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Is the Guv Following the Mayor's Labor Blueprint?

MAILANDER MUSINGS - City Journal California notes (link) that Jerry Brown made an early deal with the prison guards' union. Brown received $2 million in campaign help from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA).

Steven Greenhut writes:

So the favorable new union contract shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it should deflate the wishful thinking that Brown is likely to be a radical reformer—unless you consider extending tax increases and restricting the use of state cars and cell phones real reform.

I don't know that it deflates wishful thinking. The agreement, in fact, reminds me of Mayor Villaraigosa's early deal with the IBEW. The deal seemed to set the table regarding the Mayor's eagerness for settling with unions, but it turned out that it didn't, and the IBEW very soon became the City's most vilified.

The Mayor may have proved his pro labor bona fides--he needed to, because the Riordanites who ran his office wanted him to bust the local teacher's union. But he became a tougher bargainer immediately afterward with not only the teachers but many other unions.

I'm guessing Jerry Brown might try something similar.

However, this part of the analysis is spot on:

By taking advantage of a decades-old bidding war between Democrats and Republicans, all of whom want the union’s endorsement in order to appear tough on crime, the union has resisted any reform that would reduce costs in the state’s prison system. The result: California has an annual per-inmate cost of almost $49,000, higher than the national average of $30,000 and far higher than the $17,000 in low-cost Oklahoma.

No voices from labor were quoted.

The prison guards' union, I suppose, is all set to become the State's IBEW. Brown may even be just smart enough to know that.

(Joseph Mailander is a writer and an observer. He blogs at where this column was first posted.) –cw

Vol 9 Issue 42
Pub: May 24, 2011