10.01.2008 0

Union Taking Over Government?

  • On: 10/13/2008 11:29:43
  • In: Big Labor
  • Is the Municipal and County Government Employee Organization taking over Montgomery County government in the State of Maryland?

    If a new proposal is enacted, union officials may wind up with more control over the county’s retirement system than ever.

    The proposal, which made it out of the county’s fiscal committee by a 2-1 vote, would expand union representation on the county’s retirement board, including making the Municipal and County Government Employee Organization’s president a permanent member of the board. Currently, out of 13 members, three represent union interests. Under the new proposal, two more would be added:

    “Taxpayers fund 87 percent of the county’s nearly $3 billion retirement system. Until 2004, the nine-member board had one union representative, one retiree representative, one nonunion employee representative, two public trustees with investment experience and four senior county managers.

    “Four years ago, then-County Executive Douglas M. Duncan agreed to add two more union members and two more public members for a total of 13 on the board.

    “If the fiscal committee’s recommendation is approved by the full council, the board would add two more union members and one more public member, for a total of 16.”

    The retirement board administers the county’s pension system, and since increasing union representation from one to three in 2004, the County Council’s staff director warned that the pension system has been losing money:

    “In a strongly worded memo to the council, staff director Steve Farber questioned the track record of union leaders as fiscal stewards and said they have shown divided loyalties and made decisions not in the ‘best interest of participants and beneficiaries.’

    “Farber, the longest-serving member of the board, said the union’s push to create a separate deferred compensation plan for its members in 2004 and the splitting of assets from nonunion members have led to higher fees and potentially lower account balances. Union leaders sought to break away from the county plan so they could have greater control over the tax-deferred retirement investments of their members.”

    Importantly, this move by the fiscal committee was opposed by the county’s retirement association, who believe that the union is becoming a part of the government:

    “Suzanne Hudson, president of the Montgomery County Retired Employees’ Association, said making the Municipal and County Government Employee Organization’s president an ex officio member would say ‘that they are a third arm of county government [emphasis added].’”

    That may be putting it mildly. Pension funds across the nation are becoming heavier portions of State and municipal budgets, and putting unions in charge of them would take yet more say away from the taxpayers who are forced to keep them funded. In effect, the unions are displacing the taxpayer and undermining their right to a representative form of government.

    In its place, what those tax dollars are spent on will be determined by the recipients of those dollars. That—regardless of the personalities involved—is always a dangerous combination.

    ALG Perspective: This is yet another example of union influence over politics and government increasing, not decreasing. As ALG News reported yesterday, the political machines that unions have developed are becoming increasingly effective at promoting their message to voters, and now today, you know that their lobbying wings are alive and well, too. And the politicians seem all too willing to go along with the wishes of Big Labor that provided them with big campaign donations when they ran for office.

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