LETTER: Public workers entitled to sustain families tooTo the Telegram: In response to the letter “Walker exposes public workers and their unions” by Robert White of Waukesha:
To the Telegram:
In response to the letter “Walker exposes public workers and their unions” by Robert White of Waukesha:
Mr. White implies that in pre-Walker Wisconsin most public workers were living high off the hog on outrageous salaries and free benefits. He echoes Walker’s rhetoric, saying the increased contributions to benefits forced upon public workers puts their compensation “more in line with average taxpayers.” Mr. White even goes as far as saying the taxpayers were “being raped by the public workers’ unions.”
First, I’d like to point out that Walker and his supporters ignore the fact that we public workers are “average taxpayers.” If there is a box to check that exempts me from paying taxes because I am a public worker or a union member, I missed it.
City of Superior employees, union and non-union, are now required to pay 5.9 percent of our income toward the Wisconsin Retirement System, which pre-Walker was fully funded by our employer. Locals 235 and 244 also agreed to increase employee health insurance contributions from 5 percent and 10 percent to 12.6 percent across the board, and a pay freeze through 2013. These concessions saved the city of Superior several hundred thousand dollars, helping to offset Walker’s cuts to shared revenue.
In the past, our negotiated pay raises scarcely reflected increases in the cost of living, but the full funding of our pension and 90 percent to 95 percent employer contribution to our health insurance put our compensation nearly in line with, and according to some data, even slightly below that of private sector employees in comparable professions.
So, what does this sudden, significant drop in income really mean for “average taxpayers,” your friends, neighbors and customers who happen to be public employees here in Superior?
For many, it means cutting out the “extras” like cable TV, dinner out or taking a family vacation. For many others, there are no more “extras” to cut, and they are literally being forced to choose between buying gas or groceries on payday.
Walker says he wants to bring “family sustaining jobs” to Wisconsin. To what standard does he expect Wisconsin’s public employees sustain their families?
Lee Sandok Baker,