Letters to the Editor

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PIERCE COUNTY: There’s more to the union story

Letter by Sandra L. Robinson, Gig Harbor on Feb. 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm with No Comments »
February 25, 2011 10:27 am

In reply to the opinion piece on unions (editorial, 2-20), Pierce County’s unions discussed a wage freeze in a management and unions meeting. We were ready to help if we could have a few questions answered: Would it save any jobs? Would county leadership freeze their wages? Would the freeze encompass the other county employees?

The reply: No jobs would be saved. The county leaders had not even considered putting their own raises on hold because these raises were “mandated by law.” (Our contracts are also legal documents.) And there was no promise that other county employees would have the same freeze.

Given this input, we had nothing to take to our membership for a vote.

Contrast this with King County, where the county and the unions have a better relationship. The unions were asked to give up their cost-of-living raises. They did because King County leaders led by freezing their own raises and assuring the unions that their sacrifices would help to save jobs.

It’s easy to demonize the unions when times are tough. But any honest look at the struggles our county employees have gone through in the past two years will show sacrifice: almost 400 lost jobs, work distributed among fewer workers, unpaid furlough days and rising health care costs.

We’re not just public employees. We are taxpayers and members of this community who also have a real stake in better government.

(Robinson is president of 3752-CN, the professionals union for the Pierce County Jail.)

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