Monday, June 07, 2010

Politico on the battle between pols and unions

Seems that Cheshire is not alone in some of the concerns being raised by taxpayers regarding Cheshire's current Teachers' Union contract. Politico's Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman are reporting on a similar sentiment that they report is nationwide:

Spurred by state budget crunches and an angry public mood, Republican and some Democratic leaders are focusing with increasing intensity on public workers and the unions that represent them, casting them as overpaid obstacles to good government and demanding cuts in their often-generous benefits.

And what are some of the financial concerns?

the very real financial obligations imposed by their salaries, health benefits and—especially—their traditional, defined-benefit pension plans

I'm glad that - despite staff's ability to drive policy through inaction - I kept pushing on the elimination of DB plans for future non-union hires. And when Sheldon Dill returned to the Council, I finally found five votes to end that one small piece of a much bigger pie.

Furthermore, I'm still hoping that the current collective bargaining process will lead to the elimination of DB plans for future union hires. I'd consider that a significant victory for future generations as we would no longer be kicking the can down the road and telling them to deal with the risks associated with DB plans.

Politico continues with some comments that I'm guessing will resonate with many in Cheshire:

The revenue crunch coincides with a bipartisan national resistance against teachers’ unions and the power they wield over classroom instruction...

Continuing with:

The recent revenue crunch, though, has given governors and big-city mayors new leverage. The early initiatives have largely been stopgap measures: everything from furloughs in the two biggest states, New York and California, to initiatives like...

Furlough days. Interesting.

It then offers The Governator as Ground Zero for pension reform:

Now, though, Schwarzenegger – in his final months as governor– is gearing up for what he views as a final, climactic battle over public sector pensions. And he told POLITICO in an interview that he feels the time is now ripe for elements of the fight he lost five years earlier.

“The atmosphere has changed,” Schwarzenegger said. “People understand that they have to lay off their workers or they don’t have the money for their family. What they don’t like is when there is a certain group that doesn’t like to make the sacrifices.”

Schwarzenegger said he “will not sign” a budget without pension reform.

It's a worthwhile read.

Tim White

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