Letter: Workers Should Support Workers on Issue 2

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Building a Better Ohio is running two TV ads in which a woman’s voice says we should vote yes on because Ohio’s public employees already make “43 percent more than us” and want even more in salary and benefits that “we” will have to pay for. Who is this “us” and “we”? “Us” and “we” are the more than 5 million employees in our state (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services), and I am one.

And what does that 43 percent mean? Teachers in Ohio have an average salary of around $50,000, so the “us” and “we” average $28,500. That puts “us” together with the teachers in the same camp: the middle class. None of “us” is even close to rich.  

In the Building a Better Ohio ads, the woman’s tone of voice is sometimes whiny and sometimes angry and resentful — and it’s the latter that I find most objectionable. Resentment is a very human emotion. I confess that I often find myself resenting the incredibly wealthy, especially in times like these when so many are hurting. However, resentment is also a rather base emotion which can lead to base actions, like revenge.

But this is what the wealthy folks behind Building a Better Ohio are appealing to.  They are playing the old “divide and conquer” game: “Let’s get the un-unionized workers to resent the unionized workers and then get revenge by helping to destroy their unions.” If that happens, those folks will truly be laughing at all workers on their way to the bank.

Some may accuse me of indulging in class warfare, but one can argue that class warfare has been a reality in this country ever since our Founding Fathers restricted the vote to white, property-owning males. One can also argue that in this “war” collective bargaining — negotiating contracts with the other side — is a fair and civilized way to arrive at a “peace treaty,” one in which both parties make compromises.

I helped create a collective bargaining unit that was certified by the state of Ohio in 1996, and I am thankful every single day for the decent (but by no means lavish) treatment I have received since then. More importantly, I believe a genuinely “better Ohio” would be one where all workers have some means to negotiate for decent treatment in their workplaces.

I don’t expect business owners and managers to vote for Ohio’s workers, but I do believe workers should support workers in order to improve all our lives.  Please vote "No" on Issue 2.

Christina McVay
Kent, OH

Wendy October 26, 2011 at 11:35 PM
Hear, hear, Chris! Articulate as always. Signed: a pre-union part-timer at KSU's main, Trumbull,, & Geauga campuses. Glad to hear conditions have improved. It was a brutal gig back then.
elguapo October 27, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Unions are also the only organized opposition to the Republican party. Their motivation to break unions is more political than financial. If you can raise unlimited money through wealthy campaign donors and the opposition doesn't exist anymore, you're free to do anything. If the GOP can get this through, get ready for more tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts in Medicare to pay for it!
James Thomas October 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM
Christina M, "Some may accuse me of indulging in class warfare". Yep. that about sums it up. I am one of those workers that you insist should support repeal and I do not. I am grateful that I do not work in a union environment and never would, I would quit before giving the union a dime of my money. Unions are dinosaurs and should go the same way.
Jim Moore October 27, 2011 at 01:16 PM
If SB5 is repealed taxes will be raised on people that can least afford it just to pay for health care and retirement for union parasites. Vote Yes on issue 2.
Phil_Eng_Amer October 27, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Workers supporting workers means ensuring that all workers are protected, not just those in the upper ranks of the union. If no legislation ispassed in the state, you’re likely to see this gap between public sector and private sector compensation continue to grow. Overall we've seen private sector compensation hit hard in the recent economic climate, yet public sector compensation has risen (http://eng.am/pn5weF). Ohio already is burdened by the massive weight of liabilities (http://eng.am/p9JEUG) and is beginning to look a lot like Rhode Island, a state teetering on the edge of complete disaster (http://eng.am/vAkntd). Ohio will likely either be hit hard with higher taxes or be forced to give out pink slips and compromise the ability of these essential institutions from providing the services they provide to communities. Collective bargaining plays a large part in this. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has tried to curb public sector compensation yet due to collective bargaining laws; some unions have voted down the new contracts and instead chosen to decimate their workforce so that they might keep the better benefits for those at the top (http://eng.am/qh2i1T). That hardly seems like a workers supporting workers approach. If you continue to let the system fester there’s only one place the state and its workers can go; down. Hopefully the political power play that this whole debate has morphed into will not shroud the actual facts from the people in the state.
John Gwinn October 27, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Most analyses have shown public employees receive lower paychecks than private employees with similar education and experience. Negotiated benefits partially make up for that deficit. So where did the 43% advantage come from? From those number manipulators who gave a monetary value to the job security in many public jobs. In other words if a private employee earns $50,000 then a public employee with similar education should be satisfied earning $28,500 because of presumed job security.


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