Friday, January 8, 2010

Abelson Tells It Like It Is

Rich Abelson, Executive Director of AFSCME DC 48, has a letter to the editor, telling it like it is:

The Journal Sentinel's editorial concerning the "wolf" at the door of Milwaukee County completely downplays the positive contributions that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and county employees have made to deal with Milwaukee County's budget issues (Editorials, Jan. 1).

The editorial failed to note that no employee represented by our union hired after Jan. 1, 1994 gets any paid health insurance upon retirement. Approximately two-thirds of the current workforce was hired after that date. This employee concession was made more than 15 years ago.

The editorial also fails to accurately talk about events in July and November, when Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, in both instances, attempted to reduce the hours or lay off county employees based on lies and phony projected budget deficits. Within days of crying wolf, Walker had to retract the actions because his own people came forward with true budget figures.

Finally, the editorial does not address the county's failure to ratify a labor agreement that the union bargained with Walker and the County Board in good faith. This labor agreement would have mirrored the contract our union negotiated with the City of Milwaukee. It coupled employee concessions on health insurance and froze wage rates in return for some measure of job security.

Why hasn't the Editorial Board placed the blame on Walker for failing to even try to engage our union? Refusing to engage the union fails to recognize the positive contributions AFSCME has made when employers act in good faith.

Richard W. Abelson
Executive director
District Council 48

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