-By Warner Todd Huston
So, what is the first thing that you do when you find out that everyone hates you? What do you do when you finally come to terms with the fact that you have the worst reputation possible? Do you sit yourself down and reassess your actions to try and pinpoint why everyone thinks you are a jerk? Well, that might be what a serious person or group might do. So, what has the AFL-CIO, the SEIU and other big unions done upon this realization? Why, hired a public relations firm, of course.
After all, the unions can’t possibly be at fault can they? Why, it can’t be the union’s fault that everyone hates them, could it? It simply must be that people out there are too stupid to understand that unions are wonderful, right? Recently the AP reported that Big Labor planned to launch a “multimillion dollar campaign to boost the image of government workers and fend off pay cuts and benefit rollbacks in states under fiscal siege.”
The PR campaign is needed, the unions feel, because public employee unions are getting a lot of flack for almost single-handedly destroying every state’s budget by overbearing demands, unduly high pay scales and exorbitant pension and health benefits — all at an unsustainable cost to already over burdened taxpayers.
State budgets are so far in the red that almost every state in the union is considering freezing public employee union pay, cutting benefits, and instituting two-tiered plans, one for existing members and a second for new hires. Some have even implemented some of these reforms necessary to balance their budgets.
These austerity programs are anathema to unions that have grown used to constantly demanding, and having satisfied, their ever greater requests for higher pay, higher benefits, and greater pensions. Unions are alarmed by the fact that usually pliant politicians that have traditionally acceded to every demand without question are suddenly realizing that unions are destroying the state and voters are finally starting to notice. Without every politician reliably in the union’s pockets, these worker overlords are finding their power put at risk.
But notice in all of this the unions are not suggesting that they need to face reality and cut back on their outsized demands on the taxpayers? Notice that the unions simply think that all they have to do is have a happy-talk PR campaign and everything will be juuuust fine?
The AP noted the second aspect of this campaign, as well. Instead of spending the millions this campaign will cost on new, sensible measures to fit in with the cutting back that everyone else in the country is forced to do, these unions want to spend the money to try and push members to learn how to lobby government and “galvanize workers at the local level and get them more involved in talking to lawmakers and making the case for unions.”
Instead of realizing that the high times and fraud are over and looking for ways to better understand and fit in to today’s economic climate, these unions think that amping up the pressure to continue past practices is what is needed here.
This, I’d reckon, is why unions have such a bad reputation. They’ve earned it, for sure.