Public employee unions own Sacramento.

To be more specific — public employee unions spent vast sums of money in political campaigns, almost exclusively for Democrats — and in doing so have succeeded in electing super-majorities in the State Senate and the State Assembly who will do their bidding.  Oh yes, they also are the biggest funders of statewide officeholders — most notably Governor Jerry Brown.

The iron-lock that the unions have on the legislature, from time to time, is highlighted when the unions issue a death sentence for legislation that is just common sense, but not in their world where they can order bills killed for no reason at all.  I think we saw the most glaring example of this last session with legislation that would have made it easier to get bad teachers out of the classroom (and by bad I mean teachers accused of truly heinous acts).  That bill was killed by the unions in committee.

I know we’re only in the second week of the new legislative session — but we have already seen the likely contender for the “Public Employee Unions Own Sacramento” award get killed in committee.  It happened yesterday in the Senate Public Employees and Retirement System Committee, where SB 423 was heard.  This legislation authored by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff was very straightforward — if passed into law it would have prohibited public transit employees from striking, and crippling public transportation.  Huff’s legislation was introduced after the San Francisco Bay Area’s BART train system was shut down by striking public employees who were unhappy with their wages, and wanted raises.  This strike adversely impacted nearly a half of a million Bay Area commuters, and there was no doubt a cascading effect that impacted millions.

Is there anyone who thinks that it is okay for drivers and operators of public trains, or buses or other forms of public transportation to simply shut down the entire public transit system?  Only the union bosses, and some of the workers I suppose.

The worst part is that in order to get the trains moving again, the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System “gave in” to these union extremists and granted them increases in their compensation and benefits to get them back to work.  What a terrible way to do business.   I have traveled to France a few times in my life – and their public transit systems are shut down routinely because of union-organized strikes.  Why?  Because labor gets what they want out of it — more money.  Trust me, the last country in the world that we need to be emulating on public policy is France.

Public employee union bosses controlled Senators Beall, Lee and Block like marionettes.

So getting back to Senator Huff’s bill — first and foremost, as Huff has pointed out, it is telling that his legislation was not heard in the Transportation Committee, where it legitimately should have gone — but instead was sent to the PERS Committee.  While virtually every Democrat in the Capitol is eager to do the bidding of labor, it is well know that their most loyal soldiers are on the PERS Committee.  The bill was killed on a party-line vote, of course — to no one’s surprise.  Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and Marty Block (D-San Diego) all voted “No” while Senators Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and Ted Gaines (R-Granite Bay) voted “Aye.”

“Last year Californians witnessed the Bay Area come to a screeching halt not once, but twice, as leaders of the BART employee union called strikes and BART trains went dark,” said Senator Huff.  “Hundreds of thousands of Bay Area residents could not get to work, go to school, see the doctor, or visit with family and friends and it cost the region $73 million each day.  We have made the public rely on public transit, but as a legislature, we have failed to make public transit reliable. That’s a major failure. Californians deserve a government that works for everyone but today they were let down.”

Below is a “must see” news report by the CBS affiliate in the Bay Area KPIX, on the killing of Senator Huff’s bill.  The reporter, Phil Matier (yes, also a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle), nails it.

In the middle of the piece is the most amazing excerpt of testimony from a lobbyist representing the powerful SEIU 1000 public employee union, saying that if you want to take away the right of public transit workers to strike that this must be done through collective bargaining.  Seriously?  You cannot make this stuff up.

In killing this kind of common-sense legislation, the state’s public employee unions again demonstrate their greed, and how out of step they are with the public.  And they once again demonstrate the blind fealty given to them by the Democrats in the State Capitol.

Good for Senator Huff for introducing this needed legislation.  No doubt he did so hopeful that it would pass, but undoubtedly understanding the likely outcome.  But in killing the bill, the Democrats diminish their credibility with the public that much more.

Click here to see the stunning KPIX piece.

Cross-posted at FlashReport.