The following letter to the editor by Michael D. Robbins was published in the El Segundo Herald newspaper (HeraldPublications.com) on July, March 14, 2011 in the Letters section on pages 3 and 6. The El Segundo Herald has a strict 250-word limit.
Unsustainable Collective Bargaining
My June 23 letter was not intended to imply guilt by association for all firefighters because one was arrested for shoplifting. That case exemplifies how the politically active government employee unions have fostered an insatiable appetite for and sense of entitlement to other people’s hard-earned money.
The firefighter and police unions have an even greater conflict of interest, and they are the greatest cause of our city’s financial problems that threaten our city’s future. They are sworn employees in positions of authority and public trust, which they have abused by endorsing candidates who will give them the biggest compensation increases. Deceptive political fundraising under the misperception of charity is another problem. And few live in and have any allegiance to our city.
I am glad Mr. Kip Haggerty noticed the bigger issue here and quoted FDR regarding the inherent conflicts between government employment and unionization. I too am offended by the notion that government employee compensation must only go up and never down, regardless of economic conditions and revenues.
Despite all the claims that city employees made concessions and took pay cuts, their pay rates were never reduced. The huge inappropriate raises given during this recession of 11.25 percent to 32.3 percent were never taken back.
They took temporary unpaid furlough days, which are essentially unpaid vacation days, and are not serious concessions, to avoid layoffs. We lost work hours and services directly proportional to the tax dollars saved. The unsustainable compensation remains, and the out-of-control pension costs grow substantially each year.
Michael D. Robbins