Last Sunday’s Conversation was a two-story package that looked at Detroit’s bankruptcy and a federal judge’s ruling that public employee pensions are fair game as the city seeks to solve its financial problems. Dan Morain’s column focused on John Arnold, who is helping to fund pension reform efforts in California. We asked readers: Do you think voters should have a say in whether to reform public employee pension plans? Or should the issue be decided at the bargaining table?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Unions, politicians lack accountability
Re “Bankruptcy and public pensions; Promises are broken promises when bills come due” (Forum, Dec. 8): Unions like SEIU exist to pay benefits and minimize accountability. Asking the union to agree to benefits cuts is like negotiating with a 2-year-old on whether to ration the Halloween candy. Unions cannot comprehend that taxpayer monies are a precious resource and that work can be done efficiently without maximizing labor costs to taxpayers. Detroit, Vallejo and Stockton are just the tip of the iceberg. Illinois is not far behind, and neither is Chicago.
Besides, in union negotiations, neither side is looking out for taxpayers’ interests. Government officials know they can grant the rank-and-file unions the kitchen sink and then turn around and negotiate an even better sweetheart deal for themselves.
Only in an “Alice in Wonderland” world does this make sense. Impose benefit cuts on public-sector workers now; no negotiations with them.
– Satish Rajan, Roseville
Responsibility for crisis is shared
The article states it is the union’s role to get all they can and it is the politicians’ job not to overspend. It states it is morally wrong for the city of Detroit to go back on its promise. I am confident that in Detroit, and most other government entities, the elected officials are in office because their campaigns were primarily funded by unions.
The unions cannot deny their actions have deliberately made the government officials beholden to them. Nor can they deny a shared responsibility when the subservient politicians succumb to their greed when they ask for and receive benefits they both must know are unsustainable.
They both have a clear shared responsibility for what has transpired, and to suggest that it is morally wrong for the unions to share in the pain of what they were instrumental in bringing about is in itself morally wrong.
– Ronald Lawrence, El Dorado Hills
Politicians won’t cross union donors
Scott Martelle, let me get this straight: You think that government officials who are very heavily supported by big unions, not only monetarily but also in getting out the vote, should be expected to control and reduce pensions and benefits for these same unions that helped elect them? That is delusional thinking.
– Paul Bilek, Loomis
Managers screwed up, employees suffer
Re “Labor groups target Texan” (Forum, Dan Morain, Dec. 8): Here we go again. An elected official accepts advice and money from a wealthy businessman with no government experience and very little life experience. A wealthy man with time on his hands.
John Arnold blindly contributed to Sen. Ted Cruz without vetting the senator’s positions. He uses Stockton and San Bernardino as examples of the pension mess, when we in California know that those two cities collapsed because of the housing mess, caused with the help of Wall Street’s financial misdeeds.
Why does the retired 39-year-old begrudge men and women who have worked for more than 30 years and who want to retire?
As always, the employees who do the work are the ones punished for management’s poor decisions. He should at least understand that.
– Michael Santos, Antelope