Sunday, August 5, 2012

Public employees are not 'spoiled few'

The following is appeared a few days ago as a letter to the editor in the Door County Advocate:
Ever since the recall election, I have been pondering the sign that claimed “Walker for all of Wisconsin, not just the spoiled few.” By “the spoiled few,” we know Walker did not mean the 1 percent (fewer than 50,000 in Wisconsin); he meant public employees (several hundred thousand) like me. After 14 years of higher education and independent study, including teaching experience in three other colleges, I taught for 33 years in the University of Wisconsin system for relatively low wages but good “benefits” — health and life insurance and a retirement pension.

I worked hard with and for some 6,000 students, almost always putting in 60-hour weeks. Summers in Door County, I hired a morning baby sitter so that I could do the required research and writing for my job, and in the evenings, I read to prepare for the next year. I published three books and many articles, organized and participated in state and national conferences and gave free presentations in the communities I served.

How did any of this activity qualify as “spoiled”? There were no “windfall profits.” Every “benefit” was paid for in payroll deductions or labor. I thought this was the American Dream, and I am shocked that so many Wisconsinites are willing to settle for a job market with no benefits and without unions to fight for a larger share of the profits that go to shareholders or salaries and bonuses for CEOs.

In June, Walker divided and conquered us, turning voters against policies that had made Wisconsin a great place to live for the past 40 years or more. I ask you to reconsider the idea that people who have jobs with benefits are “spoiled”!

Instead of calling names that encourage everyone to settle for less than they need and deserve in the vain hope that money will somehow “trickle down” from the wealthy like Manna from Heaven, let’s work realistically toward a more democratic economy. Remember, Walker’s wealthy pals did not spend their millions to create new jobs in Wisconsin during the period of the recall election.

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek


  1. That spoiled few remark was directed at the protesters who broke into the capitol, disrupted ceremonies, thew beer at legislators, and on and on and on...

    1. Broke into OUR public building, the state capitol. Right. Kool-aid, Kool-aid...

  2. What did public sector union employees do to support the rest of us? Have you ever been unemployed and tried to get help from those at WI DWD? IMPOSSIBLE!

    Surely you have, at one point in your life, waited in line at WI DMV while some dude that can only key information with one finger on one hand slowly taps away while the line for service backs-up out the door.

    At UW -- the folks with classified office jobs actually do little or nothing -- by contract the work that keeps the office running has to be work-study students!

    Our children see tuition go up so much each year, that it is largely becoming unaffordable even if loans are available -- yet each campus is full of public servants that have minimal job duties and largely watch students do their work!

    I would be quiet about this if there was meaningful support for workers across the board by the public sector, but there is not.

    That is how we got here -- traditional union models in America have divided us and anointed some winners and some losers. I am so sick of hearing public workers complain that private sector workers don't support their collective bargaining rights because these same groups never did anything for the rest of us as pensions tanked, were looted, health care was taken away, and jobs were outsource.

    Now these same people want to say, "HEY THIS IS UNFAIR", but only when it happens to them.

    You are fanning the flames of the public/private divide that walker is using to conquer for koch/alec interests.

    Please consider making this about ALL workers and not pointing the finger at workers and the unemployed that have much less than the public sector earned through collective bargaining.

    This model of organizing workers is not capable of fighting the current wave of economic terrorism -- prison guards, for example, outrageously exploited overtime and largely voted FOR repugs and walker.

    But now they want to make it all about them...

    This is just sick and unhelpful.

    1. Nothing you say here, Anonymous 10:19, is relevant to the letter writer. Nothing.

      You, the public, through your legislators, barred the letter writer -- and all faculty at all UW campuses -- from even having a union.

      You are nasty and vile toward someone who has given her entire career to teaching college students in Wisconsin.

      You, on the other hand, are the sick and unhelpful one, perhaps owing to your inability to read.

      Do us all a favor and take your hate -- and your stupidity and inability to learn -- to another state.

    2. @Anonymous 10:19

      You are clearly uneducated with regard to the creation and benefits of having Unions. I would suggest researching the history of Unions and learning all they have accomplished in an effort to improve working conditions and terms of employment for ALL, not just those workers who are unionized. I think you'll be surprised at what you find out. What I have experienced through my many conversations with Non-Union workers is, that in most cases, their response when asked what they have against unions is; If I can't have it(Union support and the benefits they've fought for), why should they? In other words, jealousy. Plain and simple...And very sad, that they would wish ill will on others(Union workers) just because they may have a better quality of living than themselves(Non-Union workers). Disheartening, to say the least.

    3. So non union workers look at union workers kind of like democrats want the poor to look at successful Americans? Right? Again with no other reason than if they can't have it why should they. Disheartening, I agree.

  3. Excellent editorial. And I disagree with the first Anonymous reply. All of Typublicrites are pushing the mantra that all employees with any benefits are spoiled, and those who are paid via tax dollars are spoiled even more. To disuade the fact by stating it was those in the capitol is sheer lunacy.

  4. I wonder if local businesses understand that people like me see these billboards along the highway and drive right past? There was a similar billboard near Oshkosh and I know a carful of women who decided to take their money elsewhere because of it.

  5. I remember EVERY business that had the RoJo/ Walker ticket of signs spread in their lawn.

    We know which companies will not our dollars directly.