The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 17, 2013

Let the voters decide

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

As the city council works to finalize the ballot language for the Public Safety Sales Tax, I would hope that city leaders will consider fairness — fairness for all city employees, not just the police and fire fighters.

I understand that it is difficult to resist the interest of the police and fire departments and I wish to make it clear that I support these workers. However, there is another group of workers that are left out of this golden-egg tax: the non-uniform city workers.

While police and fire salaries have risen to the $70,000 range, most of the other city workers struggle to maintain their families on less than a living wage. Since the Legislature has weakened city workers’ bargaining rights, and their numbers have been greatly decreased due to past budget cuts, they are often forced into overtime work to get the jobs done. The non-uniformed workers are just as essential to the safety and security of our citizens.

It is because of these workers that our streets are not filled with garbage, uncontrolled dogs don’t roam these streets, sewage does not flow down the gutters, our streets are in fairly good repair, our precious water rarely flows wildly due to breaks in the line and city hall operates with good efficiency.

So why are these workers left out of the tax to benefit some workers and them not?

I believe that it is the political power and popularity of the police and fire groups that put the fear of God into the minds of city politicians. Nobody wants to buck city hall, but certainly nobody wants to buck the powerful police and fire unions.

I hope that the police and firefighters unions will stop being greedy and embrace the forgotten non-uniform workers as their brothers and sisters who need a living wage. I urge city leaders to stop regarding the non-uniform city workers as second-class workers and include their numbers in the Public Safety Sales Tax proposal that will go to the voters.

Let the voters decide; it's only fair,

TED METSCHER

Norman

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