At issue | Feb. 24 column by syndicated writer David Brooks, "Governor has right goal but using wrong strategy"
New York Times columnist David Brooks painted a pretty slanted picture of public sector unions. His contention that private sector unions "have an incentive to mitigate their demands" and that public sectors unions "have no such interest" simply isn't true.
There are countless examples of our unions working hand-in-hand with both state governments and municipalities to stave off furloughs, layoffs and severe reductions in benefits.
The agreements reached between the San Francisco police and fire unions and that city's administration are clear evidence that we all seek to work together during these challenging financial times.
Our own organization, the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, has gone to extreme measures to work closely with the municipal administrations our associations have collective bargaining agreements with across the country, including the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, as the representatives of the staff of the Fayette County Detention Center.
Brooks' contention that police and fire unions in Wisconsin have, by and large, been "spared" isn't accurate either. The cuts that have been proposed to their unions and the push for their acceptance of reductions do not equate to being "spared" by any stretch of the imagination.
What is truly disconcerting is that Brooks is advocating the agenda of extreme conservatism by endorsing measures aimed at a group that is, by and large, conservative itself.
Traditionally, police, fire and corrections are primarily composed of individuals who have supported the Republican platform on all levels of government — local, state and national.
It is disingenuous to contend that we are blind or ambivalent towards the current financial crisis of our cities and state governments.
Like private-sector industry, we face cutbacks in personnel, reduction in training budgets and the threat of reduction in benefits.
However, at no time has our primary focus — the safety and security of the communities we serve — been compromised.
Our public-safety unions have been demonized as greedy, indifferent and self-serving when, in truth, all we have endeavored to accomplish is fair and equitable working conditions for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day.
All our public safety unions continue to monitor these misguided and ill-advised national campaigns targeting the unions. But we also understand that Kentucky has a long history of organized labor.
It is my sincere hope that our state and city leaders will avail themselves of the opportunity to accept the cooperation of our organizations and work together to address the financial shortfalls for which we all must share the burden.