Unions Need to Join with Republicans
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
First Student’s bid was approximately $5.9 million compared with the union’s $7.2 million making $1.3 million is a significant savings. As a Republican, I want to do things as cheaply and as efficiently as possible. I also don’t believe government needs to pay for every service and that privatization is a good idea in many, many cases.
Union members pay taxes too
But this situation highlights how Rhode Island unions need to reconsider their affiliation with Democrats. Over the last several decades Democrats have negotiated union friendly contracts again and again and again. Today, we’re feeling the burden but at the meeting someone said, “I don’t know what happened. When did unions become public enemy number one? I work hard, pay taxes. Why am I seen as the problem?”
As I looked around the crowd of a few hundred as they gave the speaker thunderous applause, I wondered if union membership has been sold a bill of goods by some in their leadership ranks and by Democrats. A hard line Liberterian Republican will say no to unions all around. I’m not that guy. I believe unions serve a purpose and protect the working class. So hearing this bus driver lament the rhetoric we sometimes throw out, I wondered if we Republicans have not done enough to reach out to unions.
Consider, most people in the private sector have seen an increase in benefit costs without an increase in salary over the last several years due to the downturn in the economy. By and large the rhetoric in the state has been that unions are unwilling to compromise the deals they’ve made or plan to make in the future. We’ve vilified unions and the people who are members.
But don’t forget, a union member is your neighbor and fellow taxpayer. They are trying to make a living just like everybody else. We can’t fault them for the Democrats giving away the store without foresight of the future, can we?
Unions must join with Republicans to survive
No, but we can fault them for sticking with the same leadership that will eventually cost them their employment and livelihood. Enter the Republicans. Mayor Fung in Cranston has negotiated in good faith and won concessions from different unions by using an approach that other Republicans should take. It’s a partnership. Union members perform services to the city or state that are vital; these trying times call for unions and politicians to compromise and make tough choices.
Democrats have been unable to make those tough choices for years. Republicans will. So I ask you union member/leader would you rather keep your job through compromise or lose your job by holding onto a time that has passed? Democrats have had many opportunities to rein in spending, but they don’t know how. There are many Republicans in this state who wish to see unions continue to be a strong part of our state AND are willing to partner with unions in order to develop solutions to exacerbated spending. I spoke out that night on behalf of my son who takes the bus, and said, “My wife and I trust Cranston bus drivers.” Rhode Island unions need to make overtures towards Republicans and begin to trust that our fiscal responsibility is the way to save their union and their members’ jobs.
The alternative is First Student and privatization. Is that what you want?
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