You Wanted It, You Got It
Yesterday’s New York Times includes a feature story detailing how the GOP is now in full control of 25 state governments and 33 governorships and what that means for organized labor.
They report that while politicians in Congress may be confused about what to do, no such disorder reigns in state capitols.
Top on the conservative agenda for attack are labor unions generally and collective bargaining rights specifically.
Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Iowa are the newest all GOP states.
NYT says, “In all four states, Republicans are racing to strip back the influence of labor unions…”
In Iowa they are especially targeting public employees.
The current political environment has the capacity to make the 2008 recession look like a walk in the park for IAFF members nationwide.
Time to Retreat?
That word conjures up the image of troops running in ragged disorder, having dropped their “weapons” as they flee in terror.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
A tactical, fighting withdrawal can protect core rights and benefits but it requires identifying a defensible position before retiring to it.
Otherwise, it’s a rout.
There needs to an honest discussion at the national, state and local level about what rights and benefits are essential and how best to protect them.
First on any list should be safe and adequate firefighter/paramedic staffing.
If personnel are cut through layoffs and attrition the other concerns recede in importance.
Savvy conservatives looking for ways to cut costs are going to focus on every aspect of our pensions.
Raising eligibility requirements and decreasing plan benefits, including cost of living adjustments, will reduce the employer payroll contribution amount and reap immediate and substantial savings.
Another area ripe for attack is current employee and retiree health care.
Raising deductibles and premiums while trimming benefits such as prescription drug, vision and dental coverage will become even more popular.
Changing the hours of work and reporting times will also be popular as a way to reduce overtime costs.
We can also be sure that worker’s compensation benefits for both temporary and total disability will be weakened or withdrawn.
The effect of all of these changes is both less money now and a smaller and less stable pension at retirement.
Straight Talk–and Response
First, the straight talk.
The Republican, conservative agenda may bring us closer to God but our economic well being is in for a whipping.
Conservatives are out to decapitate unions and to decimate any bargaining power they have.
It is a return to managers who enjoy total control over every aspect of employment–and post-employment.
Voting Republican (and not living/voting where you work) is going to cost IAFF members, in every sense of the word.
This onslaught will likely effect smaller and medium IAFF locals the most and they are the ones with the least resources to deal with it.
Our enemies are sharing resources at every level and we must, too.
The IAFF response must be a comprehensive program of expanded and pervasive two-way information sharing including:
Trump would be very proud–thanks to our conservative inclinations, firefighters and paramedics are engaging in our own self-created reality “apprentice” type show where even the seasoned veteran can be shown the door.
Season one, about to begin.