Organized Labor Battlefront Building In Illinois
By Rich Miller, December 27, 2010, Southwest Suburban News Herald
Organized labor is engaged in a furious multi-front legislative war in Illinois, and more skirmishes may be on the horizon. Trade and industrial unions are hoping to mitigate major damage from proposed workers compensation reforms. Teachers unions are trying to fend off what it considers to be some egregious education reforms. And public employee unions are warily eyeing a potential new battle against a well-known foe that their counterparts in other states have had to face in the recent past. Looking at the battlefield right now, you’d probably never know that the Democrats held onto power in last month’s elections. The same unions that pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into Senate campaigns are now fighting the very people they helped reelect just a few short weeks ago. (read article)

Union Rollback
Editorial, December, 27, 2010, Investors Business Daily
A guest on Fox Business Network said last week that public employee unions are bankrupting state governments. Isn’t it time that legislators outlaw collective bargaining for public-sector workers? Working for the government as a member of a union is an easy path to prosperity. (read article)

Local Governments Caught in Pension Traps
By Chris Stirewalt, December 24, 2010, FoxNews.com
In a harbinger of what lies ahead for cash-strapped states, communities across the country are seeing their budgets busted by unsustainable pension obligations. The New York Times on Wednesday profiled the town of Pritchard, Ala., where the local government has suspended its pension fund and cut off retirees. Pritchard, now facing a legal struggle and possible dissolution over the decision, will not be typical. More typical will be the communities across the nation that are jacking up property tax rates into the stratosphere. (read article)

Where Unions Are, Americans Aren’t
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth, December 23, 2010, RealClearMarkets
The American people have been voting with their feet, the Census Bureau announced on Tuesday, leaving states with heavy union influence and choosing to live in “right-to-work” states with higher job growth where they cannot be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. But the National Labor Relations Board, now dominated by Obama appointees, is deaf to the preferences of voting Americans. It wants to do everything in its administrative power to tilt the playing field towards unionization-even if it means higher unemployment and lost jobs. (read article)

Taking On Public Unions Isn’t Just a Jersey Thing
By Josh Barro, December 22, 2010, RealClearMarkets
This fall, South Park ran an episode called “It’s a Jersey Thing.” In the episode, South Park residents react with alarm as combative, deeply-tanned figures from Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives overrun their quaint mountain town. Come January, a real Jersey-style wave will wash over much of the Midwest. But unlike on television, this wave is likely to be welcomed by the locals. In November, Republicans gained control of all levers of government in four large Midwestern states: Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. And when the newly elected leaders there talk about how they plan to reform state government, they sound an awful lot like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), placing reforms to employee relations and compensation at the top of their agendas. (read article)

Pension Reform Efforts Hit a Wall
December 22, 2010, Fox News (watch video)

Labor Relations Board rule would promote union rights
The Associated Press, December 21, 2010, Las Vegas Sun
Most private employers would have to display posters informing workers about their right to form a union under a proposed federal rule that is bound to please unions and draw the ire of companies trying to resist labor organizers. The planned rule, announced Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board, would require businesses to post notices in employee break rooms or other prominent locations to explain a worker’s rights to bargain collectively, distribute union literature or engage in other union activities without reprisal. (read article)

House Republicans are ready for war against public sector unions
By David Weigel, December 21, 2010, Slate
In two weeks, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina will become the first chairman of the new House oversight subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs. In the meantime, he is thinking about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was on 60 Minutes this Sunday talking about the need to cut state spending and trim state employees and their pensions. (read article)

In Pleasantville, It’s Volunteers vs. Public Sector Unions
By Pete Peterson, December 21, 2010, City Journal
Sometimes the local government staff I have the great pleasure of working with say the darndest things.  Prior to giving a speech on civic participation for a group of city and county employees just north of San Francisco, I chatted with a county volunteer coordinator about her job. “It sounds like fascinating work,” I offered, “you must interact with a lot of different people on a variety of projects.” She responded affirmatively, “but,” as she demurred to a near whisper, “you have to be real careful that when you bring in a volunteer to help on certain jobs, that you don’t take work from unionized employees.” (read article)

Public servants feel sting of budget rancor
By Karen Tumulty and Ed O’Keefe, December 21, 2010, Washington Post
Here are two words you don’t hear much lately: public servant. More and more, when politicians talk about government employees – whether they are federal, state or local – it is with the kind of umbrage ordinarily aimed at Wall Street financiers and convenience store bandits. “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and the taxpayers who foot the bill are the have-nots,” Wisconsin’s incoming Republican Gov. Scott Walker declared this month, as he raised the idea of stripping state workers there of collective bargaining rights. (read article)

Is the grass greener for federal workers?
Politics Section, December 21, 2010, The Washington Post (view chart)

Alabama Governor Signs Bill Ending the Practice of Deducting Union Dues From Paychecks
By  Linda White, December 20, 2010, WVTM-TV
Governor Bob Riley signed what he called some of the strongest anti-corruption laws in the country. Take a look at what some them will do:  Ban the practice of secretly funneling money to political candidates, through political action commitees, called “pac to pac transfers.”  They also limit what lobbyists can spend on public officials and requires them to register and file disclosures. Now a week old, Senate Bill 2 is being double and triple-checked by the legal departments of the state’s teacher unions.  SB2 ends the practice of deducting union dues from paychecks.  The unions say it’s political payback.  Governor Riley calls it an end to financing political activity by special interest groups. (read article)

Unions Push Public Pay Out of Scale
By Lanny Ebenstein, December 20, 2010, Los Angeles Business Journal
There is little question that the compensation, benefits and pensions of public sector employees exceed those of many private sector workers. Whatever the standard, compensation that is commonplace for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in California is almost unheard of in the private sector. Consider, for example, the city of Los Angeles. Its memoranda of understanding with public employee bargaining units are posted on the city’s website. There are more than 80 types of clerical positions. The pay range for these is, on average, $43,600 to $53,200 per year. In general, after five years employment, a secretary will earn $53,200, well above what the private sector generally pays. (read article)

Experts weigh in on Alabama Ethics Reforms
By M.J. Ellington, December 19, 2010, Montgomery Bureau, Times Daily
Long after the newness settles on the package of ethics reform bills that passed the Legislature in the special session last week, analysts will still be assessing their impact. One political expert said two bills in the package will likely have the most visible effect. The two involve a bill banning government employee payroll deductions for organizations that engage in political activity, and a ban on transfers from one political action committee to another. (read article)

Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.com, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

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