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Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences Hardcover – January 6, 2015

ISBN-13: 978-0199990740 ISBN-10: 0199990743 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199990743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199990740
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Readers of any political persuasion should be sobered by his observation that democratic government's inevitable fate seems to be 'spending more, getting less.'" --Publishers Weekly


"A sober analysis, both scholarly and political, of public sector unions. DiSalvo shows both sides, argues cogently, and concludes reasonably--against them. This is political science at its best." --Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution


"Daniel DiSalvo has laid bare the harsh political realities facing mayors across the country who want to improve the quality of life in their cities. In the annual battles over cutting services, raising taxes or controlling costs to balance the budget, public employee unions usually have the upper hand. In many jurisdictions, costs are skyrocketing, taxes are up and services are deteriorating, yet fiscal reform seems impossible. This book explains how and why the narrow interests of unions in improving pay and benefits frequently overwhelm the broader interests of the people in improving services." --Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose


About the Author


Daniel DiSalvo is Assistant Professor of Political Science at The City College of New York-CUNY and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership. He has written on American political parties, elections, labor unions, state government, and public policy for both scholarly and popular publications, including National Affairs, The Public Interest, City Journal, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, the New York Daily News, and the New York Post. He is the author of Engines of Change: Party Factions in American Politics, 1868-2010.

Customer Reviews

You may have arguments against the author, but do read this book and consider his words.
Neal Reynolds
This is a very appropriate book in a time of private sector lay-offs and public sector wage increases.
KWJ
Public sector union members won’t like it at all because the facts are threatening to them.
Jerry Saperstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Connie G Scammell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the kind of book that will incite political debate. Hopefully it will also get parties from all political sides to get together and discuss how to best manage revenues. It sure does start out sounding to blame the public unions, which some of the early examples provided. Can teachers, lifeguards, fire fighters and police truly make $100,000 pensions? According to DiSalvo, yes they can.

The problem with unions, says DiSalvo, is their power. They have become so powerful in some states, that there is no opposition. They can also exert greater influence on their members than private sector unions, through political lobbying. Benefits come out of taxes that locals pay, often with nothing in return.

Di Salvo provides for plenty of examples of unions depleting state coffers. California is a prime example, being the 11th largest economy in the western world. He also gives a historical run-down of union power since the post World War I era. the first unions were mostly in manufacturing jobs. Now most of those manufacturing jobs have gone overseas. Unions have lost membership since the 1930s, but they haven't seem to have lost political power.

Collective bargaining is one thing that DiSalvo says provide little to the community. Taxes end up being redistributed and poor performers are protected, diminishing productivity and hurting the business. There needs to be more cuts across the board and more equity in the outcome. Retiring with six-figure pensions is becoming harder to fulfill in our economy.

DiSalvo has his articles deeply researched and well-cited. Each chapter can stand by itself in a political science class. Reading this book will perhaps make a few opponents, and perhaps even a few supporters of unions, agree that more changes must happen to unionized power, changes that will better benefit everyone.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Public sector union members will not like this book simply because it is critical of current public sector union policies.

Those of us who involuntarily support the public sector with our tax dollars may take a very different view.

DiSalvio, who is not anti-union, is concerned with the fiscal consequences of excessively generous public sector union contracts – with ample reason. The burden of public sector pensions alone is frightening, especially in states like Illinois, California and New York. Illinois, for example, not only exempts public sector union pensions from adjustment to meet changed economic circumstances, but also increases such pensions by 3% every year! Di Salvio piles one example upon another and the numbers in this case don’t lie: Without enormous increases in taxation and user fees, the states will be unable to pay public union employee pensions. Remember states cannot go bankrupt.

DiSalvio is also rightly concerned with the immense political power of public sector unions. They contribute billions to candidates on every level, almost always to candidates from one party. And at one point or other, these are the very candidate who will be “negotiating” contracts with these public sector unions, a conflict of interest DiSalvio duly notes.

This is not a diatribe. It’s not even an “angry” book. It’s a rational, well-supported discourse on the dangers of public sector unions to the fiscal and political health of the United States. Public sector union members won’t like it at all because the facts are threatening to them. But concerned citizens will find it thought provoking.

Jerry
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on October 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this book, DiSalvo argues that public-sector unions are fundamentally different than private-sector unions - and not in a good way. He has a list of differences, but the most important one is that public sector unions can vote for the politicians who sit across from them at the bargaining table. This gives politicians (or their delegates) an incentive to give unions concessions instead of bargaining hard, like private-sector unions do. As a result, government pays wages and especially benefits that are too high, has pay scales that separate performance from pay, and agrees to work rules that make it impossible to fire - or even discipline - poor performance.

The book will likely be rejected by union leaders for its conclusions alone. Given this, it’s important to note where DiSalvo is coming from. He points out that he is a third-generation union member, though he resents being in a closed shop where he is forced to pay dues. Throughout the book, he is careful to distinguish private-sector unions from public-sector unions. He sometimes leans anti-union where his own evidence is ambiguous, but overall the book is far more social-scientific than polemic.

While DiSalvo obviously dislikes public employee unions, he tries to be fair-minded. He considers arguments on both sides of each proposition, and is willing to note places (like total wage/benefit packages) where the evidence is unclear. He includes a little quantitative evidence, a lot of citations to other scholars’ quantitative evidence (especially Terry Moe), and a lot of anecdata. The basic structure of his reasoning will be easy to follow for anyone familiar with mainstream social science. While some other reviewers have found it relatively dense, I found it to be a quick read - but I read a lot of social science.
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Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences
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