In the past two weeks the editorial board of this paper has written two separate editorials designed to further paint public-sector unions as unreasonable and self-interested, even stating unions have cause to be alarmed.
One editorial focused on the Detroit bankruptcy ruling where Judge Steven Rhodes decided public pensions basically can be deemed a nonessential creditor. The other regards the recent Field Poll about the public's shifting perception of unions.
In the Detroit bankruptcy editorial, the paper posits that relative to pensions, government agencies should have the right to reduce future accruals, just like private-sector employers can. The fact of the matter is they do; that process is called collective bargaining. And speaking of the private sector, let's see how the private sector has treated its employees over the past decade: purposeful creation of only low-wage jobs, deliberately shifting people to part-time status, drastic cuts in health benefits, little to no wage/salary increases, pushing older workers out the door just before their pensions fully vest so they receive nothing.
When the private sector boomed in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, no one thought about elevating the lives of public employees. Now that the exuberant bubble has burst on the private sector, suddenly the steady wages and job security of public employees are villainous.
This is a race-to-the-bottom mentality born of insecurity, anger and dissatisfaction with private industry. And the self-interested corporate America manipulates these vulnerabilities to a fever pitch. Why would the paper jump aboard this artificially engineered state of mind?
To suggest public pensions are the main cause of our economic woes is equivalent to blaming Detroit autoworkers salaries for the failure of Big Auto. Did the workers (or their union) have a say on the design process of the cars? Did they make the call on churning out gigantic, gas-guzzling vehicles when the rest of the world's automakers were going smaller, sleeker, greener with more hybrids?
Corporate America has designed and pushed a persistently anti-worker agenda for the sole purpose of spiraling public sentiment and now news media has chosen to be complicit.
As for the Field Research Poll, what other results could have possibly been derived by rolling out the politically motivated push poll barely 2½ weeks after the BART strike? This was completely contrived. Did Field conduct a poll two weeks after its own workers tried to unionize in 2006? When 40 of their 50 employees (a stunning 80 percent) asked the Communications Workers of America to unionize them.
When organizers showed up at FRCs front doors, CFO Nancy Rogers stonewalled them and threatened police action. The organizers were eventually escorted out of the building. FRC engaged in such unethical acts during that time the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors had to intervene with a strong resolution condemning FRCs borderline illegal anti-union behavior.
Apparently, FRC decided to hold captive-audience meetings so they could intimidate their employees to vote against unionizing. The resolution further condemns FRC for hoarding millions in profits and only paying their cold callers pennies above minimum wage, with no health care provided.
Lastly, since the paper's editorial board is so keen on polls based on the publics perception, let's look at a poll on public perception of news media. The Pew Research poll conducted in 2011 has some alarming news for news media:
Sixty-three percent of people polled say the press holds biases; 66 percent say news stories are often inaccurate; 42 percent believe news media hurt democracy; and 42 percent consider the press to be immoral.
Where is the paper's editorial on this poll and how news outlets should be alarmed?
Moving forward, we would like to see the editorial board and the newspaper itself to give fairer, more balanced coverage to public employees and their unions.
Peter Q. Nguyen is the general manager of Public Employees Union Local One, which represents more than 13,000 local government employees in Northern California.