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OpenMarket: Government Unions

  • Federal Unions' “Official” Waste of Tax Dollars

    June 30, 2016

    While unions representing government employees are still private entities, it is shocking just how much tax dollars they receive for performing union business that does not benefit the public. In the last year data was reported, federal employee unions received over $157 million in taxpayer dollars to conduct union work.

    This phenomenon is known as “official time” and it allows federal employees to forgo their duties to the taxpayers and instead act as a union representative, often for years at a time.

    Americans for Limited Government Foundation has filed numerous FOIA requests, uncovering the reported costs of “official time” for employees who spend 100% of their time working for their union rather than for the taxpayer. And this is on top of all the...

  • Air Traffic Control Reform Opponents Still Miss the Big Picture, Repeat Errors

    May 16, 2016

    Air traffic control is in dire need of reform and modernization, and there is a great plan in the House FAA bill to do just that. But a handful of conservative activists have launched a campaign to roil reform. Last week, I published two posts debunking false claims made by critics. While the vast majority of free market advocates familiar with the issue support the air traffic control corporatization plan contained in the House’s AIRR Act, a small group of anti-union conservative advocates opposes these reforms, citing concerns over labor unions.

    The reform plan would transfer the...

  • Conservatives for Big Government: Air Traffic Control Reform Opponents Have Lost Their Minds or Principles

    May 10, 2016

    UPDATE: Diana Furchtgott-Roth has responded. I offer my reply.

    Right now in Congress, there is a proposal to end a government monopoly, replace it with a customer-driven corporation, slash taxes, and eliminate nearly two-thirds of a government agency’s budget. Not surprisingly, some Washington insiders oppose it. Surprisingly, some of those opponents are self-described conservatives.

    The conservative opposition, led by the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth, wants to scuttle a proposal to spin off the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air...

  • California Court's Indefensible Defense of Dysfunctional Education Policies

    April 15, 2016

    A California appeals court yesterday restored a series of education policies that harm students by making ineffective teachers extremely difficult to fire. The court overturned a lower court ruling, Vergara v. California, which had struck down teacher tenure, “last in, first out” personnel policies, and a complicated process to challenge dismissals.

    The plaintiffs have said they plan to appeal to the California Supreme Court. They should, given the stakes involved and the appeal court’s strange reasoning. Moreover, education reform activists in other states should continue pursue their own challenges as well. There is an ongoing case in New York State...

  • Wisconsin Judge Rules that Workers' Wages are Unions’ Property

    April 10, 2016

    On Friday, April 8, a Wisconsin judge handed unions a surprising victory—surprising because of the argument behind his decision.

    Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed with the argument made by three unions challenging Wisconsin’s right-to-work law that the law is an unconstitutional taking of union property because unions are required to represent people who opt out of joining the union and paying union dues.

    Right to work is not an unconstitutional taking because unions choose to become exclusive representatives. The duty of fair representation is one that unions impose on themselves. Private-sector unions may act as members-only unions and choose not to represent non-members.

    In addition, unions receive something of value as exclusive...

  • Air Traffic Control Reforms Will Give Us Modern Technology, Not Union Giveaways

    April 6, 2016

    Guest Post by David Grizzle
    ​Former Chief Operating Officer and Chief Counsel, FAA

    As the former chief operating officer and chief counsel at the FAA, I saw how the lack of modern technology hampers us from more effectively routing the 2 million people who fly every day. We are one of the few remaining developed countries in the world that relies on paper strips and outdated technology like ground-based radar to direct the most technologically advanced planes the world has seen.

    We have a historic opportunity now to reform air traffic control to enhance safety, provide a steady and reliable funding stream for high-tech projects, and improve the flight experience for consumers. Imagine knowing with certainty when you arrive at the airport for your weekly flight home that you won’t be delayed because of bad weather in another part of the country...

  • Illinois Pension Reform that Can Pass State Supreme Court Muster

    April 6, 2016

    When you’re in a hole, stop digging.

    That seems like such a simple concept that it shouldn’t need stating, but in the area of public pension reform, it’s often proven difficult to implement.

    For states facing huge pension shortfalls, it means to stop adding to the total of pension liabilities. When it has been implemented, as in Utah, it has worked.

    Better yet, it can be implemented in states whose constitutions prevent lawmakers from making any changes to pension obligations—as in Illinois, where a judge struck down a Chicago reform law on precisely those grounds.

  • State Legislatures Can Dampen Friedrichs Ruling's Blow to Worker Freedom

    March 29, 2016

    Today, the Supreme Court announced a 4 to 4 spilt decision in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a decision that keeps alive the Abood precedent that forces non-union members to pay union dues as a condition of employment with state and local governments.

    Government unions had a lot at stake. With the spilt decision, government unions will continue to collect millions of dollars in compulsory dues payments from librarians, bus drivers, teachers, and all sorts of other public employees across the country.

    The plaintiffs, public school teachers from the state of California, argued that forced union dues payments amounted to forced political speech and a violation of their First Amendment rights. In essence, the teachers argued that government unions are inherently...

  • Illinois' Narrow Road to Pension Reform

    March 28, 2016

    On March 24, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a Chicago pension reform bill that sought to address the city’s considerable pension shortfall. In addition to posing a setback for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to fix the city’s finances, the ruling highlights a problem some states face in attempting to bring their pension liabilities under control.

    As the late, great Yogi Berra would put it, last week’s ruling was déjà vu all over again. Last week’s ruling echoes a May 2015 case, in which the court ruled unanimously that SB1, a modest state pension reform law enacted during the administration of Governor Pat Quinn ran afoul of...

  • The Public Pays for Union Political Activity

    March 21, 2016

    Taxpayer dollars in state and municipal governments across the country are, normally without public knowledge, used to subsidize government union political undertakings. Clearly, this is a misuse of the public’s limited resources.

    The latest example, The Baltimore Sun reports, a Howard County, Maryland audit finds:

    According to the Feb. 24 investigation, four employees of the sheriff’s office improperly used union leave, thus granting Howard County Sheriff James Fitzgerald “county-subsidized campaign labor” not available to his opponents.

    Union leave, which allows government employees to perform union business on the taxpayers’ dime, was used to influence the 2014 primary and general...

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