Fleecing the taxpayers: it’s not just the Chicago Way

Yesterday I linked to a John Kass column about how some union bosses are legally ripping off the taxpayers of Illinois. (ST covered it in much more detail here.) But lest one think this kind of “authorized corruption” is limited to Blue states like Illinois, California, or New York, consider how the public sheep are being sheered in deep-Red Arizona:

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

For top officers, the typical amount of annual release time is 2,080 hours, a full year of work based on 52 weeks at 40 hours each. They continue to draw full pay and benefits, just as if they were showing up for their regular jobs. But they are released from their regular duties to conduct undefined union business.

Union officials say the time is a good investment that leads to a more productive workforce. Critics say it amounts to an illegal gift of taxpayer money.

Be sure to read the whole thing. I’m not surprised the union officials think this is a good investment. While no mention is made of union political donations,  it wouldn’t surprise me to learn they “invest” a little cash (drawn from member dues) in the campaigns of pliant councilmen, which then leads to the sweetheart clauses that allow them to collect a public salary while never doing a bit of the work they’re being paid for. Or they threaten to use their members’ dues to campaign against uncooperative officials, giving them an incentive to play along to the detriment of the public interest.

This is what happens in general when labor unions are allowed to become a labor cartel, to have a monopoly over the supply of labor: with no fear of competition, union bosses can concentrate on feathering their own nests. (I wonder how long it’s been since Trumka actually got his hands dirty in a mine?) With public employee unions, the situation is even worse, since political leaders are negotiating with the public’s money, not their own, and thus have less incentive to worry about the economic consequences, which may not come about until years later. (I posted a good video explaining this last March.) Combine a labor cartel with control over other people’s money, and you have a recipe for what we see so often at the local, state, and federal levels: a kickback scheme.

It may not be illegal, but it surely is corrupt.

via Jazz Shaw

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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