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Unions

States employ 19 million workers - 15 percent of the nation’s workforce and six times as many workers as the federal government employs, according to the State Budget Crisis Task Force.

Salaries and benefits for those employees account for around 30 percent of the state general fund in most states. Benefits alone accounting for more than a third of that cost, meaning that about 10 percent of state general fund expenditures now go to benefits for currently employed workers, many of whom are represented by unions. The cost is growing at a rate that cannot be sustained. To have any hope of achieving fiscal health in the future, states will need to redesign their benefit systems and evaluate state employee salaries.

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    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      RI pension case will go forward in court; mediation fails

      The Providence Journal | by Randal Edgar | April 11, 2014

      In a joint statement, Governor Chafee and state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said that while they there was a strong effort to reach a mediated settlement, the rejection of that settlement "by a small group of union members" means the process "has failed and the mediation process has ended."

    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      Rhode Island is considering options on pension deal, Chafee says

      The Boston Globe | April 10, 2014

      Governor Lincoln Chafee said Rhode Island is considering various options on how to proceed with lawsuits brought over the state's landmark pension overhaul, after a proposed deal was rejected by members of police unions.

    • HEADLINES

      Some state pensions in dire straits

      USA Today | by Dustin Racioppi | March 21, 2014

      Not making payments to the pension funds, or only paying a portion of what an actuary has recommended, is largely what got these debt-burdened states to where they are today, experts say.

    • HEADLINES: New Mexico

      Governor wants NM to stop collecting union dues

      Associated Press | March 21, 2014

      Contract talks with state employee unions are at an impasse because New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants the state to stop collecting union dues through withdrawals from employees' paychecks, the governor said.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California Controller John Chiang proposes prefunding state retiree health care

      Sacramento Bee - State Worker | by Jon Ortiz | March 10, 2014

      A new tally of unfunded state retiree health care costs shows long-term obligations grew by hundreds of millions of dollars last year, prompting Controller John Chiang to propose a plan on Thursday to chip away at the debt..

       

    • SOLUTIONS

      Why government employee collective bargaining laws must be reformed now

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | December 5, 2012

      There are three important lessons from the Wisconsin collective bargaining battles over the past eighteen months:

      1. The power of the government-sector unions and their impact on elections is greatly overestimated. With the November 2012 victory for  Senate Republicans to regain control of the Wisconsin Senate,  government employee union  suffered their sixth  major defeat since March 2011.

      2. When given a choice, government employees will quit their union in large numbers.

      3. Government employees' salaries and benefits, particularly pensions, are financially unsustainable in most states and collective bargaining reform is needed.

    • SOLUTIONS: California

      Reform Before Revenue: How to Fix California's Retiree Health-Care Problem

      The Manhattan Institute | by Stephen D. Eide | October 31, 2012

      This paper examines the ongoing fiscal crisis caused by health-care plans for retirees (known as "other post-employment benefits," or OPEB) in one of the hardest-hit states, California, and outlines necessary reforms that should come before tax increases or cuts to government services.

    • SOLUTIONS: Wisconsin

      Benefit Reform Could Save School Districts Hundreds of Million$

      The MacIver Institute | November 29, 2011

      Public officials can help alleviate their budget crunches by offering competitive, not exorbitant benefits.

    • SOLUTIONS: Ohio

      Solving Our State Fiscal Challenges

      The Buckeye Institute | by Matt A. Mayer | November 29, 2011

      Advocating for collective bargaining reforms because unless base compensation adjustmentst happen, taxes will have to go up.

    • SOLUTIONS: Washington

      Top 10 Ideas to Cut Waste, Balance the Budget and Stimulate the Economy Without Raising Taxes

      The Freedom Foundation | by Amber Gunn | November 4, 2011

      Ten ideas to cut waste and balance the buget without raising taxes, including more efficient K-12 funding, spending high education tax dollars more wisely and rein in state employee salaries and benefits.

    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      RI pension case will go forward in court; mediation fails

      The Providence Journal | by Randal Edgar | April 11, 2014

      In a joint statement, Governor Chafee and state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said that while they there was a strong effort to reach a mediated settlement, the rejection of that settlement "by a small group of union members" means the process "has failed and the mediation process has ended."

    • HEADLINES: Rhode Island

      Rhode Island is considering options on pension deal, Chafee says

      The Boston Globe | April 10, 2014

      Governor Lincoln Chafee said Rhode Island is considering various options on how to proceed with lawsuits brought over the state's landmark pension overhaul, after a proposed deal was rejected by members of police unions.

    • HEADLINES

      Some state pensions in dire straits

      USA Today | by Dustin Racioppi | March 21, 2014

      Not making payments to the pension funds, or only paying a portion of what an actuary has recommended, is largely what got these debt-burdened states to where they are today, experts say.

    • HEADLINES: New Mexico

      Governor wants NM to stop collecting union dues

      Associated Press | March 21, 2014

      Contract talks with state employee unions are at an impasse because New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez wants the state to stop collecting union dues through withdrawals from employees' paychecks, the governor said.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California Controller John Chiang proposes prefunding state retiree health care

      Sacramento Bee - State Worker | by Jon Ortiz | March 10, 2014

      A new tally of unfunded state retiree health care costs shows long-term obligations grew by hundreds of millions of dollars last year, prompting Controller John Chiang to propose a plan on Thursday to chip away at the debt..

       

    • HEADLINES: Wisconsin

      Wisconsin's Legacy for Unions

      New York Times | by Steven Greenhouse | February 24, 2014

      Governor Scott Walker’s landmark law — called Act 10 — severely restricted the power of public-employee unions to bargain collectively, and that provision, among others, has given social workers, prison guards, nurses and other public employees little reason to pay dues to a union that can no longer do much for them.

    • HEADLINES

      Common-Core Tensions Cause Union Heartburn

      Education Week | by Andrew Ujifusa and Stephen Sawchuk | February 20, 2014

      From the early days of the Common Core State Standards, the two national teachers' unions have been among the initiative's biggest boosters, helping to make the case to the nation's 3.5 million teachers for the tougher expectations and putting significant money into the development of aligned curricula and tools.

      But in some union quarters, that support is starting to waver—the product of flawed implementation in states, concerns about the fast timeline for new testing tied to the standards, and, in at least one instance, fallout from internal state-union politics.

    • HEADLINES: Illinois

      State budget battles taking shape

      The Chicago Tribune | by Ray Long and Hal Dardick | February 18, 2014

      This year, the backdrop is the scheduled expiration of much of the 67 percent income-tax rate increase Democrats that Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn pushed through three years ago.

    • HEADLINES: Florida

      FRS bill emerges in Senate

      The Tallahassee Democrat | by Travis Pillow and Jeff Burlew | February 13, 2014

      Cash-balance plan would protect against losses, at-risk employees have pension option in hybrid approach.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California state worker pay database updated with 2013 figures

      Sacramento Bee | by Jon Ortiz | February 12, 2014

      The Sacramento Bee’s California state salary database has been revamped and updated with calendar 2013 payroll numbers.