Last week, the people of Wisconsin sided with their sitting Governor, affirming their approval of Scott Walker’s job thus far. The issue that was most significant in this election was whether government should support collective bargaining efforts by public employee unions. With shouts of “Thank you, Scott,” echoing around Wisconsin, the answer was a resounding, “No.” Wisconsin seemed to light a fire under those fighting against the power of public sector unions.
North Carolina is in the middle of a discussion on government involvement in public sector unions. The North Carolina Association of Educators, a de facto public sector union, has had a history of political involvement. A recent Civitas Institute article cited that 99 percent of NCAE political contributions go to fund Democratic candidates. More recently, their attacks went towards liberal legislators that sided with a conservative position on the education budget last year.
Soon after the General Assembly overrode a veto by Gov. Perdue that would stop member dues from being automatically removed from paychecks, NCAE sued the state. This attempt by the legislature to remove government intervention and preference in public unions was met with attacks from liberals across the state. So far, NCAE has been granted a preliminary injunction by a superior court judge, which allowed the unions to continue deducting dues directly from employees accounts.
Should public-sector unions be allowed to deduct dues from members’ paychecks? Conservative legislators don’t think so. And don’t be fooled – NCAE tends not to have its members’ best interests in mind. The Teacher Association’s so called lobbying efforts are met with direct, privileged access to state employees. Occasional reforms advocated by the NCAE and other public-sector unions cause long-term financial difficulties. The fact is that there are sustainable alternatives, where public employees enjoy benefits comparable to private sector workers, that do not expand the growth of unfunded liabilities to an uncontrollable level.
National Affairs’ Daniel Disalvo writes, “as private-sector unions have withered, public-sector unions have grown dramatically.” There are more public jobs in the workforce than ever, but that shouldn’t create a correlation with wasteful taxpayer dollars being given to blatantly political causes. North Carolina cannot afford to follow down the path of these states.
As the people of Wisconsin decided, the public does not want to stand with big labor. They do not want their government communicating with public unions who ardently preach political messages. The fight here in North Carolina is about fiscal conservatism, the economy and above all, jobs. Let’s hope our legislators get the message and begin to place reform above handouts.