December 6, 2013

In the Dec. 5 editorial “Detroit’s lesson for unions,” The Post urged municipal unions to learn from the Detroit bankruptcy that “The goal [of their collective bargaining] should be to ensure that future retirees can count on what is promised them because the promises are founded in fiscal reality.” But as the editorial noted, the Detroit workers’ pensions “at an average of $19,000 per year ($30,000 for police officers and firefighters)” are not exorbitant. How, then, are unions to know what is fiscally sustainable a generation hence?

I fear the takeaway will be far different. Since municipal unions can’t rely on the titans of industry, who have been the engine of both the local and, in this case, the national economy, to know how to compete when faced with their first real outside challenge; since they can’t count on their fellow citizens and neighbors not to take flight — and undermine the municipal tax base — at the first sign of someone different moving into their neighborhoods; and since they can’t rely on the help of the larger society when their towns run into problems that were largely unforeseeable,they and their members will learn to emphasize the short term and attempt to maximize benefits upfront.

Victor Capece, Bowie

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