MSNBC Story Reader Poll Supports Public Workers

MSNBC ran an interesting story, "Fierce attacks leave public workers stinging," in which public sector workers from around the country admit that relentless anti-worker political attacks are hurting morale and making them question their careers. 

Perhaps the most interesting part is the poll at the bottom of the article. The poll asks: "Do you think the cost-cutting aimed at public union workers has been fair?" The answers available: 

  • Yes, they have had it too easy for too long
  • No, they've become political scapegoats
  • Maybe, but states need to cut costs and that means sacrifices

Less than two hours after the story was first updated to MSNBC.com, the unscientific poll had received over 13,000 answers. More than half the respondents voted for "No, they've become political scapegoats." 

You can see the entire story here--read it, and make your opinion count!

Join the "We Are One" Rallies

From the AFL-CIO:

On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with sanitation workers demanding their dream: The right to bargain collectively for a voice at work and a better life. The workers were trying to form a union with AFSCME.

Beginning with worship services over the April 1 weekend, and continuing through the week of April 4, unions, people of faith, civil and human rights activists, students and other progressive allies will host a range of community- and workplace-focused actions.

Join us in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for: the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born. It’s a day to show movement. Teach-ins. Vigils. Faith events. A day to be creative, but clear: We are one.

You can participate! Cick here to find an event near you.

Meet Bill Gode

In February 2011, Working Massachusetts began running our first radio ads across the state to share our members' stories directly with the public. Our ads feature public employees talking about their jobs and the people they help.

In this ad, you'll meet Bill Gode, the director of flood control management in the greater Boston area for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. When the rains of March 2010 caused extreme flooding across the state, the Moody Street Damn in Waltham was in danger of giving way in a catastrophic failure. Bill waded out into the treacherous rushing waters to operate the dam's release mechanism by hand and saved the nearby community. 

Meet Larry Norman

In February 2011, Working Massachusetts began running our first radio ads across the state to share our members' stories directly with the public. Our ads feature public employees talking about their jobs and the people they help.

In this ad, you'll meet Larry Norman, who works for the Massachusetts Municipal Training Committee. Larry will explain how the agency helps keep our local police trained to respond to emergencies when we call them for help.

Meet Sue Leahy

In February 2011, Working Massachusetts began running our first radio ads across the state to share our members' stories directly with the public. Our ads feature public employees talking about their jobs and the people they help.

In this ad, you'll meet Sue Leahy, a teacher from Billerica. You can hear what she has to say about today's students--and hear two of her students talk about the difference she's made in their lives.

Meet Charice Lewis

In February 2011, Working Massachusetts began running our first radio ads across the state to share our members' stories directly with the public. Our ads feature public employees talking about their jobs and the people they help.

In this ad, you'll meet Charice Lewis, an operator on the MBTA. Do you remember the dramatic video from late 2009 of a woman falling onto the tracks at North Station? Charice was driving the train, and the story has a happy ending thanks to Charice's calm under pressure. 

Boston Globe's Loth Gets It Right on Pensions

Boston Globe columnist Renee Loth got the story right in her March 19, 2011 column, "Tensions over pensions":

Here’s the real news: public pensions are a bargain for state government compared to private businesses that participate in Social Security. The state contributes about 2.6 percent of payroll to current employee pensions. But private companies are required to pay 6.2 percent (of the first $106,800 of salary) into Social Security. If the state were to abolish its pension plan and pay into Social Security instead, the [Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center]  found, its costs would more than double.

She examined the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center's recent look at the state retirement system. Loth urged readers:

Righteous venting about fat-cat bureaucrats may feel good, but the truth is that high-profile abuses like Kinton’s are outliers. They shouldn’t be used to condemn the ordinary pensions most government workers will receive. [Emphasis added]

You can read Loth's entire column here. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center recently released two reports that debunk the most popular myths about state employees. Take a look at their report telling the truth about state employee wages versus those in the private sector here; you can see their report demystifying the state pension system here

"Clearing Up Myths and Facts About Public Workers"

National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation featured a talk with Steve Greenhouse, the labor and workplace correspondent for the New York Times, talking about myths and facts about public workers. You can read excerpts below and read the entire transcript here

Now, a lot of private-sector workers who have 401(k)s say: I don't have a very good retirement plan anymore. This stinks. And they resent seeing public-sector workers having more generous pension plans. And they say that's not fair. And the public-sector workers will say: Don't resent me for having the decent pension plan that your mothers and fathers used to have. You should fight to have a better pension plan for yourself....

Now, in some localities and some cities and some school boards, yes, the unions have helped elect Democrats, have helped elect friends who sit on the other side of the negotiating table, and yes, sometimes that means that maybe, you know, those friends whom you helped elect scratch your back and give you more generous wages or pensions than you otherwise might....

However, a lot of other people are - you know, corporations and a lot of folks are trying to, you know, elect their friends and try to make sure that politicians, who's ever elected, Democrats or Republicans, you know, won't be too generous for unions....

And I often talk to union leaders who say: We wish we were half as powerful as Jonah Goldberg says, because if we had all the power he says, if we were so lucky in electing all our friends to be sitting on the other side of the negotiating table, then our wages would be much, much, much, much better than wages for the private-sector workers....

So union leaders say it's grossly exaggerated how much power they have. But that's not to say that there aren't sometimes occasions when, you know, union friends on the other side of the bargaining table are too generous. That has happened sometimes, and sometimes that's really ended up being a burden for various towns and school boards.

Mass Budget & Policy Center Demystifies State Pension System

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has published Demystifying the State Pension System, a report describing how the state system works, how much it costs, how it compares to similar systems in other states, and recent reforms. 

It's an easy to read introduction to the state retirement system, and it couldn't come at a better time, when so much of the country is talking about public employees and our pensions. Check it out here and save it for reference the next time your Fox-News-watching buddies try to blame your pension for their troubles. 

Hearing for Municipal Health Care/GIC Bills Tuesday March 8

The long-held right of municipal employees to bargain collectively over their benefits is the next item that could face the budget ax. The Joint Committee on Public Service will hold a hearing on Tuesday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. in the State House's Gardner Auditorium to consider bills dealing with municipal health care and the Group Insurance Commission. 

One of the two dozen bills under consideration, Governor Deval Patrick's proposal (H.36), would make cities and towns join the GIC unless they either have less expensive plans already or can negotiate with local unions to reduce costs to a comparable level. His bill would also force municipal retirees onto Medicare, a move that now requires municipalities to approve via town meeting or city council vote. 

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