All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service…The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives….President Franklin D. Roosevelt, August 16, 1937
President Roosevelt was right to fear the rise of government (or public sector) unions. Unlike their counterparts in private industry, government unions are not negotiating for a share of the profits. Instead, government unions are negotiating for a larger and larger share of tax dollars. To make matters worse, government unions make political contributions and therefore have a say in who sits on the other side of the table during the negotiations. This leaves taxpayers without a seat at the table and stuck picking up the bill for a public sector aristocracy where the pay and benefits outstrip anything in the private sector of the economy.
In 1962, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10988 allowing federal workers the right to collectively bargain. In 1970, Act 195 of the General Assembly created the framework for the creation of public sector unions in Pennsylvania. Consider the effects of those historic changes: Today, the Pennsylvania public sector employee pension system has unfunded liabilities totaling over $40 billion. As a result, taxpayer contributions to the pension fund are expected to triple over the next few years. In addition, taxpayers are responsible for another $16 billion to cover state retiree healthcare costs. State and local governments, along with school districts, are forced to overpay for labor due to “prevailing wage” laws that are a holdover from the Jim Crow era. Finally, 80 years after the end of prohibition our state is still in the liquor business—not because government-sold alcohol is any better or safer for society, but because our politicians from both parties are more concerned about the political fallout of eliminating 3000 union jobs than the cost of the system.
In 2011 and 2012, states all across America worked to rein in government unions. The government of Wisconsin no longer collects the unions’ dues or political contributions. The unions, like every other private enterprise, now have to send their members a bill. Michigan now prohibits teachers unions from using their members’ dues for political purposes without their written consent. In Indiana, a worker can no longer be forced to join or support a union as a condition of employment.
In Pennsylvania, where the supposedly pro-taxpayer Republican Party has its largest majority in over 50 years, why has nothing changed? Because government union money flows to members of both parties in, from “leadership” to newly elected members.
The purpose of this website is to help you find out how much in campaign contributions your state Representative and Senator have received from public sector unions. It includes only current members—those leaving office at the end of 2012 have been excluded. The names of those not receiving government union contributions have also been excluded. We will work to keep the website updated as new information becomes available. If you have any questions, the just click the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page.