Revenues are not coming, so costs must be cut — it really is that simple.
So, if the unions are unwilling to accept Menino's wage freeze, they should be offering other solutions — other legitimate ideas for cost savings within the departments employing their members.
They are not.
The teachers' union has taken no stand on changing the school system's busing system, for example, which could save the city millions of dollars. The firefighters' union has offered no ideas for reducing the massive administrative mess within the Boston Fire Department. The patrolmen's union has no plan for temporarily reducing police overtime costs.
Just this week, the Globe revealed that the city pays out $12 million a year in "longevity pay" — guaranteed annual bonuses that kick in after a certain number of years on the job, on top of raises, and not contingent on job performance. Don't hold your breath waiting for the unions to forego that for a year.
No, the city's municipal unions are offering no plan, no compromise, no ideas. We understand that the unions wish to fight for their own interests. But at this rate, their typical intransigent self-interest only serves to exacerbate the fiscal pain for Boston's other citizens.
A bad idea
Sometime this spring — probably in late April or early May — the US Senate may vote on something called the Employee Free Choice Act. That measure seeks to replace the current method of unionization by a secret ballot of workers with a system that would allow certification by what in effect a card check system.
After eight years of the disastrous economic policies of the Bush administration, which intensified the trends that concentrated wealth and wellbeing among the nation's most affluent, the idea has an emotional appeal that it previously lacked.
Emotion aside, it is a very bad idea — especially in these days when the economy is spiraling out of control and appears to be sliding from a severe recession into a world-wide depression.
Anyone who thinks that unions can offer the nation an easy way out of its current problems need only look at the irresponsible behavior of Boston's municipal unions for a sobering dose of reality. And that's just a local snapshot. Detroit's auto unions are as much a part of the national problem as inept corporate management and greedy Wall Street financiers.
Even more problematic would be the replacement of a process that allows workers to choose their interests — and exercise their consciences — in the privacy of a voting both with an insecure process open to misinformation and coercion.
More of one bad thing is no remedy in this crisis — or at any time.