To the Editor:
Everyone is frustrated with rising taxes to finance public employee pay increases without recognizing the hardship paying for it imposes on the larger community, likely already burdened by the rising costs of living. This scenareo is playing out across the country, and it is especially poignent when the private sector is freezing pay increases, cutting back hours, or just laying folks off because the well is running dry.
Currently, many Essex County employees face the possibility of pay cuts to finance pay increases for their unionized co-workers, or everyone will be confronted by lay-offs. Union leadership shouldn't benefit its member-workers at the expense of the non-union co-workers. These co-workers are friends, neighbors, and members of the same larger community and cutting their pay to give out an increase seems unfair during these economic hardtimes.
I am a long-time union member retired from Essex County and a supporter of collective bargaining. I have also been laid off by Essex County many years ago, so I attest it is not a vague threat, it can really happen. Union leadership should negotiate, bargain, and open up the contract to a short-term pay freeze for its members in order to avoid pay cuts and layoffs for other co-workers. Spread the burden across many shoulders so it is not too heavy for any one brother or sister to bear, union or otherwise. I don't believe anyone is looking to have a fight about the role of public unions. This isn't about fighting, it's about the right thing to do for all parties and even more simply put, it's the reality of our times.