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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM

King County labor: Are furloughs needed?

Furloughs undercut vital, dedicated county workers

Thank you to Tracey Thompson, principal officer at Teamsters Local 117, for speaking up on the King County furlough issue [“Stop scapegoating King County workers over budget woes,” Opinion, guest column, Aug. 26].

It is too bad that Teamsters 174 has not acknowledged what King County is doing to its workers.

After working nearly 17 days straight, including Christmas Day, during the 2008 snowstorm in December, a furlough day was scheduled for Jan. 2. However, workers were requested to work on Jan. 3, for “storm cleanup.” If King County workers are so important to have to work overtime on Jan. 3, why not work on Jan. 2? It does not make any sense.

We all know how to fix the budget crisis. Cut the fat in the county, especially downtown. Our political candidates should take on jobs like utilities, laborers, truck drivers, flaggers and more and see how quickly they acknowledge the importance of the King County worker. Furthermore, try to hire this type of service during an emergency, and I guarantee that the costs will be exorbitant.

Remember the next time there is an emergency — flood, snow or wind storm — our King County workers are out taking care of business, away from their families and the comfort of their homes in order to make life safer for all of you.

— Lynette Johnson, Sammamish

Is county revenue really eroding?

I happened to glance through Tracey Thompson’s column about blaming King County workers for budget woes, and one sentence in particular really caught my eye: “Revenue flow has been eroding for the past decade ”

Any time I see someone making the claim that the government is getting less money I get suspicious.

A cursory search of the Metro King County budget seems to say that total revenues went from more than $3 billion in 2006 to $5 billion in 2008. I may not be a math major, but to the untrained eye that would appear to be a fairly substantial revenue increase.

If that is an example of revenue eroding, then I wish my revenue would start eroding!

— Philip Peterson, Puyallup

County workers shouldn’t be exempt from belt tightening

In her guest column in The Seattle Times, Tracey Thompson appears to feel government workers should be immune to the current financial crisis. She complains that revenues have declined “thanks to an uncooperative state Legislature and voter-approved initiatives that have reduced revenues while demand for services continues to increase.”

All over the country in the private sector, good workers have been laid off due to lack of revenue for their companies. For many of these companies, there is continued, though reduced, demand for their goods, forcing employee layoffs if the companies are to survive.

There is no reason why state employees are impervious to layoffs or reduced pay in order that the state can stay within its financial means.

As to the “uncooperative Legislature and voters,” who speaks for the public? The voters and legislators or the unions? Cuts must be made and that includes state, county and city workers, too.

Once again a union representative reveals the arrogance that helped bring down Chrysler and General Motors. Unions are not immune to the financial limitations of their employers, be they corporations or governments.

— Spencer M. Higley, Edmonds

Comments | More in King County, Labor, Unions

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