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The Worries of a Public Sector Worker

By       Message Elaine Brower     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 2/19/11

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It's midnight, and after taking a sleeping pill, I still can't fall asleep.   Watching what has happened in Madison, I worry.   That is the front line of the battle being waged against all public sector workers in this entire Country and if we loose there, we are all dead in the water.  I have been a "civil service" employee since I was 21 years old.   Not since my son went to Afghanistan have I been this scared.

In 1975, graduating from Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School, my uncle, who at the time, rest his soul, was a democratic leader for the party in Staten Island, wanted me to work for the "City".   I'll never forget what my father and my uncle would tell me, "get a good city job."   I had higher aspirations, and thought that was beneath me.   But, being the good girl I was, my uncle took me to City Hall in downtown Manhattan and introduced me to a guy named Joe.   We went down into the basement, where it seemed like all the important people met behind closed doors, and I was offered a job working for the Mayor's office.   At that time the Mayor was Abe Beam.   My salary was three times less than what it would have been if I had worked in the "private sector" but I was told that it was a good, solid job, and would pay the bills.  

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So I worked for the Deputy Mayor for many years as a secretary, and got used to earning less than everyone else in Manhattan.   I learned how to operate my first computer in 1980, and started taking courses to advance myself.   I was a union worker, and enjoyed the fact that I shared that with thousands of other people around me.   It wasn't a job you would go bragging about, like working for Wall Street, or big corporate money, but it got me by.

So here we are, thirty five years later, and the fat cats want to take my pension and cut my health benefits.   What gives them the right to do this?   Mayor Bloomberg, who claims to be the $1 year man, is full of crap.   He has doubled his net worth since he has been in office, stealing his third term right out from under us poor working slobs.   I eaked out a living all these years, raised my children, and lived a middle class existence after struggling for promotions, and taking exams.   Where do they come off telling us now that we are sucking the government dry of money?  

Obama bailed out the banks to the tune of trillions of dollars.   They have waged wars for 10 years now to the tune of trillions of dollars, and we public servants are the problem?   My daughter is a teacher, and my husband is a retired NYPD Leuitenant, who, yes, gets a well deserved pension.   He paid into that pension for 25 years of his working career, and bargained for it.   Now those who control the power want to take most of it away?    What is their reason?   And most importantly, how can we let them?

This all weighs heavily on my mind at midnight.   I have been fighting for peace and justice for the last 9 years after my son was swept into this "war on terror" and had to fight 3 combat tours.   He came home to unemployment, PTSD, and a VA system that won't pay him his benefits because they are "backlogged."   My daughter, who has two masters degrees in education, is concerned that her lousy teaching job that drains all of her energy and consumes her entire existence at 27, may be pulled out from under her.   Not to mention that she can't even afford to pay her rent and car in the same month.

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I talked to my union representative today and asked "what is the union doing about the attack on public sector workers and what little benefits we receive?"   He gave me some mumbo jumbo speech about how bad it was, and if we didn't do something, all is lost.   Well no damn kidding!   So why aren't we doing something?   You know, right after Wall Street got their bailout, I went down to the stock exchange, since it is only a few blocks from work, and the brokers were out in the street playing football having a barbeque!   They were celebrating.   They got bonuses, and this year banks, as well as oil companies, reaped record profits.   All because of the taxpayers!

And what about those calling for our money and benefits to be drastically cut?   Aren't they civil servants.   Well, let's see.   The NYC Comptroller for one, gets a six figure salary, all the benefits you could ask for, so does the Mayor, City Council members, and don't forget the State and Federal robbers.   The same governor, state senators and assembly people in Wisconsin trying to bust the unions and get workers to pay for their own health benefits and pensions, get six figure salaries, and all kinds of perks, like cars, cell phones, security details all at the expense of the taxpayers, and not the elite who get the tax breaks.

I say lets start at the top.   Tell Obama to cut his salary, health and pension benefits in half.   Get all those in Congress to do the same.   I bet we save billions.   And the other thing, tell them no more perks from corporate sponsors.   Let them earn their money like I have since I was 21 and had to raise my kids on $30,000 a year.   You would see an emptying of the halls of power like never before.   Why can't we do this?   What's stopping us?   Beats the hell out of me because all I see and hear are people complaining.

Let those who "run" the government give up the health benefits that are paid for by "we the people."   And I am not alone.   There are hundreds of thousands just like me and my family.   My dad worked in sanitation for 25 years, and my mom in a high school.   I could go on and on.   But we aren't rich by any means.   We are hard working individuals who have to pay through the nose to live in this Country so the top 1 % can get rich.

I'm tired of listening to the liar pundits try to get "each side of the story straight."   There's only one side, and it's not with those who are standing in front of the camera in $2,000 suits and colorful ties trying their best to steal from the rest of us.   Look at us on the streets, with cardboard signs demanding our right to a decent life.   Tell the tea partiers to crawl back under their rocks where they came from, and let those of us who have some sensibilities exist peacefully and feed ourselves.   We cannot afford another nickel out of our pockets.   I know I can't.

If I thought I could get people to follow me, I would stand out in front of City Hall in Manhattan with a sign that said "workers unite and throw the bums out of office!" and not leave.   That's where we should be making them worry.   I say kick the bastards out of power now before it's too late.   This ain't Cairo, but it's damn close to it.  I'm willing to pitch a tent in the park, are you?

We think we have a democracy, but think again.  If you are reading this chances are you get my drift. 

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Anti-war activist, mother of three combat tour US marine; member of the national steering committee for the "World Can't Wait" www.worldcantwait.net and member of Military Families Speak Out (my opinions do not reflect the national position of MFSO).

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