Letter From Wolfgang Schaechter

Re: Milestones 11/16/11

Your last week’s editorial about the unsustainable cost of public employee pensions describes perfectly the symptoms of the fiscal crisis facing the state of California, Santa Clara County, and our City. However, it does not deal with the cause of the coming catastrophe.

Public Employee Unions are the cause of financial disaster facing not only California but Wisconsin, Ohio, and New York state. In the furor over Wisconsin’s effort to curtail the power of Public Employee Unions the unions painted this as an attack on all Unions, and the media media and many folks believe them. Industrial Labor Unions are not the issue – read about the brutal conditions faced by labor in the 1930’s, to see that unions were a necessity and still serve a purpose today.

But there is one giant difference between Industrial and Public Employee Unions: Public Employee Unions get to elect the people who decide on their salaries. They “hire” their bosses while Industrial Unions do not! This relationship of elected officials with Public Employee Unions leads to unaffordable higher salaries of public employees and the disastrous costs of public employee retirement benefits — salaries and benefits which are much higher than than in private industry.

Our Council majority blames the City’s financial problems on the economic downturn and refuses to confront the wages and benefits of our public employees — because those unions elected them. But the economic downturn is like a “wind wave” on the ocean but the salaries, benefits, and pensions are the tsunami.