Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Do the Unions' Dirty Work

Speaking of Michael Costello, here is his column from the Tribune yesterday. I changed the title to what Michael chose, as the Tribune's version is not nearly as good.
I have heard it said that I don’t have much nice to say about Democrats. Well, I have this to say about Washington’s Democrats. At least no one in the legislature has yet introduced a bill banning the deployment of space-based mind control weapons, as U.S. Congressman (D-Ohio) and former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich did. Nevertheless, the Democrats have felt sufficiently invigorated by the majority they won last November to embark upon an unmistakably Democratic course. And, in this state, that means handing their puppet strings to the unions.

Only about 1 of every 8 wage and salaried workers in this country belongs to a union. The only union sector that is still growing is the public employees sector, where the rate of union membership is about 37%. More and more, private sector employees are choosing to remain non-union and non-unionize industries tend to perform better than unionized and so grow faster. But when people exercising their freedom of choice fail to choose as the union goons believe they should, the unions yank on their puppets’ strings and invoke the coercive power of government.

Governor Gregoire knows full well that she owes her current job to the unions, and in particular to the teachers’ union. Had the unions not repaid her for subverting a Washington state initiative that forbade unions from using union dues for partisan political purposes, then she would just be another out-of-work ex-attorney general. I can just imagine her standing on street corner somewhere holding up a hand lettered cardboard sign reading: “Will undermine the will of the people for food.” But, it didn’t turn out that way.

Her contribution to union goonery, was rewarded with the governorship. To gain that assistance, she used her previous office to eviscerate Initiative 134, a law that was passed by 72% of the voters in 1992. This law prevented unions from using union dues for politics. The teachers’ union persisted in supporting Democrats with union dues and was sued by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Christine Gregoire and the Public Disclosure Commission formulated rules that allowed the unions to take and spend its members’ money as long as it was passed through some sort of intermediary account before being deposited in her and her party’s campaign coffers.

This did not end the legal wrangling and the case of dissenting teachers is now before the United States Supreme Court. The unions and the Democrats are not optimistic about their prospects and are now pushing a preemptive law that would erode the final workers’ protections granted by the voters 15 years ago. So, even if the court restores a bit of financial liberty to Washington’s union members, the legislature is preemptively planning to take it away.

And, the unions are also directing their marionettes to regulate non-union shops into oblivion. And, of companies whose employees elect to remain non-union, Wal-Mart predictably stands as the biggest and juiciest target. The unions have selected about 30 states, including Washington, for their scheme to force large employers to purchase health care insurance for their employees. Washington’s law is modeled after a similar one, which was recently struck down by the courts in Maryland. The law would force large employers to spend an additional 9% of their payroll purchasing health insurance. And if they don’t, they have to give the difference to the state government.

Contrary to the popular wisdom, Wal-Mart does offer its employees health insurance. Wal-Mart’s sin is that its insurance plan is voluntary. Employees may purchase low cost health insurance through the company and/or deposit money, with Wal-Mart matching the contribution, into a medical saving account. That’s actually a pretty good deal. Most of Wal-Mart’s employees are young and their jobs are entry level. For people in this demographic, health insurance may not be a good gamble. Most people within that age group do not require as much medical care as health insurance costs. Their choice not to purchase health insurance can actually be defended as economically sound.

But unions, and by extension, Democrats, do not wish to grant Wal-Mart employees this freedom. Their plan is to make health insurance mandatory. The result will inevitably be less take-home pay for Wal-Mart employees, fewer employees and higher prices for everyone else.

Space based mind control maybe be out. But centrally planned economic control is definitely in.
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