But it’s tough to claim an entitlement to continuing economic special treatment, courtesy of taxpayers in tough economic straits. So perhaps it’s no surprise that in recent days, Wisconsin’s government-worker unions have focused their ire on a bill that would limit collective bargaining rights for many state workers (excepting police, firefighters and other public safety workers). Under the bill, government-worker unions would retain the right to bargain collectively for their wages – but not for their benefits, which have been so generous that they threaten the solvency of a variety of states throughout the country.
The government-worker unions' hysterical opposition to the Wisconsin collective bargaining bill – echoed and encouraged by the President and Democratic National Committee – signals an acknowledgment by both the unions and liberal politicians that the legislation represents a structural threat to a system that has benefited both of them. As the system currently works, government-worker unions collect dues from their members that are used, in significant part, to support Democrat politicians who are then voted into office and charged with “bargaining” with the government unions that supported them. It has worked splendidly for everyone involved – except the ordinary taxpayer who’s stuck paying the bill. So any legislation that would impede the continued operation of this cozy system and encourage further taxpayer-friendly reform is, not surprisingly, anathema to both the unions and the politicians.
Americans should expect the Democrat- and union-backed protests in Madison to continue, spread and even, perhaps, to intensify. Special interests don’t relinquish their privileges without a fight. But when the conflict finally ends, let’s hope it has served as a reminder to the government worker unions and the politicians who support them: They are supposed to be working to serve the taxpayers – not the other way around – and, in America, we won’t tolerate the continued existence of a special, privileged class of government overlords.