It Begs the Question: Who Lost?

-By Frank Hyland

In the coming days, you will hear much about candidates for public office who won their elections. Those races are not trivial, not unimportant. They are less important, though, than the big losers in the contests. The big losers are union members. That may be difficult to grasp given the TV coverage of AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka in Ohio grinning at the results like Buddha himself. When you consider it in greater detail, however, it becomes considerably clearer.

Taking this one step at a time, the Ohio ballot initiative called for overturning a state law aimed at reducing an eight-billion-dollar budget deficit. The law did away with the unions’ authority to collect dues from members even if the members did not want to contribute that money. Unlike other locales, members of police forces and firefighters were included in the law’s provisions. In addition, all public employees were slated to contribute 10% of their income to their pensions and 15% to the cost of their health care plans. The morning after the election, many union members are grinning as broadly as Richard Trumka. The grins will not last long, however, and will be replaced with frowns and grimaces as reality sinks in, a reality concealed from them by union leaders. Why? The defeat of this measure means that other, different steps will need to be taken to reduce the deficit. What steps? Governor Kasich has stated that taxes will not be raised in order to reduce Ohio’s deficit and that there simply is no money to pay for all the budget needs. Since the amount of money available will be reduced, the only solution left will be layoffs of public employees. Union rules already prescribe how their members will be chosen to be laid off – it’s called seniority. So those of you union members in Ohio who are 40 years of age and under, it is time to begin looking for another job and/or filling out the paperwork for unemployment benefits. Local towns, cities, and counties in Ohio will not be able to sustain the cost of their present workforces. The timing of this impending disaster for you younger union members could not be worse, coming as it is in the run-up to the holiday season.

When you receive your layoff notice and the initial shock wears off, you will begin looking for and thinking about a villain. The easy choice will be Governor Kasich. Think again. You, yourself, will have less money to spend and therefore will buy less and do less. Your town, your state are in the same fix and must do what you will do — less. Who, then, is the real villain? Take another look at the union bosses, grinning because the ballot initiative passed. Unlike you, their future, their income is assured, so they can continue to grin. Think they care about you? Think again. They won…you lost.

By the way, just because you don’t live in Ohio, don’t think that you’ve escaped the problem. Ultimately, the effects, if they persist, will affect more and more people across the nation like the outward path of the ripples caused by a stone tossed into a pond. At present, fewer than half a dozen states enjoy a budget surplus. The combined budget deficits of the remainder total approximately four trillion dollars. With that situation facing you, you will be smart to begin hunting for a job other than in the public sector. Let Richard Trumka keep smiling…he’s close to retirement anyway. Those of you union members with years to go until retirement cannot afford even a small smile.
Frank Hyland is a long-time Writer/Editor who has written for The New Media Alliance, and also for The Reality Check and has appeared weekly on Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Conservatism on Sunday evenings on Blog Talk Radio, along with Babe Huggett and Warner Todd Huston.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001