Letters to the Editor

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UNION: Place blame where it really belongs

Letter by Chris W. Heminger, Tacoma on Feb. 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm with 8 Comments »
February 22, 2011 1:54 pm

Re: “Original mandate grossly overstepped” (letter, 2-19).

The letter writer’s perspective is incorrect.

Private sector unions did not destroy American competitiveness, as suggested; American and foreign corporations shipped jobs overseas to maximize profits and bonuses. These jobs went to countries that do not provide for their workers’ safety and well-being.

Unions did not begin “infiltrating” local, state and federal governments in the 1970s. My union, the International Association of Fire Fighters, was organized Feb. 28, 1918, nearly 93 years ago and has responsibly represented America’s firefighters.

Unions also did not send the cost of government spiraling out of control and did not set the stage for the problems our nation faces. As a past contract negotiator, we negotiated costs within given budgets, numbers conservatively derived to avoid tax increases.

I submit that deficit budget policies first brought forth during Republican presidential administrations set the stage. Add a mortgage crisis and irresponsible Wall Street greed along with declining tax revenues, and I believe that is where some of the problems lie. Throw in two unfunded wars, and the problems appear worse.

However, a question: Does that letter writer enjoy a 40-hour work week with benefits?

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. fbergford says:

    I applaud you for being a firefighter…thank you, but take a gander at this…this is from FDR who was a “pro-labor” democrat president…

    “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the head of the National Federation of Federal Employees. In the private sector, organized employees and the employer meet across the bargaining table as (theoretical) equals. But in the public sector, said FDR, “the employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.” Allowing public-employee unions to engage in collective bargaining would mean opening the door to the manipulation of government policy by a privileged private interest.”

    Unions are alright in the private sector but not in the PUBLIC…

  2. Chris, when you negotiate with your boss, who is your boss? As a fire fighter you say that your union negotiates costs within given budgets. Then why, I ask, is the fire fighter union always coming around every election cycle trying to pass another levy? You say you negotiate to avoid tax increases, what is a levy or increased property tax if not an increase in my taxes?

  3. Fberg: FDR also opposed integrating the armed services. Does that mean we should still have segregation in this country?

    Frosty: can you prove that the fire fighter unions come around during every election? Or is that just your opinion?

  4. xring, I’m not like you, I vote. I’m aware of what’s going on in my district. That’s what separates a conservative from a democrat. Maybe where you live you don’t have a fire department, so you wouldn’t know about levys.

  5. xring, again just for you satisfaction, it was Eleanor Roosevelt who pushed for integrating the Armed Forces, in case you didn’t know, she was FDR’s wife. Close enough for government work?

  6. fberg……now frosty is trying to carry your water on this ridiculous talking point of yours that you apparently think is so brilliant that it must be reposted, reposted, reposted. Stop it, you are embarrassing yourself.

    This is 2011 – not 1937.

    FDR also tried to pack the Supreme Court. FDR was not divinely inspired.

  7. twodogsafd says:

    This is the author of the letter printed this morning and I’ll try to answer some questions here on the blog:

    fbergford : With respect to FDR, he was opposed to public employee unions, but his concern was primarily having federal employees unionizing, which was eventually passed into law and upheld. Public employee unions have been around since WWI at all levels except federal until the late 30’s.
    President Reagan was a past union president of the Screen Actors Guild, yet some of the most egregious anti-labor laws and regulations came to pass on his watch.

    frosty: During contract negotiations, we negotiate with representatives of the City’s Human Resources department and the executive leadership of the fire department. Quite frankly, we would know the tax numbers coming in and realize that salaries and benefits constitute a ‘slice’ of that pie. No public employee contract negotiations ever result in a tax increase: this is a fallacy created via Faux News and the Koch brothers. I don’t know of a specific instance.

    I did this work for over 15 years, not only for my local, but also for new locals when the International commissioned me to act on their behalf. This was all while pulling shifts: our ‘business agents’ still work their jobs and do the union job. I’ve served as union President and Secretary-Treasurer of the State Council of Fire Fighters over a period of two decades.

    Tax levies, depending upon what kind, may or may not have an effect on employment. For the most part, we support those levies that improve service to the taxpayer: updated equipment, additional stations, and so forth. EMS levies can affect staffing as can fire district funding, so yes, there are instances where we will support levies that can impact staffing. But we also work to educate the taxpayer as we discovered an interesting phenomena: if the taxpayer is educated on a given topic, they will make an informed decision. Our success rate statewide is around 90% and that is a main reason. We also fund campaigns out of our pockets: no taxpayer dollars are used.

    I hope this provides some enlightenment on how the firefighter union operates. We’re above board as a union as we are on duty as your public servants.

  8. twodogs, for the record, I always support the firefighters. I believe they are worth the cost, as well as law enforcement. My beef is more with the WEA, NEA and the whole education establishment. We are not the “biggest bang for the buck” with them.

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