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Local 160 Members Bring Concerns
To Virginia General Assembly


Local 160 members: 'Slashing spending is no solution at all'

Sen. Creigh Deeds with Local 160 members,
Intl. Rep. Saladin Muhammad (left) and Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley (right).

Budget cuts that harm the public and the workers who provide state services are not the best or the only solution in the hands of the Virginia General Assembly and Gov. Warner. Instead, argues UE Local 160, the Virginia Public Service Workers Union, slashing spending is no solution at all.

That’s the message a union delegation brought to the state capitol Jan. 14. Union members called legislators’ attention to a number of proposals, including:

  • Revising the tax code.

  • Reviewing the real costs of privatization.

  • Reconsidering highway boondoggles.

  • Reducing corporate welfare.

  • Establishing a statewide health insurance pool.

The UE delegation met with some 25 lawmakers and an equal number of legislative staff during they day-long activity.

"We want our legislators to know there are live human beings behind the numbers, the dollar signs, the layoff notices," Local 160 Pres. Allen Layman told the UE NEWS.

"We wanted to also ask questions and to see if it was as bad as we’ve heard on the news and read in the papers." Layman said. "Yes, it’s BAD and most of the legislators are unaware or worse, apparently don’t care about the impact they will have on thousands of citizens in the Commonwealth, like the working poor, the elderly, children at risk, the mentally disabled and public employees. They appear willing to sacrifice much on the altar of cutting taxes and the effort to ‘dismantle’ state services."

Says Selma Blair, a Local 160 leader from the College of William and Mary, "I hope the political action day of Jan. 14 will be the first of many. Virginia politicians need to hear from the state employees so the General Assembly may become aware of the hardships their decision to continue the cycle of hiring/wage freeze has had and continues to have on the public employees and the families they are trying to provide for.

"The public work force that the citizens of Virginia have come to depend on for basic needs is crumbling from the lack of financial support from Richmond and it continues to denigrate as politicians continue to cut funding and employees," Blair told the UE NEWS.

Sen. Creigh Deeds, a Democrat from the Charlottesville area, addressed the UE delegation. He pointed out that last year Virginia state revenues declined by 3.8 percent, contrasted with .04 percent in 1991. If legislators proceed with budget cuts, "The cuts will fall on your backs, where they always fall," Sen. Deeds said.

"These lawmakers need to hear from you—what it’s like to go without a pay raise, what it’s like to see your insurance costs go up year after year," the senator said. "This final budget will include a lot of pain."

Comments Local Pres. Layman, "The Virginia General Assembly appears to be one of the few legislative bodies this year, Republican or Democrat who are not considering raising taxes to counter some of the shortfall. Some of the elected officials claim they don’t want to raise taxes because they can’t guarantee if the money will go to specific areas. I say if they have no more control over the process than this, they need to pack up and go home now."

"It is time for politicians to provide for the public and not greedy corporations," declared Blair.

UE News - 1/03

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