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A Pertinent Question
Something’s seriously wrong with government employee unions…
[by Ray Haynes] 10/24/05

Just why do we have government employee unions?

We all know the story of the rise of unionism in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Our country was being run by robber barons, the capitalist exploiters, who would abuse children for profit, and allow people to die in substandard working conditions while they sat in the lap of luxury. Unions rode in on their white horse, forced industry to reform, saved lives, protected paychecks, and, in general, restored harmony in a world dislocated by the industrial revolution. Unions fought the evil employers, pushed for labor reforms, minimum wages, safe workplaces, and, through their tireless effort, made sure that people received a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work in a safe work environment. Government employees were hired to enforce these rules, and, faced with the prospect of jail time, the evil capitalist reluctantly acceded to the government control.

At least that is how it is taught in the government schools, which are run by the government employee unions.


Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]

Even assuming that life was as bad as the unions say it was in the private sector before forced unionism, why did we ever have government employee unions? Was it because the government was an evil employer, putting people to work in an unsafe work environment for unfair wages, or, was it just a way for union bosses to extract money from unwilling employees in order for those bosses to corrupt the political system? Were those Democrats, who claimed to be for the working man when they formed the government employee unions, so evil as employers that a union was necessary to protect the government worker from their power, or was it just that the Democrats wanted to form the union so they could have a steady supply of campaign cash in order to maintain their control over the levers of government power?

I think most people would agree that something is seriously wrong with our current government employee unions here in California. In the Gray Davis years, they overreached, grabbing for exorbitant wage increases and excessive pension benefits, using their forced union dues to give millions of dollars to Gray Davis and the Legislative Democrats, in order to force the state, school districts, cities, and local governments of all types to unionize and pay their unionized employees wages beyond what the taxpayers could afford. In 1998, the California government pension system, CalPERS, was $60 billion over funded. By 2003, the Democrats had increased government pensions so much that taxpayers had to borrow $2.5 billion a year to keep the pension system solvent. During that same time, those unions contributed over $30 million to those Democrat politicians. Forced union dues (contributed to willing left wing legislators) bankrupted the state in two budget cycles, taking it from a $12 billion surplus to a $28 billion deficit. The number of state employees, paying these forced union dues, increased 47,000 in these two years. The government employee unions have corrupted the whole system.

Now they are spending the money they forcibly extract from their members to trash the Governor, spending almost $100 million of the money they steal from these government employees. But why do they exist? Is a government job so unsafe, so underpaid, that only a union can protect the government employee, or is the system a sophisticated extortion scheme designed to keep left wing politicians in power in Sacramento?

This much we know, government employees make about 25 percent more than their private sector counterparts, and get benefits that are without equal in the private sector. They have ideal working conditions, and legally protected job security. They don’t need a union to protect them from an unscrupulous employer.

So, why do these unions really exist? I don’t know, maybe you can tell me. CRO

Mr. Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside and Temecula and frequent contributor to


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