Collective Bargaining and Benefits

March 31, 2011
By Beatrice Block

Many of us support collective bargaining. However, here in New York State, the private workers are getting less than the public workers from a salary standpoint, benefits standpoint and pension standpoint. My local school district is tapped out and the teachers and administrators contribute little or nothing to their pensions and healthcare.

They are on programmed salary increases that outpace not only inflation, but also the economic crisis that people are still stuck in. In theory everyone supports collective bargaining, when it is equitable all around, but when the selfish desires of some people preclude the conditions evident, then people rebel and conflict ensues. We've seen the Internet commercials where government people complain about loosing $300 to $500 a year. What about the people who have lost their jobs as a result of this depression?

Yes, say it like it is..  government unemployment statistics do not reflect realty. When people are unemployed so long that they become discouraged and stop looking for work, or are forced to accept part time employment instead of the full time jobs they need, they are no longer counted in the 8.9 percent unemployment rate you see in the headlines. The “total unemployment,” rate including discouraged workers is still over 16 percent, according to the Department of Labor, and even that number leaves out many potential workers who need jobs. Nearly a quarter of healthy adults have no jobs. The oldest, most experienced workers are the hardest hit, because their salaries are usually higher. Newer entrants into the workplace also suffer, for obvious reasons Last In First Out. Everyone else in between is frightened for his or her job. No one wants to rock the boat.

The people who have lost their jobs have not just lost $300 or $400 from their annual salaries. They’ve lost their income for supporting their families. Why do you think attendance at food pantries has increased? Why do you think foreclosures are up? Why do you think the real estate prices have dropped? Why have Medicaid applications increased? It really upsets me when I see people tout their "rights" as if they are better than the others in the same or worse situations. That sense of entitlement is no longer valid in this precarious economic climate. We cannot tolerate that anymore. And I remember Albert Shanker and Randy Weingarten who pushed the teachers' rights way past everyone else's. And you know what? Education for the children didn't improve.

The government offices I frequent, well, the people there often close the offices down early, because they are entitled to their time at home. They don't have to work late like the private enterprise people do. An even nowadays, many people aren't getting full time permanent work, it's become "consulting" which is now another word for slavery.

When the unions prefer to let localities lay off personnel rather than share the pain of an economic downturn, it's enough to make you throw up. The selfishness, and self serving narrow mindedness of these people is abhorrent.

So you need to understand that it's not just collective bargaining at stake here, but the American way of life and the people who are falling out of the middle class. I don't have a problem supporting what is right and ethical, but not blind politics. And certainly not selfish, self serving people or groups. Tell the truth and do what's right for our way of life, not just good for the minority.


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