Rest in piece public sector union “obligations”
I hereby rename Vallejo, CA to “Canaryville, CA, USA” because it’s financial ruin, based largely on public sector unions voting themselves goodies, is going to happen to many many cities in California and the rest of the U.S. Governing.com reports:
Vallejo, a city of 120,000 about 35 miles northeast of San Francisco, flat-out went broke this year through a combination of generous public-safety salaries, declining property values and fiscal mismanagement. The city is estimating a $17 million deficit for the current fiscal year
Vallejo is in court now asking that its public sector union contracts and obligations be voided. That means that instead of retiring at age 50 with a 90% pension, firefighters and policeman there are going to face similar retirement prospects to the rest of us.
Vallejo got in trouble because it was generous in good times and caught flat footed when its major employer, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, was closed. Combined with Wal-Mart leaving, citizens leaving and the general malaise in California economy… they are now in the hole deep with no prospects for improvement.
Naturally, public sector unions hate the thought of being treated like other people:
The California Professional Firefighters union proclaims, "If allowed to stand, Vallejo’s attack on its own employees would send shock waves throughout the labor movement." Gloster, the attorney representing Vallejo’s firefighters and police officers, says, "It’s very difficult to see how their politicians should actually do the hard work to balance their budgets if they can get a do-over with a simple bankruptcy filing."
A “deal” is a deal they will say. But “deals” with public sector unions, where their political influence makes the deal more than the market, should not be treated similar to normal contracts.
Clearly fireman, teachers, police, city workers all do important jobs. But only two of them risk their life and face special retirement needs do to the psychic traumas of the job. And even then that doesn’t mean that 90% at age 50 is appropriate or necessary.
Something has to be done. And taking from the taxpayers forever and ever will eventually grab their attention. Such notice happens faster with tax bases that are spread relatively evenly (municipal taxes). Expect public sector unions to try and band their obligations together as a federal obligation so they can start feeding off the trough of other people’s money where the money never seen due to paycheck withholdings or freshly printed (ala the “stimulus” or “bailout”), not where checks are written with every mortgage payment.
The farther the money is spent from the taxpayer it originated with the harder it is to cut. Public sector unions will try to get as far away as they can. We should resist.