After three days of national syndicated opinion columns published stating unions are bad and are the demise of America as we know it, I can no longer remain silent. I always thought the purpose of newspapers was to report the facts all the facts, not just the facts as the news editor would like them to be. But it is quite obvious by the anti-union slant in the opinion page and cartoons that certainly is not the case with the Great Bend Tribune.
The first column published was on Thursday. Mike Reagan has the audacity to state that government workers, by the mere fact of them being government workers give up the right to have a union. He goes on to say that these workers should pretty much shut up, and be happy with the good job they have. He states “they can look forward to a pension or an early retirement benefits not readily available to a lot of civilian jobs.” This so called pension is also no longer available in most government workers; we contribute to our retirement just like other private sector employees. Yes, our employers do contribute some, but not anything that a person could live off when we want to retire. We are responsible for saving for our retirements, just like everybody else. Mike Reagan needs to update his facts. Mr. Reagan also has bought into Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s lies about the reason behind the union busting bill he has proposed. Mike Reagan says all that Gov. Walker is asking is for the state teachers to make concessions concerning their pensions and insurance. That is not true. What isn’t being said is that these same teachers and the big bad unions have already agreed to make concessions! Gov. Walker wants not only monetary concessions but he wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights as well! He doesn’t want workers to have a voice at all!
Friday’s column was even less subtle with the screaming headline “It’s high time for a union assault.” Wow, let’s not even give the appearance of fair and balanced. Susan Stamper Brown states “Gov. Walker simply asked union members to chip in a moderate percentage of their above average salary to contribute to their very generous pension and health care plans.” Again, we don’t disagree on this, but none of these columnists mention that the unions are agreeing to do this. If that is all he wants, than why is he so intent on eliminating bargaining rights? The union members have already said they will negotiate. But that is not good enough for Gov. Walker. He just wants them to go away. Period.
The third column published Sunday was by Floyd and Mary Beth Brown. Once again they lead you to believe Gov. Walker is simply trying to “balance the budget.” Have you seen anywhere that the workers are trying to do their part? They want to discuss this with Gov. Walker, but he refuses. This bill is so much more than fixing a state deficit. This bill is all about forcing workers to give up their collective bargaining rights. Rights that all workers should have. If any of these columnists actually read Walker’s bill, they would see all the anti-union details of the bill. Things that have nothing to do with balancing the budget.
What bothers me most about this debate is how it is pitting worker against worker. Middle class workers have resorted to taking the stance of “If I don’t make XX amount of money and have good benefits, than those workers shouldn’t either!” Does anyone else see the sadness of that statement? Instead of lifting our fellow workers up, we are taking the low road and tearing them down. Do these people not understand that once “those people” make less and have no benefits, the trickle down effect will most certainly happen? Do people actually believe that Gov. Walker is going to stop with the public workers? Really? Come on, step out of your Pollyanna world and see the big picture. Who’s next?
Think about it, and then think about this, by Pastor Martin Niemöller who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Kansas Postal Workers Union,