California Prison Guards on Defensive

  • Mercury News (reg req): Guard union in showdown. For more than a decade, California’s prison guards have had it their way. Hefty salary increases that outpaced most state workers have made them among the highest-paid prison guards in the country. Favorable overtime rules last year brought the paychecks of 362 officers over $100,000. The guards’ union, a generous campaign donor, has been allowed a strong hand in running prisons. But the union’s currency, literally and figuratively, has suddenly been devalued. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state’s wealthy, increasingly popular leader, neither wants nor needs the group’s contributions. The very strength of the prison guards’ union has become a weakness.

  • About time, too. California’s prison-industrial complex is one of the reasons the state has gotten into such trouble, fiscal and otherwise.

    Our prison population grows, in large part due to the idiocy of the War on (Some) Drugs, which treats a medical problem as a criminal one and creates entire new classes of criminals. Meanwhile, our schools continue to wither. Some public policy that is.

    The guards have a tough job. But they’ve created a monster of their own, and now they’re being held to account. Let’s hope the legislative reformers stick to their guns on this one.


    Posted by: on June 22, 2004 09:18 AM

    Democrats must stop kowtowing to unionized public employees.

    There is no significant public interest in government employees having a right to bargain collectively, as they face no private employer subject to a profit motive at the negotiating table.

    It is often said by Democrats that we should have ‘public financing’ of political campaigns.

    In fact, we **already do**. Unions have the power by government fiat to compel union members to pay dues, a portion of which is used for financing campaign contributions “hard” and “soft”. *Every* worker in a union shop (outside a handful of “right to work” states) is, in this manner, “taxed” by law to finance political campaigns.

    However, well-nigh 100% of the funds go to Democrats.

    It’s even worse in the case of public sector unions. Aside from a general taste for Democrat policies favoring labor unions and big government, public sector unions use their “tax base” of government mandated contributions to finance campaign to influence *their employer* and its policies toward specific workers.

    It is this morass of public financing of campaigns benefiting only the Left that has produced all the horrors of public sector union of the past 25 years, including the multiple debacles of the California Prison Guards’ union.

    Thankfully, as a rich man willing to expend personal capital on his beliefs, Arnold is immune to these shenanigans. The Democrat majority in the legislature (and former Governor Davis) have been, unfortunately, in their pockets for years.

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