ORGANIZED PUBLIC SERVANTS ARE SHOWING UP TO PROTEST CUTS
By ART CHANCE
There are about 15,000 unionized State employees, over 10,000 unionized teachers, tens of thousands more unionized employees of political subdivisions, and still several thousand unionized private sector employees in Alaska.
There are also thousands of unionized federal employees in the State, and while the federal employees don’t always share the same interests as the State and local employees, they will usually help them protect their interests.
Many of the unions have some sort of release time that allows them to get employees off their regular duties for union “business,” which includes union political activities. The 8,500-member General Government Unit of State employees gets to take one day of paid leave each year from each member of the bargaining unit; that is 8,500 x 7.5 hour days with pay that they can devote to whatever the union wants them to do. That is about five man-years of paid time. Most of the other unions have something similar.
The unions all have the home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of every member of their bargaining unit, and the State, using taxpayer money, prepares an updated version of those lists for them every month.
Even though it is unconstitutional, most employers are still handing out union membership and dues forms and to some degree encouraging the employees to join and pay.
The United States Supreme Court’s Hudson decision in 1986 outlawed compulsory union membership in the public sector, yet when I became Alaska’s director of labor relations in 2003, half my labor agreements still had compulsory membership, and when I told the unions the compulsory membership provisions had to go, I was on the front page of the newspaper for “union busting.”
This week’s show trial of the Dunleavy budget wasn’t to solicit public opinion; it was to allow the unions and other interest groups to mob the hearings, and why in the World would Republicans with two brain cells to rub together agree to have the “hearings” on territory owned by the National Extortion, excuse me, Education Association?
Few everyday Alaskans know or care the political leanings even of their next door neighbors. Maybe some activist Community Council or neighborhood association types have a phone tree or email list of people in the neighborhood.
But the unions and other interest groups that live off government spending can mobilize every member of their constituency instantly, using computer resources that you pay for, and turn out significant numbers of their constituency for anything. When Pravda, excuse me, the Anchorage Daily News says “some Alaskans” want the Permanent Fund Dividend cut, what they’re really saying is that a mob organized by unions and interest groups showed up at a hearing and said they wanted the dividend to go to their own wages and benefits.
We can’t fix this until we wrest control of the House of Representatives away from communists and quislings, but we need to reinstitute the provisions of the Hatch Act in Alaska; the only political activity a public employee should be able to participate in or contribute to is closing the curtain and casting his/her personal vote: no contributions. No signs, no public testimony or statements, no union or association PACS. If you get money from the State government, you simply don’t have a political opinion, other than behind the curtain in a voting booth.
This has long been an issue in American politics. One facet of the “irrepressible conflict” between the North and the South was since the Lincoln Administration was elected with no support from Southern political figures, Lincoln would be free to make federal political appointments in the South without consideration of the opinion of Southern political figures. The Southern fear was that the Lincoln Administration would appoint abolitionists to federal positions in the South.
In those days it was only the postmaster, mail-carriers, and customs house workers and the like, at most a few hundred in each state. Today it is thousands or tens of thousands of public employees in each district.
The US nibbled at the edges of the issue for the better part of a century and it came to a head in the 1938 Election when it was evident and offensive even to Democrats that the FDR administration had used federal employees and federal power to influence the election, and specifically by using Works Progress Administration employees to influence the election The WPA was the ‘30s version of Comrade Obama’s “Stimulus,” a way to use the federal treasury to give “walking around money” to Democrats.
It was blatant enough that even Democrats joined the Republicans in tamping it down with restrictions on political activity by federal employees and those who received federal funds or federal contracts in The Hatch Act of 1939.
The Hatch Act has been under assault by Democrats since it was enacted, since it is sorta’ their bread and butter. What little of The Hatch Act the Clinton Administration didn’t neuter, Comrade Obama took care of, so today it is essentially meaningless and the State law analogs that prohibit state employees from participating in partisan politics have become equally meaningless. The reality is that public employees are a European-style socialist workers’ party and despite “Janus” they still have the power to compel political contributions.
President Trump has not yet been able to wrest control of the federal bureaucracy from the Democrat-controlled “Deep State,” so no relief is available from the federal government. It is up to the State to take back control of our political system. I’m not sure it could be done even with Republican control of both bodies and the governor; I tried to pass some rather mild amendments to PERA when we had a veto-proof majority of the Legislature, and I couldn’t do it; there are a lot of really stupid Republican elected officials.
It would likely take an Initiative, and that would take a lot of money and organization, but it could be done. Until it is done, the government of Alaska will be of, by, and for, unionized public employees, the government healthcare racket, and the education racket.
Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon. He also writes theater reviews for Must Read Alaska.