Sweetheart Government/Union Deals are Costly to the Poor Taxpayer
The new Premier of British Columbia (Canada) has just announced a new Cabinet and some restructuring of responsibilities in government.
Christy Clark, Premier, has reduced Cabinet from 23 to 18 Ministers. Hopefully, that means LESS government, and LESS government spending.
We are in the midst of collective bargaining with the teachers’ union (BC Teachers’ Federation) and already the signals are threatening. It’s a tight financial state of affairs in BC. To the south of us we see some American states near bankruptcy and these provide cautionary tales for us to learn from.
The Wisconsin case is worth watching, for example, because it’s not just the decent salaries of public servants that are being examined, it’s their generous benefits and pensions that are under extreme scrutiny. The teachers, for example, have non-salary items amounting to over 43% of payoffs and these have been gained incrementally through collective bargaining.
The clash between the Governor and public service unions in Wisconsin is being seen as a faceoff between good guys and bad guys, depending on which side you are on. However, increasingly, people are seeing BOTH sides as BAD GUYS. See Mar 13, 2011, Cartoon by Michael Ramirez.
In BC the sorry state of teacher bargaining has been the subject of considerable comment and hand-wringing for the last 40 years. When a historian reports that the BCTF “functioned, more or less, as the government’s ‘unofficial opposition’ in all matters educational, regardless of which party was in power” that says something about the “cozy” relationship, hinging on “collusion” between the two so-called sparring partners.
Please read Thomas Fleming’s article: “Decline and Fall of the BC Ministry of Education 1972-1996”, especially the section, Teacher Power. “Through the help of the Teachers Political Action Committee (TPAC) the NDP for the first time in BC swept into power in 1972 …The BCTF executive was by now firmly in the hands of militants, notably supporters of the ‘radical Marxist’ Jim MacFarlan, to use historian F.Henry Johnson’s description.” http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/454/611
To me, all this tussle is similar to show wrestling – not a real contest. Whatever concessions are lost or gained in these periodic “collective bargaining” shows are concessions for the sake of peace and harmony and not in aid of the public interest, the students’ interest, nor the interest of the taxpayer.
This Ramirez cartoon applies equally to BC as it does to Wisconsin!