One theory about politics is that because politicians must get votes to stay in powerthats their currency they are unlikely to act against their own self-interest. So politicians cater to the specific voters who put them in power in the first place.
In Alberta, almost twice as many workers in the government sector possessed defined benefit pension plans in 2011 when compared with private sector employees. That might explain why so many government employees unions, from the Alberta Union of Public Employees to the United Nurses of Alberta, vociferously oppose modest pension reforms proposed by Finance Minister Doug Horner.
The government sector in Alberta is unhappy and they want Premier Alison Redford and her colleagues to know it. Universities are advertising against provincial reductions in their funding; government unions are activating their members about proposed pension changes, reforms that would make them more akin to the private sector and less like a taxpayer-funded entitlement.
It is not clear why the government sector believes it must be immune from change. The case for reform is not difficult to make.
When Albertas Finance Minister Doug Horner recently announced that the province will reform public sector pension plans, the reaction was predictable: government employees unions set their collective hair on fire. Thus, Guy Smith, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president, remarked that the provinces planned reforms will fundamentally undermine the the retirement security of more than 70,000 AUPE members.