Sunday, January 2, 2011

Public-Sector Unions Feeling More Pain

U Today's New York Times has an extensive front-page article by Micahel Powell on the public antipathy toward public-sector unions:

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. In California, New York, Michigan and New Jersey, states where public unions wield much power and the culture historically tends to be pro-labor, even longtime liberal political leaders have demanded concessions — wage freezes, benefit cuts and tougher work rules.

It is an angry conversation. Union chiefs, who sometimes persuaded members to take pension sweeteners in lieu of raises, are loath to surrender ground. Taxpayers are split between those who want cuts and those who hope that rising tax receipts might bring easier choices.

And a growing cadre of political leaders and municipal finance experts argue that much of the edifice of municipal and state finance is jury-rigged and, without new revenue, perhaps unsustainable. Too many political leaders, they argue, acted too irresponsibly, failing to either raise taxes or cut spending.

A brutal reckoning awaits, they say.

This is bad news, and it's only going to get worse.  It's terribly unfortunate that unions are being scapegoated for politicians' past and present underfunding of pension and benefit accounts. 

For the entire article, see Public Workers Facing Outrage as Budget Crises Grow.

rb

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Comments

Of course, it might also have something to do with under/non-performance, particularly in the recent snow emergency in New York City.

Posted by: James Young | Jan 3, 2011 2:58:28 PM

Dear Rick,

I agree, this is just getting started. Time to whip up some good old fashioned labor bashing hatred under the guise of budget crunches and the economy.

Unfortunately, the challenge is not "merely" one of political rhetoric. The public sector pension crisis is part of a larger disaster in the making: The Boomer generation's lack of retirement readiness. I've written a couple of blog posts, with lots of links to articles, spelling out some of the disaster:

The press discovers the coming Boomer retirement crisis
http://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-press-discovers-the-coming-boomer-retirement-crisis/

When Boomers retire (or try to): America's coming train wreck
http://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/when-boomers-retire-or-try-to/

It's gonna get ugly and painful...

David

Posted by: David Yamada | Jan 3, 2011 8:16:20 PM

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