One of my hobbies is political debate. I would rather debate in person and I often do but I also like using ‘Letters to the Editor’ in local newspapers. Every so often I will read a letter that frankly pisses me off and I have to respond. One such letter in the Findlay Ohio Courier showed some anti-union views are based on misinformation.
The letter in question was written by a friend of mine who happens to hold a lot of cheap labor conservative views even though he is a blue collar worker. Here is the text of the letter that was published on 11/28/2011:
On Nov. 8, public employees had an opportunity to give a little relief to Ohio’s taxpayers. Instead, they spit on us. That spit hasn’t even dried and we already have a school renewal levy before us.
While it’s true they’re not asking for more money, that operating levy could have been lower, giving taxpayers some much-needed help had Issue 2 been passed.
We’re told the levy generates about $4 million a year for this district. However, the same article in The Courier points out a $56 million budget and $54.2 million in revenue. I would think a $2 million levy would close that gap.
Even considering the $1.2 million from the federal government that is no longer there, would still mean that a $3 million levy would suffice.
But of course, the rising cost of health insurance and a future raise couldn’t be accommodated without the renewal of the full levy.
Mr. Wittwer says the district needs the money. I say taxpayers need some relief.
And, yes, I know public employees pay taxes, too. However, public employees pay taxes from money that is first taken from the private sector taxpayer.
The private sector taxpayer is the only employer who does not have a seat at the bargaining table concerning the public employee contracts they must pay for without question.
Tax levies are the only voice the people have to rein in spending. These kinds of levies have always been supported by the people, but when the taxpayers asked for a little relief, public workers instead gave us the finger.
It’s very hard to continue to give my support for such a levy, knowing the disdain with which these public servants view those of us they are supposed to serve.
The first thing that set me off was the claim that public union members “spit” on tax payers. The writer is in a Union himself yet makes wildly wrong claims about what a Union is. He parrots stuff he heard on FOX “news” or talk radio.
His argument attempts to dehumanize union workers and make them into thugs. People like the letter writer seem to think, falsely, that no matter what concessions have been made or how many bonuses boss get, union workers are overpaid. Since the economic melt down in 2008, caused by the same GOP policy the letter writer subscribes to, unions have made billions in concessions.
Here is my response that was published on 12/2/2011:
Reading [the] (Nov. 28) letter complaining about how public employees “spit” on taxpayers for wanting to protect their bargaining rights by voting down Issue 2, troubled me greatly because his complaint was filled with misinformation and a disconnect with reality.
[He] seemed to have left out the loss of state funding for schools and local governments that has directly led to asking for local taxpayers to pay more. Not to mention the potential of funding cuts if House Bill 136 passes, because it will siphon more direct state money to private schools through vouchers.
People like [the writer] seem to believe that raises are good for all except public employees — even those we trust to teach our children.
Utility companies, grocery stores, and health care providers have increased their prices, so why is it so wrong for workers to ask for increases in pay to keep up?
I doubt [the writer] would be happy if his boss, arbitrarily, decided his work — even if was the same as yesterday — was worth less today so his pay should be cut. Union contracts remove uncertainty for the worker.
Public employees are not some monolith we have no control over. This dehumanization misses the fact that union contracts take two sides to agree to it.
The “employers” happened to be either elected directly by taxpayers or appointed by elected officials who are “hired” by voters. To say that taxpayers have no seat at the bargaining table is disingenuous at the least.
Finally, in the case of Findlay, teachers approved a new contract in August that, according to The Courier, “made major concessions, agreeing to both a very limited pay increase and a big hike in insurance costs.”
That was without Issue 2. Many public unions, across the state, have made concessions like lower raises and/or increased health care costs. That is how contract bargaining works and why [the writer's] letter bothered me.
These letters also came about just as one of Findlay’s major employers, Cooper Tire, locked out their union workers after they rejected yet more concessions. Just three years ago they were strong armed into giving back pay and benefits when the company threatened to close the Findlay plant and shift production to another state. This time the union is standing firm and the company locked them out.