Government against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences

Hardcover | January 20, 2015

byDaniel DiSalvo

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As workers in the private sector struggle with stagnant wages, disappearing benefits, and rising retirement ages, unionized public employees retire in their fifties with over $100,000 a year in pension and healthcare benefits. The unions defend tooth and nail the generous compensation packagesand extensive job security measures they've won for their members. However, the costs they impose crowd out important government services on which the poor and the middle class rely. Attempts to rein in the unions, as in Wisconsin and New Jersey, have met with massive resistance. Yet as DanielDiSalvo argues in Government against Itself, public sector unions threaten the integrity of our very democracy. DiSalvo, a third generation union member, sees the value in private sector unions. But in public sector, unions do not face a genuine adversary at the bargaining table. Moreover, the public sector can't go out of business no matter how much union members manage to squeeze out of it. Union membershave no incentive to settle for less, and the costs get passed along to the taxpayer. States and municipalities strain under the weight of their pension obligations, and the chasm between well-compensated public sector employees and their beleaguered private sector counterparts widens. Where privatesector unions can provide a necessary counterweight to the power of capital, public employee unionism is basically the government bargaining with itself; it's no wonder they almost always win. The left is largely in thrall to the unions, both ideologically and financially; the right would simplytake a hatchet to the state itself, eliminating important and valuable government services. Neither side offers a realistic vision of well-run government that spends tax dollars wisely and serves the public well. Moving beyond stale and unproductive partisan divisions, DiSalvo argues that we canbuild a better, more responsive government that is accountable to taxpayers. But we cannot do it until we challenge the dominance of public sector unions in government. This carefully reasoned analysis of the power of public sector unions is a vital contribution to the controversial debates about public versus private unions, increasing inequality, and the role of government in American life

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From the Publisher

As workers in the private sector struggle with stagnant wages, disappearing benefits, and rising retirement ages, unionized public employees retire in their fifties with over $100,000 a year in pension and healthcare benefits. The unions defend tooth and nail the generous compensation packagesand extensive job security measures they've...

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, i...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.41 × 6.42 × 1.1 inPublished:January 20, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199990743

ISBN - 13:9780199990740

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Table of Contents

Introduction. The Battle over Collective Bargaining in Government1. Government Unions: Democracy, Equity, Efficiency, and Purpose2. The Unseen Rights Revolution3. Electing Your Own Boss4. Distorting Direct Democracy5. Government Lobbies Itself6. Public Employee Compensation and the Costs of Government7. Spending More, Getting Less8. Shelter from the Storm9. A Day of Reckoning?

Editorial Reviews

"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 theupper 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 inimproving services." --Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose