Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unions and Courts: Harming Taxpayers?

The Atlantic--generally an excellent, unbiased magazine--posted commentary from a visiting writer that defended unions. I responded with the following comment:

The writer glosses over the long-term, unpredictable, and unsustainable financial obligations bargained for by government workers over the past 10 yrs--none of which would have been possible without unions and politicians in bed together, screwing taxpayers.

The UC system is planning on having its employees contribute just 5% of their salaries for a pension in 2013 while California taxpayers contribute 10%.
This is their idea of "reform"--a measly 5% savings rate for retirement benefits that might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more on the open annuity market. (See, Carolyn McMillan, "UC retiree benefit plans to change": "The changes approved require both UC and its employees to contribute more to the pension fund, with employees contributing 5 percent of pay to their pensions by July 2012 and UC contributing 10 percent.")

The problem with unions voting themselves higher benefits is the lack of usual checks and balances, which leads to corruption across all government branches. Even the court system has seemingly gotten into the act: "More than 100 new judgeships were added in the past decade, judicial pay increased almost 46 percent—to $178,789—and annual spending on trial court operations climbed to more than $3 billion."

"In 1998 the AOC's budget was about $77 million; last year it was $138.9 million—or if you include the court facilities budget, $320 million."

"The AOC's staffing has increased from 268 full-time employees in 1998 to 878 as of last March, and about a quarter of those workers are paid $100,000 a year or more."

"At the courts of appeal, for example, he says 46 percent of employees earn more than $100,000; the figure is 38 percent at the California Highway Patrol and 27 percent at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection." [California Lawyer, January 2011]


The judicial branch collaborating with politicians, who are themselves in bed with unions, especially unionized police officers, firefighters, and prison guards? Who will look out for the average taxpayer and small businessowner, I wonder?

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