June 26, 2010
-- by Dave Johnson
A letter-writer in my local paper today reaches the wrongest possible conclusion:
Public, private workers live in different worlds
The current issue of Time magazine includes a cover story on the increasing numbers of nearly bankrupt states and municipalities across the country. An important point made in the story is that public and private workers increasingly live in separate economies. Private-sector employees face frequent job change, relentless layoffs, flat wages and rising health care premiums, and they fund their retirement with 401(k) contributions. If they're lucky, their employers will match a portion. Many do not. Contrast that reality to public-sector employees, who enjoy relative job security, defined benefit pensions with guaranteed cost-of-living increases, and competitive wages that rise every year. Public employee unions have had a stranglehold on state and local elected officials for decades. This has to end, as the taxpayers are fed up and tapped out. Nancy Pyle needs to get a clue, as do others on the San Jose City Council.
Summary: Workers in the private sector have it harder and harder. They are increasingly losing benefits, pensions and jobs. Forced to work ever-harder in increasingly degrading work environments their wages stay flat and are starting to fall.
Meanwhile public sector workers have stong unions so they have good jobs with good working conditions, job security, pensions and raises.
Therefore ... we should get rid of public-employee unions? Wow! Talk about coming to a grossly wrong conclusion, and working against your own interests! Just wow!
It is a psychological truth that people would rather see others brought down than see themselves brought up, but come on! How hard is it to see that this person should be for strong private-sector unions instead of against public-sector unions.
And the letter-writer demonstrates the core of the conservative ideological argument: All the benefits of our economy to the top few at the expense of the rest of us.
Posted by Dave Johnson at June 26, 2010 8:45 AM
I am a State of Colorado employee. We finally were allowed to unionize in 2009. In the 10 years before that our step pay increase was eliminated and replaced by "Pay for Performance" (PFP). We were promised that under PFP we would have the same amount in the budget for raises as before. Guess what we got raises of 2% twice in 10 years. Nothing else. Not even cost of living increase. That was nowhere near what used to be given to us. I have always rated as a top performer, so if there was a bonus I got one. I received a 2% bonus three years ago. Nothing else in the ten years. Last year we had fuirloughs 10 times. Our union worked a deal so that we were to pay 2.5% more into our retirement, with the state paying in 2.5% less in lieu of more furloughs. That is because furloughs are not evenly distributed. Many employees do not have to take them, so 60% of the workforce carries the entire cost. Not fair. Now our last furlough was supposed to be May 28, but ta-dah because the jobs bill didn't pass the state is broke again and of course employees have to carry the load again. So, now we have the paycut AND more furloughs.
Incidentally we have a Democrat Governor, and both houses are controlled by Democrats. The legislature passed a repeal of PF. RItter vetoed it.We cannot win.
Without the union, the state employees would have taken more hits, while gas companies would still be granted huge tax breaks. We are screwed, but less so than we would have been. Ritter did at least raise taxes on wealthy corporations. Republicans haven't stopped screaming yet.
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