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July 4th at Governor Lingle's House

LINGLE’S AGENDA: If you want to represent the interests of the rich and powerful – it is good practice to push the pesky middle class down. I mean who wants a middle class anyway? Why should these workers think they should get better wages than your average part-time casual worker? Hey they can go get two or three jobs each to keep afloat like a lot of other folks do. Let’s just wave the populist flag of “greedy union worker” – that mantra is always a good way to pit hardworking folks in the private sector against hardworking folks who have the benefit of being part of a government employee union.

As I blogged about over the past few months – Lingle knew the Court would likely side with the Union's position. The law was clear, so no surprise. Here is what I wrote on June 8th:

"I expect Lingle knows mandatory furloughs is most likely a breach of the union
contract, but that stance is but a preliminary move to firing employees, and firing
employees is probably not a breach of the union contract. So think of what is going on
in terms of chess moves – and not as individual battles. . . . .
. . . .
What is important is for the public to know you [government employees] are sharing in the
solution of the budget shortfall... and that it is not simply a token reduction. Right now Lingle
has most of the public siding with her against the “greedy unions”. Now you can say this is not
true and provide first hand accounts of individual employees, but until you offer an easily
understood acceptable alternative plan, you will not get the public support you need.
The Governor’s objective of cutting union wages to the bone is a means to render the unions
powerless and gut the middle class. Folks generally don’t understand government workers
comprise a large segment of the middle class – which keeps the local economy moving --- from
buying cars to eating out at local restaurants. I expect that if Obama were Governor he would
impose some across the board reductions – but not reductions in workdays. He understands
that what we need is more productivity not less. The fact is that people budget their lives based
on current salary – so car and rent and all other expenses are based on current income. Do these
state employees now go to the car dealers and ask for a 13.8 reduction in the amount owed on
their automobile?"

So, today July 4, do you really think Governor Lingle is busy trying to find other revenue sources to tap rather than focusing squarely on union concessions? No she is not. Otherwise she would have been doing that long ago. Remember back in March when the Senate panel asked if the Administration (Budget Director Georgina Kamamura) had looked at any other new sources of revenue. No way. So what is she doing this weekend? Well my guess is she is planning how she can threaten when and who will be fired unless the unions accept her terms, and she plans to do this maximizing public fanfare.

Did you really expect she would be willing to meet with Union Representatives as requested by the Mediator? No way. No that is not the image she has in mind. [Instead think Ronald Reagan and fire those uncooperative union workers (air traffic controllers). Then the fired union workers will be angry with the union representatives for not stopping the Governor, and meanwhile, shortly thereafter, she can hire some nice compliant folks anyway.]

Now I ask you why is it the Mayors have all risked separating from the Governor and are negotiating with County employees on their own? Could it be they really want to work out a fair agreement with the unions – complete with ample “shared sacrifice” – but not based on reduced work days and reduced government services available to the public?

Again it is important for the Unions to offer a reduction in their wage and benefit package and get that message out to the public. Find out what the Mayors are offering County employees and align with that position. Be prepared for when Lingle blames the unions for her having to fire a large number of state employees.