Last June, union officials in Baraboo, Wis., filed a complaint against volunteer firefighters who built sandbag barricades to protect the city from record flooding. They whined that city Department of Public Works employees should have been called first and demanded overtime pay (for work they didn't do) to compensate them.
Yes, kids, the city was knee-deep in water and the government union got mad that other people scrambled to work together in an emergency to put sand in bags, save homes and help their neighbors. Public-sector unions aren't about serving the public interest. They're about serving their people, their power and their self-preservation.
In Montpelier, Vt., several years ago, the teachers union went after a superstar educator, Bill Corrow. The students, staff and supervisors at his school loved the social studies teacher and Vietnam veteran. But the Vermont Education Association hated him because he was a volunteer who did not accept payment for his elective course. Teachers unions are all for parents and schoolchildren volunteering their time to engage in political lobbying and power-expanding initiatives on the union's behalf. But God help the community service-oriented individual with a passion for sharing his knowledge in their classrooms.
In California, union heavies in the Sacramento area sued a nonprofit environmental group for using college-age volunteers on a state-funded project to clean up a canyon and build a community trail. Big Labor dusted off an old law that requires community service volunteers to be paid prevailing wages for doing the same kind of cleanup that Allentown Boy Scout Kevin Anderson was punished for doing freely. The law was finally repealed, but not without a brass-knuckles fight.
As National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix, whose group monitors forced union abuses, pointed out during the battle: "Discerning California union bosses' real agenda … is not hard. Volunteer workers don't have to pay compulsory union dues to serve their communities, but most paid workers on public projects in California do. … (It) is yet another example of how government-authorized compulsory union dues corrupt the political process and furnish unscrupulous union officials with an enormous incentive to act against the public interest."
SEIU President Andy Stern in Washington speaks for all of Big Labor when he describes his organizing philosophy: "We prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn't work, we use the persuasion of power." President Obama, who has made national service an administration priority, has been and will continue to be silent about the Big Labor bullies who make public enemies of Scouts with trash bags and hoes.
You see, kids, Obama owes Stern (his most frequent White House visitor) and his union brethren. SEIU alone poured more than $60 million in compulsory membership dues into Obama's campaign and leaned on its workers to "volunteer" to knock on doors, place phone calls and send out mailers for the Democratic Party. No good deed goes unpunished by union bosses -- unless it benefits their political empire.