Friday, June 23, 2006

Labor and NYS Reform: Must They Be At Odds?

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has an article today concerning the state AFL-CIO running attack ads against Sen. James Alesi, R-Perinton, and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit. The ads are in response to the two lawmakers introducing a bill which is intended to reduce the high workers' compensation cost, a cost that is constantly credited by employers as one of the barriers to business in the Empire State. The problem could also be easily addressed if there was significant political will to do so.

The ad, while having the virtue of brevity, also has the shortcomings of being simple and... well, I guess incredibly stupid:

"Did you know that your state Senator James Alesi introduced a bill in Albany this year that would benefit the insurance industry at the expense of injured workers and retirees?" says one ad, paid for by the state AFL-CIO and scheduled on Rochester radio stations. Another ad substitutes Morelle's name.

Okay. Well, it isn't particularly accurate that the "benefit" described going to the insurers equates to an "expense" of the injured and retired. Some people will end up getting less under this reform. That's true. The ad fails to mention that New Yorkers will be saddled with less of a tax burden as well, and new businesses will be more likely to consider New York as a place to set up shop and create jobs. Creating jobs is something I'm very much for, in case anyone was wondering.

The problem I have is that unions, like the AFL-CIO and the like, too often work counter to job creation and growth in order to protect what they currently have. If I can relate things to Nursery rhymes (which I'm going to become more prone to do in the next few years), modern unions are the sort of people that kill the goose to get all the golden eggs. Very often, they structure their agendas to increase their own membership or political clout. Rarely does their behavior show any forward thought in that reducing their friction on the economy, could help fill out their ranks.

Believe me, I don't always think that passing laws that benefit business is a good idea. We should always be skeptical of what could be construed as corporate welfare. However, with a business climate in New York State that is so horribly geared against attracting and maintaining jobs, the needs of the business community need to be addressed.

This bill isn't a handout to business, it's food for the starving. The New York economy, specifically upstate's needs this, and much more.