Back in the wintry days of February, the nation’s attention was focused intensely on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Thousands of boisterous protestors took over the public areas of the building in a massive effort to stop one of the most far reaching pieces of legislation the state, or any state, had seen in quite some time. Democrat Senators fled the state in order to forestall a vote on the bill. But in the end the portions of the bill dealing with public sector unions were voted on and passed on March 11.
According to newspaper accounts, the four Democrat candidates for Governor have publicly supported the continued monopoly government control of liquor sales in Pennsylvania. Not too surprising given that the venue for the statements was a forum hosted by labor unions, the single biggest beneficiary of the status quo and implacable enemies of reform.
Just one more example of how organized labor, especially public sector unions, has Pennsylvania in a vise grip when it comes to policy. Teachers’ and transit workers’ right to strike and union-favoring binding arbitration for police and fire both combine to make Pennsylvania one of the worst, if not the worst, state in the country in terms of the power of labor to control a state’s governance and economic freedom. The financial situation in Pittsburgh and many Pennsylvania municipalities reflect this powerful interest’s control and the inability of these governments to enact the type of policies that would help them escape their financial plight.
Unfortunately, labor’s control over policy is so profound that not one Democrat candidate could support a sensible step such as privatizing the liquor stores. Indeed, there are few Republicans who will call for an end to teacher and transit worker strikes or stand up to police unions on the need for binding arbitration reform for fear of retaliation.
So on the state will go, among the worst economically in a country that seems headed for a period of very weak economic performance.