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Reply #9: launched an attack on unionized American workers [View All]

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-04-06 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #3
9. launched an attack on unionized American workers

By Gerald McEntee (my International Union's President)

In February, a group called launched an attack on unionized American workers and their elected union leadership. So far, they haven't made much of a splash. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that a good deal of their website traffic is from union staffers and members checking out the hysterically and willfully inaccurate claims the site makes. is a sham group, reportedly financed by the Chamber of Commerce and run by a Rick Berman, a corporate shill who once urged pregnant women to consume more tuna despite toxic levels of mercury.

Why talk about them? Because Berman's latest broadside against public service employees is an insult not only to the decent men and women who make our communities run, but a threat to our very public health and safety.

In dishonest ads appearing in several states recently, Berman makes the charge that many public employees "work under conditions that most private-sector taxpayers would envy." As evidence, he sites the fact that Oregon public employees, for example, earn "8 hours of sick leave per month," "nine paid holidays," and "benefit dollars to spend on medical and dental insurance.

Oh, the humanity! Vacation time for 9-1-1 dispatchers??? Sick days for the folks who keep our water supplies clean and safe from terror attacks??? Health insurance for cops and firefighters???

In Berman's book, this is somehow exorbitant. And he's hoping that non-unionized workers will be so consumed with outrage that they'll lobby lawmakers to reduce compensation for public service employees instead of fighting for these same benefits themselves.

Mr. Berman obviously forgets what most Americans know: union wages and benefits have always set the standard for what's fair, even for non-union workers. And its unions, after all, that have been central in building America's middle class. Cutting them means, as Jordan Barab put it at Confined Space, a "race to the bottom" when it comes to compensation for all hardworking Americans.

And while we're at it, why doesn't Mr. Berman disclose his salary, vacation days and health benefits as chair of his own Berman & Co. public relations firm. I'm betting Berman's bloodlust for benefit cuts is pretty much non-existent when it comes to his own self interest.

We should all realize that this isn't just about attacking public employees, but our very public health and safety. Mr. Berman carefully chose to run his ridiculous ads in states where voters are considering so-called "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," or TABOR, measures.

TABOR is Grover Norquist's latest attempt to fulfill his promise to cut government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" by starving public services of tax dollars. TABOR puts mandatory draconian caps on public spending, making it nearly impossible to meet health and safety needs.

The measure has had a disastrous effect in Colorado, where TABOR has stifled spending on highways and programs for the elderly. And the percentage of uninsured children has nearly doubled. That's why voters suspended it when they finally had their say on the measure in 2005; the Wisconsin legislature rejected it just this year.

But the right wing brigade marches on, trying to institute TABOR in other states. And working Americans are fighting to stop them. So is it any wonder why Mr. Berman is going after public employees?

Here are the real union facts: Mr. Berman's attacks on public employees only serve to weaken our public health and safety. We won't let him do it.

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