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An Answer To Attack On Public Workers By East Bay Express
Source Charles Smith
Date 12/06/18/00:33

A RECENT EASTBAY EXPRESS article expressed concern for California public employees and their Unions. At least that is what its author, Robert Gammon, would have the reader believe. Gammon describes both real and unreal threats to public employees without differentiating between them. As usual, the issues are pensions and benefits. Rather than demystifying why public employees are under attack, he simply goes along with the Republican, Democratic and corporate agenda which suggests that public employees themselves, their pensions and benefits, are another symptom of a bloated government. He suggests that private sector workers are angry because they no longer enjoy similar benefits. He fails, however, to mention that at one time they did and, in fact, until recently most private sector workers’ wages and benefits far exceeded what the public sector was receiving. He neglects to mention that the first attack on organized labor was on the private sector workers who lost their jobs due to outsourcing offshore. Union busting along with reductions in wages, benefits and exchanging defined benefit pension plans for a 401K defined contribution plan or no pension plan at all further harmed those fortunate enough to still have jobs. All these changes were to the detriment of the working class and a benefit to corporations and Wall Street. He goes on to discuss the anger among the voting population generally about public sector workers’ pensions. Again he fails to mention that voters have been confused for several years by the media’s blaming state and local government budget problems on public employee pension plans. He conveniently forgot to mention that the current financial crisis underlying the budget problems was caused by deregulation of the banking industry and the subsequent bank bailout. Why no demand for jailing the individuals responsible for our economic crisis? Why no demand for nationalizing banks?

What Mr. Gammon did get right is that the pay and benefit packages for non-union high level public sector officials are excessive. The fact is that the media focuses on these extreme examples as though they are typical of all public workers. Nothing could be further from the truth. People believe the media’s lies and lose sight of who is actually responsible for the current depression: Wall Street and the banks.

Mr. Gammon points out that corporations are sliding through tax loopholes and state giveaways but fails to mention the relationship between Republicans, Democrats and the corporations. Who finances these politicians? Yes, at times the Unions donate huge amounts of money to particular candidates or ballot initiatives but they generally get little back for their investments.

In his summary, Mr. Gammon joins with most Labor Bureaucrats in suggesting that it is in the interest of Union members to support Governor Brown’s continued attack on public employee pensions. He believes that if the Unions support Brown’s so-called Millionaire’s Tax the Unions will be able to push the Governor to stop corporate giveaways and close tax loopholes. Once Brown gets what he wants he will ignore his promises to the Unions as he has done many times in the past.

Considering the results of the Wisconsin recall vote, Obama’s broken promises to organized labor and Brown’s attack on public workers’ pension plans the Unions should be thinking about using their members’ dues to advance the cause of solidarity and Union building. Unions should not support any ballot measure that harms their members, in particular, and the working class in general.

It seems clear that no matter how workers vote things are only going to get worse. Unions can no longer afford to buy politicians, the price is too high. The Union International Presidents may act and talk like big shots but it’s all bluster and no substance. They no longer have a seat at the table. They are barely tolerated. Today the power of the Unions is within the rank and file and the youth who have yet to be organized. This is where working people’s political energies and money should be directed.

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