Today's big news: The governor is playing chicken with the state employees' union here in New Hampshire: ["Lynch: If no deal by tomorrow, layoffs"].
I feel for the SEA, I truly do, but we're in the middle of another great depression here. Non-union, private sector workers, you know, the ones who foot most of the bill for the union (and municipal) employees, have taken a deeper hit than the governor is asking state workers to take. Some of us have received pay cuts AND higher health care premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. We can't afford any more in taxes so the state will have to make due with what is there.
To SEA members: What makes you think you are so special that you can evade the effects of this depression? I have had family in the SEA in the past and there would be no question about how the vote would be taken. They would all take the hit to save the jobs. I frankly can't believe that you are not saving your brothers' and sisters' jobs now!
I have friends currently who work for the state. I asked one of them last year how he would vote when this issue first came up. He said he would vote No. I asked him why. He said, the governor raised my health care costs and part of the deal was that we would get a pay raise if we took the higher health care costs. I said, I understand that but times have changed. There are people losing everything. Everyone has higher health care costs and millions don't have anything. I explained my own situation - two years with a wage freeze and higher health care costs as compared to 2004 when I left the company I now work for to take another job. The entire world is going through this and making sacrifices, I said [we were having this conversation during a pretty rowdy afternoon of Halo 3, which means we're not that bad off when you really think about it ...].
But he was dug in, probably because he has been around long enough not to get let go. I said, Well, then let the governor lay the workers off. If you are not going to bend a little - much less than the people who pay the bills are bending - then good luck to you.
Since that time, it has gotten much worse. We have a number: 750. And private sector employees have received pay cuts and health care costs have gone up even more. I know in my case I received a 7-plus percent pay cut in June. But I love my job and frankly there isn't any work anywhere anyway so we're making the best of it, picking up odd jobs here and there, cutting household expenses, to make ends meet (I can't believe I manage to feed a family of four on $80 to $90 a week! And thank goodness I bought and/or financed long-term most of the high ticket items we needed over the next few years before the pay cut.)
But I gotta tell ya, this is not the way of the brotherhood that I used to know. There was shared sacrifice and shared wealth in the union, or at least there is supposed to be that. I guess that goes out the window now.
Gov. Lynch needs to do what is best for the state. None of us are happy but we all need to make due. If that means the governor has to let workers go to balance the budget, then that is what he has to do.
I would urge, however, the SEA to do the right and just thing, and what is best for the 750 people who are members of their union who are about to lose everything: Take the furlough and be happy, frankly, that you aren't in the dreaded private sector, where things are much, much worse.