The (Free)Ride is Over for Public Sector Unions

In the 30 years that I have worked I’ve been a member of a union almost 20 of them; a Teamster for 13 years and an Operator Engineer for nearly 6 and I’ve made a decent living throughout those years. I’ve earned it by working hard. I’ve always believed that workers deserved the right to collectively bargain for fair wages and benefits, knowingly, who provides those wages and benefits: The private corporation, with its bottom line revenue on the line while negotiating.

The problem with public sector unions is that members are paid by the taxpayer. There is no one at the bargaining table representing the “corporation”. When the average salary and benefits of public sector employees reaches the $100,000 level and those that are paying those salaries and benefits are only making $60,000, we are on an unsustainable course.

From The Heritage Foundation:

From 2001 to 2010, Wisconsin taxpayers paid more than $8 billion for state employee health care coverage, while state employees contributed only $398 million, less than 5% of the total costs. From 2000 to 2009, taxpayers paid $12.6 billion for public employee pensions, while the employees only contributed $55.4 million, less than 0.5% of the total cost.
These figures are astonishing, and can’t be sustained. It is the total recipe for failure in Federal, State, and Local governments fiscal policies. States such as Wisconsin and New Jersey are finding themselves in a fiscal bind because there isn’t enough money to continue to pay generous salaries, pensions, and healthcare benefits to state employees without substantial cuts, layoffs, and/or employee contributions to their own benefits….just like most of us in the private sector have to do. Most of us have made drastic sacrifices to deal with the recession and our country’s economic woes . Public employees haven’t had to experience this for the most part. They’ve enjoyed steady employment, generous salaries and benefits. This “entitlement” mentality is backfiring on public sector employees. What they don’t realize is that the people of Wisconsin and New Jersey, and several other states are tired of this. Look at what happened last November; and all the media attention that these rallies in Madison are drumming up is causing people to wake up to what’s going on in this country. The 40,000 or so people converging on the state Capitol in Madison do not represent the majority in this country.
As a union member myself, I refuse to stand in solidarity behind public sector employees and I believe that most of the rank and file of private sector unions feel the same way.
If I were in their shoes, I’d concede. The free ride is over.

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