Pawlenty v. Public Sector Unions

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a likely contender for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination, inveighed against public employee unions in yesterday’s WSJ.

The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment. Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters, and working families once again need someone to stand up for them.

Gov. Pawlenty suggests three principles for reform to curb public sector labor costs and pension liabilities.

  1. “bring public employee compensation back in line with the private sector and reduce the overall size of the federal civilian work force”;
  2. “Government should start using the same established accounting standards that private businesses are required to use, so we can accurately assess unfunded liabilities”; and
  3. “end defined-benefit retirement plans for government employees”

Given the size of public sector pension liabilities nationwide, it would be interesting if this became a major political issue in 2012.