An open letter | Everything Bremerton
By COLLEEN SMIDT
Bremerton Patriot Community Columnist
December 13, 2011 · Updated 11:37 AM
My column this week is an open letter to Teamsters Local 589. I've written it for a couple of reasons. As an active long time Bremerton resident, I am very concerned about the financial sustainability of the City of Bremerton and its ability to meet the needs of my community through its current and future personnel contractual obligations. I am also the spouse of a nearly 20-year Teamster Local 589 member who works in the private sector. The company that my husband works for will also be entering into contract negotiations with the union very soon.
Union representation can be a very good thing when it comes to safety issues, due process when there are performance questions and during collective contract negotiations. But, there are often pay demands and benefit expectations that are not sustainable in a real world application for the long term regardless of public or private sector.
Currently, the status quo wages and benefit demands upon the City of Bremerton are slowly collapsing the entire system as more and more positions are eliminated completely, causing a reduction in core services to the public, which the city is mandated to provide, to the the point that overall public’s safety has become a major concern.
Wage freezes, reductions, furlough days and individual increases in personal employee contributions to benefits are no longer just considerations and have now become required concessions. We expect the union to provide mandatory services and safety to the very residents who pay for it.
Our household has been keenly aware of the ramifications coming from the long term economic conditions that we find ourselves in. As a family, we are already preparing for the next contract and the very real fact that our free ride on benefits is over. We will see the implementation of individual fees if we are to keep our benefit packages. Any Teamster member that has not been preparing for this change is incredibly unrealistic and foolish.
Teamster Union Local 589 needs to make unprecedented concessions with the city now. They are the same as private sector concessions that I am also fully prepared to accept for myself and my family.