Rather than preach doom and gloom all by myself, maybe it is better to share what Caveat Lectores reads on a daily basis. I get angry when I read or hear lies that can harm the livelihoods of public employees. What worries me more is reading articles and editorials that are relatively factual and certainly believable to those who do not really understand what is happening.
The attack to expect is for the media to claim that government and the “poor” tax payer have been victimized by the “powerful union bosses” who misdirect the members and politicians into harming the public by granting what amounts to nothing more than a living wage and attractive benefits.
This happened to my Local in the late 60’s then again in the 70’s. Our friends were afraid to be seen in our presence. Our enemies felt empowered to try to destroy anything positive that had to do with the fire service in Tampa, Florida. It was a tough time until we got control of the storm of criticism from within as well as without.
The simple truth is that a labor union is never as powerful as we wish or our enemies will suggest in order to discredit us. For many, to say that a labor union is powerful is to imply corruption.
The attacks are becoming more frequent and better directed.
Here is some sweet poison that should not be ignored.
EDITORIAL: Immovable unions, irresistible budget crunch
Something will hit the fan at City Hall Jan. 03, 2010
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Push is coming to shove at the city of Las Vegas.
Last week, two unions balked at the city's budget-cutting ultimatum: wage cuts of 8 percent in each of the next two years, no salary increases of any kind and no promises to "catch up" at a future date -- or else, mass layoffs of public employees.
Firefighters warned that such cuts would result in higher insurance costs and all sorts of carnage because of longer emergency response times. City officials called the warning a scare tactic.
Then the Review-Journal reported that the Las Vegas City Employees Association -- the bargaining group that represents most city workers outside of public safety -- sent a belligerent letter saying it would not come to the table till every other union had submitted to cuts.
So far the unions have agreed to a reduction in cost-of-living wage hikes of 1 percentage point. Not a pay cut, mind you, just a slightly smaller raise. How generous.
Along comes an article in Reason magazine titled "Class War: How public servants became our masters," by Steven Greenhut, a former Orange County Register columnist who now runs the Pacific Research Institute's Journalism Center.
Mr. Greenhut says public servants once were paid less than workers in the private sector but in return had greater benefits and job security. Now public-sector wages far outstrip those in the private sector, but the real time bombs are in the benefits, especially pensions that have grown beyond the ability of taxpayers to support in any actuarially reasonable way.
Mr. Greenhut notes: "Most of these benefits are vested, meaning that they have the standing of a legal contract. They cannot be reduced." And the employees have allies in government. For example, when the city of Vallejo, Calif., filed for municipal bankruptcy reorganization under the burden of 75 percent of its budget going to unionized police and firefighters, the state Assembly introduced a law that would not allow cities to file for bankruptcy without approval from a union-friendly commission!
Mr. Greenhut's article is not yet online, but some of his sources are. Take a gander at Michael Hodges' Grandfather Economic Report (http://mwhodges.home.att.net.) Mr. Hodges points out that in 1930 government accounted for 12 percent of the economy. Today it consumes 45 percent.
"People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks," writes Mr. Greenhut. "Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. ...
"It's a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled."
Challenge in the legislative halls? Most legislators, commissioners and council members owe their elections to public employee union support. And they have the same pension plan. Challenge in the courts? Judges are public employees.
If the unions take pay cuts, their union leaders will lose power. If the unions refuse and massive layoffs are required, the number of union members will decline, along with ballot power.
It just will not work to attack the messenger of the news blindly. Nor will it work to whine about how unfair the news media treats you.
What will work is unyielding political action and effective lobbying to fill in the gaps that public relations leaves open as you try to get the message across that you are not a bunch of greedy union goons who prey on an impotent political structure and an allegedly impoverished taxpaying public.
It is your choice. Do it right or get f**ked out of your career and your future.
And Oh yes, have a nice day?