DON'T SUPPORT THE 'GLOBAL CONSPIRACY'
"21st Century Nightmare," Secretary-Treasurer Lucy's column in the July/ August issue, talks about a "global conspiracy" that is "shutting us [union members] down and shutting us out." What disturbs me is that so many of us union members are now actively, if not deliberately, supporting that conspiracy.
The majority of union men and woman at the probation camp where I work are certainly supporting it. A look at the cars they drive shows that. Three-quarters of them are models not made by union members here in the United States but made in Asia or Europe. By buying these foreign-made cars, they are actively supporting the transplanting of good, American union jobs to foreign soil.
I fully agree with Mr. Lucy that because of these "bad globalization scheme[s]...we may all wake up without jobs tomorrow." I wish, however, that he had included in his column an admonition to us union members who are his readers — telling us to mind our buying habits so that we don't contribute to the success of those schemes.
— Gene Pomerantz
Los Angeles County Probation Officer
Local 685 (Council 36)
WHAT'S TO FEAR?
I worked in the maintenance department at Bemidji State University for 13 years and am now retired. I read in the July/August issue about your fear of the privatization of Social Security. An article in the July 2001 American Legion Magazine paints a different picture — "Saving Social Security: Privatization would give workers a better return on payroll tax dollars."
My state retirement is based on privatization, and pays out much better than Social Security. Why the fear?
— Harry Larson
Retiree Chapter 6
Editor's Note — This question arises often. While public pension plans invest in stocks, most invest "collectively" rather than for individual workers. These plans (Minnesota's included) make all investments, then guarantee a benefit to vested employees based on earnings and years of service. The worker gets the "defined benefit" even if the stock market declines.
The few public plans composed of individual accounts provide no guarantees, only employer contributions. AFSCME opposes "defined contribution" plans because workers — not plan sponsors — bear all risk. The same goes for Social Security privatization proposals that divert payroll contributions to individual accounts — requiring benefit cuts (see Page 23). Investment accounts make excellent additions to Social Security and pensions, but are unreliable substitutes.
THE FLORIDA MESSAGE
Our House representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Gov. Jeb Bush should be informed of a few things about working for Florida's state government:
Everybody should tell Ros-Lehtinen and Bush to take better care of state employees.
— Mary Miller
The September/October issue contains two letters objecting to the use of union dues money in support of political candidates. One brother says members who are Republicans "are forced to donate to support [the International's] liberal views and the Democratic Party." The other says the union "has no right to finance" particular political candidates or parties.
Both writers are wrong. Unless prohibited by law, unions — like other organizations — have a right to use dues money to support candidates or parties, as they have a right to spend money for other purposes with which a member disagrees. The writers should read the AFSCME Constitution, and Public Employee, more carefully.
Sections 14 and 15 of Article IX of the Constitution, which apply to members and agency-fee payers, respectively, explain how those who object to the use of their money for political purposes can receive a rebate of the portion of dues used for such purposes. And Public Employee each year prints instructions as to what objectors must do to obtain the rebate.
I do not always agree with this union's actions. But it should not be faulted for what it has a right to do, especially when there are existing remedies.
— Shaurain Farber
NYC Retiree Chapter 37
New York City
HOW ABOUT US?
In the September/October issue, I was interested to see the president and secretary-treasurer urging activist members to talk face to face with "the corrections officer in Kentucky whose salary is barely above the $17,000 poverty line..." How about doing something for us — teacher's assistants who earn less than that?
— Camille Ferguson
Local 865, CSEA
TO OUR READERS
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