Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences Hardcover – Illustrated, January 6, 2015
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
"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.
- Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated edition (January 6, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0199990743
- ISBN-13 : 978-0199990740
- Item Weight : 1.27 pounds
- Dimensions : 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,619,796 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Civil service pension obligations are an important subject which Mr. DeSalvo attempts to address. Unfortunately, Mr. DeSalvo's style lacks clarity and flow. The footnotes are better than the text.
In any case, I have relatives receiving pensions and have seen first hand how wasteful they are, especially in states like mine where government spending is out of control and the money simply isn't there. It was not hard for me to agree with the claims made about the power public unions have over government. It's especially disturbing to think about funding going to retired workers who retired at the age of 50 while schools are soliciting parents to raise money by selling candy bars.
You may not agree with everything he says, but if you vote, this is worth the read.
Government employment accounts for 17% of total U.S. employment - most in state and local governments; teachers are the largest component, comprising about 41% of the total . One does not think of police, firemen, or school teachers as millionaires - yet, public employees are one of the fastest-growing groups of millionaires in America. On retirement in their mid-50s, they're paid good pensions and healthcare coverage until they die - including the value of their retirement packages in their net worth upon retirement makes many millionaires. Eight states pay, on average, over $1 million in pension benefits to a retired worker, and 23 pay about $750,000 or more. Best current estimates of unfunded pension liabilities for state and local government is about $3.2 trillion, with healthcare liabilities probably adding another $1 trillion. By 20130, the number of retired public workers will equal the number employed by state and local government. Efforts to reform these adverse trends are subject to massive and prolonged public protest (Wisconsin) and rollback (Ohio).
In five states, and average full-career retiree receives a retirement income higher than his final salary. Detroit, San Bernardino, and Stockton are in bankruptcy.
Unions representing government workers are different from those found in the private sphere. One big difference is the nature of preexisting job protections in the public sector - civil service laws providing extensive protections from arbitrary firing, transfers, or disciplinary actions that private sector workers usually lack. Another difference is that governments can access new revenue through taxation, while private sector workers are fully exposed to the business cycle.
The biggest difference however, is that public sector unions can exert greater influence on their employers (government) through the political process (electioneering - aided by off-year elections, lobbying), reducing managers' incentives to drive a hard bargain. Further, while private sector owners have powerful incentives to keep profits for themselves, there is no such opportunity for agency managers, and in many cases management benefits from higher settlements. Another difference - it is far more difficult for government 'customers' to change service providers than for private-sector customers to do so. Further, political and job limitations make offshoring almost impossible in the public sector, while the private sector has gained enormous power through that option.
Public sector employees/unions can also block reform efforts. Researcher Terry Moe found that teacher union political activity was almost single-handedly responsible for the feeble results of the education reform movement over the last quarter-century. Each of the United Federation of Teachers' 116,000 New York City members pays, on average, about $600/year in dues; in addition, members voluntarily donate over $10 million for political purposes - making it the Democratic Party's largest underwriter and voting bloc in New York City and State. In 2006-07, only 8 teachers in a 55,000 employee system were dismissed for performance-based reason, and in 2009 some 700 teachers were paid not to teach because they were considered a liability in the classroom but could not be dismissed. The 'rubber rooms' were closed down in 2010, but NYC now has the Absent Teacher Reserve (those not wanted in classrooms) with 1,200 teachers costing $144 million/year. Mayor Bloomberg worked to implement reforms - he's now gone and Mayor de Blasio is working to undo them.
The cost of public-sector pay and benefits in many cases far exceed what comparable workers earn in the private sector and are weighing down state and local budgets. This weakens government capacity to assist the poor and middle class. Governments have been dodging this conflict by underfunding pensions and retiree health-care benefits.