‘Public unions have had no natural adversary’

Just cut my head off now:

Fred Siegel, a historian at the conservative-leaning Manhattan Institute, has written of the “New Tammany Hall,” which he describes as the incestuous alliance between public officials and labor.

“Public unions have had no natural adversary; they give politicians political support and get good contracts back,” Mr. Siegel said. “It’s uniquely dysfunctional.”

Even if that is so, this battle comes woven with complications. Across the nation in the last two years, public workers have experienced furloughs and pay cuts. Local governments shed 212,000 jobs last year.

A raft of recent studies found that public salaries, even with benefits included, are equivalent to or lag slightly behind those of private sector workers. The Manhattan Institute, which is not terribly sympathetic to unions, studied New Jersey and concluded that teachers earned wages roughly comparable to people in the private sector with a similar education.

Benefits tend to be the sorest point. From Illinois to New Jersey, politicians have refused to pay into pension funds, creating deeper and deeper shortfalls.

Yes. Public unions have no natural adversary. Except for ALL REPUBLICANS EVER.

The whole story is basically about how people are mad at unions for not getting screwed, which this bit I’ve bolded then demonstrates is a construct of Republican propaganda and not remotely the case. So basically the entire story could have been framed (and could have lead with) conservative bogeymen as usual not existing in the slightest, and maybe it’s time for these smear merchants to sit down and shut up.

Instead, it lead with this:

Across the nation, a rising irritation with public employee unions is palpable, as a wounded economy has blown gaping holes in state, city and town budgets, and revealed that some public pension funds dangle perilously close to bankruptcy.

Yeah. A rising irritation is palpable. Isn’t it?

via Atrios.


13 thoughts on “‘Public unions have had no natural adversary’

  1. I read that first thing this morning. I shouldn’t have. A whole day gone to whiskey.
    I can’t believe that bullshit hit piece was in the NYT as opposed to the WSJ op-ed page.
    Fucking cunts. And it’s written by A GODDAMNED UNIONIZED MOTHERFUCKING JOURNALIST, who just can’t be bothered to present anything besides anti-union talking points until almost the end of the article.

  2. There is an underlying point, but the author didn’t find it. Officials have supported Union benefits in the past because it justifies increasing their own benefits. After all, if the Street and Park employees obtain a good health care package, the Assistant City Manager deserves at least that same health plan or maybe even better. If the City sanitation worker gets $20 an hour, then the Mayor’s assistant secretary deserves $25. But now that the public Unions have served their purpose and they have feathered our own nest, fuck em.
    Of course, this isn’t limited to public Unions. The managers at GM got good benefits over the years after the Unions fought for those benefits for their members. Once a wrench jockey gets a benefit, how can you deny that same benefit to management? On and on.

  3. Prediction: The 2012 election will be fought almost entirely on the war-on-public-employees front.
    GOP R&D has finally found a message they think will work:
    * It’s bi-partisan — you can even find threads on liberal sites vilifying public-sector workers, and especially their retirement provisions
    * It’s not (overtly) racist — but we know who those public-sector workers mostly are, right?
    * Its appeal is not restricted to the Confederacy and the West.
    * It’s not overtly religious.
    Crab-bucket syndrome — “If my job sucks, yours has to, too. If I lose my job, you have to lose yours, too” –is a winning platform in tough times, especially in a country whose favorite white meat isn’t chicken, it’s scapegoat.

  4. Well sure, that’s totally true… except maybe for employers, and governments, and banks, and corporations, and the rich. But other than that, nope, none at all.

  5. I used to work for a state govt. I still cringe at the repeated accusations of how govt employees are lazy and do nothing and haven’t earned their salaries (much less their pensions) etc. etc.
    And oddly enough, one of the constants are the legislature claiming that the state employees are giving away everything from the state to get a private enterprise or consulting job. Usually said as the said politicians are retiring to a cushy private / consulting job.

  6. I have to comment on Brenda’s comment: That is a load of pure bull. Unions would never have existed if employers were willing to provide a living wage to their employees, along with humane working conditions, reasonable hours, and a vacation. Unions still exist for that same reason, only now, since St. Reagan eviscerated them, there are far too few unions. The result has been an accelerating movement of all wealth to the top 0.1% of the wealthy.
    Workers are earning less now than they did 10 years ago, with very little job security, vanishing pensions, ever increasing health care costs, ever increasing college costs, etc. Is that your desired state of being?

  7. All part of the program to dissolve the last century’s gains for workers, destroy the New Deal and to get all things governmental privatized.
    That’s the `Murrican Way, y’know. Or it was during the Gilded Age.
    Maybe when the average American is back to working 70 hours a week for twelve cents an hour and no overtime, alongside of his nine-year-old kid (who’s working for four cents an hour), he’ll figure out that he aided and abetted the rich in destroying his way of life.
    Or, maybe not.

  8. “Halliburton has no natural adversary. You pledge political support and get good contracts back. It is uniquely dysfunctional.”
    “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has no natural adversary. You pledge political support and get good contracts back. It is uniquely dysfunctional.”
    You get the idea.

  9. Yes this is the next great battle: remember the 60 Minutes interview with Chris Christie about the looming crisis of municipalities defaulting on their bonds? Christie painted it as a problem with public pensions. 60 Minutes never once mentioned all of the times Christie and Republicans like Christie Todd Whitman didn’t contribute the state’s share to the public pension fund, basically “starving” the “beast” that is public employee’s retirement … negotiated and AGREED TO by previous administrations. This is BAD FAITH.
    Well, it’s hard to look at all of these stories in the press and not wonder if it’s a coordianted campaign by some right wing lobbyist/PR firm. I’d betcha dollars to donuts that it is.

  10. @Southern Beale – can there be any doubt? Nothing spread across the media spectrum like that UNLESS its been bought and paid for. My guess is that the Banksters think they can displace rightful rage off of them and onto public sector employees. And, given their untaxed billions, they’re right. They can.
    Yep, we’re a Confederacy of Dunces. Made that way. By ourselves.

  11. The new (old) incoming Republican governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, has always had a hard-on for fighting with state employees, and it’s about to become a prefect storm with his predilections and the national scapegoating. As I’m a Board of Regents university employee, the next year or two is going to be infuriating.
    God help him or his cronies if they call me for computer support.

  12. Davis X. Machina saidIt’s not (overtly) racist — but we know who those public-sector workers mostly are, right?
    So true. You can see the change in who is the union member now — look at NYC’s MTA. Once it was largely/mostly Irish and now there is a large number who are African-American. I think this change holds across various types of unions and jobs.

Comments are closed.