The mayhem in Madison, Wisconsin over the last two weeks has highlighted the determination of labor unions to continue to restrict workers’ rights and to try to intimidate Gov. Scott Walker and the taxpayers into accepting some more unsustainable demands.
Being forced to join a union as a condition of employment is a restriction on a worker’s rights. Joining a union or any other organization should be an individual’s choice. And the desire of the unions to continue to make unsustainable demands on local, state and federal governments, irrespective of the devastating financial impacts, is totally illogical, not to mention being a collective disregard for the nearly 90 percent of the workers and taxpayers who pay them.
For years in some states, the unions have consistently helped elect Democratic governors and legislatures who have said “thank you” by passing union-favored legislation for the benefit of the unions and the re-election of their Democratic friends. The Democrats would then find ways to pass these favors and demands on to the taxpayers in the form of higher taxes. And when the Democrats could not raise taxes high enough and fast enough, they would create deficits and future commitments to force future tax increases.
Little by little, this political favoritism has made the disparity between total compensation for public-sector employees and private-sector employees bigger and bigger — and unsustainable.
Then in Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a Republican state legislature got elected after eight years of Democratic control in the governor’s office and the state legislature. Governor Walker announced to the public that Wisconsin is broke! Instead of letting the state’s credit card continue to go past its spending limit, he proposed a solution, which does not include raising taxes as the unions have forced the Democrats to do for many years.
The unions went ballistic and then launched a protest at the state capitol. Their protests are intended to gain public support for their cause, but there are no chants of how the unions have also confiscated the rights of their members, or how their demands will bankrupt the state.
Read the bill! Collective bargaining for wages is in the bill. The unsustainable benefits that would create a $3.6 billion deficit for the state of Wisconsin over the next two years and tie the hands of local governments to balance their budgets are changed. The proposed changes would still have public-sector workers paying about half what their private-sector counterparts pay in contributions to their benefits packages.
And Gov. Walker’s proposal would return the decision to join a union to the workers, which is the case in right-to-work states.
There are 22 right-to-work states. Their average GDP growth is higher than non-right-to-work states, their unemployment rate is lower, and most of the private-sector workers are happy with their employers. Otherwise more of them would have joined private-sector unions based on the choice to do so, free and open elections, and the opportunity to cast secret ballots.
Even at the federal level, the unions have been trying to restrict workers’ rights by taking away the secret ballot in union elections with the proposed card check legislation. And although union bosses would deny it, eliminating the secret ballot would give them another avenue to intimidate people into voting for unionization.
The courage of Gov. Walker to truly represent the people paying the bills is showing up in other states. The taxpayers who pay taxes to their state and the federal government are tired of all the chairs around the negotiating table being all on one side of the table.
Taxpayers are now being represented on the other side of the table.
Herman Cain is a former CEO, a radio talk show host on AM 750 and 95.5 FM WSB in Atlanta, and a Fox News contributor.