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The Public employee unions have never been shy about in-your-face political activity to defend their turf and make sure they get for their members what they think the members deserve. The onslaught of activity has increased in these difficult economic times.
In San Francisco, a number of public unions filed suit this week to throw a pension reform measure off the ballot. That reform was introduced by the city’s public defender. He was concerned that his budget is being eaten away to cover employees’ pension costs.
SEIU and other public employee members plan to rally in protests against the opening of the movie “The Expendables,” because Arnold Schwarzenegger has a bit role in the movie. The unions want to express opposition to the governor’s furlough policies.
The nurses’ union parades around an actress dressed as a queen at Meg Whitman events to protest her economic policies.
Teachers surrounded President Barack Obama when signing the new stimulus bill at the White House. That’s because the core of this money-to-the-states package would save public employee jobs. California had issued over 200,000 pink slips to teachers earlier this year in an annual exercise mandated by some arcane law. The number of teachers who were actually in jeopardy of losing their jobs may be reinstated with funds from the new bill, which, by the way, will allow the teachers to keep donating their mandated share of salary to the teachers’ union for political activity.
When you consider the new employment reports that show private employment down, but public employment holding steady, with governments still hiring, maybe all this activity is paying off for the unions, at least in the short run.
The question is, with displays at the White House, employment reports favoring government employees, and the visible lawsuits and protests to protect the public employee status, how does all this play with the average voter and citizens who are suffering during this crushing recession?
Will there be a backlash against this union activity when the voter/taxpayer feels vulnerable and left out while paying for the job security of others?
The negative reaction to the situation in Bell and the rising, mainstream concern expressed by voters in polls and by the media over the public pension and benefits obligations suggests we may be at a tipping point. And, the November elections are right around the corner.