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November 26, 2014

Socialists? Marxists? No – Republicans!

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I want to be a Republican and I want a time machine. Oh, I’m not going all Lindsey Holmes on you; I need a time machine to find the Grand Old Party.

I have to thank Mayor Dan Sullivan for starting me on this quest.

A few weeks ago, at five minutes until closing time, the mayor announced a plan to roll back more than four decades of labor policy in Anchorage. It wasn’t the first shot in his war on working men and women in our town — but this was the nuclear option.

I take it as a good sign that I can still be surprised at the calculation and manipulation of our elected officials. Sullivan’s “We Hate Unions” proposal was dropped at the last minute that someone could file to run for the Assembly. That protected a certain Assemblyman and co-sponsor of his anti-union jihad from having an opponent.

Surely just a happy coincidence.

Ouch, I just rolled my eyes too hard. Could someone please run a write-in campaign against Mr. Ernie Hall?

What does it say about the character of Mr. Hall and his co-sponsor, Jennifer Johnston, that they would collaborate in a secret backroom deal to stick it to city employees? When 1,500 people showed up at the Assembly meeting four days later, the two seemed unconcerned.

We are forever reminded that democracy is no spectator sport — it demands participation. The purpose of unions is to add just a touch of democracy to the workplace. Elected leadership, negotiations, give and take, collective bargaining — all in trade for hours of your life providing a service. What the mayor, Mr. Hall and Ms. Johnston are doing is a slap at that democracy.

Here’s the bottom line for Anchorage: Quality matters. Public safety is more than being able to call 911 and talk to someone local. Safety includes road conditions, heat in our homes, sanitation workers, clean water, sewage treatment, the list goes on. Public employees are responsible for those things 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The mayor’s proposal calls for no raises for those workers. Depending on health costs, employee paychecks can go down over time but not up. Who in their right mind would want a job that, no matter how well you do it, you never get a raise? Show me a company that advertises employment opportunities with the slogan “Your starting wage will last forever.” What quality of worker will that attract? Anchorage is a great place to live — if you’re happy working harder for less. We can all look forward to chronic turnover and grudging service, while saving pocket change in taxes each year.

The mayor and his pet Assembly members have a history of cheap-shotting public employees while dealing fat, sole-source contracts and party planning jobs to their cronies. In 2010, Mayor Sullivan awarded 3 percent raises to 162 city executives at the same time he asked unions to take less in their paychecks.

Anyway, all that prompted my search. I wanted to see how far back I had to go to find a Republican Party with respect for public employees — you know, the men and women who plow the streets or run into our burning homes (even if they don’t know us personally). I knew there must have been a time when most Republicans didn’t share the mayor’s “born on third base and thinks he hit a triple” selfishness.

Abraham Lincoln, for example, said, “I am glad to know there is a system of labor, where the laborer can strike if he wants to. I would to God that such a system prevailed all over the world.”

President Dwight Eisenhower said, “Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country — they are America.”

And he wasn’t the last Republican president who acknowledged the value of unions. “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost,” said Ronald Reagan.

Socialists! Marxists! Or, as we used to know them, Republicans! Back before the Republican Party turned into a new John Birch Society.

Reading the 1956 Republican Party platform, I found myself nodding and saying, “Yes!” over and over.

It’s an American tragedy that workers — including unionized public employees — are so routinely demonized for the financial gain of fat cats and the political benefit of the ambitious demagogues who serve them.

The mayor’s maneuvering is just another small step in the long march toward elimination of a middle class in this country.

Oh, for a time machine.

Comments

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Comments
9 Responses to “Socialists? Marxists? No – Republicans!”
  1. laurainnocal says:

    Ah, Shan — a bit pissed?

  2. yukonbushgrma says:

    Comes down to Citizens United. That’s what has put us where we are. It gave the money-grabbers the power to get what they want. And now some states feel empowered to continue the job.

    I guess I see it from a different perspective. I live in a remote Alaska small town, and I feel very fortunate to have a decent job here. But my job is only part-time, and there are no benefits. Still, here …… it’s a very good job.

    Years ago, I worked for a government agency and had full benefits — wonderful union perks. Good raises, good health care. I left that job to come to Alaska. I still don’t regret that choice. But things are so different now, all over our country.

    There are some seriously wrong things going on. Citizens United is at the heart of it.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    Thank you, Shannyn, but Reagan’s words about unions did not match his actions. PATCO, the air traffic controllers’ union, was used as an example so the postal workers wouldn’t strike.

  4. Sally says:

    My goodness. What a shock. Run for office on one platform, then do the opposite during the almeduck session. Welcome to the world of Michigan, Anchorage. We’ve been putting up with this crap for two whole years now. Wonder what Snyder and his ALEC directed minions can do to us next. I am already working for $7.86 an hour in a public school, with no benefits, no sick days, no nothing. And the best part is, since I started this part time gig in November, I will not have thre required 140 days in by June to get any sort of raise next fall. Oh, and my classes that run 55 minutes? I am paid for 55 mimutes, not an hour. So for 7 of the nine hours I work each week, I am not paid for an hour. Also no mileage. If I weren’t so dedicated to the kids I help, I’d quit. And I was told that when I complained “oh, but the teachers and kids are so lucky to have you!” Frankly, if they are so lucky, why am I paid like a greeter at Walmart? I have a degree and lots of experience. This is Snyder’s Michigan.

  5. mike from iowa says:

    If these ….uh…..people worked half as hard at doing their jobs as they do at giving their agenda the barest essence of legality,they still wouldn’t be worth the powder it would take to blow them to HELL! Face it,they have a korporate sponsored agenda and you are gonna get it,protests and demonstrations notwithstanding. It is a done deal and you are stuck until you can throw the bastards out of office,permanently. Might just as well get used to your new state name-ALECskduh.

  6. brenda says:

    Did Reagan say that before or after he broke the air traffic controllers’ union?

  7. David Otness says:

    Thank you, Ms Jeanne.
    Nothing to add, you said it all.
    Well.

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