Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Private v Public Unions

I believe our best teachers are underpaid, yes, underpaid, and that our very high per pupil costs come from other than teacher salaries. This must be remembered when we try to address a very serious problem facing cities and towns.

It is no secret that our cities and towns are struggling to pay for services and also stay within the tax levy increase limits. As revenues from the state are lower than last year, towns need to replace that lost revenue. One easy answer is to increase property taxes on a population that is already paying among the highest in the country. This will not sit well.

Another choice is to look for cost savings, and unions, especially teachers' unions, will surely be asked to re-negotiate contracts. This of course, will be met with resistance. But I hope everyone will keep the following in mind in these tough times.

When private sector unions make concessions, their sacrifices will go to companies whose executives often make millions in salaries and to shareholders whose dividends can benefit from those concessions.

When a public sector union makes concessions the beneficiaries are not high priced executives but the people, the homeowners, the citizens of Rhode Island. That is an important difference.

I know this will not make me very popular in some circles but I believe it needs to be said. It's not us against them. We have to work together and we'll get through this.

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