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NY Times Offers Unions a Bitter Pill Wrapped in Conservative Bashing

John on February 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

How do you get a dog to take it’s medicine? In my house growing up, the secret was to push the pills into some juicy red meat so the dog didn’t notice.

Yesterday, the NY Times offered an editorial based on this same principle. It’s titled Their Real Agenda and the villainous they in the title refers to Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and others who have floated the idea of lettings states declare bankruptcy. But all of that is really just a tasty distraction from the bitter pill at the core of the editorial:

many public employee unions have done well during a time of hardship for most Americans. The problem, though, isn’t the existence of those unions; it is the generous contracts willingly given to them by lawmakers because of their lobbying power and bloc-voting ability. In New York, unionized state employees have had a 14 percent raise over four years, and now make an average of nearly $67,000. Iowa’s state workers last year won a 6 percent raise over two years.

Dozens of states give pension and health benefits far more generous than in the private sector. Their costs have resulted in significant cutbacks to basic state services for the poor and middle class.

I’m sure that second sentence about the problem not being unions themselves but the contracts given to them was meant to be exculpatory. And yet, doesn’t it sort of end up saying that the real problem is “lobbying power.” It’s as close as the Times will every get to calling unions a special interest. But the Times isn’t done. It actually goes on to recommend that Governors get tough:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York got the attention of state unions last week by threatening to lay off 9,800 workers if the unions don’t give up at least $450 million in payroll cuts and other givebacks. Other governors are talking about changing collective bargaining laws. Governors also have a huge megaphone at their disposal, and should not hesitate to remind both the public and union members that financial emergencies require sacrifice.

Of course they don’t mention the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, whose name has become synonymous with standing up to unions and demanding “shared sacrifice.” One guess why the Times might not want to credit him for leading the charge in this regard.

Still, this is pretty tough stuff for a far left editorial page. Governor Christie, among others, should not fail to capitalize on the fact that even the NY Times supports getting tough on union contracts.

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Category: Energy & Economy |

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