Indiana went from deficit to surplus when it did away with collective bargaining

Republican candidate Mitch DanielsImage via Wikipedia
NY Times:

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and other officials who are pushing to eliminate or weaken collective bargaining by government employees say their goal is to save millions of dollars and increase government’s flexibility to run its operations.

The experience of a nearby state, Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels eliminated bargaining for state employees six years ago, shows just how much is at stake, both for the government and for workers. His 2005 executive order has had a sweeping impact: no raises for state employees in some years, the elimination of seniority preferences and a far greater freedom to consolidate state operations or outsource them to private companies.

Evaluating the success of the policy depends on where you sit.

“It’s helped us in a thousand ways. It was absolutely central to our turnaround here,” Mr. Daniels said in an interview. Without union contracts to slow him down, he said, it has been easy for him to merge the procurement operations of numerous state agencies, saving millions of dollars. One move alone — outsourcing and consolidating food service operations for Indiana’s 28 prisons — has saved the state $100 million since 2005, he said. Such moves led to hundreds of layoffs.

For state workers in Indiana, the end of collective bargaining also meant a pay freeze in 2009 and 2010 and higher health insurance payments. Several state employees said they now paid $5,200 a year in premiums, $3,400 more than when Mr. Daniels took office. Earlier in his tenure, Mr. Daniels adopted a merit pay system, with some employees receiving no raises and those deemed to be top performers getting up to 10 percent.

Doing away with all those work rules does make people more productive and causes management to have to work harder too in evaluating their talent. Indiana is one of the few states with a surplus right now and unlike other states in the Midwest it is increasing in population.

The story seems to be more a empathy play for the unions in Indiana with little to no empathy for taxpayers. That is an imbalance that readers will have to decide for themselves at this point, but I think I would rather be a taxpayer in Indiana that Wisconsin at this point until they get their unions under control.
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