Public workers deserve respect, not scorn

Opinion

Submitted by State Senator Joe Bolkcom

Bolkcom

I woke up about 3 a.m. to a siren in the distance.  I thought to myself: Car accident? Fire? Medical emergency? Somebody needs help right now!  I also knew that siren meant skilled public servants were on the way to do just that.

I went back to sleep knowing that Iowans enjoy excellent local and state services that make Iowa and life as we know and enjoy it possible.

This is all now under threat.

The gutting of Iowa working collective bargaining law last week by legislative Republicans, Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds will begin a decline in public services and our schools as the best people find both respect and better pay in the private sector and fewer people decide public service is a respected career choice. It won’t happen overnight. But the seeds are now in the ground.

Our trained, skilled and educated public servants make it possible for businesses to profit and communities to prosper. Here is a short list of some of the things that some politicians are taking for granted:

The inspection that made your home and workplace safe to occupy; a glass of clean water, running the dishwasher, washing the car; great schools and educated citizens; garbage, recycling and leaf pick up; snow plowing and road salting; street design, repair and maintenance; libraries, parks and pools; recreational trails and bike lanes; flood and tornado disaster relief; driver’s licenses; voter registration and clean elections; marriage licenses; birth and death certificates; restaurant and hotel pool inspections; 911, police, fire, emergency medical help; crime investigation; prison guards and community corrections; community planning; airport safety; controlling infectious disease and food born outbreaks; controlling air and water pollution; nurses and doctors; researchers and of course, brushing your teeth and flushing the toilet.

Iowa public servants deliver. They have chosen to work for public employers because in exchange for their contribution, they are afforded a stable work environment, decent wages and health and retirement benefits. This has allowed our cities, counties, school districts, community colleges, public universities and the state attract and retain some of the smartest people to serve us.

Why in the world have Republicans who now control all of state government become so mean-spirited and disrespectful of our skilled and dedicated public employees that do the hard work day and night? The bad news is that they are not done. They now intend to destroy the pension system public employees have paid in to and earned.

When you hear the next siren in the distance, be proud that we have trained public servants on the way to help. These workers are our neighbor and friends. They are taxpayers. They deserve respect and thanks, not scorn.

Joe Bolkcom
State Senator
Iowa City, Iowa

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