| April 11, 2013

Laboring for the taxpayers

Amity Shlaes’ new biography of Calvin Coolidge rightly notes the moment that vaulted him from the governorship of Massachusetts to the vice presidential nomination and, ultimately, the White House. It was his firm stand against the 1919 Boston police strike and his statement that “there is no right to strike against public safety by anyone, anywhere, at any time.”

The battle Coolidge fought nearly a century ago against the excesses of public employee unions continues today in states as diverse as Oklahoma and Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker weathered a union-instigated recall election after he curtailed their power to dip at will into the taxpayers’ pockets. Now, word has come from Wisconsin that those taxpayers are still siding with Walker.

One state Supreme Court justice and two local judges had been under union attack for siding with Walker. The public employee unions financed and backed liberal opponents to those judges. It was all for naught, though, as the judges prevailed in recent elections and the Supreme Court justice won an impressive 57 percent of the vote.

One of the issues at stake in Wisconsin was paycheck protection, a move implemented by Walker to end the practice of state and local government agencies acting as automatic dues collectors for the public employee unions. As a result, public employee union membership in Wisconsin has dwindled from 50 percent to 37 percent.

It’s past time for Oklahoma to enact paycheck-protection legislation as well. Coupled with robust reforms to reduce the massive unfunded liabilities in our public employee pension systems, Oklahoma could show that it’s serious about following Walker’s lead — and Coolidge’s.

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