In an excellent op-ed for the Press-Telegram, the heroic Cecilia Iglesias details the contemptible smear tactics used against her by the local police union after she voted against a pay raise the city couldn’t afford:
Union President Gerry Serrano waged a ruthless smear campaign, calling me “unethical, unprofessional and criminal.”
Despite my pro-immigration stance, Serrano and his allies claimed that I support President Trump’s anti-immigration policies, including family separations and a border wall.
Paid canvassers from outside Santa Ana misled residents into signing the recall petition. Almost a third of signatures reviewed by the Orange County Registrar of Voters were deemed invalid. I have signed affidavits from 11 of the 20 original recall sponsors stating they were misled into signing.
Santa Ana is one of California’s poorest cities. Median earnings for private-sector workers are around $31,000. The city’s police force, however, is one of the state’s best paid: the average police employee earned $163,875 last year, which cost taxpayers $278,621 when the cost of benefits are included.
Yet, consider how their union responded when a city council member resisted their demands for even more.
This example clearly illustrates why the creation of government unions necessitate outcomes that make it almost impossible for government to serve the public interest.
Who is going to lobby more effectively when it comes to the unaffordable pay raise proposal? The average Santa Ana citizen who is struggling just to put food on the table, and for whom the total savings might be $40-$50 less in annual taxes, or the union and its members who will each receive thousands of dollars in raises?
While it is entirely rational for the union and its members to deploy their considerable resources in support of proposals that enrich themselves, it is actually irrational for the average citizen to take the time and effort to oppose such a measure, given the high costs and low returns for doing so.
If every politician was as heroic as Ms. Iglesias, unions for government workers might be tolerable. But such selflessness is rare, and effective systems of governance should recognize that fact.
In total, the decision to give government unions compulsory collective bargaining powers is costing California taxpayers over $20 billion annually — a burden that is paid for by taxpayers who, on average, earn much less themselves.