The Symbiotic Relationship

You need look no further than Len Lazarick’s piece at Maryland Reporter this morning about the relationship that State Employee Unions have with the Maryland Democratic Party:

State employees and legislators protesting the lack of cost-of-living raises in next year’s budget found an unusual supporter Tuesday — Gov. Larry Hogan, who provided no pay raises in his fiscal 2016 budget.

“This was the most difficult decision we had in the entire budget process,” Hogan told reporters in a wide-ranging news conference.

“I think they (state workers) deserve a pay raise,” Hogan said. “I think they’ve gone far too long without a pay raise.”

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Yes it’s Governor Hogan himself who believes that State Employees should have their pay increased. However, the Governor rightfully notes that there isn’t enough money to pay for it.

Maryland Democrats, being the subsidiary that they are of public sector unions, immediately jumped on board in support of higher wages for State employees. Except they did so in an unusual way:

Hours before Hogan’s press conference on his proposed repeal of the rain tax — one of his most popular stands, according to the Post poll — AFSCME, the largest union representing state workers, and legislative leaders spoke out against Hogan’s failure to fund pay hikes.

“You cannot constantly balance your budget on the backs of state employees,” said House Speaker Michael Busch.

“Over the last 10 years, they have been the meat and bones from which we have carved our budget cuts,” said Sen. Richard Madaleno, vice chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

It’s funny that Speaker Busch and Senator Madaleno would show up to protest the lack of pay hikes alongside AFSCME. Because, as both Busch and Madaleno point out, Democrats have been balancing the budget on the backs of State Employees for the last eight years.

Even the cuts that Governor Hogan is continuing, as the Sun points out, were instituted by Martin O’Malley:

Hogan’s proposed across-the-board cut is a continuation of a decrease initiated by former Gov. Martin O’Malley and approved by the Board of Public Works last month to help close a revenue shortfall in the budget.

State Employees really should be asking themselves what game these public sector unions are playing. For the last ten years Maryland’s Democrats, as Speaker Busch admits, been balancing the budget on the backs of state employees. For ten years, as Senator Madaleno admits, state employees have been the meat and bones from which the state has been carving budget cuts. So if that’s the case, why do these same public sector unions line up in lockstop with Maryland Democrats year after year? What have the AFSCME locals gotten for their $936,374 in contributions to Democratic Senators and Delegates in the last election cycle? AFSCME locals donated $11,500 to Busch; when did he stand up for the stateworkers before yesterday?

The truth of the matter is that the public sector unions, such as AFSCME, have a symbiotic relationship with Maryland Democrats. AFSCME (and other unions) provide Democrats with money. Democrats provide AFSCME with access. But this benefit, as always, is for activist union leadership. Rank and file state employees who are also union members have been paying the freight, but getting none of the benefits of having a union that actually represents their interests.

As the American Interest notes:

Almost all decisions relevant to public employees—such as pay, work rules, benefits, and hiring and firing—ultimately are political decisions. When public employees unionize, they are driven to try to manage legislators who are supposed to be managing them for the sake of the citizenry. Government unions make campaign contributions and organize get-out-the-vote drives to elect politicians who then act as “management” in negotiations. Politicians agree to generous contracts for public workers; those workers then pay their union dues—a portion of which is funneled back into those same politicians’ campaign war chests. This creates a pernicious cycle that is hard to break.

Public sector union leadership isn’t really mad about the budget. They’re just mad that the team they’ve invested so much in lost.

That Maryland Democrats have found religion on “balancing the budget on the backs of state employees” has nothing to do with caring about the plight of state workers. But it is another cynical ploy for Democratic leadership to attack a Republican Governor on behalf of the unions that fund them. As always, state workers are the ones left out in the cold.

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