That holds true for Democratically controlled Maryland. Public sector unions are a powerful special interest and exert great influence, if not control over Maryland Democrats.
Two years ago Thomas “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles County), the powerful chairman of the Maryland Senate Finance Committee, delivered an unintentional dose of truth to a healthcare panel. Middleton said, “You recognize the people that get you there. It’s labor and trial lawyers that get Democrats in office. And you don’t bite off the hand that feeds you.”
It has almost become cliché to state the fact that Maryland’s public sector unions pay (with taxpayer money) for the Democratic politicians they negotiate with to obtain even more taxpayer largesse.
However, a look at the numbers reinforces the sobering reality.
According to the Maryland Campaign Finance Database at least four public sector unions have contributed more than $1.6 million over the last two election cycles to Maryland Democratic candidates, political action committees, slates, and the party’s state central committee.
Here is the breakdown of total contributions to Democrats through the 2006 and 2010 election cycles:
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), $401,666
American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO member), $63,480
Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), $281,118
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), $906,718
These numbers most likely understate the public sector union’s political money power as they do not do not include all their hidden political action committees or contributions to Maryland Democratic federal accounts.
Maryland public sector unions also provide the necessary boots on the ground (phone bankers, canvassers etc.) for Democratic campaigns.
Protesting and rallying on behalf of Democratic initiatives like Obamacare, and against Republicans is of course, a public sector union specialty. During the a rally in support of Governor Martin O’Malley’s reelection campaign, AFL-CIO honcho Joslyn Williams referred to the state house their “piece of property.” In Montgomery County, the unions wholly owned county council representatives even join them shouting “no justice no peace” from the rooftops, over the elimination of pension benefits based on pay raises they never received.
In addition to candidate donations, union money funds the Maryland Democratic Party’s operations. AFL-CIO, AFSME, MSEA, and SEIU alone have put over $430,000 in the party’s administrative account since 2003.
What kind of return do the unions get on their investment (of taxpayer money) into Democratic politicians?
Middleton and O’Malley allowed SEIU to organize home child care workers and give them collective bargaining rights, which will drive up costs for families using those services, and the taxpayers who will fund the increases.
O’Malley and the Democrats gave the teachers unions the gift of eliminating the ability of local school boards to settle contract disputes with the unions. Now an allegedly independent Public School Labor Relations Board—appointed by the governor—will settle contract disputes.
In an economy where private sector workers are struggling to find jobs or hold on the jobs they have, O’Malley recently gave state workers (AFSCME) $750 bonuses and two-three percent cost of living increases depending on revenues.
O’Malley also gave AFSCME the gift of requiring non-union state workers to pay AFSCME a service fee.
Maryland’s pension and retiree health care liabilities total $34 billion, which works out to roughly $6,000 per taxpayer.
Given their one-party rulers penchant for feeding the public sector beast, Maryland taxpayers can only bend over and await the denouement.
Of course, public sector unions are but one side of the iron triangle of one-party Democratic rule in Maryland. Corporate interests use Maryland Democrats to get from government what they cannot from the market. However, the cost of doing business is Maryland is paying proper tribute to the party, which is why 83 percent of the Maryland Democratic Party’s administrative funds come from corporations and business interests.
Hmm… a single-party state ruled by a political party funded by both unions and corporate interests… some might call that an oligarchy.
Update/Correction: I mistakenly had Mac Middleton’s name as Thomas, it is Charles.