Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Extremely Expensive Signatures

Last Friday the Dayton Daily News reported the huge number of signatures submitted on petitions for the repeal of Senate Bill 5:

We Are Ohio, the campaign against Senate Bill 5 — the public employee collective bargaining reform package — delivered a truckload of petitions on Wednesday that were signed by a reported 1.3 million Ohioans. Only 231,147 valid signatures are needed to qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot.

Or, to hear the AFSCME tell it:

Leading the parade is “We Are Ohio,” a citizen-driven, community-based, bipartisan coalition. Last week, the group announced that 714,137 signatures had been collected, exceeding the 231,149 requirement to place a citizen’s veto on the ballot.

Ballot initiatives always crow about being "citizen-driven" and "bipartisan," however inaccurate the statement might be. It's unseemly to say, for instance, "we spent big bucks pestering voters to sign petitions supporting our privileged status." Nonetheless, the sheer mass of signatures reported July 1st lends credibility to the AFSCME's claim that We Are Ohio isn't a garden variety special interest front.

At least, it would if union records weren't public information. The unions strive to paint the same picture as Democrat candidates in every election: it's The People versus the corporations! Stand in solidarity with your working brethren against the wealthy special interests! As my several regular readers already know, Ohio's public unions are wealthy special interests (view Excel source).

Listen to arguments from the unions themselves - money and power are evil, according to the OEA and AFSCME. Oddly, in all the months I've been writing about public unions, I've seen no excuse for union employee pay other than "I know corporations are, but what am I?" I'm also waiting for the news story where the dozens of union employees paid six figures with member dues chip in to save a bunch of teachers' jobs. Solidarity?

With a little context, the 1.3 million signatures reportedly collected by the unions become much less impressive. Based on 2010 union reports unless otherwise noted, here's what the staffing looks like at the unions listed in the chart above:

  • Ohio Education Association: 235 employees, paid an average of $96,183
  • AFSCME Local 4 (Ohio Association of Public School Employees): 60 employees, paid an average of $93,442
  • AFSCME Local 11 (Ohio Civil Service Employees Association): 86 employees, paid an average of $67,625 (as of Fiscal 2009)
  • AFSCME Council 8: 86 employees, paid an average of $64,966

How much energy do you think union employees have devoted to anything besides Senate Bill 5 since February? How many signatures would you expect 450+ full-time employees to collect in several months? What if those 450 full-time employees were assisted by tens of thousands of union members for whom all political news was filtered through the union lens?

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero and Columbus Tea Party.


  1. That still doesn't change the fact that a) most of the signatures were collected by volunteer, and b) the unprecedented 1.3 million signatures show a lot of support for the repeal (as does the unanimous universe of all public opinion polling.)

    What a whiner. There were plenty of non-union people who signed the petition and circulated it. Get over it, already.

  2. Modern, I could repeat the points I made... but why bother? It's not as if you care that a campaign run by hundreds of highly-paid professional agitators is a far cry from the "citizen's veto" billing you want to give this thing.

    Ultimately I think you'll be the one who needs to "get over it" when November rolls around and there's not a union member standing in every polling booth.


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