Taxpayers are being lectured about the need for “shared sacrifice” to protect education, public safety, health and welfare spending and other public sector programs at a time when we are already considered a “high-tax” state. Not to mention our record high unemployment rates. None of that seems to matter when it comes to our insatiable government.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should have the best possible schools, well-trained and supported law enforcement professionals, and public services. The problem is, public employee unions and their partners think legalized discrimination against the private sector and its taxpaying workforce is the solution. Teamsters Local 572 representative, Connie Oser, wrote the following in a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education, “LAUSD can no longer afford to subsidize private industry with taxpayer dollars.”
But the public sector exists because of the sacrifices made by private industry. From large corporations to sole proprietorships, California’s private sector – and its tax money – is what fuels the government. Ms. Oser has it backwards…taxpayers can no long afford to subsidize the government we have today.
The worst form of government discrimination against taxpayers is through Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which require any public works project to use union-only labor. If a non-union business wants to bid, they have to force their employees to pay union dues without receiving any benefit, resulting in fewer bidders. Less bidders drive up the overall cost of the project. Industry audits have revealed that PLAs bring no increased benefit to taxpayers.
Los Angeles County has resisted discriminatory PLAs for years, but one has recently been proposed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center revamp. Ironically, the cost of negotiating this discriminatory PLA will add almost $1 million to the total cost of the project, not counting the higher construction cost the PLA will bring.
Los Angeles residents and businesses should closely watch the debate over this proposed PLA and decide whether or not they are willing to support a government that would prevent taxpaying businesses from providing services. The unions will undoubtedly increase their rhetoric, claiming that only union firms pay quality wages and benefits, and attack private sector businesses, claiming they won’t hire local workers to do the jobs.
These arguments are just scare tactics coming from a special interest that cares little about the public good or for the taxpayers that pay the bills. The truth is that a binding contract, awarded to the best qualified bidder, union or non-union, is the best way to prove that government respects taxpayers and is committed to providing value in return for tax dollars.
Los Angeles County can be a model for California by rejecting discriminatory PLAs and forcing unions to prove their value by performance instead of politics.