RUSH: Pat in Roseville, Michigan, I’m glad you called, sir. Great to have you on the program.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Rush. By the way, the golf swing looks pretty good.
RUSH: Thank you. Thanks very much. It is better. There’s no question.
CALLER: Anyway, sir, I’m a 36-year firefighter in the Detroit area. I’ve been extensively involved in contract negotiations, both police and fire.
CALLER: And I think we have in Michigan the fairest form of collective bargaining there is, and that’s binding arbitration, which is what we’re worried they’re gonna take away from us in Michigan. Now, in order for us to attain any kind of raise in benefits, we have to go before an arbitrator, and we have to prove ability to pay. And of course the city has a right to show that they don’t. If we don’t prove ability to pay, we don’t win anything, and at the same time —
RUSH: Wait, wait just a second. I want to make sure I understand this. You, the union members, have to prove that the state has the ability to pay you what you’re asking?
CALLER: The city.
RUSH: The city.
CALLER: The entity that you’re working for, yes.
RUSH: All right. So you have to prove the city has the money to pay you. How in the world do you get hold of that information?
CALLER: You get that through public — you get that through budgets. You have to do some work sometimes. We found our city for years, there was millions of dollars they didn’t collect in taxes. It’s a lot of work, but you do have to prove to an arbitrator. And because of the economic conditions of Michigan, it’s been a long time since anybody really gets any substantial pay raises from an arbitrator because of that.
RUSH: Well, that makes sense, though, doesn’t it?
CALLER: Yes, I agree, and that’s why I’m saying that it’s a very fair form. But the problem is now that the state of Michigan, and you know as well as I do, has been run by some real pure idiots in some of these cities, and I think what they want to do is create a bankruptcy type scenario for a city, bring in an emergency financial manager, and throw police and firefighters under the bus without negotiations. And as far as I’m concerned, if all public sector unions adopted binding arbitration, I think a lot of the politics and stuff that’s going on would end.
RUSH: Well, yeah, by definition it would have to end if you go to binding arbitration.
CALLER: And it works, because even in my travels I had the honor of meeting Governor Engler years ago, and Governor Engler told me that he offered the teachers here in Michigan binding arbitration and they refused, which I didn’t agree with at the time. What it does, again, it’s something that you have to prove to the arbitrator. And my concern is they want to go the easy way out.
RUSH: Now, while you’re trying to prove that the city, in your case, has the ability to pay, the city’s trying to prove that they don’t?
CALLER: Correct. Or what they’ll do, they’ll look at our demands and say, ‘We can’t do their demands based on what we have in the budget,’ because you see, in a public sector union we can look at budgets, et cetera, unlike private.
CALLER: Years ago, the city I work for is very, very, very poor. They came in, they threw us on the street, they said you’re all gone and replaced us with the sheriffs. We were under a petition to go to arbitration, and the judge ruled they can’t do what they did to us, which is fair. Because if you’re a police officer and a firefighter and you’re doing the jobs that we do, and you’re worried that tomorrow a financial manager is gonna come in and throw you on your ears without any kind of negotiation, we can’t strike and we can’t slow down, and we can’t use politics. We have to use absolute figures to go before an arbitrator —
RUSH: All right, let me take what you have explained and apparently what you believe and agree with. Let’s make you a teacher in Wisconsin. The governor is telling you, ‘Look, we got a $3.6 billion deficit. In other words, we don’t have any money. Now, we want you to contribute five something percent to your health care and 12% to your pension payment and we want to you forgo collective bargaining in the future, otherwise we’re gonna have to start laying people off ’cause we don’t have the money.’ And it’s apparently public, I mean they’re not lying about not having any money. Nobody has any money. Everybody knows no state has any money right now. What would your reaction be to what’s going on in Michigan if you’re a teacher in Wisconsin and hearing all this?
CALLER: My reaction — well, I look at my situation, we do contribute to our health care. As a matter of fact, our new members now have 401(k)s. And if you gotta bend, you gotta bend. My concern is, and my only concern is the fact that if you take away collective bargaining, the ability to be at the table and have a referee there, abuse can go the other side, too.
RUSH: Well, you’re not really talking about collective — you’re talking binding arbitration. You’re not talking collective bargaining. Collective bargaining you could hold somebody up by going — (crosstalk) if you’ve got a binding arbitrator who’s gonna make a decision and that’s that, that’s a whole different thing.
CALLER: Well, agree, but I think if this was adopted by pretty much every public sector union, a lot of this stuff, a lot of the politics would end.
RUSH: Well, obviously. So what do you think the odds of that happening, say, in Wisconsin are?
CALLER: It sounds to me that the Democratic Party wants to continue to create demonstrations, et cetera —
RUSH: Damn straight they do.
CALLER: — which, as a union man all my life, I totally disagree. You know, your job as a union person, and your only job is to represent the people that voted you in. And that’s it. When you start getting into bed with political parties, et cetera, just like you’ve said a hundred times, you get important, you get to go to conventions, you get to sit up at the front. That’s exactly what I’ve seen.
RUSH: Well, you hit the nail on the head. They want the unrest. They want all of this that’s going on. This is a tough thing for people to accept, understand. They can’t relate to it, but yet they see it happen. There is an attack. It’s a new kind of class warfare. This is no longer an attack on the rich. These unions, public sector, are attacking the middle class. That’s who the bad guys are now with this so-called collective bargaining of public sector unions. Who’s paying, after all? Middle class is paying, not some evil corporation, not some evil CEO, not some fat cat.
RUSH: Look out there, folks, don’t panic over my last conversation with the guy on binding arbitration. I was just having a conversation with him to figure out where he was coming from on all this. Binding arbitration cuts out the taxpayers. If the people want to cut back and the arbitrator disagrees, he’s (in essence) a judge, meaning the people that run the city in his case. And of course you might even say the standard he just described is the union has to go in and prove the city can pay them. What if the city says, ‘I can pay somebody else a lot less than I’m paying you to get the job done’? Why isn’t that an acceptable standard?
The union says, ‘You can pay! You can afford to pay us this much.’
‘Yeah, but I could get somebody to do the same job for less than what I’m paying you.’
‘Well, that’s what we got a union for. You can’t. You can’t do that.’
But at the end of the day this caller, nevertheless, is fully aware there’s some kind of conspiracy afoot to create an emergency. There is an emergency. There’s no question. And it has been created. And we find ourselves right smack-dab in the middle of it. Look, arbitrators are not gonna solve the money laundering problem, and the money laundering problem remains the big thing. You’re still gonna have these people, however they arrive at it, whose dues are still gonna end up in the Democrat Party coffers. Now, as a taxpayer, I don’t trust arbitration. It’s why we select representatives to do this job. They shouldn’t farm it out. So don’t misunderstand here.
It’s just I think a lot of this stuff needs to be cleaned up. It’s too entrenched and out of balance for a particular political party. (chuckles) You know, sometimes I look at how I do business compared to all these other entities, and I just marvel at it. It’s not at all the same in terms of employee compensation, benefits packages and so forth. I just have an entirely different mind-set about it than a lot of people do. When I pay people, I expect a bunch of things, and among them is I don’t want anybody distracted, and I don’t want anybody bothered by traditional compensation problems. I probably pay far more than I have to, but it’s worth it to me for the productivity that ends up as a result. It’s all worth it to me.
Everybody goes about this in different ways. This is why… If the people that worked for me were members of a union, it would be so different. There wouldn’t be any personal relationship that I would have with the employees anything at all. I’d be dealing with people that I would not think are in my best interests, not looking out for me and the company would do well. That would not be their concern. There are so many different business models for doing all of this, which is why I have always said what I’ve said about joining a union. Free if you want to.
If that’s what you want to do, you go right ahead, but understand what happens to you when you do: You have become a vessel for one political party to triumph. You give up your individuality. You’re no better than anybody else. Even if you are, it doesn’t matter. You’re gonna make what everybody else makes ’cause that’s the deal, no matter what kind of work you do. If the people working for me had an arbitrator (chuckles), the idea that I could pay them more than what I’m paying them? There’s not an arbitrator around who would not agree with that. (interruption) Ummm. (laughing) Does the Official Obama Criticizer have an arbitrator?
No. The Official Obama Criticizer does not have an arbitrator. He doesn’t want one, in fact. My point is, let’s just take multibillion-dollar company. At this multibillion-dollar company, let’s say one of its employees makes $100,000 a year. It clearly has much more than that it can afford to pay somebody. What if an arbitrator said, ‘Well, you can pay that guy more than a hundred grand,’ and that’s the end of the day? That’s the end of it? Bye-bye, business! If that’s the only consideration, bye-bye business. That can’t possibly work. So I don’t want any of you to misunderstand. Binding arbitration is a trap at the end of the day, except maybe in case of year-long impasses and that kind of thing.