To the editor,
While I understand the difficulty in summarizing the view of The Post (editorial, Aug. 23 edition) on the long history of the organized labor debate, I must point out a major flaw in last week’s editorial “Both Sides to Blame in Union Demonization.” Your paper framed the pro/anti-union debate as one between the two major political parties, suggesting that both contributing to the current demonization of unions. As such, your paper failed to differentiate the nature of the issue concerning the non-partisan nature of the outcry versus public employee labor unions, particularly given that there is much more is at stake than worker’s rights and safety, namely the actual fiscal survival of cities and towns plagued by often unsustainable worker benefits and compensation. Your editorial closed with a claim that not recognizing the politics of union demonization during election season is a “misunderstanding of current events”.
Let me submit to you that the conflict/demonization over public-sector unions isn’t between the Republican and Democratic parties. It is simply between taxpayers and their government leaders, many of whom have blatantly overlooked their fiscal duties to their constituents. Fortunately, taxpayers are effectively the employers of their public servants and as such, as constituents have the ability to “fire” elected officials who have not adhered to strict fiscal duty and responsibility to them through the ongoing election process.
Let me offer proof that your editorial completely “missed the mark” in painting the issue as that of one between Democrats and Republicans. Let’s look at “current events” of local politics. It is well known that Rhode Island has been a labor-influenced, aka predominantly Democratic “Blue” state for over 70 years. However, in 2011, Democratic leaders, including the General Treasurer and House and Senate Leadership including House/Senate Finance Chairs Mello and DaPonte and most significantly, in the context of this argument, private labor leader and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio backed the taxpayer/constituent, not the public labor organizations such as Council 94, the NEA and AFL-CIO and others in passing Comprehensive Pension Reform.
As such, the politics of “union demonization” within the public sector has had little to do with Republicans or Democrats but instead has everything to do leadership answering to the taxpayer. Taxpayers have seen enough of elected officials (often self-interested representatives of public labor) continuing to support unsustainable compensation & benefits in the public sector, which according to the Cato Institute are in excess of 140% of those earned in the private sector.
Jeffrey J Brown
Brown Advisory Group