Union vs. Union: Public Employee Unions Win Big

Right From the Start

It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about,”  Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV)

In a recent Associated Press article by Tom Raum, the writer noted:

“Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They’re starting to get it – by default.

“Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have she over half-a-million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And., after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is not cutting them, as well.”

So how is Oregon doing after twenty-five years of Democrat administrations and Democrat dominated legislatures?

From the beginning of the economic downturn in December of 2007 to its nadir in December of 2009, Oregon lost 152,000 private sector jobs – a 10.5% decrease. During that same period of time, Oregon state government under the control of the Democrat Party, added 4,300 state public employee jobs – a 5.7% increase. Since that bottom, the private sector has added back 40,000 jobs – a 3% increase but less than one-third of the jobs lost. And Oregon state government has added yet another 1,000 state public employee jobs – bringing the total increase to 7.1%.

So while Mr. Reid wrings his hands about the plight of the public employee unions on a national basis, he should be comforted by the fact that the Oregon Democrat Party is doing its part in maintaining a healthy growth in state public employee jobs. It’s A-OK here Harry.

But here’s the rub. The three sectors of private employment that have the most union members with the best pay got hit harder and have recovered less than any other sector of Oregon’s job market – particularly when compared to the growth in the public employee sector.

In the Construction sector, Oregon lost 51,600 or 50% of those skilled jobs from December 2007 through December 2009. Since that time that sector has recovered 600 jobs – about 1% of the jobs lost. In the Manufacturing sector, Oregon lost 40,200 jobs in that same period and since recovered only 5600 – less 14% of those lost. And in the Trade and Transportation Sector, 35,800 jobs were lost and only 4,000 have been recovered – less 12% of those lost.

Trade union jobs in the private sector appear to have recovered at less than one-third of the rate of the rest of the private sector and, when compared to the increase in the public employee sector, pale in comparison.

It is generally conceded, even by The Oregonian that the average cost of a public employee is about $80,000 per year. The 5,300 state public employee jobs have increased the tax burden on Oregon’s economy by $424,000,000 and that doesn’t include the five raises (at least) and the increased cost of PERS and healthcare benefits for the other 74,800 state government employees. $424 Million on a recurring annual basis removed from Oregon’s productive economy. $424 Million that could have been deployed by the private sector to sustain or grow business with the attendant private sector job creation.

And the final insult comes from Gov. Kitzhaber who campaigned on the predicate that only he was positioned to deal effectively with Oregon’s public employee unions and thus rein in government spending. The result of Gov. Kitzhaber’s efforts has been a $35 Million budget overrun by caving in to union demands for salary and benefit increases. That’s $35 Million that will be drawn out of other portions of the state budget – schools, financial and medical assistance for the poor and the elderly, and the justice system.

Oregon state government under three decades of Democrat control has abandoned serving the people of Oregon – including the private sector working class – in favor of serving Oregon’s public employee unions. When you listen to comments like Mr. Reid’s on a national basis, you can see where the Democrat Party is trying to steer the country.

 

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Economy, Gov. Kitzhaber, Oregon Government, Public Employee Unions, State Budget, Uncategorized | 50 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bosstweed

    These public union members need living wages and John is not to be criticized for giving them such. They are hard working people who care about the state and who work tirelessly to give us the services we so depend on for our very lives.
    Enough union bashing. We are people too and can’t be blamed for everything. Our wages are not that great you know, which is the trade we make for having sterling benefits and retirement.

    • Chief Yellowhorse

      Most state employees are nothing but parasites, it take 5 to do the job of one in the real world, States have always complained about there budgets, and most of the processes that state worker do can and should be automated. If you walk into any government office there is one person working and 5 standing around bs ing. most government workers are paid about 20 – 30% more than the private sector. We need to stop the insanity of getting more government workers. downsize by about 50%.  

      • 3H

        Really?  5?   LOL.   Have a source for “most government workers are paid 20 – 30% more than the private sector.”?

      • 3H

        Really?  5?   LOL.   Have a source for “most government workers are paid 20 – 30% more than the private sector.”?

      • 3H

        Really?  5?   LOL.   Have a source for “most government workers are paid 20 – 30% more than the private sector.”?

    • Marvin McConoughey

      I’ve never known anyone who worked tirelessly.  Superman, perhaps?  I do agree that everyone needs a living wage, which I define as sufficient calories to sustain life and sufficient clothing and shelter to survive whatever climate one lives in.  Let’s be honest.  What most of us, even our official poverty class, have as income far surpasses the bare existence that the poorest billion of the world’s seven billion live on.

  • Bob Clark

    What’s sinister is when pressing their ever insatiable demands for more, public union employees use their huge war chest of funds to spin the media message they are just like all other union brethren; and yet as this article reveals, private and public unions do not share the same outcome when times are bad.  Most public employees get job security of the highest degree available while private sector union employees don’t have such job security.  Now with the steady onslaught of automation in factories and other endeavors, private union employees don’t even have much of an advantage, if any, with respect to wages (they definitely don’t have an advantage concerning benefits).

  • valley person

    ” So how is Oregon doing after twenty-five years of Democrat administrations and Democrat dominated legislatures?”

    The Republican party had majority control of one or more chambers for at least half of those years Larry. you also managed to pass several initiatives limiting taxes. So share the credit and the blame.

    The commercial construction sector is unionized, but the residential construction sector is not. And the latter is where most of the layoffs have been. The timber industry is heavily unionized, and was hit hard by the housing crash.

    The tax burden on Oregonians has not increased except for Measures 66 and 67, which only impacted a handful of us.

    • Libs in Corvallis Suck

      Still drinking the DNC Koolaid aren’t you putz? By the way, your math sucks. Democrats have all but run this state for 20+ years. The simple majority in one house of the State Legislature means nothing when you have Democrats setting the agenda all the time. And a Governor with a veto pen in hand.

    • Dean Apostile:  The timber industry is heavily unionized, and was hit hard by the housing crash.
      JK: NO, it was hit first by the greenie’s fraudulent lawsuits and pseudo science that shut down much of the Northwest’s timber industry.

      How quickly the guilty forget.

      Thanks
      JK

      • valley person

        Since the greenies won virtually every lawsuit they filed, they clearly were not fraudulent suits. And since they relied on peer reviewed, published science to make their case,  it was hardly pseudo.

        What is fraudulent and pseudo Jim, is your own qualifications to pass judgment on science.

  • 3H

    What about the significant losses of public sector jobs at the local level?   If I remember correctly, while the private sector gained jobs, the unemployment rate remained flat because of losses in local government.  I guess those just don’t make your radar, do they?   

    And, as those state employees were getting raises, how many of them had to take furlough days?  And, please, don’t repeat that lie that they could take vacation or sick time.  

  • dee

    great read by Michael Lewis,  California and Bust

    http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2011/11/michael-lewis-201111?mobify=0#gotopage7

    “It’s late afternoon when I meet Mayor Chuck Reed in his office at the
    top of the city-hall tower. The crowd below has just begun to chant. The
    public employees, as usual, are protesting him. Reed is so used to it
    that he hardly notices. He’s a former air-force officer and Vietnam-era
    veteran with an intellectual bent and the clipped manner of a midwestern
    farmer. He has a master’s degree from Princeton, a law degree from
    Stanford, and a lifelong interest in public policy. Still, he presents
    less as the mayor of a big city in California than as a hard-bitten,
    upstanding sheriff of a small town who doesn’t want any trouble. Elected
    to the city council in 2000, he became mayor six years later; in 2010
    he was re-elected with 77 percent of the vote. He’s a Democrat, but at
    this point it doesn’t much matter which party he belongs to, or what his
    ideological leanings are, or for that matter how popular he is with the
    people of San Jose. He’s got a problem so big that it overwhelms
    ordinary politics: the city owes so much more money to its employees
    than it can afford to pay that it could cut its debts in half and still
    wind up broke. “I did a calculation of cost per public employee,” he
    says as we settle in. “We’re not as bad as Greece, I don’t think.”

    The problem, he explains, pre-dates the most recent financial crisis.
    “Hell, I was here. I know how it started. It started in the 1990s with
    the Internet boom. We live near rich people, so we thought we were
    rich.” San Jose’s budget, like the budget of any city, turns on the pay
    of public-safety workers: the police and firefighters now eat 75 percent
    of all discretionary spending.”

  • HBguy

    Sort of off topic but…

    I believe that unionization was a critical historical event in the rise of the middle class. That being said, public employee unions don’t deserve the same status as private unions. Private unions don’t have the opportunity to vote their bosses in or out of their jobs. Private unions don’t use their member dues to run ads against their companies in an effort to force shareholders to change management. (I guess they could, but I don’t think they do). And private unions, because they work in a competitive marketplace, have in interest in the long term financial viability of their employer, while public unions, which provide mostly essential services, know that the financial survival of their employer isn’t really at stake. 

    • Marvin McConoughey

      HBguy has posted the best explanation I’ve read anywhere of the ways in which public unions differ from private unions. Thanks.

    • Marvin McConoughey

      HBguy has posted the best explanation I’ve read anywhere of the ways in which public unions differ from private unions. Thanks.

    • Marvin McConoughey

      HBguy has posted the best explanation I’ve read anywhere of the ways in which public unions differ from private unions. Thanks.

    • 3H

      So you would argue that people who work for the public sector don’t have the same rights as people who work for the private sector?  

      Would you be willing to replace a public sector union with binding arbitration?  

      How do public workers negotiate work-place conditions?  Who looks out for public worker interests?  

      If private individuals, corporations, and interest groups can pour money into the political process, and influence laws that effect public employees, why shouldn’t public employees through their unions?   Why should only they have their voices silenced?

    • 3H

      So you would argue that people who work for the public sector don’t have the same rights as people who work for the private sector?  

      Would you be willing to replace a public sector union with binding arbitration?  

      How do public workers negotiate work-place conditions?  Who looks out for public worker interests?  

      If private individuals, corporations, and interest groups can pour money into the political process, and influence laws that effect public employees, why shouldn’t public employees through their unions?   Why should only they have their voices silenced?

      • HBguy

        There is no easy answer. And, I didn’t say public employees shouldn’t have the right to organize. I said that I don’t know that they should have the same status. Perhaps some limitations are appropriate on what can be collectively bargained for.

        And, by the way, your argument about being silenced is not persuasive. Public employees can pool their money in support of candidates. They can go door to door. They can write letters to editors. They maintain all the rights of any citizen.

        Binding arbitration may be a good idea.  

        • 3H

          What should be on the table in terms of bargaining?  

          Part of your complaint has nothing to do with workplace conditions, but the political activities of the union.  You know as well as I do take away that central coordinating structure of a union, and it is much more difficult to organize and make your collective voice heard.   However… if you want campaign finance reform that takes ALL of the big money out of politics, then we can talk.

          Ultimately you’ll have to justify why you believe public sector employees are more limited in their rights than private sector employees. 

        • 3H

          What should be on the table in terms of bargaining?  

          Part of your complaint has nothing to do with workplace conditions, but the political activities of the union.  You know as well as I do take away that central coordinating structure of a union, and it is much more difficult to organize and make your collective voice heard.   However… if you want campaign finance reform that takes ALL of the big money out of politics, then we can talk.

          Ultimately you’ll have to justify why you believe public sector employees are more limited in their rights than private sector employees. 

        • 3H

          What should be on the table in terms of bargaining?  

          Part of your complaint has nothing to do with workplace conditions, but the political activities of the union.  You know as well as I do take away that central coordinating structure of a union, and it is much more difficult to organize and make your collective voice heard.   However… if you want campaign finance reform that takes ALL of the big money out of politics, then we can talk.

          Ultimately you’ll have to justify why you believe public sector employees are more limited in their rights than private sector employees. 

      • HBguy

        There is no easy answer. And, I didn’t say public employees shouldn’t have the right to organize. I said that I don’t know that they should have the same status. Perhaps some limitations are appropriate on what can be collectively bargained for.

        And, by the way, your argument about being silenced is not persuasive. Public employees can pool their money in support of candidates. They can go door to door. They can write letters to editors. They maintain all the rights of any citizen.

        Binding arbitration may be a good idea.  

      • HBguy

        There is no easy answer. And, I didn’t say public employees shouldn’t have the right to organize. I said that I don’t know that they should have the same status. Perhaps some limitations are appropriate on what can be collectively bargained for.

        And, by the way, your argument about being silenced is not persuasive. Public employees can pool their money in support of candidates. They can go door to door. They can write letters to editors. They maintain all the rights of any citizen.

        Binding arbitration may be a good idea.  

    • 3H

      So you would argue that people who work for the public sector don’t have the same rights as people who work for the private sector?  

      Would you be willing to replace a public sector union with binding arbitration?  

      How do public workers negotiate work-place conditions?  Who looks out for public worker interests?  

      If private individuals, corporations, and interest groups can pour money into the political process, and influence laws that effect public employees, why shouldn’t public employees through their unions?   Why should only they have their voices silenced?

    • valley person

      Private unions are also fading from the scene as we continue to de-industrialize due to free trade. Its great to sing their praises when they are practically dead.  Public sector unions and their electoral activism are the only hope that working people can maintain decent wages and benefits in a free trade world. Which is why the right wing is so intent on destroying them.

      • HBguy

        I would agree with you if I saw the public employee unions doing more to promote private unions. And maybe it’s because of the economy, but their focus is on protecting their own compensation and working rights. As it should be.  Again, I don’t think that public employees should be banned from unionizing. But, there are differences between public employee and private market unions. 

        • valley person

          They do more than you might think. Service Workers International has both public and private sector members and is probably the leading union out there managing to organize the low paid hospitality and food sectors in the private sector. There are other examples. Plus, even when all the public sector unions are doing is electing democrats, they help other working class people. 

          Yes, there are differences, and many public sector unions are banned from striking. I don’t disagree that public sector workers should be held to a different standard and have some limits on what they can do. But the present assault on their rights, in my opinion, is all about weakening the democratic party by cutting off a big source of funding and volunteers. 

          • HBguy

            SEIU is one of the better ones. OEA is one of the not better ones. And maybe its because SEIU has the background in and members working with the private industry, while OEA does not. 

            I think we largely agree. But its more complicated than “Unions are always right” or “Unions are inherently bad”. 

          • HBguy

            SEIU is one of the better ones. OEA is one of the not better ones. And maybe its because SEIU has the background in and members working with the private industry, while OEA does not. 

            I think we largely agree. But its more complicated than “Unions are always right” or “Unions are inherently bad”. 

          • HBguy

            SEIU is one of the better ones. OEA is one of the not better ones. And maybe its because SEIU has the background in and members working with the private industry, while OEA does not. 

            I think we largely agree. But its more complicated than “Unions are always right” or “Unions are inherently bad”. 

        • valley person

          They do more than you might think. Service Workers International has both public and private sector members and is probably the leading union out there managing to organize the low paid hospitality and food sectors in the private sector. There are other examples. Plus, even when all the public sector unions are doing is electing democrats, they help other working class people. 

          Yes, there are differences, and many public sector unions are banned from striking. I don’t disagree that public sector workers should be held to a different standard and have some limits on what they can do. But the present assault on their rights, in my opinion, is all about weakening the democratic party by cutting off a big source of funding and volunteers. 

        • valley person

          They do more than you might think. Service Workers International has both public and private sector members and is probably the leading union out there managing to organize the low paid hospitality and food sectors in the private sector. There are other examples. Plus, even when all the public sector unions are doing is electing democrats, they help other working class people. 

          Yes, there are differences, and many public sector unions are banned from striking. I don’t disagree that public sector workers should be held to a different standard and have some limits on what they can do. But the present assault on their rights, in my opinion, is all about weakening the democratic party by cutting off a big source of funding and volunteers. 

      • HBguy

        I would agree with you if I saw the public employee unions doing more to promote private unions. And maybe it’s because of the economy, but their focus is on protecting their own compensation and working rights. As it should be.  Again, I don’t think that public employees should be banned from unionizing. But, there are differences between public employee and private market unions. 

    • valley person

      Private unions are also fading from the scene as we continue to de-industrialize due to free trade. Its great to sing their praises when they are practically dead.  Public sector unions and their electoral activism are the only hope that working people can maintain decent wages and benefits in a free trade world. Which is why the right wing is so intent on destroying them.

    • valley person

      Private unions are also fading from the scene as we continue to de-industrialize due to free trade. Its great to sing their praises when they are practically dead.  Public sector unions and their electoral activism are the only hope that working people can maintain decent wages and benefits in a free trade world. Which is why the right wing is so intent on destroying them.

  • HBguy

    Sort of off topic but…

    I believe that unionization was a critical historical event in the rise of the middle class. That being said, public employee unions don’t deserve the same status as private unions. Private unions don’t have the opportunity to vote their bosses in or out of their jobs. Private unions don’t use their member dues to run ads against their companies in an effort to force shareholders to change management. (I guess they could, but I don’t think they do). And private unions, because they work in a competitive marketplace, have in interest in the long term financial viability of their employer, while public unions, which provide mostly essential services, know that the financial survival of their employer isn’t really at stake. 

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