Patrick O’Callahan of the Tacoma News Tribune has an editorial about public sector unions. Because daily newspapers in this state exist mostly to serve the powerful, he doesn’t like them.
In Wisconsin, the backlash against government unions has taken the form of a GOP drive to repeal collective bargaining for most public-sector employees. Similar drives are happening in other states where Republicans recently won governorships and gained control over legislatures.
In Washington in 2 years it may take the form of Rob McKenna if we’re not vigilant. But of course these types of editorials serve as a test run for their pro McKenna propaganda. So here’s my test run of opposing that bullshit.
This would not be happening if the unions had the support of the public. Many of those unions have forfeited that support by clinging to lush compensation packages at a time when workers in the private sector – including union members – are enduring the toughest economy in generations. A time when public services are being scaled back ruthlessly while generous labor contracts have continued on autopilot.
Yes, if only teachers agreed to live in poverty for the privilege of long hours ensuring the next generation has the requisite skills to survive as adults. If only firefighters would pay for all of their own health care for the honor of saving your life and property. If only police and prosecutors would demand extra, uncompensated work because putting criminals away is just so inherently rewarding. If only doctors and nurses were demanding to pay for their own training. Then perhaps the editorial writers in this state would support them.
Too many examples are found in Pierce County. Although the cost of living has been flat, some union leaders have adamantly rejected pleas to reopen their contracts to reduce “cost-of-living” raises that considerably exceed the actual rate of inflation.
That’s how it’s supposed to work in a healthy economy. Wages are supposed to rise beyond inflation. What do you want all public employees to make, inflation adjusted, the same as they were making in the early days of the Oregon Territory? As if there shouldn’t have been any raise in the standard of living for public employees ever? Come on. That attitude is why we have public employee unions.
County workers saw their compensation increase by 23 percent between 2005 and 2009, when their private sectors saw 14 percent. They’re doing quite well. Yet their leaders last year refused a request to roll back another round of raises, though the rollback would have helped spare county services.
This is such bullshit. This editorial and the thousands of others we’ve read and will read about public sector unions in all the papers across the state never seem to have any suggestions to bump up those numbers for private sector employees. It’s always cited as fucking gospel that the private sector numbers are a fact of nature as immovable as a boulder in your path. But if you believe these numbers and want public and private employees making roughly the same, then you need to figure out how improve the pay of private sector employees. It seems to me that the numbers you’re throwing around are a pretty damn fine case for more and stronger private sector unions.