Self-Driving California Off the Fiscal Cliff
Jim Hoffa, aka James Hoffa Jr., aka “Don’t Call Me Jimmy Hoffa,” is the general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the same union his long vanished old man once ruled with an iron fist.
A visitor to Los Angeles this past Friday, Hoffa Jr. headlined a protest march, seeking higher wages for Local 2010 members from the University of California. The rally featured a Who’s Who of Organized Labor, including Rusty Hicks, boss of the uber-powerful L.A. County Federation of Labor and hundreds of teamster women from across North America.
The picketers followed Mr. Hoffa from the Loews Hollywood Hotel to the iconic Chinese Theater.
While I have no idea if U.C. workers are getting stiffed or not, I’m pretty sure having a guy named “James Hoffa” lead a march to a place famous for putting peoples’ feet in cement was not the ideal optics for Local 2010.
Still you can’t blame anyone for trying to get a little more in the ol’ pay envelope, can you?
I spoke with Jim Hoffa last week on a variety of topics, including the U.C. workers his union represents as well as his endorsement of Mrs. Clinton in the upcoming election and his support for a higher national minimum wage. There were no headlines to be had in his answers.
However, when asked if he was concerned about professional drivers losing their jobs as the auto industry rolls out more and more self-driving vehicles, Hoffa raised more than a few eyebrows.
“It’s not going to happen”, said Hoffa.
As in period.
Despite the federal government issuing the first set of national standards for self-driving vehicles and the investment in self-driving technology by trucking industry giants Freightliner, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and many others, the head of the Teamsters Union insists its all a bunch of hooey.
And I suppose the Internet is just a passing fancy, too.
Denial might not be a river in Egypt but it seems to be the court of first resort for so-called leaders confronted with challenges that don’t present easy answers.
The kooky “moon landing was faked” crowd and even the 9-11 Truthers can be written off as fringe conspiracy theorists but facts are stubborn things when it comes to setting public policy. From climate change to child immunization to the solvency of the largest State in the Union, shape-shifting the truth has consequences.
The Los Angeles Times recently published a page one account of the depth and breath of California’s pension crisis, a tsunami of contractual obligations that is guaranteed to swamp every state program and function in an ocean of red ink. Yet, amazingly, business goes on in Sacramento as if ignoring the problem is the solution.
Signed into law in 1999 by then Governor Gray Davis, Senate Bill 400 created a 30-fold increase in pension liabilities with an estimated cost to taxpayers of a staggering $241 billion, with a B, according to the state controller.
And this is just the State pension debt.
Under pressure from local public employee unions, cities and counties, including the City of Los Angeles, frequently caved in contract talks and showered local police, fire, sanitation, teachers, and parks and rec employees with equally generous and equally unsustainable lifetime benefits.
San Bernardino, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes have already been driven into bankruptcy, an option not open to the Golden State. Oakland, Fresno, San Jose, Monrovia, Azusa, Compton and Vernon are not far behind.
Cops, fighters, teachers and trash haulers all deserve a decent standard of living and dignified retirement. But 90-percent of peak salary for life? That’s the deal term-limited politicians gave to California Highway Patrol Officers knowing they wouldn’t be around when the bills came due.
I don’t blame anyone for trying to get the best deal possible. If my boss-- after reading this brilliant column—were to sweeten my pot, I promise I wouldn’t twist his arm to take it back.
Still, all too often, our public employee unions negotiate with politicians who are wholly owned subsidiaries. In 1998, Gray Davis was elected thanks to $5 million in campaign cash from State workers.
“It’s not going to happen” won’t protect Jim Hoffa’s drivers from losing their jobs to self-driving vehicles and pretending Jerry Brown’s “temporary” tax hikes returned California to fiscal solvency is as delusional as the most vehement climate change or Holocaust denier trying to spin their way past empirical facts.
Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 on AM 790. He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.