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.