Wisconsin public unions…it’s all about the money

This morning Jim read from an article about public unions, and their “contribution” to our country.  In case you missed the show, or, would like to read the full article, here is the link.  What follows are some of the highlights, or perhaps lowlights, which will explain graphically why you are seeing the show down in Wisconsin, and perhaps, a showdown in a state near you.

Indeed, public-sector unions especially have become the nation’s most aggressive advocates for higher taxes and spending… they mount multimillion dollar campaigns to defeat efforts by governors and taxpayer groups to roll back taxes.

Why?  To pay for the salaries, benefits and pensions of public employees.

In Oregon last year, the voters approved ballot measures that increased taxes by $727 million.

Led by $2 million from the Oregon Education Association and $1.8 million from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), unions contributed an estimated 75% of the nearly $7 million raised to promote the tax increases… [emphasis supplied].

In Washington state last year, an effort was made to raise taxes by $2 billion by increasing taxes on those making more than $200,000 per year.  Although the measure was defeated,

state and national SEIU locals gave $2.5 million, while the National Education Association and Washington teachers union locals contributed $900,000 to the $6 million campaign for the new income tax. [emphasis supplied]

In New Jersey,

[t]he New Jersey Education Association collects about $100 million a year in dues from its 203,000 members; last spring the union spent $300,000 a week, according to the head of the union, for radio ads urging tax increases on the rich instead of budget cuts. [emphasis supplied]

And, on the national level,

 the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Afscme) has been the third-biggest contributor to federal campaigns over the past 20 years, having given $43 million. The National Education Association is number eight with $31 million in contributions, while the SEIU—half of whose 2.2 million members are government workers—is No. 10, with $29 million in campaign donations. [emphasis supplied]

Where did that money go, you ask?

…[S]ome 95% of government workers’ donations has gone to the Democratic Party, whose members are far more likely to favor raising taxes and boosting spending than are members of the Republican Party.

So, the next time you see a teacher protesting in Wisconsin, or hear an ad extolling the virtues of raising taxes on the rich, understand that it has nothing to do with the children, or the needy, or the sick.  It is solely about raising the money to continue to pay the bloated salaries, benefits and pensions of government union employees.

Don’t believe that last statement?  According to a chart in the print version of this article, per the Department of Labor, on average, private workers are paid $19.68 per hour, state and local government workers, $26.25; 74% of private workers have retirement benefits, while 99% of state and local workers do; 86% of private workers have medical benefits, while 99% of state and local workers do; and private workers pay 20% of their insurance premiums, while state and local workers pay 11%.

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. GdavidH on February 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    “Most” people that I know or have contact with are like me, except still employed (although almost everyone I used to work with are now also unemployed). My generous benefits, generous compared to my wifes’ benefits, included:

    50% of my high deductable?HMO health insurance paid by me. When I was layed off and went on COBRA (which has now expired), my monthly payment went down due to the 65% ARRA subsidy. Thanks everyone, I really did apreciate that.

    My pension cosisted of a 401K that my employer would contribute a sum equal to 6% of my contribution up to 6% of my pay.

    10 days vacation per year, no sick days.

    I was lucky enough to get a raise almost every year based on performance of course, usually about 4%.?No bonuses, no C.O.L.A. My wife has not had a raise in about 7 years. We are thankful she has a job. The manufacturing company she works for has to compete in the real world.
    Oh and by the way….about workers “rights”. When I was laid off after 17 years, I had the right to get my stuff and leave. I know the Unions have helped their constituents immensely, but it’s time to STFU and participate.

  2. Fair Share on February 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I think people should?begin referring to?the contributions Democrat lawmakers?receive from?public sector employees as what they are, kickbacks.? What elses would you call it when party A (Democrat polititions)?overpay for the services of?party B (public sector unions)?and in return party B gives part of that overpayment back to party?A in the form of campaign contributions?

  3. concernedat18 on February 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Yes, Wisconsin is about busting the unions. What people don’t understand is that the unions are one of the problems, the deficit is just a symptom. They demand unfair wages and benefits from the taxpayers and have too much power. It’s time to bust and figuratively the unions.

  4. PatRiot on February 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    As time?goes by, the more truth comes out and the taxpayers will see how much better the public servants live.? Then the real protests will start – and rightfully so.
    I’m fed up with the goings on here in CT !? If I lived in Wisconsin I would be livid !!?- My child not being taught while teachers are being paid for protesting.??Politicians being paid while in hiding – hardly approriate for their constituents -?and?juvenile, at best.? If the Dems were doing their job, they would be there fighting for the best deal they could get for the taxpaying public.? BUT NOOOO? let’s hold our breath and throw a tantrum.?
    And if nothing is done by the end of the week, these idiots will cost the Wisconsin taxpayers another 165 million because the debt will not be refinanced.?
    “There’s your sign” that its about power and money – taxpayer be damned.

  5. winnie888 on February 23, 2011 at 8:03 am

    What these public sector unions do, with the help of democrat politicians (bought and paid for by unions) is nothing short of extortion when it comes to taxpayer dollars.? The two groups (p.s. unions and democrats) are going to find themselves needing to do some serious p.r. very, very soon.? Their “image” has been tarnished badly by what is going on in WI, and people are becoming more educated as to how these parasites are gaming the system.?? I look at the benefits guaranteed through p.s. union/government codependency as merely another form of welfare.

  6. Cliff G on February 23, 2011 at 10:15 am

    All of this is political ideology inspired by adherence to Corporate political dominance of our free and democratic public institutions.? Jim said this morning that the private sector is “spreading”.? Are you kidding me?? The private sector has grown so much?already that it’s fingerprints are on every action that governments take.? Who’s behind what is happening in Republican controlled states?? Give me a break! And now your working against unions because they might bring higher taxes to preserve necessary public services.

    You’re for the Founders and the Constitution they created?? While destroying the public institutions and checks and balances they create?? The powerful interests groups you represent are an abomination?on the just Republic the Founders created.? But beware, because power corrupts and abolute power corrupts absolutely; and you won’t fool the American public forever.

  7. andy@american on February 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

    What the public sector union employees do not seem to get is that without us, the regular tax paying folk, their gravytrain stops.? All they know is that the checks just keep coming, no matter how bad or good the economy is.?

  8. Law-AbidingCitizen on February 23, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    The above is so true. I have been there and done that. I retired after 25 years as a teacher, yes, a teacher. I loved teaching but the truth was from the union’s perspective, “yeah, it’s a job, but ‘show me the money.'”
    It was always about money. AND, the union always wanted more and more from its members. (The individual Union representatives, not the ones from within my building, ALWAYS had a nicer car,a better suit, had just been on a better vacation (what’s that?) then any of the REGULAR members. And, they EXPECTED IT! That was the galling thing about all of it.)
    The government is the private sector. AND, its all about the money!!! I had one Union Official tell me that it was just a way of “keeping score!” The kids were just a means to an end. Burns me up!
    God Bless Wisconsin. Those people are going to need every blessing, every break that they can get!

  9. Dimsdale on February 23, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    “Sharing the pain” and “fairness” only apply to the private sector.

  10. Dimsdale on February 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Why are all these teachers scurrying around for tax funded crumbs if their union bosses can dump money on politicians to the tune of $43 million, $31 million$29 million etc?…..


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