Something for Tony to ponder?

Labour and the unions will be getting to campaign to spend more of other peoples money in the coming election year. I think it is time for Tony Ryall as State Services minister to consider some radical solutions to limiting the power, especially of the state sector unions.

Faced with growing budget deficits and restive taxpayers, elected officials from Maine to Alabama, Ohio to Arizona, are pushing new legislation to limit the power of labor unions, particularly those representing government workers, in collective bargaining and politics.

State officials from both parties are wrestling with ways to curb the salaries and pensions of government employees, which typically make up a significant percentage of state budgets. On Wednesday, for example, New York’s new Democratic governor,Andrew M. Cuomo, is expected to call for a one-year salary freeze for state workers, a move that would save $200 million to $400 million and challenge labor’s traditional clout in Albany.

We have the same issues here with teachers still holding out for way above inflation pay increases at precisely the worst time for the economy. That doesn’t stop them though and their chosen party, Labour, will be clamouring for even more state sector spending along with their fellow travelers in the PSA and EPMU.

But in some cases — mostly in states with Republican governors and Republican statehouse majorities — officials are seeking more far-reaching, structural changes that would weaken the bargaining power and political influence of unions, including private sector ones.

For example, Republican lawmakers in Indiana, Maine, Missouri and seven other states plan to introduce legislation that would bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees, reducing the flow of funds into union treasuries. In Ohio, the new Republican governor, following the precedent of many other states, wants to ban strikes by public school teachers.

Some new governors, most notably Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are even threatening to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain contracts.

“We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots,” Mr. Walker, a Republican, said in a speech. “The bottom line is that we are going to look at every legal means we have to try to put that balance more on the side of taxpayers.”

Many of the proposals may never become law. But those that do are likely to reduce union influence in election campaigns, with reverberations for both parties.

Note that quote from Scott Walker. It is precisely the words that Tony Ryall, Judith Collins and other senior competent ministers should be intoning this coming election year as unions bellow for more money we don’t have.

In an internal memorandum, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. warned that in 16 states, Republican lawmakers would seek to starve public sector unions of money by requiring each government worker to “opt in” before that person’s dues money could be used for political activities.

“In the long run, if these measures deprive unions of resources, it will cut them off at their knees. They’ll melt away,” said Charles E. Wilson, a law professor at Ohio State University.

Of all the new governors, John Kasich, Republican of Ohio, appears to be planning the most comprehensive assault against unions. He is proposing to take away the right of 14,000 state-financed child care and home care workers to unionize. He also wants to ban strikes by teachers, much the way some states bar strikes by the police and firefighters.

“If they want to strike, they should be fired,” Mr. Kasich said in a speech. “They’ve got good jobs, they’ve got high pay, they get good benefits, a great retirement. What are they striking for?”

I’m liking the sound of those measures….especially the “opt in” clauses. And John Kasich has it dead right on striking teachers, the same which could be said here.

Yes, I think Tony Ryall has much he can learn from those Governors in the US.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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