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The Pervasive Corruption of Public Employee Unions

3:00 PM, Nov 9, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Today's Wall Street Journal has a good piece by Philip K. Howard summarizing how corrupt many public employee unions have become. It starts by discussing the recent $1 billion fraud case at the Long Island Rail Road workers union:

The indictment of seven Long Island Rail Road workers for disability fraud last week cast a spotlight on a troubled government agency. Until recently, over 90% of LIRR workers retired with a disability—even those who worked desk jobs—adding about $36,000 to their annual pensions. The cost to New York taxpayers over the past decade was $300 million.

Emphais added. That's a pretty staggering level of corruption. But what's really eye-opening is that Howard points out that having an incredulously high percentage of disabled retirees isn't a total anomaly:

The LIRR disability epidemic is hardly unique—82% of senior California state troopers are "disabled" in their last year before retirement. Pension abuses are so common—for example, "spiking" pensions with excess overtime in the last year of employment—that they're taken for granted.

I don't know how many employees are legitimately disabled, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to guess that these figures mean at least half the members of each of these unions are engaged in some kind of fraud. Pension padding schemes are common, but when it looks like more union members are involved than not -- that's a whole new level of corruption. I'd also like to think that when it comes to exercising ethical judgment police officers would be a cut above the average employee. But apparently that's not the case in California.

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