or 3.89% of the Democrat contributions, to the GOP)
  • AFSCME Council 8 spent $625,591.20 on Democrats from 2001-2010 (while giving $250.00, or 0.04% of the Democrat contributions, to the GOP)

Whatever good is done by the AFSCME happens at the local level; AFSCME leadership is flagrantly partisan, representing leftist interests regardless of members’ political leanings.

The Ohio Education Association’s spending and talking points tell the same story.

Cross-posted at that hero and Columbus Tea Party.

A Big, Dumb Iceberg

If Progressivism were a ship, Michael Moore would be an iceberg the captain just couldn’t resist. Moore says things his fellow leftists will not, which is useful for agitating a certain type of crowd. As Mary Katharine Ham explained last week, the real-world results of his class warfare would be a Titanic catastrophe:

Fortunately for Michael Moore, there are sad, envious people who respond well to “Fat cats have more stuff than you! They should give it up! Giiiiive iiitt!” His routine wouldn’t work on the average elementary student, but Moore’s one marketable skill is rallying adults with the sense of below-average children.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Michael Moore’s rants expose the central tenet of Progressivism. Without the vast government redistribution he demands, dreadful capitalism runs amok… empowering citizens and weakening leftist interest groups. How many Progressive outlets have you seen decrying Moore’s idiotic “national resources” line? Moore is invited to shout at a Wisconsin union rally and cheered by union bosses because their goals are the same.

Remember the Tax Foundation chart below the next time you hear someone demand that “the rich” pay their “fair share.” And if you’re curious how well the $16 trillion spent on welfare programs has worked since the LBJ era, refer to The Heritage Foundation.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Unions Send in the Drama Llama

To avoid offending people who act offended for a living, the GOP is eager to convince everyone Senate Bill 5 is not payback for union support of Democrats. Government unions, meanwhile, strive to portray a world without government unions as a Dickensian nightmare.

Plans are being put into place to silence workers, lower their wages, cut their benefits and increase the likelihood that they will suffer injuries and fatalities at work.

Reforms in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere will keep taxpayer money out of AFSCME President Gerald McEntee’s pockets, and he will say anything to keep that from happening. McEntee describes an America without democratic elections, free speech, at-will employment, or social media… which, I’d agree, is a place public unions might be worthwhile.

In this dimension’s Ohio, the “Labor and Industry” portion of the Ohio Revised Code would be 22 chapters long even if ORC 4117 were ripped out and tossed into the Olentangy – to say nothing of federal labor law. But, the AFSCME and the OEA have no convincing arguments, so their only recourse is to pretend unions stand between government employees and doom.

The McEntee quote above is from mid-February, and you can guess how agitated the AFSCME has become since then.

[…] Wisconsin Senate Republicans used legislative tricks to ram through Governor Walker’s bill — wiping out collective bargaining rights for nurses, teachers, EMTs and other trusted public employees. It was an affront to everyone who believes in basic American values like fairness, democracy and rights for working people.

Wisconsin Senate Republicans used a completely legal tactic after every Democrat senator fled the state. This is a fact as plain as day to anyone who follows a news source other than the unions. Which, of course, is why it’s vital for the unions to blare a consistent message:

They took 30 minutes to undermine 50 years of law protecting collective bargaining and workers’ rights. It’s now painfully clear. They will do or say anything to force through their extreme agenda that targets teachers, school support staff, nurses and other public employees – and devastates the hopes and dreams of working families.

That’s part of a gripping email from the NEA’s Karen White. Other than the melodrama – “Public employees shouldn’t be at the mercy of the public! The public is the worst!” – there’s another consistent theme in AFSCME and NEA communications:

The single most effective thing you can do to help right now is make a donation to AFSCME Wisconsin Council 11.

And…

Stand with your colleagues who are under siege. Make your donation to the NEA Fund right now.

Maybe there’s something I should add here, but I feel like the unions have said it for me.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Union Info for Ohio Reps

With Senate Bill 5 scheduled for new hearings this week, is it too optimistic to expect bolder arguments from Republicans in the House of Representatives? Speaker Batchelder, in particular, tells it like it is – and on this subject, more frankness from conservative leaders is what Ohio needs. Why? Former NEA counsel Bob Chanin says it best:

Politically, the GOP is in a tight spot because the unions, Ohio Democratic Party, Socialist Party, and Communist Party form a unified bloc willing to chain itself to a taxpayer-subsidized tree in defense of a public worker’s “right” to have a percentage of his pay whisked into union bosses’ pockets and Democrat campaign coffers. And, as always, “conservatives” in the Ohio Senate are happy to side with the Democrats if it means a few minutes in front of a camera.

To balance the odds, here – at its fair market price – is my advice for the House:

  • Exempt police, firefighters, and the highway patrol from most – or all – provisions of the bill
  • End automated payroll deduction of union dues

Most of the squishes in the Senate mention police and fire as concerns – which is fair, considering that police and fire unions serve workers with far more demanding vocations. Payroll deduction of union dues is an indefensibly bad idea, and there’s no reason Ohio taxpayers should offer it. Since the unions haven’t paused in their routine of demanding increased taxes under the guise of “good jobs,” conservative leaders should continue to push for the most serious bill they can pass.

Government unions make a mint convincing workers they’d starve without collective bargaining, and make Ohio less competitive by demanding compensation taxpayers cannot afford. If the House incorporates my recommendations as enthusiastically as the Senate did, we’ll be in business!

Background: Startling Numbers

Researching government unions after I first noticed shenanigans from a union candidate last year, the simplicity of the problem was shocking: public unions work against the taxpayers. Union bosses ignore spending trends, the average Ohioan’s tax burden, and proof that big-government policies drive citizens away. Look at the numbers, and it’s tough to conclude Ohio’s government unions care about anything besides their own power. Consider AFSCME pay:

  • Joseph Rugola, OAPSE Executive Director: $216,939
  • Gary Martin, OAPSE Associate Director: $200,163
  • Charles Roginski, OAPSE Regional Director: $164,239
  • John Lyall, AFSCME Council 8 President: $155,482
  • Andy Douglas, OCSEA Executive Director: $151,392

That’s only the top five. Ohio’s three largest AFSCME affiliates spent 31%, 32%, and 41% as much on member benefits as they spent on union pay in 2009. The Ohio Education Association may be even worse:

  • 117 union employees paid more than $100,000
  • 12 union employees paid more than $150,000
  • Executive Director Larry Wicks paid $208,469
  • Executive Director Dennis Reardon paid $202,997

In 2009, the OEA – a group that gets agitated about “the children” when you start to talk about limiting their clout – spent less than 36% as much on member benefits as on union pay.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Government Unions, Not Winning

The Columbus Dispatch published an article yesterday detailing how Senate Bill 5 (in its current form) would impact the way Ohio and local governments bargain with public employees. The story included a quote from a familiar name:

“Our history with bargaining with the boss in the past has been difficult but productive,” Wyngaard said. “Now, there’s already been a substantial impact on morale. … This sends a major message to state employees that they’re not valued.”

Apart from wondering exactly how much state employees should be valued, note that Bruce Wyngaard is paid nearly six figures each year with dues from AFSCME Local 11 members. Public employees may have legitimate complaints about SB 5; union bosses have none. Unless you think making the relationship between government workers and the public as adversarial as possible is worthwhile!

The National Education Association sent an email Feb. 25 begging members for more money to stem the taxpayer payback the NEA was unable to prevent by blowing millions on the 2010 election:

We’re witnessing a fundamental attack on the right of public employees, including educators, to collectively bargain. Raising our collective voices at the bargaining table allows us to speak up for school safety, smaller class sizes and more services for our students. That hard-earned right is essential to the quality of our lives and the quality of public education — and it must be defended vigorously.

Emphasis mine, to highlight the NEA’s continued insistence that teachers and school districts would accomplish nothing without the union. Funny thing – this plea for $20 donations is from Karen White, who was paid $194,912 in fiscal 2010. “Send us more money, underpaid teachers! Some of us at NEA headquarters haven’t cracked the $200,000 mark yet!”

AFSCME Council 8 President John Lyall – another familiar name – has been repeating a similar line as if it’ll stop being economic hogwash after the thousandth time he says it:

This is about all working people. This is about creating jobs for the middle class – good paying jobs with benefits that allow a hard worker to provide for his or her family.

Lyall was paid $155,482 in fiscal 2009, so it’s no wonder he supports raising taxes for everyone – both the union members who pay his salary, and the rest of us who pay theirs – to keep the gravy train on the tracks.

Reading news items on the AFSCME Council 8 website, I find myself pitying the union bosses. After the Feb. 22 SB 5 rally (estimated attendance: 5,200) the AFSCME crowed “15,000 gather to defend Ohio middle class workers.” After the March 1 SB 5 rally (estimated attendance: 8,500) AFSCME declared “20,000 at Statehouse to Defend Middle Class.” It seems I’ve been too harsh on the AFSCME… they’re only promoting socialist policies like higher taxes, government-created jobs, and collectivism because they can’t count!

Cross-posted at that hero.

Centrism, Ohio Style

Following Wednesday’s close-as-possible passage of Senate Bill 5, Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog made a troubling observation:

Yours truly suspects that the Republican caucus decided that it had to give John Kasich what he wanted, and then got into discussions over who could “safely” vote no. It’s not like they haven’t done this kind of thing before (see: cynical maneuvering, Ted Strickland’s retroactive 2009 tax increase).

Even I, with my wild-eyed ravings about government unionization, willingly concede that aspects of SB 5 may be flawed. Like the average union boss, I’m not a budget expert! But the Democrats offered no amendments, and six is a lot of Republicans to lose on a bill targeting groups who take public workers’ pay and funnel it to the leftmost causes imaginable.

The disappointing thing – I grew up in Speaker Boehner’s district, so forgive my expectation that Republicans have backbone – is the angst several GOP senators are displaying. Again, I don’t assume the bill is perfect, but the only hope of taxpayers and public employees finding sustainable middle ground starts with getting the unions out of the picture. Senator Bill Seitz might not agree:

“What a deal,” Seitz said, as he and Grendell questioned why a legislative body would ever pick the union’s offer over its own. Seitz called it a “heads I win, tails you lose solution.”

Senator Seitz misses the point: if the unions ask for more than an agency can afford and the agency meets them halfway, it’s often “heads the taxpayers get hosed, tails the union sticks it to the public.” That’s assuming the agency isn’t managed by a Democrat who is happy to give the union bosses whatever they want.

Senator Kevin Bacon, a pretty reliable voice the past few weeks, breaks it down:

The conversations I’ve had with many individuals on what post-Senate Bill 5 will look like, a lot of it comes down to do you trust your council, your school board, your township trustees, your local elected officials who will appear on the ballot again.

Exactly. Elected officials answer to the public for everything, including the way they treat their employees. Despite what the unions would have you believe, government workers would still be able to communicate with one another, their bosses, and their neighbors without a union rep siphoning dues away for political contributions and his own salary.

Senator Jim Hughes – who received over 20% of all the donations from AFSCME Local 11 to Ohio Republicans in the past decade – also criticized SB 5’s contract settlement process:

I have some concerns with that because as I read it, and I’m an attorney, the legislative body that would be deciding (the final contract) is the same management that is in negotiations with labor.

As opposed to the current arrangement, where the unions spend millions to elect the people who will sign off on their contract demands. Sadly, Senators Seitz and Hughes may not be the most egregious examples of Republicans defending the unions instead of the taxpayers:

And now there’s going to be a backlash in Ohio. People in the public believe that this collective-bargaining bill was a Republican overreach, and now you’re going to see a sort of slap-back reaction.

Fewer people would see SB 5 as Republican overreach if the Ohio Senate could form consensus around a solid conservative argument once in my lifetime. And now Senator Tim Grendell should expect a primary challenge from someone who wants to empower the average Ohioan, instead of parroting union talking points in The Washington Post.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Mope and Change

Hope and change aren’t all they were cracked up to be, even if you’re a union boss who poured millions into Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. But, for the people who understand “hope” as “I hope the government fixes everything,” President Obama rode to the rhetorical rescue on Sunday:


Guuuys! I just want to spend some more!

“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon. We need to attract the best and the brightest to public service.”

According to the president, public employees are being attacked, and collective bargaining is not a privilege but a right. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a few things to say in response, but ignore him! Governor Walker wants to limit the power of public unions, which proves without further debate that Governor Walker is a monster.

For the most part, President Obama’s whining echoed Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, head of the Democratic Governors Association:

“When you try to vilify or make one side of the equation the enemy, you’re looking for trouble,” he said.

O’Malley aggressively attempted to pin the nation’s fiscal woes on former President George W. Bush, saying the Texan made decisions that “drove our country into the ground.”

Ah, that classic dance, the Victimhood Two-Step: cry over a policy you don’t like as if it were an ambush on workers/children/puppies/the elderly, and then shift the blame for whatever problem is being addressed. It’s easy, once you realize your complaints needn’t have any grounding in reality!

The Democrats shouldn’t get too down – as if the president’s support for public union monopolies wasn’t enough, his labor secretary is (spoiler alert!) no union-buster:

“The fight is on!” Solis told a cheering crowd at the Democratic National Committee’s winter meeting over the weekend in Washington. Giving her support to “our brothers and sisters in public employee unions,” Solis pledged aid to unionized workers who are “under assault” in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

The White House, Democratic Governors Association, and Department of Labor care precisely zero (whatever the unit of measure) that the AFSCME and NEA are flagrant rackets with no good arguments. Small wonder – unions are the Democratic Party’s top donors, so they’re exempt from the withering criticism industry PACs receive. To quote the famous skunk philosopher: Le sigh.

Cross-posted at that hero. Fake poster footnote: thought of it myself, but not before Peter Brookes at The Times (and probably anyone else who disagrees with Barack Obama and can rhyme words).

Public Unions for Higher Taxes

Senate Bill 5 threatens the stranglehold government unions hold on too many state offices, school districts, and local governments. To public employees who accept without blinking the rhetoric their union dues fund – and have no idea where else their money goes – SB 5 is fascism, doom, and an attack on the middle class:

Anita Barton, a high-school guidance counselor from St. Mary’s, said Kasich is making public employees scapegoats for the state’s financial crisis.

“Why is he so afraid of collective bargaining?” Barton asked. “Why is he so afraid that we have representation? If you don’t have representation as a whole, as an individual you don’t have a voice.”

What you might not realize is that SB 5 revokes all Facebook, Twitter, and email privileges from public employees. If the bill passes, teachers and guidance counselors will no longer be permitted to speak with their principals or superintendents. All school board proceedings will henceforth be sealed from the public, and any government employee seen colluding with a local newspaper or television station will be summarily executed.

One quote from an Ohio dentist gets to the heart of the matter:

“We need a strong middle class,” Gregory said. “Workers have to make a decent wage so they can pay their dentist.”

Public employees are nowhere near representative of the middle class. I know I’m repeating myself here, but it’s hardly my fault the opponents of Senate Bill 5 keep making the same awful arguments. Every dollar given to a government employee has to be taken from Ohio taxpayers. Dollars do not become more valuable simply because the government has moved them around. The unions, Democrats, and socialist fellow-travelers want taxes increased… despite Ohio’s unemployed outnumbering public employees, and taxpayer migration looking like this:


No matter how many times Governor Kasich says “I’m not anti-union,” the unions will scream that the GOP is attacking union employees and by extension all workers. Unless you’re in the Communist Party wing of the SB 5 opposition, you can’t openly call for higher taxes – but that’s exactly what SB 5 opponents are demanding. Will government ever be big enough for these people?

Cross-posted at that hero.

Senate Bill 5: Big Numbers, Tiny Details

As reported by The Dispatch, Senate Bill 5 could save Ohio and local governments big bucks. This comes as no surprise, considering that government unions are constantly asking for more public funds – often from politicians they helped elect. There’s one thing, though, that I haven’t seen much commentary on:

Senate Democrats did not submit amendments. A collaboration of every major public union except the Fraternal Order of Police said yesterday that the bill is too flawed to fix, and Democrats agree.

Of course Democrats agree! Ohio’s Democrats are bought and paid for by the unions. Their failure to submit amendments – after weeks of complaining about being excluded – proves again the hollowness of the union narrative. Ohio is $8 billion in the hole, but the AFSCME and OEA refuse to participate in any process that could weaken their influence.

It’s beyond me why Republican senators feel a need to cater to the unions. If anything, SB 5 should go further to limit union power: government unions work against the electorate. Squeezing taxpayers for more money is the reason public employee unions exist! But, the unions continue spouting class warfare tropes that would make a socialist blush, despite this devastating editorial from Wednesday:

That public-sector workers are not representative of Ohio’s middle class is evident in the numbers. According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, Senate Bill 5 will affect 42,000 state workers, 19,500 higher-education employees and about 298,000 employees of local governments such as counties, municipalities, townships and school districts.

That totals 359,500 employees, a mere 6.5 percent of Ohio’s workforce of 5.5 million. In fact, the number of public-sector employees is far outnumbered by more than 500,000 Ohioans who want to work but can’t find jobs.

If we can’t count on the Ohio Senate, at least Governor Kasich has the right idea. Though I’d like to see the governor draw a clearer line between public and private unions, Friday on Cavuto he made some great points about efficient government being better for everyone in the long run:

Cross-posted at that hero.

Union Racket 101 – AFSCMEconomics

The union line is “workers’ rights,” and job one is convincing workers the right they need most is collective bargaining. The AFSCME is in the collection business: in return for your (sometimes mandatory) dues you’ll receive union protection. In theory.

Here’s the snag in their solidarity shtick: unions like the AFSCME generally charge dues as a percentage of salary. Let’s say your salary is $30,000 — how important are you to the union? If your answer is anything besides “less than 1/3 as important as someone paid $100,000,” you might need to reconsider for a minute. Think the union bosses care more about your well-being than their income?

If so, disbursements to AFSCME officers and employees would probably be less than the amount paid into member pension and insurance accounts. Right?

Public Union Union Pay, 2009 Benefits, 2009 Benefits as a %
of Union Pay
AFSCME Local 4 (OAPSE) $5,675,756.00 $1,801,307.00 32%
AFSCME Local 11 (OCSEA) $6,087,169.00 $2,511,880.00 41%
AFSCME Council 8 $6,190,855.00 $1,920,227.00 31%

AFSCME Local 4, the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE), had 33,617 members in 2009. Local 11, the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA), had 30,870 members. Council 8 had 36,792 members.

Looking out for… Somebody

  • Joseph Rugola, OAPSE Executive Director: $216,939
  • Gary Martin, OAPSE Associate Director: $200,163
  • Charles Roginski, OAPSE Regional Director: $164,239
  • John Lyall, AFSCME Council 8 President: $155,482
  • Andy Douglas, OCSEA Executive Director: $151,392
  • Harold Mitchell, AFSCME Council 8 First Vice President: $148,265
  • Tom Drabick, OAPSE Director of Legal Department: $144,517
  • Lloyd Rains, OAPSE Regional Director: $140,238
  • R. Sean Grayson, AFSCME Council 8 General Counsel: $130,891
  • Steve Myers, OAPSE Regional Director: $128,741

In fiscal 2009, the OAPSE paid 21 employees and officers more than $100,000. AFSCME Council 8 paid 14 employees and officers more than $100,000. The OCSEA paid 3 employees more than $100,000. Altogether, the three paid 119 union employees & officers $70,000 or more (view spreadsheet).

But the unions can’t be that bad! After all, they’re universally supported by Ohio Democrats, and the Democratic Party always has the underdog’s interests at heart — right?

Public Union Contributions
to Democrats,
2001-2010
Contributions
to Republicans,
2001-2010
GOP contributions
as a %
of Dem contributions
AFSCME Local 4 (OAPSE) $2,848,216.25 $250.00 0.009%
AFSCME Local 11 (OCSEA) $1,054,561.42 $41,000.00 3.89%
AFSCME Council 8 $625,591.20 $250.00 0.04%

The AFSCME increases its reach with each additional unionized office, gains income with every pay raise a member receives, and spends millions in dues electing Democrats to support the mythology of collective bargaining as a fundamental right. If you aren’t near the top of the government union pyramid scheme, there’s no reason not to call your senator and ask ‘em to support Senate Bill 5!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering… the Ohio branch of the National Education Association is no better than our AFSCME locals.

Cross-posted at that hero.