Saturday, January 22, 2005

Municipal Unions and Municipal Politics

In The Agora has a post on the growing influence of municipal unions on municipal politics. Link.
The growing, or at least persistent, power of municipal governments has the effect of turning naturally Blue cities even more azure. Most private-sector employees in New York City backed Mike Bloomberg; most public employees voted for Democrat Mark Green. Bloomberg's anti-tax, anti-spending campaign was a direct threat to the jobs of many city workers, who feared having to find new ways of earning their living. Because their jobs are on the line in every election, government workers are especially mobilized in politics: Although they account for only a third of the workforce in New York, Malanga notes, public sector employees represented 37 percent of the electorate in 2001.
I grew up in New York City, very politically aware, and I now live in a rural area of over-bureaucratized California. My county consistently votes Republican. My mother was a teacher and a member of the teachers union there (the UFT, now part of the AFT). I can remember when the UFT president was an ex-teacher and the union was equally concerned with teacher pay/benefits/conditions and improving education. I'm afraid that the second half of that concern is now totally gone. Teachers unions have become no different than factory unions. They are only concerned with member pay and benefits, and have no concern with output. The other municipal unions were that way even when I was young.

Government employee unions now make up a majority of the AFL-CIO membership. This is not healthy for the economy, and it certainly is not healthy for our local, state and national politics.


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