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LABOR: Unions’ demands verge on extortion

Letter by Lyle Laws, Puyallup on Nov. 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm with 47 Comments »
November 22, 2010 2:32 pm

Back before public employee unions became established and pay was determined on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis, was it hard to find enough qualified workers to do the jobs that needed to be done? No, and even though the average government employee may have earned a little less than an equally qualified worker in the private sector, most government jobs afforded good employment security and reasonable retirement benefits.

Now, public employee union demands often amount to little more than extortion, and more than any one other single factor are threatening to bankrupt government at all levels, and make paupers out of retirees on fixed incomes who see their taxes continue rise to meet those demands. And, of course, non-union managers get raises to keep pace with those under them.

I have been retired for20 years, and I know how inflation has changed the financial landscape. But I was absolutely dumbfounded when I learned that Tacoma’s city manager was getting a raise that amounts to more than my yearly teachers’ retirement and my Social Security retirement combined (TNT, 11-12).

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  1. redneckbuck says:

    Union members beware, there are more than enough people out there that are willing to put cans on the shelves, scan groceries, and oh yeah smile while earning 12-15 bucks an hour and have a great benefit package. I hear that safeway is taking applications. If your skill set can be mastered in a week, you better think twice about walking away from a job.

  2. Management…..like City Managers…..are rarely, if ever, union members.

    from the story:
    “I am the last unrepresented person (to receive a raise),” said Anderson

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/11/12/1422022/tacoma-city-manager-cashes-in.html#ixzz157KFvgVz

    “Unrepresented person” means – not a union member.

  3. Sumner401 says:

    One of the main reasons we have no middle class left in this country is the right wing and it’s two front war on the middle class, one front is the attack on unions.

    Unions themselves are not bad, in fact they are very good for the the working man, and that brings to the second front in their war, the working man.

    Labor is nothing more than an barrier to bigger profits for the republican. A barrier that needs to be removed or lowered.
    The strangest thing is, most republicans are….working class and lower
    How the GOP has tricked their less than intelligent members into voting against their own self interest, time after time is something I will never understand.

  4. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Great – keep electing those sovcialist democrats in Tacoma – grin & bear it!!!!

  5. redneckbuck says:

    unions only protect the unskilled and unmotivated. If you can’t stand on your own merits, join in with other semiqualified people.

  6. So I guess Republican business owners are in it for profit, but Democrat business owners are in it to give it all away and live off of the government.

    Right….

  7. redneckbuck says:

    By the timdems figure Obama and the dems figure this thing out it will be too late. Their pride will get the best of them. If only they would have listened to the American people and fixed the economy.

  8. donjames says:

    bB, Lyle clearly, and correctly, states in his letter:
    “And, of course, non-union managers get raises to keep pace with those under them.”

    No one is arguing otherwise.

  9. bobcat1a says:

    donjames, maybe you can tell us what union pay scale would force pay from $200,000 to $235,000 in order to “keep pace.” Why do you hate average working people so much? Is their some self-loathing at work here?

  10. bobcat1a says:

    Correction: there, not their.

  11. Redneck

    – most jobs that pay $12 – $15 an hour offer only minimal benefits, and $15 an hour works out to $31,200 per year. In the Puget Sound Area, the Self-Sufficiency Standard or family of 3 (2 adults, 1 infant) is $43, 450 per year or about $21 an hour.

    – the reason there are so many people willing to work for that wage is because right wing congressional goons have helped big business destroy the working class by busting unions and sending US jobs overseas.

    -the Airlines Pilots Union and the Air Traffic Controllers Unions will be glad to know that they represent unskilled, unmotivated, semi qualified people.

    DonJames – three reasons why government employees need unions.

    – The City of Tacoma just gave its Manager a 17% pay raise, while demanding employees accept a pay freeze.

    – The Pierce County Council voted themselves a 21% pay raise, while refusing a 2.6% increase to its workers.

    Congress voted itself a 2.8% pay rise and a 2.0 per cent raise for federal workers.

  12. aislander says:

    I think we now know for certain who the government employees/union shills/democrat drones are on this forum…

  13. isldr – Facts and data can be so inconvenient.

  14. aislander says:

    A job is worth what it’s worth, or it doesn’t exist–unless it’s a government job…

  15. Mr. Laws, I note that both your pensions are coming from public funds and that you too are double-dipping at the public trough. Is the pot calling the kettle black?

  16. redneckbuck says:

    Xring, some jobs were never meant to support a family. Grocery jobs were never meant to support families. In fact, in 1980, when I started at Safeway, 75% of its employees were under the age of 21. If you expect the rest of us to pay extra for our food because you never moved on to another better paying job forget it.

    If your skills can be mastered in a short time you better get used to lower wages.

    Oh and by the way, I teach Physics for a living and am not a member of the teachers union.

  17. donjames says:
    bB, Lyle clearly, and correctly, states in his letter:
    “And, of course, non-union managers get raises to keep pace with those under them.”

    xring says:
    – The City of Tacoma just gave its Manager a 17% pay raise, while demanding employees accept a pay freeze.

    dj – that isn’t called “keeping pace”, that’s called passing them by.

  18. redneckbuck says:

    The teachers union takes $225 dollars from every teacher in this state and hands it to the democratic party. They do this without telling the teachers. How do I know this? I had to Opt out of the union. The still take the money out of my check but then send me a check every year around Christmas. I think that of all people, teachers should be able to think for themselves. I choose to write my own checks to candidates I deem fit.

  19. Sumner401 says:

    unions only protect the unskilled and unmotivated. If you can’t stand on your own merits, join in with other semiqualified people.

    Why don’t you head on down to a union hall and proclaim that steaming pile to the membership?

  20. Sumner401 says:

    I think we now know for certain who the fox news, glen beck/GOP/John birch, shills/republican drones are on this forum…

  21. Sumner401 says:

    Mr. Laws, I note that both your pensions are coming from public funds and that you too are double-dipping at the public trough. Is the pot calling the kettle black?

    I’s only wrong when other people do it….silly, it’s right there in the GOP liars hand book.

  22. donjames says:

    bobcat1a says:

    donjames, maybe you can tell us what union pay scale would force pay from $200,000 to $235,000 in order to “keep pace.”
    Uhmm, no, but maybe you could tell us how in Hades you get that from my post.

    Why do you hate average working people so much?
    Why do you conclude such rubbish from a 3-sentence correction of bB (one of which sentences was a quote)?

    Is their some self-loathing at work here?
    Self? well, no… but…

    xring says:

    DonJames – three reasons why government employees need unions.

    – The City of Tacoma just gave its Manager a 17% pay raise, while demanding employees accept a pay freeze.

    – The Pierce County Council voted themselves a 21% pay raise, while refusing a 2.6% increase to its workers.

    Congress voted itself a 2.8% pay rise and a 2.0 per cent raise for federal workers.

    And so you’re saying that having government unions would prevent this? It certainly hasn’t thus far now has it? This is ridiculous. You make absolutely no sense – and even less of a case for unions! The simple fact is that as worker salaries escalate, so do management salaries. In the case of government employees, neither scenario is good for the private sector, or (especially) for the taxpayer.

    beerBoy says:

    dj – that isn’t called “keeping pace”, that’s called passing them by.

    Okay… now kindly explain what that has to do with your original post, to which I was replying.

    The closing of the American mind……..

  23. Sumner401 says:

    The teachers union takes $225 dollars from every teacher in this state and hands it to the democratic party.
    No they don’t.

    They do this without telling the teachers. How do I know this?
    Clearly you made it up.

    I had to Opt out of the union. The still take the money out of my check but then send me a check every year around Christmas.

    So what is your beef? You get the protection and benefits of the union and you pay nothing for it, (typical republican, always out for what you can get for free) and you are free to do that.
    Why are you whining and what do you care if others aren’t as cheap and selfish as you?

  24. redneckbuck says:

    The teachers union has been caught giving too much to the dems and has been forced to pay huge fines. But what do they care, it isn’t their money. And yes, every teachers union, by that I mean every school district, has to declare the amount they donate to the dems every year. If you don’t believe me check it out at http://www.effwa.org

  25. Redneck

    The problem with all the $12-$15 jobs is that there are now people who have lost better jobs and who are now trying to hold their families together on those low paying, no benefits jobs.

    IF you teach in a Public School and are not a member of the Teachers Union YOU ARE A PPARASITE living of the pay and benefits packages won by the union.

    You could not learn my jobs skill set in 20 years. I on the other had could teach any math, science, history, or literature course form K to 12.

    “gives directly to Dems” Go back and read the comments posted under the blogs about Mr. O’Ban.

    “three reasons why government workers need unions” to use a example you may be more familiar with: How would you feel if your school district said all the Principals and Vice Principals get pay raises, but class room teachers who don’t agree to no raises for three years will be fired.

  26. redneckbuck – if you think your anti-union sloganeering is “anything that challenges your way of thinking” you are truly a horrid educator.

    Provide some cogent arguments and I might take you seriously.

  27. redneckbuck says:

    I would be happy, as a classroom teacher, to have my pay frozen for the next three years. The teachers unions do not want anyone to know what teachers are making these days. I am in my 16th years as a k-12 teacher, I coach basketball and tennis. I cleared just over 95k last year. My wife also teaches.

  28. Sumner401 says:

    And yes, every teachers union, by that I mean every school district, has to declare the amount they donate to the dems every year.

    OK, I have to ask again, what are you whining about?
    You don’t pay your dues, yet you get the same benefits, the donations a union makes, to all organizations, are declared and above board….what is your beef?

  29. To reiterate what was said:

    redneckbuck says:
    NOVEMBER 13, 2010 AT 6:38 AM
    The teachers union takes $225 dollars from every teacher in this state and hands it to the democratic party. They do this without telling the teachers. How do I know this? I had to Opt out of the union. The still take the money out of my check but then send me a check every year around Christmas. I think that of all people, teachers should be able to think for themselves. I choose to write my own checks to candidates I deem fit.

    redneckbuck did not say he paid $225 a year in union dues, he said they “take” $225 a year “from” the union dues that they collect and give it to the democrat party. Redneckbuck gets to opt out of paying the PAC money and would pay in reduced dues, the cost of the union’s bargaining for his behalf.

    So he is probably not a disgusting parasite as has been pointed out.

    So Sumner, can you provide any facts that unions do not support democrats with union dues?

    Otherwise, Now move along little girl, the adults are talking.

  30. redneckbuck says:

    you are right. I still have to pay all the dues. I do receive the political portion back, although, the union gest fined every election for giving more than it should. But so what, it is my money that is paying all those fines.

  31. redneckbuck says:

    Oh yeah the best part…because I don’t donate to the political portion of the dues I do not get to vote on any union issues.

  32. Redneck
    – and how much of that 95K is your stipend for being a two sport coach? Didn’t thank someone would know about that did you?

    -teacher Union dues in Washington range from about $670 to about $1100 PER YEAR. So 225 X 12 = $2,700 per year or about 2.5 times the maximum rate paid in Washington (assuming you get your pay spread over the full year)

    DJ
    – ‘government unions” If you can’t see the problem of a Manager getting a 17% pay raise while the workers get no raise your mind is not the only thing that is closed.

    Roll-on
    – Teacher salaries and benefits are negotiated between the School District and the Teachers Union, so Redneck profits from the work of the same union that he does not support.

    – It is not illegal for unions to donate to Democrats or any candidates from any other party.

  33. Negotiations between employers and the union representing the employees is far more balanced than it was when pay was determined on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis.

    The individual employee is powerless against an employer who holds all the cards, especially when there is considerable unemployment. This is extortion, Lyle.

    And we wonder why employers salivate over those desperate illegals who will do “anything” for a job.

    There’s always someone willing to do your job for less. This is why the American workforce is better off organized.

  34. redneckbuck points out that he earns a high salary which is due to the actions of the union yet he is a bitter anti-unionist.

    Tell ya what……why don’t you return the portion of your and your wife’s salaries to the School District that you would not have earned due to collective bargaining and then I might consider you as something other than a hypocrite.

  35. redneckbuck says:

    I am the only teacher in the district that is endorsed to teach Physics, Math, CTE, and science. I could negotiate my own contract if allowed to do so.

    I pay close to 1000 dollars in dues each year and still cannot vote in any union related decision because I refuse to donate to the Democrats.

    I make about 6k a year coaching. Because the district needs my courses to be offered I sell back my planning period each year and take on an additional 30 students.

    Sumner, I had sellections from both parties on my ballot this year. I doubt you are nearly that open minded.

  36. Zillahboy says:

    Public employee unions work hard to provide members with basic needs? Like the nine million dollars plus that taxpayers had to come up with to pay for cosmetic surgery for Buffalo teachers and their families in 2009? Punch up “Buffalo teachers’ cosmetic surgery” for the story.

  37. donjames says:

    xring, I hardly think that having a unionized government work force will do anything to prevent excessive government management salaries. And double-digit raises are not exclusive to management, to wit:

    http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/illinois-state-workers-payraises-20100706

    To the contrary, unionization of government employees has only compounded the escalating pay and benefits crises. It is we the people who must stop this insanity – and soon – before we are further californicated.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/04/11/2670020/pension-promises-threaten-california.html#storylink=omni_popular

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avB_iFEURY4&

    Make no mistake, the vast majority of taxpaying, non-government employed Americans believe government pay is waaay out of control – labor and management, union and non-union.

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj30n1/cj30n1-5.pdf

    Period, end of story.

  38. Roncella says:

    donjames, Your not seriously trying to have a real debate with sumner, polago about unions. The unions are the back bone of the Democratic party. They give millions all across the nation to keep dems. in office.

    If they can’t see the damage some of the Gov.Unions have done in Greece, and Calif. with some very well written dontracts, that the states and country cannot to pay any longer, there is nothing you or I can say to enlighten them. .

  39. Zboy – a most interesting article. I wonder why the school district included elective cosmetic surgery in the contract in the first place. Most plans I am familiar with do not cover elective procedures except for wellness checkups. You also left out the part where the union has agreed to drop the coverage in toe 2010 contract.

    DJ – when you compare similar jobs in the public and private sectors, 2010 wage studies show that Federal salaries are 24% behind those in the private sector. When you compare total average salaries federal salaries appear higher because the feds don’t have minimum wage jobs that are so common in the private sector. And the beat goes on.

    Redneck – First let me apologize – I had initially thought you were opting out of the whole union. But your later posts make it clear that you only opt out of the political contribution. Good for you, I for one think only register US voters should be allowed to contribute to political parties and candidates. It also turns out that the $225 is an annual amount and not a monthly amount. For you the unions may actually hider you, but collective bargaining does offer advantages to both sides. Could you image how much it would cost a distric,t in both time and money, to negotiate separate contacts with each employee?

  40. Xring sez – “The City of Tacoma just gave its Manager a 17% pay raise, while demanding employees accept a pay freeze.

    – The Pierce County Council voted themselves a 21% pay raise, while refusing a 2.6% increase to its workers.

    Congress voted itself a 2.8% pay rise and a 2.0 per cent raise for federal workers”

    No xring, your thinking is still backwards:

    The employees do not “need” a parity raise, rather (drum roll here) the Manager, City Council and Congress should be required to take the same percentage wage cut as parity to the percentage of unemployment in relation to their service level (county state federal etc.).

  41. Lars
    – the county worker raise was not a”parity” raise, but a cost of living increase. And given the current state of the county finances why should the person who is most responsible for the situation (i.e. the Manager) be rewarded with a large pay raise. That is rewarding failure.

    – in other posts I have spoken out against Congress and the County Council voting themselves big pay raises and increases in benefits while offering workers smaller raises in wages and benefits.

  42. xring gets to the heart of the matter and demonstrates why Lyle’s letter is so off-base.

    Anderson’s obscene raise during this economic crisis has absolutely nothing to do with unions. He is MANAGEMENT, not labor.

  43. Sumner401 says:

    Citing Cato??
    Oh man, that is too funny!
    Almost as good as rassmussion, hearitage and world nut daily!
    Cato!!
    LOL!

  44. That is the crux of this letter, beerBoy, to lay the blame onto labor unions for Andersen’s obscene pay raise.

    His statement, “And, of course, non-union managers get raises to keep pace with those under them.” is an absolute non-sequitur.

  45. bobcat1a says:

    Yes donjames, I can tell you. The article is complaining about unions and pay for the city manager and you said it’s caused by union demands. The raise for the city manager was from $200,000 to $235,000 so i’m trying to find out how you make the connection that it has something to do with unions getting raises, none of which come close to 17%.

  46. Period, end of story.

    Whenever I see that, or a variation of that phrase I don’t bother reading what is above it because it signals the product of a closed mind.

    You might want to dial back the rhetoric a little.

  47. Sumner401 says:

    I see the righties have run away from this one, funny how they do that when proven wrong.

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