Taxpayers are waking up to the scam of public workers shaking down politicians for lucrative benefits, and leaving the tab for future generations. The jig is up, as this list of labor woes makes clear.
1. Wisconsin Waterloo
The recall attempt of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was billed as an epic showdown between public-sector unions and their chief antagonist. It turned out to be a classic blowout as Walker cruised to victory even after labor pulled out all the stops mobilizing an army of union volunteers trying to save their benefits. Walker said his victory was laborâ??s Waterloo, and it sends a powerful message to other elected officials that government unions can be beaten.
2. San Jose smack down
Even in liberal San Jose, Calif., government workers were rebuffed as voters overwhelmingly passed with some 70 percent support a measure limiting benefits for public employees. Some government employees in the Silicon Valley city could retire after 30 years and receive 90 percent of their salaries for the rest of their life. Unions have already gone to court to overturn the measure, which requires that government workers contribute something to their pensions.
3. San Diego sanity
Voters in San Diego also passed a measure curtailing public employee benefits. The initiative, which turns city pensions into 401 (k) style plans, passed with two-thirds support. San Diegoâ??s budget was under so much pressure that the city would rotate closing different firehouses on a daily basis to save money.
4. Obama AWOL
When the President of the United States is too busy to help his closest allies in their critical struggles, you know you are fighting a losing battle. Despite Big Laborâ??s support in getting him elected in 2008, President Obama couldnâ??t be bothered with the Wisconsin recall battle, a sure sign it was a lost cause.
5. Romney gains
Mitt Romney represents all that Big Labor hates: a venture capitalist who opposed the auto bailout. How surprising then, that polls show Romney gaining support in union households and that the Walker recall victory has tilted Wisconsin into a battleground state for the presidential race.
6. Union members flee
One of the reforms initiated by Scott Walker allowed government workers to have the option of leaving the union and keeping their monthly dues. Given freedom of choice, more than 30,000 public union members dropped out of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union, cutting its membership nearly in half.
7. Deficit fixed after union reform
One reason that Scott Walker cruised to victory in the recall battle was because he was able to point to substantial progress in dealing with Wisconsinâ??s fiscal problems. Walker was able to close a state budget shortfall of $3.6 billion largely through savings made by the union reforms that prompted the recall effort. A study by Suffolk University showed the reforms saved the state $1 billion.
8. Taxes drop after union reforms
Not only was Wisconsinâ??s budget shortfall cut, but it was done without raising taxes. In fact, property taxes on homes fell for the first time in the state in more than a decade following Walkerâ??s public-sector union reforms. Voters across the nation are taking notice that their hard-earned dollars have been subsidizing government workerâ??s excessive benefits and pensions.
9. Union-reform movement grows
Days after Walkerâ??s recall victory, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said that public-employee unions should be abolished. â??Government works better without them,â?ť Daniels said on Fox News. â??Voters are seeing the fundamental unfairness of government becoming its own special interest group, sitting on both sides of the table.â?ť
10. Unpopularity grows
An annual Gallup showed that unions are close to the bottom on the list of which institutions Americans have confidence in, even trailing the banking industry. Some 42 percent want unions to have less power compared to only 25 percent that want them to have more. And with government workers compiling more than half of the union members nationwide, that number is likely to grow as taxpayers want to know why public servants get such a sweetheart deal.
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