Why public sector labor unions are a bad idea

Disruptive, hyper-political, special-interest gov't-unions

Yesterday, fellow Seattle Examiner Eric Earling made a good point about public sector labor unions over at his other hang-out, SoundPolitics.com. The state's most powerful public sector unions, via the Evergreen Progress PAC, are going to bring their guns to bear on the Rossi campaign.

Earling rightly points out the inherent conflict of interest here. Many of these unions are at once engaging in contract negotiations with the governor and helping her campaign for governor by attacking her opponent, Dino Rossi.

Think maybe the unions will get a favorable contract?

This is how the cycle works: state workers are forced to join a union, even if they don't want to -- the unions collect mandatory dues from state worker paychecks -- the unions use that money to support campaigns for the very elected officials with whom they bargain for contracts -- not surprisingly, the unions tend to get favorable contracts that usually result in higher membership dues that in turn provide the unions with more money to fund "friendly" elected officials. Add a growing state workforce, repeat cycle, and stir. What's the basic ingredient here? Your tax dollars.

As the Gregoire and Rossi campaigns trade salvos, KING 5 News said that the Building Industry Association of Washington (whose members tend to support Rossi) is "Olympia’s most powerful special interest lobbying group." I disagree. For starters, BIAW has largely been playing defense when it comes to legislation. Furthermore, the current legislative makeup is not exactly friendly towards BIAW's agenda.

But BIAW gets its political money from VOLUNTARY member dues and contributions. Nobody is forced to join the association. Not so with the unions. Moreover, their money is private. Public sector unions are using tax dollars (albeit laundered filtered through payroll) for their political purposes. Other groups have to raise political money through voluntary contributions.

If people want to start pointing fingers at "Olympia's most powerful special interest lobbying" groups, look no further than the alphabet soup of public sector unions--SEIU, AFSCME, WFSE, etc. Yet when was the last time you heard the media refer to government employee unions as a "special interest"? They have an enormous, guaranteed cash flow that they use to finance political activity aimed towards growing the state workforce and expanding government in general. If that's not a powerful "special interest lobbying group," I don't know what is.


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