Southern Californians well know that they pay deeply into the US Treasury known as federal taxes. Taxpayers expect to see such funds returned to the region in the form of federal services which include defense, federal law enforcement, intelligence, fiscal oversight, public works infrastructure like this new fleet of Riverside Transit Agency buses, and other vital services for the good of the public.
Through the Labor Day festivities, the US Department of Labor continues to hold federal transit funds which are normally given to our local transit agencies such as LA Metro, OCTA, RTA, and Omnitrans. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez continues to use trivial means to force California into a fiscal corner: Repeal the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act right now or else no federal money will be returned for your transit riders. The Labor Department falls under the executive branch of the federal system, but it appears President Obama is not doing anything about this political madness, at least in the public arena.
The situation in Washington is completely unacceptable and certainly questionable under the US Constitution. It’s clear that the state’s pension reform law does not prevent transit union workers from bargaining collectively. According to numerous sources, the law simply requires future public employees to pay more into their benefits package and raises the retirement age. Where does killing collective bargaining rights come in? Our 50 states, California being one of them, are sovereign areas. Sovereignty is having independent authority over a geographic area. California is not a federal agency. The executive branch executes federal law. Governor Jerry Brown executes state law. However, the behavior occurring in the Labor Department suggests otherwise. Why should the Obama Administration have the right to veto California state law by withholding funds that California taxpayers are expecting? If the federal executive branch and the labor unions think the state law violates federal law, they need to respect the US Constitution and take the matter to court, not place our transit systems and numerous working Californians in grave financial limbo.
As we’ve mentioned before, the long term solution to the labor madness is allowing the private sector to pump more capital into the market economy by streamlining trivial government regulations that obstruct expansion while keeping vital rules in place to prevent corporate greed, corruption, pollution, and urban sprawl. With a robust job marketplace comes higher wages and benefits. Such policies will fill our trains, buses, and HOV lanes with a productive labor workforce. This blog post points out that the value of the federal minimum wage dollar soared above the $9 mark in today’s currency during the 1960s during the longest economic boom in US history even though the amount was only $2.00 per hour back then. Have the transit unions and President Obama proposed fair legislation like that? Will they?