Tag Archives: the war against working people

Another Battle in the War Against Working People

The Republicans who rule the roost in Pennsylvania’s state capital want to make it illegal for local, county, and state governments to withhold public employees’ union dues from their paychecks.  “Why should the public sector perform this private function?” they ask.  (In the near future, The Curmudgeon will present an example in which public officials are quite happy to expend taxpayers’ money for the private business of elected officials.)

Their real problem, of course, is that public employees tend to vote in large numbers against Republican candidates, mostly because Republican officials have no respect for working people, and those union dues that governments withhold include money that’s later spent on political activities and campaign contributions.  But the legislators are actually defending public employees, they insist, because those public employees have no voice in how their unions’ political money is used.

Other than electing the union officials who make those decisions, those public officials conveniently overlook.

Which, when you think about it, is just like how voters elect officials who then go on to make decisions about how to spend taxpayers’ money on the public’s behalf.

So much for that argument.

Deducting workers’ union dues is not how it works in the private sector, these officials bloviate, so there’s no reason the public sector should behave any differently.

But actually, it is – and these elected officials would know that if so many of them hadn’t devoted their lives to feeding off the public teat.

In fact, companies in the private sector routinely deduct their employees’ union dues.

More to the point, though, go into any large corporation and you’ll find high-level and sometimes not-so-high-level executives and members of upper management who are “invited” to contribute to their company’s political action committee.   “Invited” is a euphemism, of course, because failure to kick into the kitty, and in appropriate amounts, can be an absolute career-killer.  There’s even a term for it:  it’s referred to as “getting maced.”

And once the corporate executives make those (in)voluntary contributions?

They have no voice in how that money is spent.  Just like those poor unionized workers the elected officials are now trying so hard to protect, when you think about it.

So in the end, this is just another way for Republican elected officials to wage war against working people who don’t vote for them.

You know, working people:  their own constituents.

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When the Going Gets Tough, Stick it to Working People

Harvard University is running a deficit of $34 million and the Harvards are pretty darn upset about it.

According to a USA Today report, Harvard’s costs are up and its revenue isn’t keeping pace.  The university’s vice president of finance and treasurer issued a report describing the extent of the problem and wrote about the need to manage costs better and pursue “innovative revenue opportunities.”

But then the Harvards got down to business.

Reducing costs of benefits can be difficult because they are “experienced at a more personal level,” they said. “Yet these changes are inevitable and will allow us to protect the integrity of the high-quality teaching and research that has allowed Harvard to lead throughout the centuries.”

And that’s really what they’re after:  “reducing the cost of benefits.”  This fabulously wealthy and prestigious institution, with a deficit that’s less than one percent of its overall revenue, looks like it’s laying the groundwork for sticking it to working people:  its employees – and not those who do “the high-quality teaching and research that has allowed Harvard to lead throughout the centuries.”

In other words, it’s not going to hit the pensions and benefits of its professors and researchers and it’s certainly not going to do anything to hurt all those administrators that colleges and universities seem to be growing like weeds on a summer lawn.  But it sounds like the people who manage the information systems and technology, maintain the grounds, keep the schedules, staff the library, clean the research labs, send out the tuition bills, evaluate student applications, and generally keep the university running are about to get their butts kicked.  That’s what the university’s vice president of finance and treasurer mean when they write that “Reducing costs of benefits can be difficult because they are ‘experienced at a more personal level’” – because seeing your pension reduced and your benefits cut is personal.

Very personal.

But what’s a university to do when it only has $32.7 billion in the bank?  After all, you certainly can’t expect university officials to deplete a whole one percent of their endowment, can you?  At that rate it would be gone in, what, a hundred years?  No, they could never do that, not even when it was only two months ago that university officials announced a campaign to raise another $6.5 billion because, you know, if you’ve only got $32.7 billion in the bank you’re at serious risk of going belly up.

A $32.7 billion endowment.  A $6.5 billion fundraising campaign.  But by all means, let’s start the economizing discussion with the benefits paid to working-class employees.