Best News of the Day

Cheer up. According to the New York Times (which ought to know), the country’s most powerful unions are not able to stickhandle their agenda through Congress and the White House due to “internal disputes.” If true, this is good news for health reform. Note that whenever a corporate interest seeks to appease Obama on health care, it must do so through the intermediation of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The latest example is Wal-Mart, which caved into a “mandate” that employers cover their employees’ health care, largely because this would put competitors like Target at a competitive disadvantage.

The SEIU spent $85 million during the 2008 campaign season, largely to elect politicians favorable to its two key priorities: removing employees’ right to a secret ballot for workplace certification, and a federal take-over of health care. The latter is utterly critical to the survival of union power. Unions have lost private-sector members for decades and their strongholds lie in the government sector. Clearly, turning private-sector workplaces into public-sector workplaces would give union bosses a much needed boost, and health care (especially hospitals) is the only likely candidate.

If government were to become hospitals’ dominant source of revenue, the government could demand public-sector style pay and benefits – for non-medical workers. This is a key reason for rationing health care in Canada: too much money is sucked out of the system by unionized non-medical workers. A 2002 survey showed that hospital jobs such as painter, cook, and payroll clerk earned one third more than their counterparts in the private sector.

Comments (2)

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  1. Ken says:

    That is good news. Let’s hope the conflict is internecine.

  2. Bruce says:

    Ken, I assume you mean “internecine” as in “deadly, fatal.” Good thought.