Letters to the Editor

Letters: Janus vs. ASFCME + Pension costs + Anthem debate + Abuse of power

Free choice

Re “A pending Supreme Court case threatens to silence workers’ voices” (Editorials, Oct. 15): The Sacramento Bee’s editorial about Janus v. AFSCME was right about only one thing: It was inevitable that the issue of worker freedom would come before the U.S. Supreme Court, because for more than 40 years unions have maintained an unchecked stranglehold on public sector employees. It’s time to give government workers a choice.

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, is simple: It’s about protecting every government employee’s right to choose the organizations they support with their money.

As it stands, American teachers, first responders and social workers must pay a union in order to do their jobs. It doesn’t matter if they disagree with the union or don’t like how the union spends their money; it’s pay up, or move out.

That’s why Mark Janus, a child support specialist in Illinois, is challenging the status quo. He wants a choice, and he isn’t alone. More than 5.5 million government workers in 20 states are forced to pay a union as a condition of employment.

Unions wouldn’t be threatened by giving workers a choice if unions were confident that the work they do, political candidates they support and policies they advocate truly benefited their members.

At the end of the day, the argument here is not about what unions will lose. Rather, this is really about what workers stand to gain, which is freedom through choice. How can anyone argue against that?

Jacob Huebert, litigation director for Liberty Justice Center, Chicago

Worker protection

As a senior pension actuary at CalPERS, I’m proud of my work in protecting and preserving the retirement and health care benefits for millions of Californians. Belonging to my union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, means I work under a contract that protects my job when I fight for what’s right, even if it means blowing the whistle on bad policies or self-dealing bureaucrats.

Right now, our union is fighting to update decades-old job descriptions and salary structures for 8,000 information technology workers while the state suffers an exodus of skills and knowledge to private-sector jobs that pay much more.

When workers join to make change through a union, it too often also makes us the target of retaliation and union-busting. That’s what the Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court is about. It’s part of a decadeslong effort by a small group of people who want to take power for themselves by shattering unions, and stifling workers’ voices.

If the Supreme Court sides with these extremists, it will be overturning decades of legal precedent and dealing a blow to workers who fight to make public services better and save taxpayers’ dollars. But no matter how it rules, the court won’t succeed in changing the hearts and minds of people like me who devote their careers to serving the public day in and day out, or our commitment to stand together with our co-workers to amplify our voices and fight for the public good.

Stuart Bennett, Sacramento

Pension costs

In the Oct. 15 Public Eye, “California cities get next year’s pension bill. ‘It’s not sustainable,’ Sacramento official says,” reporter Brad Branan writes that the costs of public pensions are growing so rapidly that they will crowd out traditional public services.

Readers will remember that the unions had enough clout with the Democratic governor, Legislature and California Public Employees’ Retirement System board to authorize unsustainable taxpayer-funded pension costs.

In the same paper, The Bee’s editorial board wrote that “public employees have used their collective power to get under the skin and into the wallets of rich people.” Say again whose wallets the unions get in?

Wendell Coon, Rancho Murieta

North Korea

Re “I am gravely concerned that the president’s actions could lead us into war” (California Forum, Oct. 15): Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, should learn that dictators only respect strength, and see diplomacy as a sign of weakness to be exploited.

Kim Jong Un has said he intends to take over South Korea, and has built an unstoppable million-man army. Only the threat of U.S. nuclear intervention prevents his invasion. He is developing a nuclear capability to strike the United States, believing this would prevent us from defending South Korea.

The U.S. cannot back away. It would signal the end to our alliances around the world. The United States must show strength and determination, but it is only China that can stop the fanatical Kim Jong Un.

China’s support of North Korea has kept North Korean regimes in power, but now must force Kim Jong Un to stop, or have him replaced. That’s the only kind of diplomacy dictators understand.

Bill Jurkovich, Citrus Heights

Knee debate

NFL players are employees of a government-subsidized nonprofit, with no freedom to publicly express political positions on the job, nor to harm their employer. They could exercise their right to burn the flag, or to moon the audience, or espouse support for a candidate to an interviewer, but it would cost them.

We sacrifice liberties in an employment agreement. Players offend millions of customers and NFL-supporting taxpayers with their antics, costing viewership, attendance and goodwill. It is puzzling that the owners do not enforce their rights as employers.

Joe Chasko, Sacramento

‘Fine’ people

If “fine” people are allowed to march in public places with swastikas, then other fine people are allowed to take a knee during the national anthem. Period. End of debate.

Robert Thayer, Davis

Abuse of power

Re “In California’s Capitol, 147 women’s #MeToo statement must not be shrugged off” (Editorials, Oct. 19): In California, when speaking about the abuse of power by those who have it, “enough is enough” is never enough. This is particularly true when speaking about the abuse by California’s Legislature. This “oh-so-progressive” lawmaking body should be held to a higher standard of conduct than those for whom they make the rules. I commend the editorial for taking the stand against abuse of power but regret that it comes so late and fails to address the abuse of power by members against other members.

M.A. Figueroa, Sacramento

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