Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda: Public employees must flex their muscle Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda * My View * April 14, 2010 The public employees of Florida and those who have retired are a real economic and political force. It is time to make your power known. Public servants of Florida are under attack, and it is time to stand up and demand the respect you deserve. I'm talking about all of you - the teachers and university professors, law enforcement and firefighters, correctional officers, and all of the state and local government employees who make our state run. Without your hard work and dedication, Florida would come to a standstill. This constant drumbeat to make public servants pay for the bad decisions of previous legislatures that gave tax breaks during the good times to the rich has got to stop. These threats are already taking a toll on the economy; if you are facing a pay cut, higher insurance costs or other salary deductions, are you looking at a new home, car or appliance? I don't think so. For almost five years running, state employees have been denied raises while Wall Street has pocketed millions in tax dollars. Now my Republican colleagues in the Florida Legislature are adding insult to injury by trying to balance their short- sighted, ill-conceived budget on your backs. Here's what they have been considering: A 3-percent pay cut. Requiring you to pay more for health care. Require a contribution to your pension. They are even considering breaking the promise of a decent retirement by changing the way pensions are calculated.Together, we must remind those who would take money out of your pocket that such a move is bad for business, and bad for the economy of Florida. These bills could easily result in an average loss of $50 for each of the more than 1 million retired and current public employees in Florida. State, county and municipal employees, university faculty and staff, teachers, police, firefighters, forestry and marine officers - all could be affected. Fifty million dollars buys a lot of pizza, shoes, and even cars.One way to let the political powers know how much of an economic force you are is to put the shopkeepers you frequent on notice. Every time you buy something, let the person behind the counter know that you are a public employee and that, if legislators succeed in cutting your income, you won't have any money to spend in their restaurant or shop. Invite them to write or call their legislator and tell them how badly the cuts will hurt the economy, their economy. Let them know they can make their concerns known by contacting their representative and senator. You can find their e-mail address or regular mail address at www.myfloridahouse. gov and www.flsenate.gov. Public pressure does work. When you consider that every dollar spent turns over six or seven times in the local economy, taking $50 out of your disposable income will have a total monthly negative effect on the businesses of Florida amounting to $350 million. Over the next year, a monthly $50 loss in your income will have annual negative $4.2 billion impact on Florida's economy. Count the spaghetti dinners that won't be eaten, the dresses and flowers that won't be purchased, or the houses that will remain unsold. How may restaurants, shops or home businesses will close because of bad decisions made in Tallahassee? These dire economic predictions don't have to come true. You vote, and so do your spouses, parents, neighbors and friends. When you add everyone together, I'm betting you have a combined strength of 2 million or more votes each election. Two million votes is real political muscle, and it's time to let legislative leaders who think you can cause them no harm know that you and the other 2 million public employees and their families and friends will remember when the time comes. Together you can send a powerful message, but you have to do it now. Time is running out. Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.