Don’t force unions on cops, firefighters

Congressional Democrats — aided by droves of etiolated Republicans — are determined to reward their government-union donors by forcing local cops and firefighters across the country to be unionized, no matter the consequences.

Supporters of the Public Safety Employee-Employer Cooperation Act won a cloture vote in the Senate on Tuesday with a veto-proof majority of 69-29. The House approved the measure earlier this year on a 314-97 vote.

The White House says President Bush opposes the measure. Chuck Canterbury of the Fraternal Order of Police, however, claims Bush told him on three separate occasions that he will sign the bill.

There are multiple flaws in the bill, not least being that it puts Congress in charge of such intrinsically local matters as workplace rules for police and firefighters. The bill subjects local first-responders to the whims of labor bosses. And it increases public-safety personnel costs when the taxpayers who fund local and state government can least afford it.

Just last week, the Vallejo City Council became the largest U.S. city ever to declare bankruptcy. Union contracts with city police and fire departments now consume three-fourths of Vallejo’s $80 million annual municipal budget. City leaders finally admitted there was no way they could raise taxes enough to pay for the benefits they had agreed to with the unions.

The problem isn’t limited to California. Bondbuyer.com predicts more municipal bankruptcies soon because so many local governments have promised far more in benefits than they have funded. It’s the state- and local-government analogy to Uncle Sam’s coming entitlement crisis when Social Security and Medicare become bankrupt.

There is no surprise, of course, in seeing Democrats reward their very generous public-sector union allies. Those allies have collectively contributed more than $7.6 million to congressional incumbents and candidates in 2008, with nearly 90 percent going to Democrats. The International Association of Fire Chiefs alone has given more than $1.7 million, most of it to Democrats.

But with the vast majority of those donations going to Democratic campaign treasuries, why are so many congressional Republicans supporting this giveaway? On the Senate cloture vote, 18 GOP members joined with 51 Democrats. Had those 18 joined the 29 who opposed cloture, the outcome might have been different. In the House, more Republicans (98) voted for the bill than against it (94).

Maybe there is a clue here on why the GOP lost Congress in 2006 and is losing traditionally safe seats right and left so far in 2008.

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