Politics: The Commissar’s In Town

By Jeffrey Bradley

Unions have served well during good-faith collective bargaining with business and industry, but less so when taking a stonewalling or avaricious approach. And while we appreciate city administrators cashing in outrageously at taxpayer expense when leaving office or retiring not at all, we’d like union apparatchiks overseeing City hall even less.

Case in point. The latest bit of union slipperiness—that glossypetition” flyer bemoaning the “golden parachutes” afforded City administrators and elected officials only because they’re non-union—falls under the Democratic-Marxist rubric “Workers of the World Unionize!” Where’s Engels when we need him?

A tiskit, a taskit—the bundle goes in the basket…

Like the pope of old who sat down with Spain and Portugal to divvy-up the world, Miami Beach negotiators and Communications Workers of America leadership continued trying to carve up a new three-year deal worth millions like a Christmas turkey. Moving with the speed of Dutch Elm disease, they’d almost hammered out a contract by Friday, tho’ nothing actually got signed. No done deal, this; it appears the other unions—police and firefighters—have already agreed to terms that help keep their perks and emollients in check. And well they might, considering the fate of Vallejo, California that recently went bankrupt after “negotiating” municipal unions took it to the cleaners. The town’s in receivership, we hear.

Anybody who knows something about anything understands that when a union boss or labor negotiator uses codespeak like “tentative dialogue”, “lingering issues” and “working on language”, we’re in for rough sledding. According to Joseph Fisher, vice president of the Communication Workers of America, an agreement with the City seemed possible—and good thing!, as CWA’s the last union holdout.

See, Miami Beach wants the unions to help make up a $32 million shortfall in next year’s budget because of, mostly, downward-spiraling property values and upward-spiraling pension costs. Administrators hope to realize that amount through a tax-rate hike and union concessions. Now, wait—the City’s asking the unions to help it save $32 million? Better tell the City to bring in its things of night.

These same unionistas are behind some of those political boilerplate hit-jobs that stuff your mailbox at election time; you know, that slime opponents maliciously and bear no name beyond a fine print dropbox dead-letter address on the back of the flyer? Well, these are those guys. And they’re at it again. That flyer we mentioned seems to make sense, because, who wouldn’t want to cap pensions at $110,000 for city employees and reduce payouts across the board? But while it proposes stopping golden parachutes for highly-paid administrators what it doesn’t say is they want those same plum benefits for the unions!

The flyer, both bogus and brazen, shows exactly how stupid these unions take us for. Do they seriously think we’re going to put a petition on the ballot to unionize City Hall?

This reckless and feckless behavior is straight out of the Jimmy Hoffa school of labor relations. It has no place on the Beach.

And it’s boundless effrontery. Fisher disingenuously proposed the same terms for union members, knowing it won’t fly. But he did allow that the effort will continue to gather signatures, even with the union unlikely to garner signatures enough to place the question on the November ballot. Why? Is there a plot afoot to later wield those results like a billyclub? In the man’s own words, “Maybe with [the mayor’s] support we can get the rest of the commissioners to get this on the ballot without signatures.” Yes, that would be the fast track.

So far, elected officials haven’t caved.

The unions want here what they want everywhere, and they’ll push the agenda. Take the Card Check Act, for instance. If passed, this Orwellian nonsense would chuck an employer’s right to require a secret ballot, if employees want union representation, right out the window. Instead, a union could be certified if 50 percent plus one employee wants it. The powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) maintains that it’s simply a way to keep employers from intimidating workers, when it actually guarantees the loss of the secret ballot and lets labor organizers force co-workers into joining… whether they want to or not! The term, we believe, is coercion.

If you were a powerful union boss, which would you want?

There are hardly more fundamental rights than the secret ballot. Any American should be able to vote for a president, a mayor—or a unionized workplace—without worrying about retaliation.

We’d rather see more services privatized than unionized. Remember those howls of protest when the City considered taking away parking enforcement from the unions? Good Ford! Richard McKinnon, head of Local 3178 representing Beach parking enforcement agents, invited us to imagine “if we unleashed a profit-driven company onto our citizens,” towing would rage out of control and create a nuisance. And to consider the dire consequences of opening the door to corruption, replete with backroom deals struck with towing companies. Now, that grotesque scenario differs from the one we have now (where towing rages out of control and creates a nuisance, and backroom deals are being struck with the towing companies) exactly how?

Talk about your entrenched interests! Almost makes you want to run down to the local Local and renew your union card, doesn’t it?

At the time, Mr. McKinnon was so committed to fiscal responsibility that he even referred to the salaries of those “higher paid management” types, Saul Francis and Chuck Adams. Besides making us wonder what Mr K himself is paid, it conjured up a City Hall run something along the lines of our nascent Health Care system or Government, er, General Motors.

Say, here’s an idea. Why don’t we tell these union commissars with their dreams of loot and lucre to find their prey elsewhere and, while they’re about it, take city administrators who don’t know the difference between commonwealth and personal wealth with them?

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