Thu, April 09

Letter: It’s time now, for the taxpayers to get their turn


Polls show that the face-down in Wisconsin concerning whether public employee unions will, or will not, be allowed collective bargaining for salary, benefits and work rules, has been so misconstrued that the average Wisconsin resident has confused and conflicting opinions on resolution.

A series of Rasmussen polls, important because Rasmussen only polls “likely voters”, shows the conflict in those opinions.

• “Most Wisconsin voters oppose efforts to weaken collective bargaining rights for union workers…”

• “…a plurality(of voters) are supportive of significant pay cuts for state workers.”

• “Wisconsin voters continue to see spending cuts as the proper path to solving…budgetary woes.”

• “71% believe government works get better pensions than those in the private sector.”

• “Most voters…think it’s unlikely their state can afford the benefits given to state workers.”

• “…66% believe government workers have more job security than…the private sector (52% of government workers agree)”

• “66% say private employees work harder (27% of government workers agree). 13% say government employees work harder (40% of government workers agree but only 4% of private workers agree).

As much as the people sympathize with union worker’s rights to collective bargaining, they also instinctively recognize that there is a conflict of interest that is detrimental to the welfare of all the citizens - government cannot bargain, in good faith, to represent the taxpayer when they have a vested interest (votes) in the prosperity of those with whom they bargain. Even great liberal icons such as Franklin Roosevelt, George Meany (former president of the AFL/CIO) and former 1950s Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee, Frank Zeidler have recognized the economic disaster awaiting the coming of public worker unions. Unionizing government workers would, Zeidler said “…mean considerable loss of control over the budget and, hence, over tax rates.” And that is what it’s all about. Not “union busting”, but regaining control of the budget. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Today, the vast majority of states are facing budget deficits compounded by unfunded health and retirement benefits in the trillions of dollars.

In addition to the sheer dollar figures, ebbed in the system are rules governing discipline, layoffs and termination which favor ineffective employees at the expense of the public. Such is the case in New York, where more than 4000 teachers clock in every day to “rubber rooms” where they spend the day watching TV, reading, doing crossword puzzles, etc. These are “teachers” who are deemed unfit to teach or do not belong among children but who are protected by unions while awaiting disposition of their case – some for months or years. If the average pay were only $50,000 (a low estimate for NY) we are talking $200 million a year.

No one is arguing that teachers, or other government workers, salaries are busting budgets. It is the systemic problem of health and pension benefits that are pushed on to future taxpayers by politicians seeking favor from the unions that makes the system unsustainable. The unions have rewarded those politicians well with cash and votes. In return, they have done even better. It’s time now, for the taxpayers to get their turn.

Jim Barber

Camp Verde

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