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California Assembly Bill 1250, authored by Los Angeles Democrat Reginald Jones-Sawyer, would restrict counties from contracting out for key services. The bill is sponsored by two of the most powerful government employee unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). As the San Jose Mercury News editorialized, “the intent is clear: Increasing the number of public employees, who would be members of unions, rather than looking at outside services that could be more cost-effective.” The government unions “want to force all services to be provided directly by counties so that they will increase full-time staff.” Taxpayers should be aware of the back story here.
The measure comes billed as backed by “labor,” but this is not so. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 84.1 percent of California workers, the vast majority, are not union members. Only 15.9 percent of workers, a small minority, are union members. So “labor” is not the same as government-employee unions, who nevertheless wield enormous clout with legislators. As we noted, the SEIU demonstrates outside the California capitol proclaiming, “This is our house!” Government employee union bosses such as Bruce Blanning of Professional Engineers in California Government proclaim that contracting out for services wastes taxpayer dollars. As the Mercury News contends, the reverse is true.
Many California cities and counties, “weighed down by mounting retirement and benefit costs, are barely keeping their heads above water.” The “onerous” AB 1250 “could push some of them under.”
Therefore, “Local government leaders should be free to find the best services for the best price. They shouldn’t have to hire government workers for projects that are temporary or services best provided by the private sector.”