Government employees are under attack all over the country. Why? Maybe they’re overpaid and pampered and deserve to share disproportionately in the coming pain and sacrifice of recession-adjustment. Maybe a concerted campaign to scapegoat them during 10% unemployment just makes us think that. One thing is certain : Support for Labor in general is at an all-time low, and public sector unions seem to be taking the brunt of it. Sixty Minutes even did a big story on it.
I view my job as to present some facts on this issue. Only then can we make any normative judgements about whether the public sector is part of the problem. We also have to be clear about what problem(s) we’re talking about and whether the unions are to blame.
To start us off on Thursday, I’ll address these broad factual questions [Note: Slightly reworded from my original post]:
- What do government employees actually do? How many are unionized? Why do public employees need unions?
- What problems does unionization cause? Overcompensation? Lack of accountability? Ineffective government?
- Have these unions contributed to the dire fiscal crises in California and nationally? Regardless, should government workers share in the sacrifices that will be imposed on all of us to restore fiscal balance?
- What is driving the politics of this? Whose values and interests are being served?
Several actual experts may be attending, as well.
- NPR story: Government workers are being squeezed in these hard times.
- Thorough explanation of the role state and local government pay, benefits, and health care costs play – and don’t play – in state budget woes.
- Two longish, more than I typically link to papers that compare government workers’ pay to private sector pay. The results may surprise you.
- The $1 trillion state employee pension gap (note: This sounds worse than it is. I can explain).
LINKS, Advocacy —
- Blaming public employee unions, supporting large cuts:
I’m bringing the gavel. Also, I’ll add more posts on the above issues of substance as soon as I can.