The political conundrum of public sector unions

Interesting article at The Daily Beast by Daniel DiSalvo, assistant professor of political science in the Colin Powell School at the City College of New York-CUNY and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.  How Public Sector Unions Divide the Democrats

Public sector unions create a genuine political conundrum for Democrats. On the one hand, they are genuinely powerful, and Democrats rely on their money and manpower during elections. Teachers unions, AFSCME, and SEIU are among the biggest donors to Democratic candidates and are organizationally braided into the party apparatus. However, public employee unions drive up government costs and depress productivity, weakening the state’s capacity to assist the poor and middle class….

(M)any states and cities have been providing more public services and promising to pay for them later by back-loading public employee compensation into retirement. And as the share of state and local budgets devoted to public employee pension and health benefits increases, the latter “crowds out” government spending on parks, education, public safety, and other services on which the poor and middle class rely. Democrats find themselves in the difficult position of defending governments that spend more but do less…

Public unions have also created conflict with racial minorities, another core Democratic Party constituency. As Harvard political scientist Paul Peterson and his colleagues have shown, there are wide gaps between teachers unions’ views and minorities’ views of education policy. In hopes of improving their children’s schooling, minority parents tend to favor charter schools, vouchers, and other reforms fiercely opposed by teachers unions.

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