CFT Explains Tax-Increase Strategy

MAY 26, 2011


If you listen to people in the political game, they usually tell you what they’re going to do. But you sometimes have to check out their internal communications.

One of my best sources is California Teacher, the magazine of the California Federation of Teachers, which is part of the massive AFL-CIO super-union. The latest number doesn’t disappoint (.pdf here). It contains the strategy of the CFT — one of the most powerful unions in the state — for jacking up taxes and maintaining their members’ high pay, perks, pensions and political clout.

In his “Up Front” column, retiring CFT President Marty Hittelman laments the budget cuts, then writes:

We must do all that we can to reverse this erosion — and we will….Passage of Proposition 25 [majority vote for the Legislature to pass a budget] will help, but we need to conclude that chapter by passing a ballot proposition that will allow the Legislature to approve taxes by majority vote.

We need to find ways to increase state revenues through a combination of higher tax rates for the wealthiest 1 percent (for now, those making more than $500,000 per year), an oil depletion tax, a tax on services, and a change in Proposition 13 property tax laws, so large corporate properties are reassessed on a regular basis [he’s talking about the split-roll property tax]. California is a rich state anbd we should be able to afford the services that are the responsibility of a civilized nation.

For him, it’s all about jacking up taxes not just in a couple of areas, but everywhere and anywhere. For civilization. So if you’re against him, you’re not civilized.

And he still believes that California is a “rich state,” even though businesses and jobs are fleeing, and we have the second-worst unemployment rate in the country, behind only Nevada — which is improving faster than California.

Certainly, he’s right in one sense: California is a “rich” state for government-union workers.

Hittelman continues:

We must not allow the pressures of everyday life [that is, budget deficits and other realities] to erode our ability to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that support and protect workers so that we can live dignified and productive professional lives.

Deletates to our annual CFT convention were united in their determination to fight back against the continuing attacks on public employees and our unios. Speakers called for solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and numerous other states….

One thing I have learned in my more than 40 years in educatino and union work is that you have the power you assume. Exert your power. Embrace your professional responsibility to speak and act up. And persevere.

Well, the CFT and other California unions have exerted their power so much that they bankrupted the state. They put kept Democrats into all seven statewide offices, and hefty majorities in both houses of the Legislature. The unions also exert strong influence on Republicans in the Legislature. So, they have only themselves to blame for what has happened.

Tax the Rich

The All-Union News section of the magazine includes this headline: “CFT-sponsored poll finds strong support for taxing the rich — Voters respond positively when presented with alternative to slashing public services.” Here’s a Chronicle news story on the same thing.

The CFT story is by Communicatins Director Fred Glass. Typically, he doesn’t understand that raising tax rates isn’t the same as raising tax revenues. If taxes get to high, people just leave, or quit working. Is it really a good idea to make California even more anti-business?

The article reads:

Likely voters also thought it would be a good idea to close business tax loopholes, reassess large commercial properties at current market value (“split roll”), and levy a 10 percent severance tax on oil….

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, floated the “1 percent on 1 percent” idea by introducing AB 1130 in the Legislature. Passage of the bill is unlikely though, because no Republican will vote for any tax, any time, and the Legislature needs a two-thirds vote to pass a tax.

Well, we’ll see if the GOP holds firm instead of, as always in the past, suffering a couple of sellouts who back tax increases.

AB 1130 and the CFT poll results do provide an opportunity to talk about reasonable state budget solutions. By contacting legislators and telling them the wealthiest Californians need to pay their fair share of taxes, rather than continue to see colleges and schools deteriorate, CFT members can create a new understanding in Sacramento and a new direction to channel voter anger an frustration with the economy. Republican legislators should be informed that their base constituents support the 1 percent on 1 percent bill.

On Wisconsin? — No

The publication continues with an article by Mindy Pines, CFT reporter, on the actions by new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to rein in the immense power of his state’s government worker unions. She writes:

Moved by the union stand in Madison, CFT members joined 1 million workers throughout the nation in protesting the Republican attack on public employees, unions, and collective bargaining….

According to Aaron Neimark, kindergarten teacher and member of the United Educators of San Francisco [a CFT affiliate], educators are the human face of public employees. [So other unions’ members are the inhuman face?] “We see the families of our students every day and we can counter ideas that we are part of the problem. Collective bargaining for educators directly speaks to how we teach, class size, working conditions…and this directly affects kids.” (Elipses in original.)

This is the promotion of the indoctrination of students by CFT members. Instead of just teaching the subjects in the school, they “can counter ideas that we are part of the problem.”

Legislator of the Year

Another article in the magazine reports that the CFT named state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, its Legislator of the Year:

State Sen. Loni Hancock says CFT members can turn around the attacks on unions and education in California. “Let’s go get ’em, just like we did in Wisconsin.

“I get nervous when I hear the word reform,” said Hancock…addressing the conservative push to demonize public workers. All workers should have pension plans, she smphasized. “A fixed benefit pension is a hallmark of civilization.”

Hancock thanked CFT for its leading role in passing Proposition 25, which changed the vote to pass the state budget from a two-thirds to a majority [sic]. “If Prop. 25 had not passed, we would be in Sacramento now negotiating what we have to give away to pass the budget.”

Acknowledging that the state was truly out of money, she apologized for the drastic cuts made to the state budget and likened them to “amputating a leg to save a life.” [Actually, it’s more like liposuction.] The enormous task now is to pass the tax extensions, she said, calling taxes “what people pay for all the things that make a civilized society.”

“All the things” including massive bloat and waste in government, and budget-busting pension programs for the government-worker elite.

Suicide Worker

Then there’s yet another lament for the union worker who, after being fired by the city of Costa Mesa, jumped from a building to his death.

Of course, at least 90 percent of Americans lose jobs in their careers, yet don’t kill themselves, or the country’s population would be 31 million in instead of 330 million. To blame Huy Pham’s death on city cutbacks is absurd. But the California Teacher magazine does it anyway, in an article by CFT Reporter Malcolm Terrence:

Ann Nicholson is president of the nearby Coast Federation of Classified Employees. Her local is in negotiations now, so Huy’s death “makes us realize just how serious our work is at the negotiation table.” She said the attack on organized labor across the country represents a threat to all middle-class wage earners and the contributions they make to the economy.

So, when the middle class revolts and insists on budget cuts instead of tax increases on the middle class, that’s a “threat to all middle-class wage earners”?

The article continues, reporting that Kimberly Claytor, president of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers…

organized a group of delegates to the CFT Convention to attend a candlelight vigil following the death of 29-year-old Huy, who had worked for the city’s maintenance department for four years. He supported his mother and siblings. Costa Mesa city officials predicted they would save from 15 percent to 40 percent of labor costs by outsourcing.

By the way, according to Ballotpedia, last November voters in Costa Mesa actually approved a hefty 33 percent increase in the city’s hotel tax. But even that wasn’t enough to close the city’s budget gap, hence the cutbacks.

The CFT magazine then continues with these amazing words:

Huy’s death recalls that the unstoppable wave of pro-democracy demonstrations sweeping North Africa were triggered by the suicide of Muhammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unlicensed fruit vendor.

The CFT just doesn’t get it. Bouazizi was a private businessman oppressed by Tunisia’s tyrannical ruling elite. But in California, the government-worker unions are the tyrannical ruling elite.

It’s shameful how the CFT, and other unions, used Huy’s death to advance their agenda which, as reported above, is spearheaded by even more assaults on taxpayers.












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