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Travis Rowley: Public Unions Got Talent

Saturday, October 29, 2011


They will not stop. Public union bosses will not stop until the whole of Rhode Island resembles Central Falls.

And this week has proven it.

Faced with the full disclosure of Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s state pension reform proposal, the unions have responded with misleading radio ads and promises to sue Ocean State taxpayers. Being employed are the same political tactics that have helped public unions deliver Rhode Island to its fiscal edge. In addition to the lies and the threats of litigation, public labor leaders have been smearing their political opponents and injecting emotion and class warfare into a debate that should be mostly mathematical.

One public union apologist called the John DePetro Show on Friday morning to remind everyone that firefighters climb up ladders toward burning buildings, and that police officers often approach vehicles in which drivers could possibly be armed. Amazingly, after the caller hung up, the state’s pension plan still had an unfunded liability of 7.2 billion dollars!

This is the type of suffering that must be absorbed if one takes the advice of people who insist that public workers must be engaged rather than ignored, and that union bosses should be negotiated with – rather than defeated.

The labor leaders who train their members to keep their brains operating at this base level are people such as vice-president of Council 94 Lynn Loveday, who said this week, “I am nauseated because these big, wealthy corporations are trying to take the bread and butter out of the little people’s mouths.” And several days ago president of Council 94 Michael Downey told a rallying crowd of union workers, “It doesn’t surprise me…[Chafee and Raimondo] would stand with other rich people …who want to strip us of our pensions!”

For those who are still unfamiliar with Michael Downey, when former Democratic Representative Doug Gablinske famously described public union bosses as “pigs at the public trough,” it is widely believed that Downey was the individual he was visualizing at the time.

Paul Valletta Jr.

Joining the “Labor Leaders Got Talent” competition this week was president of the Cranston Firefighters Paul Valletta Jr., who accused Gina Raimondo of “cook[ing] the books” in regards to the figures in which Raimondo has grounded her proposal. “I think it’s all a scam…All the numbers are lies,” Valletta claims. “If I thought the numbers were accurate, that would be one thing, but they’re not.”

It would have made more sense for Valletta to make his objection known right after Raimondo released her “Truth In Numbers” report last Spring. For some reason, however, he waited for Raimondo’s proposal to be in front of the General Assembly before accusing her of lying to the public in order to set herself up for a successful gubernatorial run in 2014.

But didn’t the public unions prove in 2010 that, in order to win a three-way gubernatorial race in Rhode Island, the best thing a candidate can do is keep the public unions happy? Why would Raimondo decide to follow the path of Frank Caprio? During her campaign for Treasurer, Raimondo was always hinting toward pension reform. As the Providence Journal reported, “Raimondo and her [Republican] opponent have mostly agreed on what their policies as treasurer would be.” It was Lincoln Chafee who lied to the public unions in order to get elected.

Valletta is just another foolish labor lunatic. Churning out a tired Democratic talking point, Valletta said, “They want a 401k and that just gives Wall Street and banks more money.” Apparently, Valletta is still under the childhood impression that the money in the state pension fund is waiting for him in a big shoebox in the State House basement – safe from Wall Street!

According to GoLocalProv.com reports, the firefighter turned financial-analyst-extraordinaire “believes the economy is starting to turn around and that a dramatic overhaul of the pension system is unnecessary.”

Well, apparently Valletta has his hand on the pulse of the national economy! Forget about the Washington gridlock, the imminent meltdown in Europe, all the warning signs of a double-dip recession, and the fact that Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted last year that it would take an “enormous amount of time” for the economy to recover.

But no worries, Rhode Island. Paul Valletta has a hunch!

Terminate Collective Bargaining

The union mindlessness will not stop. Waving the warning of Central Falls in front of public union bosses is useless. These are committed ideologues, guided by collectivist greed, blinded by misinformation, and dedicated to statewide bankruptcy.

The psyche of these fanatical unionists has been stubbornly solidified, and the access that they have to their members simply cannot be matched by Rhode Island’s reform movement. A caller to the Dan Yorke Show several months ago identified herself as a local teacher who actually expressed her opposition to much of her union’s agenda. Brainwashed by labor’s solidarity religion, however, toward the end of the phone call she informed everyone that, at the end of the day, she would still stand by her union.

These are the people we’re told to have patience with? These are the masses we’re supposed to take the time to educate? Why should these people have so much power over our lives?

Public unions – these special interests posing as moralists – must be defeated. Not bargained with. To save Rhode Island, the privilege of collective bargaining afforded to public unions in 1966 should be rescinded immediately. Rhode Islanders should never have been forced into a situation that compels them to provide an automatic stream of union dues into public union coffers, then have their elected representatives chained to the negotiating tables – only to discover later that their elected representatives were bought off by organized labor with the same taxpayer-generated dues.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and a consultant for the Barry Hinckley Campaign for US Senate.

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