From a taxpayer to WI public unions

Came across the following on Facebook.

I would like to introduce myself. I am Liz Nameth and I pay your wages.

First off, I do understand your plight. Far more than you realize. It really sucks that the economy took a nosedive. Believe me. I know. Ten years ago I worked in manage…ment. Today I work as a bank teller. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I have a job. I know too many people who don’t. But, the reality is that my wages have been cut in half. To compound the problem, my husband’s business has also declined by half. To say our finances have been devastated is an understatement.

We own three cars – one with a bad engine, another with over 200,000 miles which needs work and a third with 140,000 miles which needs work. I am thankful we have transportation. A lot of people don’t.

Our house needs a lot of work as well. Our windows are ancient and don’t hold the heat well. Our bedroom roof leaks on our bed. I am thankful we have a home. A lot of people don’t.

In the last three years, we have been able to afford to go camping once. My children don’t get Christmas or birthday presents because we can’t afford it. We struggle to make $200 feed all three of us for a month. We eat a lot of canned tuna. I am thankful to have food. A lot of people don’t.

Throughout all of this, I have continued to get up and go to work every day. I have continued to laugh and love and live. I am thankful for the abundant life I have – a husband who loves me, children who love me, a roof over my head, clothes to wear and food to eat. Compared to 90% of the world, I am wealthy beyond measure.

What does this have to do with your dilemma?

I read recently that the benefits package paid to employees in our local school district cost $20,400 per year per employee. I did the math on this. Using the highest income tax bracket of 7.75% in Wisconsin, someone in the private sector needs to earn $263,000 per year just to pay the benefits for one employee. Put another way, in my town, those benefits are covered by twenty average homeowners’ property taxes.

This has not even started to pay for the building or your wages or books or anything else needed to teach our children. This is just the benefits for the lunch lady. Is this sustainable? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of respect for what you do. I agree you deserve to be very well compensated. But you know what? We can’t afford it anymore. What we deserve and what we can afford don’t always line up. It sucks, I know. But that is reality.

If you don’t accept a cut in your benefits, tax rates must be raised. We have a shortfall. We can spend all day bickering about who did what and who’s to blame but that won’t solve a darn thing. At the end of the day, we still have a shortfall and it still must be fixed. There are only two ways to fix it – raise taxes or cut spending.

So, what would you like me to cut from my personal budget to continue to pay your benefits package? Let’s not forget that the “tax revenues” which pay you are actually a portion of my wages. To continue to pay your benefits as they are means less money in my pocket.

We are all struggling to dig out of the greatest economic downturn in 80 years. “Tax revenues” (my wages) are down across the board. We are all hurting. In my book, you are not exempt from this simply because you work for the government. To prevent you from suffering a little means that I will suffer even more.

I am sorry but this time I have to say no. Not because you don’t deserve it but because I don’t have it to give. This is not a personal attack on your teaching ability. This is just me asking you to contribute and sacrifice a little as well for the good of my children you teach, our state and our nation. Let’s face it – your benefits package is far nicer than mine and most of my private sector friends and family. For three years now, my increased insurance premium has been more than my annual raise so I take home less now than I did three years ago. How about you?

I can’t help but wonder, when do you have enough?

As far as denying human rights, unions were created to protect the safety and welfare of workers – to end sweat shops and child labor in America. The unions did their job well. The laws have changed and today those basic rights are protected by law. Nobody is taking away your right to a safe work environment.

In closing, it is my hope that you are teaching my children because you love them. Love trumps money every time. Do you love my children enough to teach them anyway?


Your employer

This lays it all out in plain English. The fact is the taxpayers in Wisconsin can’t afford it anymore. There is no room for compromise, the time for negotiating is over. If the concessions were made without the changes in collective bargaining are taxpayers to actually believe the demands wouldn’t be there in the next negotiation for the contributions to be reduced? Are we to believe there wouldn’t be cries of the levels of contribution are unfair?

And for those crying about losing a human right with the changes in collective bargaining, the civil service laws in place protect those rights.

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2 thoughts on “From a taxpayer to WI public unions

  1. It is unfortunate that not many in the public sector think of the people as their employer. Of course the public sector does important work. However they seem not to realize how isolated they are from the effects of a real world economy where layoffs and pay reductions are a fact of life. The public sector is there to serve the people, not the other way around. Let’s hope Governor Walker holds the line, and other states learn from his example.

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