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October 28, 2010

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CCB

I'm trying to say that the union side already has impoverishment of the private sector workers on the table, and has been unwilling to negotiate in good faith. What they are doing to you is fairly similar to what the private sector would experience with a bankrupcy.

The benefits acquired by the public sector unions were unsustainable. They got these benefits by having political power of both money and voting blocks to sway elections, basically having a large say in who they had to negotiate against. The public employee benefits were going to break the bank no matter what, the current (goverment caused) financial crisis merely brought the end a lot faster.

What is going on is not irrational hatred of public employees - it is anger against the way that the public unions and politicans worked together against the taxpayers for decades. The anger is fuelled by the current antics of the unions as they blatantly try to keep pro-union politicans who basically promise to shovel public money to the unions, no matter how questionable the legality. The anger is completely reasonable since both the politicans and the public employees are supposed to be working for the public and not in cahoots against them.

The bottom line is that the politicans wrote promises that they cannot meet. The politicans were definitely coerced (willingly, mind you) by the unions to write these contracts. The public unions share responsibility for the eventual train wreck that is happening. Both the politicans and unions assumed that the taxpayers would be stuck with whatever siezure of weath that would be required to meet these contracts. The politicans assumed that they would be able to point fingers at someone before them and say 'ya gotta pay, it's a contract'. The unions assumed that they would have ever-increasing amounts of money and influence with the politicans, and thus did not have to care what the taxpayers (their employers) thought. Since there is no 'safety valve' in public finances that the private sector has (bankrupcy) that solves this problem, both politicans and unions thought that this was a great state of affairs.

We're discovering that there is a solution, which is very similar to the effect of private sector bankrupcy proceedings - go and modify past contracts. I don't particularly like this, but the idea that since the politicans and unions kept these dirty deals quiet so long that there is no way to unwind them is even more reprehensible.

Back to our conversation, I guess I don't see a large difference in the current negotiation tactics 'taxes must be raised to pay the contract me and the guy I got elected signed, or we'll seize the money using the power of the state' and your response that if they attempt to lower your benefits, you will respond with lethal force. Both basically say 'pay me, you gotta, or I'll shoot you'. This is not talking nor negotiation.

ED. NOTE:

Forecasting weather and politics are both difficult matters, CCB, but they are even more difficult without the specialty knowledge that adds the final accuracy. It's evident that you are using a generic model of the unions' power usage, and extrapolating it to Oregon. That's incorrect. The public-sector unions were NEVER strong in this state, and I can give several examples. One such example occurred in the '70's, when public employees were actually asked to give back some large benefit amounts, and they agreed to, with a proviso (negotiated in good faith, not with the unions involved in most cases) that PERS retirement system would "pick-up" the employee contributions at a later date. Remember the '70's, CCB? They were characterized by high interest and inflation numbers, and the 6% pick-up that was negotiated was considered small potatoes.

Then, in the '90's, the public sector unions could do nothing but watch as the GOP tore down all the built-up collective bargaining agreements with Senate Bill 750. There is NO collective bargaining left in this State to speak of. There used to be mandatory arbitration but now there is only negotiate, then "take it or leave it", with the State being able to impose a settlement.

No, the public sector unions in Oregon don't fit your model, CCB, but you could have divined that from the information I presented earlier, if you weren't so busy trying to beat the problem around the edges with your ugly stick, trying to make it fit into your pat political explanation.

Your political explanation of things just doesn't fit in Oregon, CCB. Maybe it fits somewhere else, but THIS observer would take even that with caution.

History, that pesky concept. You live WITH it and let it instruct you, or you go against it and lose arguments.

I stick by my bottom line: if ANY entity, public or private, refuses to stand by contracts it signed, or refuses to negotiate contractual modifications in good faith, then civility has ended. At that point, it's time for Tobacco Road: blow it up and start over again. You have advocated here for the ending of civility, so I assume you believe that you are bulletproof. Best of luck.

CCB

IMHO, the hatred of public employees is somewhere between

"No one holds a gun to the heads of the State mavens who negotiate labor contracts with public employees, and anyone who tells you that there is such intimidation is lying to you"

and

"If all 30,000 of us start voting as a block, we CONTROL this state"

You're missing the money given to campaigns by the public unions as well as the voting block effect. It often swings elections, meaning the public unions can cause the firing of the elected official at the ballot booth.


That is what is the crux of the current hatred of public employees - it goes beyond the typical union ability to force unsustainable contracts, they actively used their voting bloc to control the selection of the person (or at least his/her boss) negotiating for the contract. It was not a literal gun - it was however the threat of unemployment.

As getting job security guarantees is typically one of the higher priorites for public employee contracts, typically to avoid abuses and intimidation from administration changes, it's disingenious to claim that threat of unemployment is not a coercive force.

Speaking of coercive, that leads to another component of the hatred - in a private business, a union that forces unsustainable contracts is ultimately rewarded with either a) a judge reducing the contracts in bankrupcy or b) the business going under, effectively cancelling the contract. Public employees seem to feel that once unsustainable benifits are agreed to, the use of force (collecting taxes) MUST be used to provide them.

This basically boils down to is there is a coercive force exerted by the public employees to get unsustainable benifits, and that they can never be renegotiated and must be paid for by the taxpayers, at the literal point of a gun (try not paying your taxes and see if the state will use force to attempt to sieze them).

So, boxing the public in a corner and saying 'you are trapped - I don't care if your retirement is destroyed by increasing taxation, I EARNED my retirement that those taxes are being raised to pay' is not supposed to generate ill feelings?

EDITOR'S NOTE: CCB, my point was that the press is un-necessarily fanning the flames here, and those flames will result in a flashover that will burn them badly. BTW, I'm not boxing anyone in here, the contract I'm trying to enforce was written almost a generation ago, and there were plenty of tight-money lessons still on folks' minds back then. My final point was, let's talk. Talk is difficult when the other side wants to have your impoverishment on the table. When they put that on the table, they're going to be staring at my pistol, which I will set on the same negotiating table. I'm from the school of hard knocks: I've stood up to some, and dealt out some, and I can handle life either way. That said, it's time to actually believe in something, and the something I want to believe in in my retirement contract. If I can't believe in that, it's my turn to go rogue, I guess.

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