Since the days of Jimmy Hoffa, America has struggled to manage its relationship with Labor Unions. After nearly 40 years, the FBI is now searching beneath a suburban Detroit residence for the body of the former Teamster’s president who had disappeared after Nixon pardoned him 5 years into a 13-year prison sentence for bribery and fraud. Hoffa’s legacy was a general distrust of Unions due to charges of corruption and his links to organized crime.
As the FBI drills for the body, the NFL finally bows to massive fan outrage and media pressure agreeing to end their lockout of Officials, bringing an end to the hated “replacement refs.” The issue came to a head Monday night when one ref signaled an interception and the other a touchdown on the last play of the Green Bay Packers-Seattle game. Awarding the Seahawks a game-winning touchdown in a state of total confusion showed clearly the issues that can arise when replacing strikers with unqualified fill-ins. Clearly not all “refs” are created equal.
On the other hand, Public Employees Unions are not faring so well in the court of American opinion. In Wisconsin, the move to restore fiscal responsibility by limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees is supported by 55% of voters, contributing to the failure of the labor-backed recall election. The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 was an obvious response to labor bosses’ apparent failure to grasp the reality of the economic impact of recession induced job losses on the ability of state and local governments to continue funding at the same levels. As unemployment rises and property values fall, it’s not reasonable for public employees to expect taxpayers to continue funding their every demand. Even taxpayers still employed are finding benefits, pensions and sometimes even pay rates cut. Why should public employees consider themselves exempt from these harsh laws of economics?
Chicago, under Democrat Rahm Emanuel, didn’t come out so well in its recent conflict with striking teachers, who had the audacity to demand a 30% pay raise and less accountability for results. Teachers received a 17.6% pay raise, no increase in insurance and less than 30% of evaluation based on student test scores. It appears teachers deserve an F on basic math. They claim to be worried about job losses, closure of underperforming schools and program cuts, but fail to see that continuing to demand more pay with no penalties for non-performance can only lead to more failing schools, more cuts in non-conventional programs and more layoffs as public coffers run dry. In this round, the Chicago taxpayer is left holding the hot potato.