Public unions add no benefits to taxpayers ever, only expenses. It is best not to deal with public unions, bargain with public unions, or do anything with public unions but get rid of them where they exist.

In what I expect to be a growing trend going forward, the NJ Turnpike Authority Privatizes Toll Collection.

More than 200 union members and leaders packed the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s meeting Wednesday to oppose a plan to outsource toll collectors’ jobs on the Garden State Parkway and Turnpike to private contractors next spring.

“Over the years, the union has worked together to help the Turnpike solve its problems,” said Franceline Ehret, president of Local 194 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents 1,200 authority employees. “We urge you to hold off putting out the request for proposal and allow us to work it out.”

Ehret and other speakers said outsourcing will take what are now middle-class jobs and reduce them to minimum-wage jobs, which would negatively affect the state and local tax bases and the economy.

Authority officials said the union will have a chance to submit a proposal as a private contractor.

“The RFP (request for proposal) will go out after the new year, and we will work with the incumbent unions,” said James Simpson, the state transportation commissioner and authority board chairman. “The goal is to strike a balance and get agreements that are in line with the fiscal realities.”

“If privatization occurs, there will be more savings,” he said. “That goes back to the taxpayers in another way, even if we’re talking about cross-subsidizations. The state is in dire straights, and one of the few assets of the state is the Turnpike and Parkway.”

Flawed Union Response

The statements by James Simpson, the state transportation commissioner, were short, easy to understand, easy to justify, and precise.

In contrast, the logic of Franceline Ehret was fatally flawed. The idea that outsourcing would “would negatively affect the state and local tax bases and the economy” is preposterous.

Outsourcing will put money in the hands of taxpayers where it belongs, instead of the hands of union workers with excessively high wage-benefit packages for doing nothing more than sitting in a toll both.

Thousands of people would line up for those jobs even at minimum wage. If the union wants those jobs it can bid for them.

The goal of public officials should be to provide the most amount of services for the least cost. Unions typically offer the least services for the most cost. The unions will argue with that statement but it is very easy to prove. Put all contracts out to bid, then accept the best offer from the most qualified bidder.

The same applies to garbage collection, bus drivers, all public transportation, even police and fire contracts.

There is nothing to negotiate here. Negotiation with unions is a complete waste of time and taxpayer money. The only reasonable place for negotiation is AFTER contracts are put out for bid, and always with the goal of providing the most amount of services for the least cost.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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