The SEIU spent $85 million during the 2008 campaign season, largely to elect politicians favorable to its two key priorities: removing employees’ right to a secret ballot for workplace certification, and a federal take-over of health care. The latter is utterly critical to the survival of union power. Unions have lost private-sector members for decades and their strongholds lie in the government sector. Clearly, turning private-sector workplaces into public-sector workplaces would give union bosses a much needed boost, and health care (especially hospitals) is the only likely candidate.
If government were to become hospitals’ dominant source of revenue, the government could demand public-sector style pay and benefits — for non-medical workers. This is a key reason for rationing health care in Canada: Too much money is sucked out of the system by unionized non-medical workers. A 2002 survey showed that hospital jobs such as painter, cook, and payroll clerk earned one-third more than their counterparts in the private sector.
This blog post originally appeared in National Review Online’s “The Corner.”