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Government Against Itself : Public Union Power and Its Consequences
by Daniel Disalvo


Overview - As workers in the private sector struggle with stagnant wages, disappearing benefits, and rising retirement ages, unionized public employees retire in their fifties with over $100,000 a year in pension and healthcare benefits. The unions defend tooth and nail the generous compensation packages and extensive job security measures they've won for their members.  Read more...

 
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More About Government Against Itself by Daniel Disalvo
 
 
 
Overview
As workers in the private sector struggle with stagnant wages, disappearing benefits, and rising retirement ages, unionized public employees retire in their fifties with over $100,000 a year in pension and healthcare benefits. The unions defend tooth and nail the generous compensation packages and extensive job security measures they've won for their members. However, the costs they impose crowd out important government services on which the poor and the middle class rely. Attempts to rein in the unions, as in Wisconsin and New Jersey, have met with massive resistance. Yet as Daniel DiSalvo argues in Government against Itself, public sector unions threaten the integrity of our very democracy. DiSalvo, a third generation union member, sees the value in private sector unions. But in public sector, unions do not face a genuine adversary at the bargaining table. Moreover, the public sector can't go out of business no matter how much union members manage to squeeze out of it. Union members have no incentive to settle for less, and the costs get passed along to the taxpayer. States and municipalities strain under the weight of their pension obligations, and the chasm between well-compensated public sector employees and their beleaguered private sector counterparts widens. Where private sector unions can provide a necessary counterweight to the power of capital, public employee unionism is basically the government bargaining with itself; it's no wonder they almost always win. The left is largely in thrall to the unions, both ideologically and financially; the right would simply take a hatchet to the state itself, eliminating important and valuable government services. Neither side offers a realistic vision of well-run government that spends tax dollars wisely and serves the public well. Moving beyond stale and unproductive partisan divisions, DiSalvo argues that we can build a better, more responsive government that is accountable to taxpayer

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780199990740
  • ISBN-10: 0199990743
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publish Date: January 2015
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.19 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Political Science > American Government - General
Books > Political Science > Labor & Industrial Relations - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-11-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

CUNY politics professor DiSalvo (Engines of Change: Party Factions in American Politics, 1868–2010) capably distills familiar arguments against the nation’s public employee unions. “The conflict between the interests of government unions and the public interest is profound,” he begins. Starting with the Boston police strike of 1919, DiSalvo examines the growth of unionized government. He identifies 2009 as a pivot point: the first year in which more public than private employees in the U.S. belonged to unions. “Public sector unions are fundamentally political entities,” he argues. The book convincingly portrays government workers as aggressive political players capable of engineering the elections of the legislators who in theory are their managers. According to DiSalvo, the result is that budgetary havoc, me-first protections, and reduced productivity become the order of the day. He puts particular focus on the union contracts for public school teachers, emphasizing cases in which these agreements have shielded gross incompetence. Acknowledging pro-union arguments, this scholarly analysis also explains why expensive pensions and benefits for teachers, police, firefighters, and corrections officers continue to be popular. DiSalvo sometimes gets lost in academic hair-splitting and conflicting data, but readers of any political persuasion should be sobered by his observation that democratic government’s inevitable fate seems to be “spending more, getting less.” (Jan.)

 
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