In a process that is repeating itself nearly everywhere in the United States, public sector unions are being confronted by incoming Governors and state legislators who have correctly identified them as the principal cause of inefficiency, corruption, and looming insolvency. Alabama’s current Republican Governor Bob Riley has just signed game-changing anti-corruption legislation that will, among other things, prohibit state and local government payroll departments from withholding public sector union dues if any portion of those dues are used to fund political activities.
Alabama’s political landscape is changing. Like states throughout the south and midwest of the U.S., Alabama’s state legislature turned Republican in the Nov. 2010 elections. According to Ballotpedia, Alabama’s State Assembly has transitioned from a 60-43 Democrat majority to a 66-39 Republican majority. Similarly, Alabama’s State Senate has transitioned from a 20-15 Democrat majority to a 22-12 Republican majority. But Governor Riley signed legislation put forward by Alabama’s Democrat controlled lame-duck legislature. Apparently Alabama’s Democrats have decided they’ve had enough of public sector unions.
It’s easy to read too much into this. Alabama’s Democrats may simply be feeling the winds of change and, those of them who squeaked back into office or weren’t up for reelection this time, wanted to avoid the wrath of an awakened electorate. But legislation like this, coming from a Democratic-controlled state legislature, is a sign of the times. Right-sizing the political influence of public sector unions, and right-sizing the pay and benefits of unionized public sector workers, is a nonpartisan cause that is sweeping America.
For more on Alabama’s new legislation, read “Alabama Governor Signs Bill Ending the Practice of Deducting Union Dues From Paychecks,” by Linda White, December 20, 2010, WVTM-TV, or “Experts weigh in on Alabama Ethics Reforms,” by M.J. Ellington, December 19, 2010, Alabama Times Daily.