Keefe: Government unions have always been a bad idea
I have a relative who is a school teacher. He told me his School District had a union for teachers but he didn’t feel they were effectively representing him and his fellow teachers. So, while he never joined the union, he was still required by law to pay “fair share” dues to the union. On their side, the unions did participate in collective bargaining and my relative got whatever benefits the union obtained for their dues-paying members.
If you aren’t sure, that was the issue presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in theirJanus ruling—could government workers who don’t join government unions still be required to support the unions with “fair share” dues payment? Last week, our highest Court ruled such workers can no longer be required to make such payments if they don’t want to be in the union.
What does this mean to our country and more specifically, the State of Illinois? Well, I personally consider it a good thing. In my personal view, government unions have always been a bad idea. Believe it or not, one of the first folks to notice this problem was President Franklin Roosevelt.It was President Franklin Roosevelt’s judgment “the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.” In private-sector bargaining, unions contest management concerning the distribution of companies’ profits. In the public sector, government gets its revenues from a third party — you and I as taxpayers.
Allowing government unions to thrive and grow makes for high government salaries and benefits, like the fake and unfundable pensions many former IL government workers receive and are already crushing State, County and local gov’t budgets. I also feel most gov’ts in this State are vastly overstaffed due in part to government unions—this also adds to costs and high taxes.
Here are a couple of thoughts about government unions in this State:
- Forbes reported more than 30,000 Illinois teachers and retirees receive over $100K a year in compensation at an annual and ever-rising cost of $3.7B to taxpayers. Please note these retirees are guaranteed 3% annual compound increases that will double then quadruple their retirement pay if they live long enough (someone said such retirees are on a “fixed income”—not when they get guaranteed annual increases!)
- Every day of every year, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has to deal with 7 government unions—that is for just one County Department. That means Cook County administration may have to deal with 50-100 or more government unions.
- All of these IL gov’t workers vote with consistency and with one thought in mind—keep my pay, healthcare and benefits! No one seems to care about taxpayers—we have the highest combined income, real estate and sales taxes in the U.S. As fewer and fewer normal citizens vote, the impact of the thousands of gov’t-workers-voting-to-keep-or-increase-benefits has completely skewed our State, County and local governments away from efficiency and effective governance to enriching government workers.
The defense team at KCB&A is sure there will be a decline in union membership following this ruling. Unions, like all entities, need money to operate, maintain and grow. The estimates I have seen indicate there may be 5.5 million workers who won’t have to continue to make “fair share” payments. That is a lot of money for gov’t unions to rapidly lose. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision inJanus continues the trend in the private sector, where more and more states have passed laws outlawing all forms of mandatory union dues. Currently, 28 States have laws that make it illegal to require workers to join a union or pay related fees as a condition of employment. But some of those state laws affect only the private sector. TheJanus ruling will financially challenge all public-sector unions in the remaining states that allowed compulsory fees. We are sure this decision will lead to a further decline in the percentage of the American workforce that is unionized.
I assure my readers lots of Claimant lawyers live off those millions paid to gov’t workers for work comp benefits. If you are familiar with IL State Gov’t’s and Chicago’s WC programs, you will note literally millions are spent and misspent in managing and mismanaging those defense programs.
– Eugene Keefe is a founding partner at Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC