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Priebus: Unions talk of collective bargaining rights “as if Moses brought them down from Mt. Sinai”

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* Reince Priebus, the head of the Republican National Committee, had some harsh words for organized labor during a Chicago appearance this week

Priebus cited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s challenge of public employee union collective bargaining rights and the expensive victory by a Republican incumbent in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Those battles framed the question of “what kind of America do we want to have,” Priebus said.

“Do we want a country of more people riding the wagon or more people driving the wagon?” Priebus said. “Do we want a country of makers or a country of takers?”

Public employee unions, Priebus said, “talk about this collective bargaining rights (issue) as if Moses brought them down from Mt. Sinai.”

* But Politifact took a look at a claim by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels that “in 41 states out of 50, [public employees] are better paid than the taxpayers who support them” and pronounced it false

Daniels’ message, that government workers are better paid than those in the private sector, traces to an egregiously simplistic comparison, ignoring meaningful differences in the public and private sector workforces largely due to education. Factoring those in, many state and local government workers lag behind their private-sector counterparts. We rate his statement False.

Go read the whole thing.

* Meanwhile, this is a big reason why the Senate Republicans have refused so far to put their budget proposal into actual bill form

Local leaders in Evanston and Skokie are telling state legislators to keep their hands off of municipalities’ share of the state income tax – saying the effects of such a revenue loss would be “devastating.”

According to the Illinois Municipal League, a proposal in Springfield would divert about $300 million in income tax revenue from local municipalities to help reduce the state’s budget deficit.

Skokie officials say the loss of income tax revenue would force the village to make “drastic reductions to essential village programs and services and dramatically increase local taxes.” […]

If the state were to cut $300 million from shared income tax revenue, local government’s could lose an additional $23.40 per resident, according to municipal league figures.

That proposal to cut $300 million from revenue sharing is in the Senate Republican plan. A bill would allow opposition to focus in on the sponsors, which wouldn’t be pleasant.

* Related…

* Millionaire Tax Didn’t Chase the Rich From New Jersey, Study Says: They found that the rate of out-migration among millionaires was in line with and rate of out-migration of submillionaires. The tax rate, they concluded, had no measurable impact.

* The free rides are almost over

* City alderman fights proposed municipal tax legislation: Ezard says the bill is probably connected to recent decreases in Local Government Distributive Fund payments.

* The prepaid 529 plan formerly known as safe

* Still flunking the basics

* Editorial: SACIS helps rape victims, deserves state funds

* Social Service Providers Bracing For Budget Cuts

* Advocates rally in Batavia for Fox Valley’s disabled

* South Loop group decries homeless cuts

* BNSF to add 87 railroad jobs in Galesburg this year - Railroad plans projects to improve traffic flow

* Poe to add election bill to larger measure: Local legislators didn’t take action on two high-profile bills before a deadline last week, leaving the future of the measures — designed to limit candidates in elections and barring state funding for improvements to Springfield’s Third Street rail corridor — in limbo.

* The Skepticism About Teachers’ Merit Pay

* Workman’s comp issues discussed at Quincy Area Action Council meeting

posted by Rich Miller
Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 11:52 am


  1. ===Daniels’ message, that government workers are better paid than those in the private sector,===

    GOP Class Warfare 101: “Hey, let’s you and him fight.”

    Comment by 47th Ward Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 11:58 am

  2. I used to own a Reince Priebus. Loved it. Great mileage.

    Comment by just sayin' Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 12:28 pm

  3. I agree that Daniels’ statement is overly simplistic and misleading. But I also think it should have been rated “Barely True” rather than totally “False” since the “41 out of 50 states” statement is accurate with regard to total AVERAGE compensation (wages plus benefits) in those states.

    Comment by Secret Square Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 12:28 pm

  4. What kind of America do we want to have?

    Well I don’t want an America where big Wall Street banking and money house firms can take ridiculous chances because of their greed and then use fear to extort bail-outs from the American taxpayer and still give their top management people exorbitant bonuses for poor business practices.

    I don’t want an America where large contractors siphon the money out of the Defense Budget to equip merceneries who are better equipped and paid than our own Military. And these contractors with ties to top bureaucrats make millions on wars that cost the lives of our young men and women. I also don’t want an America where we make up phony information to engage in wars to benefit friends of GOP leaders, or because somebody called somebody’s daddy a name.

    I don’t want an America where GOP pundits and bureaucrats then blame the working folks for a deficit that was created by lining the pockets of GOP big business in the above listed ways.

    I don’t want an America where GOP puppet politicians then lead attacks on the working class to further enhance the climate for the folks who are pulling their strings and spout untruths as to why the economy is where it is.

    I don’t want an America where the antics of the leaders of the GOP would make Ron Reagan go back to being a Democrat.

    Comment by Irish Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:02 pm

  5. –“Do we want a country of more people riding the wagon or more people driving the wagon?” Priebus said. “Do we want a country of makers or a country of takers?”–

    Do you want a country of politicians who talk out of both sides of their mouth? This Preibus guy was part of team at his law firm that tried to grab as much stimulus money as it could for its clients — although he was against the stimulus.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:10 pm

  6. I wish Scott Walker was Governor of Illinois.

    Comment by Mark Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:18 pm

  7. Are cops and firefighters takers? How about prison guards? Teachers? Nurses and medical personnel at public hospitals?

    Are lobbyists, like Priebus was, takers or makers?

    Are bus drivers riding the wagon or driving the wagon when they’re driving the bus?

    This is confusing. Maybe Priebus should just give us a list of who the good Americans are and be done with it. I’ll bet he’s one of them.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:20 pm

  8. “…where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.”

    Ronald W. Reagan, 40th President of the United States, and former president of the Screen Actors Guild.

    I never thought I’d be nostalgic for the Gipper, but it is simply amazing how far to the right the current GOP wants to take this country. That’s not the kind of America I want to have.

    Comment by 47th Ward Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:21 pm

  9. 47th Ward,


    I’m sure you remember.

    Comment by dupage dan Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:24 pm

  10. I must have been sleeping or watching a movie when he fired the air traffic controllers.

    Comment by 47th Ward Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:25 pm

  11. The State should have never put itself in the position of being tax collector for municipal governments. They have their own taxing authority, and the elimination of revenue sharing would go a long, long way towards fixing what is wrong with Illinois state finances. If any two cities in this State can afford to float their own boats, they are Evanston and Skokie.

    Comment by Skirmisher Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:29 pm

  12. If they want income tax money so much, perhaps we should follow the Mitch Daniels Indiana miracle worker approach:

    Pass a law allowing for local income taxes.

    Wonder if Evanston, Skokie and the rest of the IML would be so quick to embrace income tax money if they actually had to take responsibility for approving the tax.

    Comment by piling on Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:37 pm

  13. DD, what’s the significance of PATCO to you? Like many public unions, they had collective bargaining rights, but were barred by law from going out on strike. Like the man said, they fired themselves.

    Reagan didn’t take away anyone’s collective bargaining rights. There’s a union now that bargains collectively for air traffic controllers employed by the FAA.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:44 pm

  14. When it comes down to local government revenue sharing, it’s really more of an expenditure by state government to coerce units of local government into enforcement of their (state) edicts.

    As in, “We passed this law and you have to enforce it. That’s why we are providing you with revenue sharing”.

    Now, they won’t necessarily put it in writing. But I’ve been in more than a few meetings where it’s been made highly obvious where that’s concept of part of the equation (”You want the money to continue - you really want to do it our way”).

    And of course, in the past the local governments have taken this money as “found” money, and created all sorts of wonderful playthings. Just look at how many municipalities (and even some counties) have spent pretty large sums of money (ongoing) on their own internal television/cable TV networks. And we’re talking in the hundreds of thousands per year for what is certainly “compelling viewing”. /sarcasm

    Maybe they might want to “get with it” and lose the TV and move to into podcasting. Probably save a few (a LOT!) bucks in the process.

    Comment by Judgment Day Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 1:57 pm

  15. –When it comes down to local government revenue sharing, it’s really more of an expenditure by state government to coerce units of local government into enforcement of their (state) edicts–

    I recall it more as a way to drum up support for an income tax increase in Big Jim’s last term.

    Comment by wordslinger Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 2:03 pm

  16. What are these onerous edicts the state puts on local governments? School districts would have an argument. Not sure what a village board’s gripe is.

    Comment by piling on Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 2:12 pm

  17. To show how out of touch the guy is, Priebus is quoted in today’s Daily Herald as asserting that Illinois is “completely in play in 2012.” Is there any Republican here who predicts Obama will lose Illinois next year?

    Comment by reformer Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 2:36 pm

  18. piling on - I’ll start the list of Village Board gripes by nominating Police Pensions. Thanks to the generous benefits approved by Springfield and the fact that Springfield allows the officers to control the investments and expenses, (let’s all go to the Pension Board Conference!), my town pays 22% on top of an officers salary in pension. BTW - we have paid 100% or more of the recommeded amount every year. Also, our officers get Social Security, so that’s another 7% plus.

    Comment by LocalGovGuy Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 2:47 pm

  19. State workers are going to have to make higher contributions to their pensions: bank on it. Rutherford doesn’t endorse Cross’ specific proposal, and doesn’t call for prohibitive contributions. He’s simply truth-telling, which we need more of around here.

    Retiree are going to have to start contributing to the premium cost of their health insurance too: bank on it. On both issues, “how much, and under what conditions” should be debated, but the reality is coming one way or another.

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 2:51 pm

  20. SS, I agree, state workers (like me) will probably end up paying more for retirement. That’s fine. What really sticks in my craw is the fact that I’ve never missed a contribution. The state can’t say that, but almost everywhere you turn, it’s the state employee who gets the blame for the pension problems.

    Comment by howie Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:13 pm

  21. They are all correct about the value of the services, and the pain to those affected of losing them, but still the cuts have to happen, and more. Debate where, but not if.

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:15 pm

  22. howie,

    One of the most compelling reasons for me to get rid of pensions is not that we’d be screwing state workers, but that we would be eliminating the pot-o-gold that the GA uses as a slush fund. I want to move state workers to a SS/401k to protect their retirements (to the extent that SS remains solvent).

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:22 pm

  23. C, so shifting the risk from employer to employee isn’t part of your reason for supporting such a change?

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:28 pm

  24. I don’t think the Senate Republicans will be losing any sleep over the likes of contentious opposition in Evanston and Skokie. The combined Republican caucus from both communities could probably meet in a single phone booth. (Do they still have those anywhere?)

    Comment by Quinn T. Sential Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:29 pm

  25. Reagan didn’t take away collective bargaining rights from air traffic controllers, but neither did Scott Walker deprive WI state employees of all their rights, either. In fact, WI state employees have enjoyed broad bargaining rights that exceed those of other states’ employees. That they will likely be somewhat truncated as a result of the recently passed law doesn’t mean that WI state employees lose all their bargaining rights. I should have been a bit more descriptive in my comment but ran out of time. Should probably not have posted. 47th Wards’ post was a bit provocative in that ht mentions free unions - associated it with a President who essentially caused the downfall of a free union (PATCO) when he fired all the employees who were members. A bit muddy, but there you go.

    Comment by dupage dan Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:35 pm

  26. Steve,

    I have several reasons for wanting to shift the current system to a defined contributions system. As I said in my post above which extracts from my previous posts here is that removing the temptation for shenanigans by the GA is one of the most compelling reasons. With my ever increasing distrust of the chuckleheads in Springfield this reason has moved up the list to number one.

    I have stated that the defined contribution model will cost more to the state, but that the slush fund, in addition to giving employees the responsibility and the ability to will their money to their heirs is also on my list. Parity/fairness to taxpayers, (over 75% of workers with a plan have fixed contribution plans), as is the ability for budgeteers to plan effectively (personnel costs are now up front and straightforward) are also on my list, as are many others.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 3:49 pm

  27. Dan,

    My first comment was provocative. My second was intended to remind Priebus that we don’t need to go back to the Old Testament when discussing where public employees unions got the wild idea that collective bargaining rights are worth fighting for. Reagan made that case pretty clearly not so long ago.

    PATCO and Walker’s bill are very different things. But I remember when a guy like Ronald Reagan was highly regarded by most Republicans. Today? Not so much apparently.

    OK, maybe that was a little provocative.

    Comment by 47th Ward Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 4:05 pm

  28. For people who believe in collective bargaining as a human right, it’s kinda part of the First Amendment package freedom to form voluntary associations, freedom to speak as a group and freedom to petition the government for redress of grievances.

    While Priebus is free to disagree on how to interpret the First Amendment, I would take it as a compliment that people who believe in the pro-organized labor interpretation are fighting hard for what we believe to be the correct interpretation of the First Amendment.

    The First Amendment is key to who we are as Americans, even if Republicans want to weaken the First Amendment.

    Comment by Carl Nyberg Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 4:08 pm

  29. C, very good non-answer. You seem to be an individualist, so my question is reasonable. You may be a businessman, and again my question is reasonable.

    You only get predictability by shifting the risk, right? Educate me.

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 4:08 pm

  30. === I agree that Daniels’ statement is overly simplistic and misleading. But I also think it should have been rated “Barely True” rather than totally “False” since the “41 out of 50 states” statement is accurate with regard to total AVERAGE compensation (wages plus benefits) in those states. ===

    Um, if you’re going to argue that there’s something unfair about what government employees are paid compared to private sector employees, you have to compare apples to apples, not bananas.

    The point which FactCheck makes is completely legitimate. When you compare government workers to private sector workers doing the same jobs with the same educational requirements and experience, government workers make about 10% less, even when benefits are included.

    Mitch Daniels wants to compare what government workers make with what someone slinging burgers at McDonald’s makes.

    It’s pretty laughable.

    Comment by Yellow Dog Democrat Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 4:12 pm

  31. Sure, Steve. A person should assume the risk for themselves, and not the government. I thought that goes without saying. The government (and taxpayers) should contribute its fair share as an employer, but not have the risk for the performance of the contribution, especially in light of the built-in conflict of interest between the employees (with their political contributions) and the legislators who make promises that cannot be kept. But risk shifting is not a be all and end all in my reasoning.

    Apparently, we have a philosophical difference on the role of government if you think that the government should be responsible for its employees retirement. That viewpoint is at odds with most businesses, from the largest most successful to the smallest mom and pop. And while I believe that government has unique differences between it and the private sector in many areas, this is not one where I think there is a difference.

    And yes, over this generational change to fixed contribution, predictability would occur. Somehow, I am getting a vibe that you feel it is a bad thing for government budgeteers (like you) to be able to accurately predict present (and future) personnel costs, and for legislatures to adjust their budgets quickly based on economic conditions. As things stand now, the pension system provides such a disconnect between past promised outlays and current economic conditions that we can never have a smoothly operating pension system. Don’t forget one of my early premises, legislatures will never fully fund the retirement program since it is all too easy to play games with that large pot of money. It’s irresistible. If a true “lockbox” could be created, a pension system can work. We would still need to address the issue of promised returns, made by conflicted legislators that may not be achievable.

    Comment by Cincinnatus Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 4:30 pm

  32. C, another very good answer. Couple of things.

    If you are saying that as an employer, government should be no different than a business, then I will repeat what I’ve said before. For very large employers with highly unionized workforces, defined benefit plans are not an outlier. The number of them among such employers has changed very little over the past 10 years. So, as an employer, Illinois is behaving statistically about as it should be expected to. I’m not talking about government being responsible as government for workers, but as an employer being responsible for its employees.

    Second, predictability of costs is always desirable for government much as it is anyone else. However, the desirability doesn’t completely negate the price of predictability. If that were the case, as unemployment roles went up, we would lower the payments to keep the spending steady. The same with family assistance, Medicaid, etc, etc.

    Much of the problem of unpredictability of spending on our pension systems is the past underfunding. Because of that, the natural ebb and flow of performance of portfolios is multiplied many times over. Without that underfunding, the pension costs, especially with a 3 or 5 year smoothing of portfolio performance, would be more than sufficiently predictable.

    I suspect there are a number of things we would disagree as to whether government should do for people. I think you and many others take individualism too far. I’m sure you don’t think I take it far enough. I’m willing, as most are, to sacrifice a certain portion of what would otherwise be mine for the collective good. The dispute is over what should be the collective good, and how much who should sacrifice.

    Remember, I no longer have a dog in the fight over the future of public employee pensions. That’s simply a philosophical disagreement.

    I note that there is much more support for rugged individualism, survival of the fittest if you will, the higher up the food chain you go. I wish there were no poor, no weak, no abusers of the system, no takers, no needy, but that’s not the case, and I suspect you and I part ways as to if and how government should deal with that reality.

    Comment by steve schnorf Thursday, Apr 21, 11 @ 5:06 pm

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