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10.01.2008 0

Big Labor Denied

  • On: 10/21/2008 19:53:40
  • In: Big Labor

  • It appears that even in New York State there are limits to the reach of Big Labor.

    New York Governor David Paterson recently vetoed some 34 bills, many of which cater to the special interests of public employee unions at the expense of taxpayers. He did so in response to New York’s “worrisome fiscal outlook,” which finds the state deep in deficit, some $6.4 billion for the next fiscal year.

    According to the New York Post:

    “Among the bills he nixed was one to make it easier for cops and firefighters to collect disability for heart conditions, whether related to their on-duty service or not.

    “Another would’ve given State Police officers injured on the job, in the gov’s words, ‘the right to unlimited sick leave at full pay – [which] could last for decades.’

    “Such vetoes surely must disappoint labor groups – but they’re essential to maintaining Albany’s fiscal integrity (such as it is).”

    These types of taxpayer rip-offs demonstrate the extent of Big Labor’s overarching reach: The union bosses were able to get those bills through both houses of the state legislatures, and but for the veto of the governor, they would be well on their way to adding to New York’s fiscal woes. The reason behind the vetoes reveals the inherent disconnect between what the unions demand, and what is fiscally possible.

    Governor Paterson was left with a choice: sell out to the unions and break the bank—or keep the reckless expansion of government benefits in check. To quote the Post, “surely he did the right thing” by saying “no” to Big Labor.

    But he still has challenges ahead of him that again have the potential to place him at odds with the unions:

    “[A] better test of his commitment to fiscal austerity will be his response to yet another candy cane for the unions: a bill to bar state and local governments from trimming health benefits for public-sector retirees – no matter how badly they need to do so to balance their budgets.”

    This is where the rubber meets the road once again: unions don’t want their employees’ benefits cut under any circumstances, even if the state cannot afford to pay.

    The right prescription in this case is for the state to maintain flexibility in adjusting budget priorities when revenues slow down, and not to be weighted down with yet another unfunded mandate.

    In the manufacturing sector, Big Labor’s overarching reach bankrupted the major automobile industry, the steel industry, and countless smaller manufacturers. Mr. Paterson is wise to realize that the time has come to limit that reach. After all, it would be tough to outsource New York State.

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