OPINION — Once again, I find myself reading yet another myopic opinion piece vilifying unions while Mr. Seirer (sic), and so many before him, paint with a wide brush in order to portray the fiscal problems of each state to be a result of union strong-arming.
Read Sierer’s column here: Right On: Public employee unions are enemies of the state
As with any business, the only way to attract and retain the best and brightest is through better wages and benefits. The only way for public employees, in particular, to achieve that is to become politically active in order to gain a voice at the table, because unions are not the only group fighting for a voice at the table.
Corporations bought their place at the table a long time ago, yet I doubt that they consulted their employees or stockholders when it came to donating profits to certain politicians or creating their own, often obscure, political action committees.
Additionally, corporations are not required to abide by the same strict political spending disclosure and spending restriction laws that unions must follow, so Mr. Seirer (sic) may want to ease up on the union bashing.
In California for example, the state has reduced benefit percentages while raising the age of retirement eligibility for new hires, and employees are contributing much more towards their retirement fund in order to right the ship.
As a matter of fact, 6 percent of my salary was taken to shore up Social Security, a benefit I will not be eligible for due to my public pension. While so much is being done to improve the long term health of the retirement system, the politicians continue their wasteful spending habits.
I am a former political action committee member for a Southern California employee association. After years of watching our city council spend but not save, it took the threat of a union backed a rainy day fund ordinance to get the council to finally adopt their own. Why? because union members understand that they are stakeholders in their future and that politicians are not always looking out for their best interest.
Defined pension benefits are not free to the employees and were often negotiated in lieu of wage increases. Many politicians have been talking about a pushing public employees to 401K style benefits, but the truth of the matter is, the only people who get rich with these plans are the fund managers.
Defined benefits are the most equitable way to ensure that a union member can retire with dignity and their pensions continue to support local economies. While I understand that public pensions may be a wide brush topic, unions are but a few bristles of that brush.
Written by LEONARD CORREA, Ivins.
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