Public Employees Are Not The Cause of Budget Woes, in OC or Wisconsin

After more than a week of media focus on Wisconsin and the rabid attack on public employees by Tea Party (Republican) Governor Scott Walker you might think that the major media outlets would get around to telling the truth about what is really going on. See, there you go again, thinking.

There is no honor among thieves and no truth from our paid-off media. While they may have reported that 80,000 people showed up to protest the Governor’s antics, they’ve left out large chunks of the story.

For example, the Sunday talk shows managed to fail at finding one union official to comment on the Wisconsin standoff. The major media has managed to ignore their responsibility to report the fact that until Governor Walker implemented his tax cut initiatives, there was no budget crisis in Wisconsin.  They fail to mention that the Wisconsin public employee pensions are fully funded and solvent. They have failed to mention that State workers have already indicated that they are willing to accept all the cuts and increased costs to their members that the Governor has asked for.

Walker did the equivalent of walking into a crowded bar full of his wealthy donors, bought about $150 million in drinks on the state credit card, and then claimed he had no money left to pay state employees so he must kill their union’s ability to negotiate. But for icing on his cake, he made sure to propose that local public employees who run the snow plows, teach the kids, clean the sewage, pick up the trash, put out the fires and patrol the streets, also have no rights to keep and pay for the ability of their members to collectively negotiate for, pay, benefits, and working conditions.

The right to barging collectively is a key freedom that all Americans could enjoy. Large businesses enjoy the ability to erect barriers to collective bargaining that make it incredibly difficult for workers to organize. Corporations have had virtually limitless power to stop unionization efforts through intimidation, misinformation, and termination of any employee seeking to organize their coworkers to get better, pay benefits and working conditions. When those efforts fail, the companies simply move and ship those jobs overseas and enjoy a hefty tax incentive to boot.

Public employees who have unionized are not the stereotypes that are portrayed by GOP leaders like Orange County’s Scott Baugh. We are hard working people who have agreed to accept less money up front in order to have more financial security in our future retirement years. We enjoy the same freedoms to advocate for our needs as corporations do for theirs. We seek to work together to solve the problems we face in tough times.

In Orange County the largest public employee union, Orange County Employees Association, has led the way in crafting creative solutions to address the needs of our communities to have important public services, while ensuring that our public employees are treated fairly. These efforts only work when there is cooperation. We need more cooperation and less posing for the cameras. We need more honest discussion and less hyperbolic rhetoric based on false and misleading information.

  • In Orange County the average public employee pension is under $30,000 a year.
  • The majority of county employees pay between 8% and 10% of their base pension costs.
  • All county workers who are eligible to receive the 2.7% @ 55 pension benefit pay 100% of the increased cost of that benefit.
  • Approximately 2/3 of Orange County public employees have not received a regular pay increase in the past two years.

It’s time to stop the heated anti-union, anti-public employee rhetoric and get down to the business of making sure that we do what is needed to ensure a civil and healthy society, with public services and infrastructure that are stable and workers that are compensated fairly for their contributions to our community. Remember, public employees are your neighbors, friends, and family. They live along side you, use the same services that you do, and have the same wants and desires for their families as you do.

  4 comments for “Public Employees Are Not The Cause of Budget Woes, in OC or Wisconsin

  1. February 22, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Great post Chris. There are only five states that do not have collective bargaining for educators and here is there ranking on ACT/SAT scores:
    South Carolina – 50th
    North Carolina – 49th
    Georgia – 48th
    Texas – 47th
    Virginia – 44th
    Currently, Wisconsin’s ACT/SAT score ranking is #2 in the nation; does Wisconsin really want to cut off their nose to spite their face?

    I love how Republican leaders are saying “this governor ran on this platform and voters should follow his lead.” Guess this didn’t apply for Obama’s presidency.

  2. Northcountystorm
    February 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Great post Chris. It’s absolutely shameful what Walker is doing in Wisconsin.

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