Do Big Unions Buy Politicians?

Ever hear complaints about Big Banks, Big
Oil and Big Pharma? I’ll bet you have. But there’s another “Big” that you
rarely hear about — Big Unions. And I’m not talking about private company
unions – like auto and steel workers. Only 6.7% of workers belong to private sector unions.
No, I’m talking about Public Employee Unions. They’re very big. And very powerful. Far
bigger and more powerful than most people know. In fact, the impact they have on how
state and local governments operate makes Big Banks, Big Oil and Big Pharma look small
by comparison. But before I explain why, I should explain who the Public Employee Unions
are. They are the unions that represent policeman, fireman, sanitation
workers, teachers, and the vast army of others – the bureaucrats – who administer city,
state and federal government. The public service unions negotiate on behalf
of these workers for their wages, benefits, and working conditions. And who is the on
other side of the bargaining table? Our elected representatives, the people in charge of spending the money
we pay to government in taxes. Think about this for a moment and you will
immediately realize that the goal of the public employee unions is to negotiate with union-friendly
politicians. And the way to get friendly with a politician
is to help him get elected. Which is exactly what the unions do. First, they have a lot of money. In most states, working for the government is a closed shop: that is, to work
for the government you have to pay dues to the union. This guarantees these unions a large membership and a large pot of cash. Spreading this money around,
especially in local elections, goes a long way. Second, unions provide union-friendly candidates,
at no charge, with seasoned political activists to help run campaigns. These activists marshall
other union members to put up campaign signs, work the phones, and gather up loyal voters
on election day. This is a proven strategy. And candidates,
especially in the big cities where there are a lot of public employees, know it. Courting
union support is critical to victory. ”We will fight for a fair contract!” New
Jersey gubernatorial candidate, Jon Corzine, said to a rally of 10,000 public workers in
2006. But fight who for fair contract? The person the unions would be “fighting”
if Corzine were to win the election (he did) is . . . Corzine! The Speaker of the New York State Assembly
once told a United Federation of Teachers rally “I and my colleagues in the Assembly
majority will be your best friends . . . in Albany.” Exactly right. In California in 2010 an official of the Service
Employees International Union, known by its initials, the SEIU, told elected officials:
“We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory . . . Come November, if
you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out office.”
Again, exactly right. As Dan Walters of The Sacramento Bee wrote, “public employee unions
wield immense – even hegemonic – influence over the Democratic majorities in the [California]
state legislature.” What is the consequence of all this power?
The most obvious consequence is that cities and states overpay their workers – by a
lot. Trash collection in Dallas, Texas, a state
whose government workers are not unionized, costs $74 per ton. Trash collection in Chicago,
whose government workers are unionized, costs $231 per ton. These kinds of inefficiencies exist everywhere public unions dominate. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The
iceberg is the pension arrangements that provide public employees with retirement benefits
that vastly exceed the retirement benefits in the private sector. Four cities in California
— Vallejo, Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino – have declared bankruptcy largely
because of the burden of paying public employee pensions. The same is true of Detroit, the nation’s largest bankruptcy ever. And it’s only getting worse. By 2030 the
number of retired public workers will equal the number of working public workers. You can read more about this in my book Government
Against Itself, but suffice it to say that this is not a pretty picture. All this
spending on public service unions crowds out tax money for things we need – such as better
roads, services and schools. Finally, some courts and politicians have
summoned the courage to make much needed reforms. But it’s never easy, as we saw in Wisconsin in 2011 when thousands of union protesters overran the state capitol for weeks. But reform is coming. It must. If it doesn’t,
cities like Detroit will be the rule, not the exception. So, the next time someone complains about
Big Banks, Big Oil or Big Pharma, ask if they are equally concerned about Big Unions. They should be. I’m Daniel DiSalvo, assistant professor
of Political Science at the City College of New York.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Google "LADWP scandal". Or google "Percentage of California Firefighters/Police Officers that retire on a disability pension scandal".

  2. Mammoth Lakes declared bankruptcy? WTF? I thought that Mammoth lake was a tourist town that could never go bankrupt.

  3. In Australia unions bribe labor and corporations bribe liberal . This last election a lot of the public voted independants . But so glade liberal republicans won 2 elections in a row . Democrats and unions fk manufacturing in Australia . Holden , ford , toyota gone by next year . 100 housand unemployed from democrats policy

  4. In Australia left government lost election second time in a row . Won't be decades untill left government are elected

  5. 234 vs 71$! Great example why we need union! All my colleagues, who do not understand benefits from union must see it. Thanks you

  6. Guess it is time to place amendment that limits the unions ability to influence or control our politicians through imitation, bribing, or black-mail.

  7. Prager U & Daniel Desalvo, You might want to check your research again. Mammoth Lakes, California did not go Bankrupt "Largely because of Public Servants pensions". It was because of political failure to fulfill a contract in which the town lost a Major Lawsuit.

  8. Closed shops are illegal. These public sector jobs are "union shops." You have to join the union after being hired, not before.

  9. Sort out your co-operations first, they only want to make money at the expense of the working class. Unions are there to protect workers rights, if you think that is a bad thing you clearly don't care about your working class employees.

  10. You guys are really biased. Im a liberal but I watch your videos to get both sides of the story. But you guys leave out a lot of things and over look a lot of things. There are some videos that you guys are spot on and I 100% agree with like Mike Rowe when he did the video about not following you passion. But you guys do tend to make videos that are very biased. You leave out a lot of things.

  11. Pensions are supposed to be a retirement reward to employees for enduring the dismally low pay of private sector jobs. If you want to cut pensions, you must balance the other end with salary hikes.

  12. So…the Buffets, the Kochs, the Waldens…NOT paid too much, but the dude picking up your trash getting paid MAX something like $75K annually…overcompensated (to such a problematic degree they deserve their own video)?

  13. This video is disgusting. This guy knows that The taxes people pay aren't even a drop in the proverbial bucket and he still has the balls to say the unions are the bad guys

  14. if politicians got paid minimum wages at 7 dollars a 50 cents and the money they get from unions their should be a law that no one and unions cant give and politicians and politicians cant receive then you will see how fast they fixs the government also people in government departments spread the word

  15. Yes, of course. Every concentration of power corrupts. It attracts those who wish to prove what a badass alpha male they are and rise up the ranks…
    Doesn't matter if we care discussing politics, corporations, unions…whatever….

  16. Public unions are not the problem it's regressive taxation(like income/sales tax). The average teachers salary is around 36000, the average fireman is about 44000, and a sanitation worker makes like 27000. I mean this isn't that damaging.

  17. Unions should be BIG and POWERFUL that is because they represent PEOPLE not corporate interests, unions represent DEMOCRACY, the opposite is true for BIG Corporate interests.

    Anyway, Corporatism has already won BOTH parties, which is there is no real choice between the Republicans and the Democrats, the real left wing has disappeared and with the exception of Bernie Sanders isn't coming back any time soon.

  18. I would say that even our small towns are in this situation as well. small towns with a handful of small businesses can't support the indulgent lifestyles of the public workers and offices. drive through America and you'll find shiny government buildings in the middle of dead towns.

  19. I have lived in Arizona, which is a non-union state since birth. I have worked two jobs at union grocery stores. I was so glad to leave the second one. I have had it with unions and am waiting the day for them to implode and leave this country.

  20. Just a correction that needs to made on this video. Jon Corzine was a sitting Governor when he made this statement. He was not just a candidate.

  21. The unions don't spend near the amount that wealthy capitalists do on lobbying politicians. How about Prager U quits looking at unions and start looking at Robert Mercer, the Koch bros, and the NRA. Or does it only matter when they lobby Democrats ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

  22. 5:17 I did not expect prageru to that's probably all they protest in Wisconsin because that team is publicly owned

  23. Private workers could bargain collectively too they just donโ€™t organize. So that comparison wasnโ€™t fair imo.

  24. Knowledge. Its true , Unions get too political ..[SEIU-UHW] For more information visit:

  25. So what you're saying is that you don't think that Policemen and Firemen shouldn't have good wages and conditions?

  26. I'm a union worker who doesn't believe in public sector unions. They used to be illegal because of the obvious conflict of interest; and they should be illegal again.

  27. A flaw in your argument is that politicians negotiate with unions on contracts. False.Non represented Beaucrats negotiate with unions. And these beauracrats have direct access to politicians to access tax dollars. Its sinister & corrupt. No money should be allowed to be donated to a politician. Its legal bribery if it is. Oh theres a word, bribery.

  28. I was a member of labor union just a few years ago (2015-2017) and I was constantly badgered to sign an agreement to vote for politicians that will support labor unions. I refused to sign it time and time again. You should have seen the list of people they wanted me to vote for! Wanna take a stab at which side of the political fence they were on? Yes, 100% lefty liberal Democrats.

  29. The outcome of Janus v. AFSCME is the first REAL nail in the union's coffin… and thank God for it.

  30. Only 6.7% of workers belong to private sector unions because the neo-libs and neo-cons stepped on them. If we were really libertarian on the issue, private unions would be in a totally different state right now. As a lefty who wants to see our institutions perform better I am inherently suspicious of public unions, but the fact is that public unions pay pennies compared to the big corporations, and each union represents the interest of far more individuals. Companies and industry lobbyists do not, and that matters.

    Representative governments are better than despotic ones not because human nature is different, because our rulers are better people. Representative governments lead to better society because more people are represented. If we are not willing to fight to make politicians work for the people, to make our system more democratic, than we shouldn't be surprised when our institutions– public AND private– come to start institutionalizing tyranny. So the Republicans and establishment dems (who are in no way moderates– only corrupted) can keep on trying to rig elections, suppress voter turnout, fight campaign finance reform; just don't kid yourself about whose fault it is when liberty dies in the West.

  31. I do think unions are needed but when taxpayers foot the bill then I have a problem. Because if you want someone to represent you for terrible working conditions then you have a right to speak out against bad working conditions.

  32. Don't worry: If laziness was a commodity, then unions would be on par with the other bigs (oil, pharma, etc.).

  33. Only a moron or a rich Republican scumbag would argue the salary and benefits of those who teach their children, protect their families and put out their house fires. Well, as always, I guess the less you pay someone the more you get to keep for yourself. Yep, sounds just like a wealthy, disconnected, right wing idiot that doesn't need any help from anyone, until he does. TEAMSTERS FOREVER!โœŒ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

  34. Yeah! I agree so why don't you guys support campaign finance reform?

    oh wait… The republicans gain WAY more from billionaires than the democrats gain from unions.

  35. The Unions commit the great crime of asking for a living wage. A days wage for a days work. Or believe a video paid for by the wealthy top 1%, it's your call..

  36. How dare a Union worker ask for a income large enough so he's able to provide for his family and buy a home of his own. He should be working three jobs and still be in poverty. Doesn't he know those billionaires are struggling to afford that third yacht and new golf course in their back yard! So rude of them!

  37. What kind of democracy does one live in if politicians can gain an upper hand by just having money thrown at it.

  38. I'm all for unions and collective bargaining outside of government interference/intervention. Currently, unions buy politicians because corporations do. If we cut the power of government off, nobody would buy ANY politicians because you'd eliminate the incentive to do so. But since big corporations are buying government, the unions must do so as well. Rich people have unions too, they just don't call them unions.

  39. 2018 lobbying by labor: $35,502,241 ($10,914,438 from public sector unions)

    2018 lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry: $216,134,421
    2018 lobbying by Insurance: $121,336,568
    2018 lobbying by Electronics Mfg & Equip: $110,052,359

    2018 lobbying by Business Associations: $103,909,076

    2018 lobbying by Oil & Gas: $99,341,774

    2018 lobbying by Electric Utilities: $91,651,355

    2018 lobbying by Real Estate: $87,576,375
    (the list goes on and on, these are just the biggest)
    In the end, business lobbyists spend about 74 dollars for every dollar spent by unions, 240 if you're only counting the public sector unions who are supposedly so crooked and mighty


    Gee, I sure wonder why PragerU would vehemently attack unions for their lobbying. Could it be that PragerU is a propaganda machine for american plutocrats who have disproportionate power in politics? It can't be, clearly BIG LABOR are the ones really rigging the game because they dare to spend less than 1.5% of what business spends on lobbying.

  40. Unions are what destroyed the integrity in our government, that a and lobbyists. When you start letting foreign countries buy up companies in a nation, they will pay greedy lobbyists to buy off politician's, Then in comes the special interest groups to cause rioting. The one thing that the people can do is elect people who love the country and will be fair without giving special favors to groups or business.

  41. Unions are the problem? You can't be serious. Corporations outspend Unions 34:1 in campaign spending. Unions are not the problem.

  42. No.๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚โœŒ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

  43. The attacks on Unions are just another example of politicians trying to free up money for their agenda. Our Unions in the early 1,900's are what made this country the economic powerhouse that it is. Many seem to only focus on the wages payed to workers. Not factoring in the cost of living into the equation. This is how our economy works. If a percentage of Americans were no longer able to contribute to the economy. We would see several industries start to collapse. All markets require a constant stream of cash in order to stay above water. Our Unions ensure workers are payed a fair wage. Our welfare programs actually help to keep a percentage of our population above water. Both are required since our free market can not keep everyone above water. Par for our economy is 31,200 a year. Though, only around 66% of Americans make this yearly.

  44. How disgusting! Accusing public unions for buying politicians, yet conservatives are fine with big businesses doing the same. And those businesses have more influence than unions. They are bribing democrats and republicans.

  45. I am a proud union activist in Canada. I am a shop steward at my work and I help employees with employer issues. Rally up. Union woman until the day I die. Can't pay your employees their pensions?

  46. If the demands become too ridiculous and the production to low unions eventually price themselves out of the market. I've worked Union and non union jobs. With Union you get training, adherence to safety, good wages, good health care and retirement investment opportunities. With non union you get none of the that guaranteed but you are on your own with the sky being your only limit which can be an attractive option also.

  47. I'm not a fan of unions in general, but you compared the cost of garbage collection in California and Texas without compensating for cost of living. California is an expensive place to live.

  48. Do people vote for their union leaders? Do those union leaders then lobby at politicians? Do the unelected company owners also lobby at politicians?

  49. The oligarchs and bank cartel have most of the corrupt politicians in their back pocket already – if anyone else wants in they had better hurry.

  50. They are not our elected representatives, they are our elected rulers whom we have no choice but to obey. Think about that next time.

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