Public unions: How strong is their influence?

By Cate Long
April 19, 2013

Recently I participated in a podcast for the non-profit Freedom Works. One of the topics was how much influence public unions have on federal, state and local politicians. I said that I had not seen academic studies, but my own belief is that their over-sized political influence has allowed them to increase wages, benefits and advantages for public workers. It doesn’t look all that different from how corporations and Wall Street buy political influence through elections and legislation.

Will Wisconsin’s merit pay for public employees change the system?

By Cate Long
April 9, 2013

In a wildly contentious move in 2011, the Wisconsin legislature voted to end union rights for public workers. Those union rights established pay rates and employment conditions via collective bargaining agreements for most government workers. The new law also ended the deduction for union dues from employee salaries. The Wisconsin State Journal reports how merit raises have replaced automatic annual pay raises:

Chicago teachers could strike over longer school days

By Cate Long
September 4, 2012

Big trouble is brewing in Chicago, the nation’s second-largest school district, as negotiations between the city and teacher representatives moves closer to a strike deadline on September 10. Chicago teachers have filed a strike notice that, if acted on, would be their first strike since 1987. The main disagreement between the teachers and the city is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to lengthen both the school day and the year. The district is offering teachers an eight percent raise over four years, and it wants to form a committee to create a new pay system.

Rising personnel costs are weighing down cities

By Cate Long
July 26, 2012

Bloomberg’s Romy Varghese wrote an excellent piece about escalating wages and pension costs for public safety workers that mirrors much of what I’ve been writing about several bankrupt California cities. As municipal revenues slowly inch up, mandated wage and pension increases have been ravaging budgets:

Did the police and fire departments sink Stockton?

By Cate Long
July 11, 2012

How does a bankrupt city pay its public safety workers twice the median household income of the area’s residents? More important, why haven’t the city manager and council stopped this wage bonanza?