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Nurses union makes case for Whitman’s election

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POSTED July 15, 2010 1:53 a.m.
The 900-pound gorilla in the Nov. 2 race for governor isn’t Meg Whitman.

It is labor unions that represent state employees.

If you doubt that, consider what the 85,000-member California Nurses Association is doing. After underwriting events slamming Whitman and even hiring an actress to strut around as “Queen Meg”, Whitman requested the CNA to provide her with a copy of their membership roster which they denied. So Whitman purchased a publicly available list of all registered nurses in California to appeal to them directly to “set the record straight” specifically on how the CNA brass has been distorting her position on hospital staffing.

Now a lawyer for the CNA is demanding that e-Bay allow them the right to inspect and copy records of the corporation pertaining to Whitman’s altercation with an e-Bay employee and that firm’s subsequent $200,000 legal settlement. He made the demand on behalf of CNA spokesman Michael Preston who happens to be an e-Bay shareholder.

In previous elections the big players have been unions representing the correctional officers and other employee groups that have basically made candidates once they are elected governor beholden to them.

State employee unions have essentially become the cash cows of California politics in the same vein as the late Big Daddy Jess Unruh’s infamous utterance that “money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

And as such they basically nurture candidates and then have them tightly wrapped around their fingers.

If you doubt that look at some of the state employee union contracts in terms of pay, work conditions, benefits, retirement, and even hiring of retired union employees to “double dip.” While no one should take away what has already been promised, the Democrats apparently fear the unions so much they won’t reduce retirement benefits for state employees yet to be hired despite mega-deficits driven by state employee costs and a massive pension bomb ticking away that threatens to nuke California’s economy down the road.

Unions, of course, don’t like Whitman since she is threatening to eliminate state jobs. Apparently, having better paying jobs and benefits than most of the private sector isn’t enough. They want jobs for life plus politicians to increase taxes on everyone else so they don’t have to deal with economic realities that other Californians face which includes not just furloughs and no pay raises but actual job losses.

The CNA says they are worried about Whitman’s temperament based on the alleged shoving incident at e-Bay.

They actually may be overplaying their hand.
With all due respect to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he has - to borrow his own words to describe Democratic legislators - acted like a “girlie man” when it comes to dealing with state staffing.

The bulk of the state’s deficit is tied up in salaries and benefits. Furloughs were an ineffective chicken way to approach the problem. It didn’t have much impact. What Schwarzenegger should have done was assume his Terminator role and slash the ranks of state employees.

In an ideal world, state government would re-invent itself, rethink how it regulates, and get back to basics to shed employees. That, of course, isn’t going to happen unless they are forced to do so through drastic measures. Nothing is more drastic than shedding 20 percent or more of the work force in various departments with perhaps public safety spared. And even then it may come down to rewriting rules for how prisons and such are staffed to reflect reality.

Do we really need two correctional officers guarding comatose patients in contract hospitals?

If Whitman does indeed have a “take no prisoners” approach that they “fear” is reflected in how she managed to make e-Bay an economic power house, perhaps that might just bode well for California’s if she were governor.

One thing is clear. The CNA is making it harder to criticize Whitman for spending upwards of $180 million of her own money to become governor as it eliminates her being beholden to union support at the cost of California.

In short, the CNA is making Whitman’s case as to why she should be elected governor.
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