It seems amazing that even in the wake of the Wisconsin, where government unions have had a hand in bringing the state perilously close to a fiscal cliff, there is still a clamor for government unions. In Texas, a right-to-work state (meaning unions can exist but cannot force employees to join), the creation or expansion of government unions usually requires a change in local law. In Austin, that very thing is happening on the November ballot.
Propositions 10 and 11 from the City of Austin deal with “civil service” – the word “union” is never used, presumably because it is a rather divisive word this day and age. Proposition 10 expands civil service to any city employees to whom a state civil service union is unavailable, and Proposition 11 creates a civil service law for emergency medical services personnel. The financial impact of Prop. 10 is laid out – at least, the “minimum” impact, over half a million dollars in the first year for personnel. There is no word on what the impact would be on the city long-term, in pension costs and everyday personnel costs, for either proposition.
That number would be impossible to predict, but there is no doubt that the burden on taxpayers is greater when government unions are at play.
Government unions are insidious because they create a terrible dichotomy – government employees lobbying government for more spending. The taxpayer holding the checkbook is left out of the equation altogether. This is one way that local government grows out of control so quickly. Consider, too, that unions spend a lot of money on political races, effectively choosing which leaders will sit at the helm at city hall and sign off on, you guessed it, union demands. And Austin can’t afford to drain money indefinitely, considering it is already over $7 billion dollars in debt (in principal and interest).
Long-term, Texas is better off as a right-to-work state, something government unions would like to see changed. By unionizing local government employees and spending money in local races, they are able to gain a foothold with office-holders who are likely to run for state government. Some of the most powerful unions in the state other than the teacher unions have major footprints in Houston and San Antonio, and Austin isn’t far behind.
Stop the bleeding before it starts, and vote “no” on Propositions 10 and 11 in the City of Austin.