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The Economist Criticizes the California Prison Guards’ Union

| January 7, 2011

Conservatives have been battling public sector unions for decades because they correctly recognize that unions abusively seek higher pay, larger pensions, fewer hours, increased job security, earlier retirement, and lower performance standards.  Conservatives, however, have also tended to advocate for “tough on crime” policies that grow the size of the very unions they are supposedly seeking to smash.  The new issue of The Economist was released yesterday, and its lead article on battling public-sector unions mentions the California prison guards in its very first sentence.  The accompanying briefing in the magazine also contains this note:

In California…the prison guards’ union has been one of the leading advocates of getting tough on crime. The result of this policy has been a dramatic increase in both the size of the state’s prison-industrial complex (from 12 prisons in 1980 to 33 in 2000) and the pay of the people who run it (prison guards in 2006 made $70,000 a year in base salary and $100,000 with overtime).

At some point, conservatives who lambaste unions but applaud longer sentences and less community supervision, will have to acknowledge that these goals are increasingly in tension.


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