The Washington Post

Why politicians answer to unions

George F. Will’s discussion of grossly excessive public employee compensation [“Rahm and the teachers,” op-ed, July 5] rightly noted that unions exist to benefit their members and that elected officials deserve blame for signing “improvident contracts” with government unions. But Mr. Will does not mention why officials give in to union demands so often: They want to stay in office.

Government unions contribute generously to political campaigns, giving the unions enormous clout in negotiating with their bosses — whom they are helping to elect. Union-backed politicians, therefore, have a strong incentive to enrich their union supporters.

This unsustainable cycle has served politicians and government unions well for decades, but taxpayers are fed up. Elected officials who are serious about bringing public finances in order need to curb the power of government unions. Necessary reforms would include giving a worker the choice of whether to join a union and requiring union officials to obtain members’ permission before spending their dues on politics.

Ivan Osorio, Washington

The writer is editorial director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Show Comments
Washington Post Subscriptions

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

A limited time offer for Apple Pay users.

Buy with
Cancel anytime

$9.99/month after the two month trial period. Sales tax may apply.
By subscribing you agree to our Terms of Service, Digital Products Terms of Sale & Privacy Policy.

Get 2 months of digital access to The Washington Post for just 99¢.

Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing
Read content from allstate
Content from Allstate This content is paid for by an advertiser and published by WP BrandStudio. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more about WP BrandStudio.
We went to the source. Here’s what matters to millennials.
A state-by-state look at where Generation Y stands on the big issues.