Why the Attacks on Public Sector Workers and Their Unions

trashmanWhile the country has been swamped with raging snowstorms, the biggest snow jobs have come from corporations, Republican governors and legislators, Chambers of Commerce and their puppets. This chorus of union busters has been joined by the corporate think tanks, the CATO Institute, the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute and spewed from Fox News. The reasons behind these attacks on public sector workers and their unions can be seen in the differential in salaries between unionized public workers, who can earn $47,000 as a result of union efforts compared to public sector non-union workers who earn $37, 284.

The false charge that unionized public sector workers are paid too much is wrong. Studies have shown when comparing education and training, most public sector workers compared to private sector workers in similar jobs have an 11% lower salary than private workers who perform similar tasks. Data shows that workers in the private sector earn $66,000 as opposed to $49,132 for public employees with comparable education and skill. Thus, many public sector workers have made salary sacrifices by choosing the public sector. This includes first responders such as police, firefighters and who lives are in jeopardy every time they aid the public.

Public Sector workers constitute the largest group of union members in the country. By attacking this sector, corporations hope to cripple and destroy the entire trade union movement. Additionally, in the process, they hope to roll back, privatize or wipe from the books important progressive legislation such as, Social Security, Medicare and protection for minorities and women, much of the agenda that benefit workers, thus, eradicating years of social legislation that unions fought many battles to obtain.

Their business model for privatization is Enron; and we all know the corruption that ensued from this model. That’s why unions and their allies must organize, resist and defeat such reactionary efforts.

Those Republican governors and their crony legislators, including some Democrats, are crying wolf about fiscal distress on the part of states is only part of the story. While there may be serious budgetary problems in the states, we will show that there are a number of steps to lessen the impact of a financial meltdown, which these governors and legislators claim.

Research shows two concrete ways in which states can lessen the impact of budgetary problems. One way, is by instituting certain revenue enhancement polices, such as those advocated by The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy. Their recent study was of eight states, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Vermont, Hawaii and Wisconsin. These states currently offer substantial tax breaks to a tiny minority of taxpayers. This 1% of taxpayers evades paying a fair share of their taxes, by using tax breaks, claimed as capital gains. Capital gains are profits gained from selling assets, such as art objects, stocks, bonds and investment real estate. In 2008, tax payers with a federal income with less than $50,000 comprised 66% of all tax returns, but constituted only 10% of those claiming any capital gains. In the eight states cited, 95%-100% of the tax breaks went to the richest 20% of tax payers. Over $400,000,000 in revenue is lost to just capital gains alone. Several states recently acted to revise this exclusion, including Rhode Island and Vermont. It should be noted that the most usual assets held by most Americans, such as 401(K) s and IRAs cannot be treated as capital gains.The table that follows (figure 1) shows what a small minority of taxpayers is involved in capital gains:

Attack Against Public Sector Unions

Published by the LA Progressive on February 21, 2011
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