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Don’t demonize the workers

Posted: March 21, 2011 - 9:00pm  |  Updated: March 22, 2011 - 7:28am

The recent report that Governor Parnell believes Governor Walker in Wisconsin was courageous in eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees saddens me. Is it courageous that when the public employees indicate a willingness to make concessions, under the cover of darkness you pass a bill to strip employees of the right to participate in such a process? I don’t classify using dishonesty “a budget crisis” to mask your true motives “Union Busting” courageous. In addition, the more recent opinion piece by The Independent Institute takes it over the top. Painting public employees, especially teachers, as highjacking state budgets because they are so powerful rings shallow. The U.S. Military Industrial Complex, insurance, financial and energy corporations have now been granted the ability to use unlimited money to influence the outcomes of elections. The power to appropriate the funds for any agreement rests with the legislature; public employees are in fact not in the driver’s seat. Their actual labor is their only true currency. Elected officials don’t sit across the table in state of Alaska negotiations. Agreements are not presented to the Legislature for funding until bargaining between the represented employees and governor’s representatives is completed. I do not believe there is any agreement out there that does not allow the employer the ability to use agreed-upon methods to deal with revenue shortfalls. It may be a feel-good position to say that you managed not to lay off any employees as you reduce the standard of living for all of those who carry out public policy as dictated by the Legislature. Of course you actually have to show that there is a financial crisis, not a crisis invented by redirecting state revenues to corporations in the form of tax breaks and giveaways in order to implement layoffs. It is extremely disheartening that the brunt of the demonization is being directed at teachers because they are not miracle workers able to solve all the problems of our public education system in overcrowded classrooms with limited resources. They are expected to honor each child’s unique learning needs and also address ever-changing federal and local mandates. It’s time to work together cooperatively and actually craft solutions to complex problems instead of trying to score points through sound bites and doomsday rhetoric. These problems are not going to be solved in one election cycle. I am looking for true leadership.

Mary Graham

Juneau

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