Recent reports on union activity from around the web through Oct. 12, 2010:

The Paralysis of the State
By David Brooks, New York Times, October 12, 2010
Sometimes a local issue perfectly illuminates a larger national problem. Such is the case with the opposition of the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, to construction of a new tunnel between his state and New York. Christie argues that a state that is currently facing multibillion-dollar annual deficits cannot afford a huge new spending project that is already looking to be $5 billion overbudget. His critics argue that this tunnel is exactly the sort of infrastructure project that New Jersey needs if it’s to prosper in the decades ahead. Both sides are right. But what nobody seems to be asking is: Why are important projects now unaffordable… (read article)

The Trouble with Public Sector Unions
By Daniel DiSalvo, National Affairs Magazine, Fall 2010 Issue
When Chris Christie became New Jersey’s governor in January, he wasted no time in identifying the chief perpetrators of his state’s fiscal catastrophe. Facing a nearly $11 billion budget gap — as well as voters fed up with the sky-high taxes imposed on them to finance the state government’s profligacy — Christie moved swiftly to take on the unions representing New Jersey’s roughly 400,000 public employees. On his first day in office, the governor signed an executive order preventing state-workers’ unions from making political contributions… (read article)

San Francisco’s unions are fighting a ballot measure that could rewrite the political rule book
Editorial, Investor’s Business Daily, October 8, 2010
Public employees have long called the shots in California’s most union-friendly town. But now they’re fighting a ballot measure that could rewrite the political rule book. A taxpayer backlash against the high cost of public pay and benefits is brewing all over the country, but there’s something uniquely dramatic about what’s happening right now in San Francisco. It’s not a partisan battle or a liberal-conservative thing. It’s a battle within liberal ranks… (read article)

Labor costs hamstring San Diego area local governments
By Lani Lutar, San Diego Union-Tribune, October 7, 2010
Local governments like the city of San Diego provide public services that individuals cannot reasonably provide for themselves. Taxpayers expect their elected representatives to be prudent stewards of the funding they provide. Taxpayers want services to be efficient and effective while maximizing the best value for the cost. Governments have traditionally found ways other than high wages to attract employees. For generations, it had been generally accepted that public employees earned less than private-sector employees in exchange for better benefits and job security. This has changed dramatically… (read article)

A cautionary tale about California’s budget-busting public-sector unions
By Steven Malanga, October 6, 2010, Washington Examiner
A camera focuses on an official of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California’s largest public employees’ union, sitting in a legislative chamber and speaking into a microphone. “We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory,” she says to the elected officials outside the shot. “Come November, if you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out of office.” The video has become a sensation among California taxpayer groups for its vivid depiction of the audacious power that public-sector unions wield in their state… (read article)

Are Costa Mesa’s Police and Fire Unions Tone Deaf, Greedy or Ignorant of the Facts?
By Eric Bever and John Moorlach, Daily Pilot, October 6, 2010
The Orange County Register’s Watchdog column recently stated that, based on the State Auditor Controller’s report, every city in Orange County generated a profit, except for one: Costa Mesa. “Facts are stubborn things,” the saying goes. Fiscally speaking, these are the bleakest of times. And the city’s public safety employee unions are demanding concessions at Costa Mesa’s weakest moment. Are our police and fire unions tone deaf, greedy or ignorant of the facts… (read article)

California, There It Went
By Jennifer Rubin, Commentary Magazine, October 2010 Issue
More than 40 years later, I still remember the bright sun and the palm trees when we got off the plane. California in 1968 was a magical place, a magnet for those seeking new opportunities or to lose an old identity. The Golden State was allowing the rich to get richer and the middle class to live out the American dream in its pristine state. The public schools and expanding state-university system (two separate systems, in fact) were the envy of the nation. The corruption and Mob influence that had paralyzed many eastern and midwestern states and cities were largely absent… (read article)

How to Save California: Outlaw Public Employee Unions
By John Yoo, October 1, 2010, Ricochet
Like everyone else in California, I’m dismayed at the state of the state. The massive budget deficit, high taxes and runaway government spending, spreading unemployment, a hostile business climate, and unfunded future pensions are ruining a state that has every natural gift and advantage in resources, both human and natural. Everyone seems to agree that the way the state government works has a lot to do with these problems, but no one is sure how to fix it… (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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