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By Roz Rogoff

Busting political stereotypes

Uploaded: Jun 5, 2014

I'm a registered Republican and I voted last week for the Republicans running in the 16th Assembly District and 15th Congressional District. I was surprised that the Republicans did so well in the Primary.

Both Republican candidates finished in the top two, even though party registration in the 15th Congressional District is more than two to one Democrat. Either Dems didn't come out in large numbers or "Others" swung to the Republican side. See 2012 table below.

I'm a little sad for Ellen Corbett. She's a really nice person, but Hugh Bussell's positions on issues and what he plans to do if elected fit my political priorities better than Senator Corbett's. Bussell isn't just for getting rid of legislation that doesn't work, like Obamacare, but for changing or replacing it with something that does work or would work better.

I was not happy with Republicans as the "Party of NO!" when their only interest was getting rid of Obama. I'm disappointed with Obama, but many of his failings were caused by the Republicans' unwillingness to work with him at the start of his Presidency or even be civil to the man.

I used to believe that Government could fix all of the problems we have and that's what Government is supposed to do. But Governmental good intentions often go wrong and backfire, especially when they are imposed on everyone in a blanket fashion.

For example President Obama wants to raise the national minimum wage to $10.15/hr. This sounds like it would help hard working people who often must work two jobs just to make ends meet. But the minimum wage has a ripple effect on costs and prices. In states with a lower minimum wage, the cost of living, e.g. rent, gas, groceries, goods and services, tends to be lower. If the minimum wage is artificially increased by the Federal Government, costs will go up to include the increased labor expense and jobs could be exported to countries with cheaper labor.

We see what raising the minimum wage has done to California. Now it is almost impossible to live here on $15/hr. even though the State's minimum wage right now is $9/hr. This is scheduled to go up to $10/hr. in 2016, which could result in cutting employees' hours or moving jobs out of state.

Instead of a law to raise the national minimum wage, there should be some encouragement for incremental increases for employees after set periods of time. Employees should not be getting minimum wage year after year. There should be built in increases. Every working person deserves to make a living wage, based on the cost of living where they live.

That's why I believe Unions are necessary. Unions are not perfect, and I can understand the distaste for public employee unions, but Unions are necessary to protect the jobs, earnings, and safety of working people.

Forty-five years ago I was the Office Manager for a Plumbing Company in Westchester County, NY. I was the receptionist, answered the phones, scheduled plumbing jobs, and prepared the weekly payroll.

The Company had two divisions ? Contracting for new developments and Plumbing Services for home repairs. The Home Repair division consisted of one guy who went out on the usual calls for stopped up toilets and leaky sinks.

The Contracting side of the business hired plumbers through the Union local. The Union was like the H/R Department for this Plumbing Contractor. They selected the guys for the jobs, set their pay rates by skill level, and handled sick leave and vacation pay.

I entered the payroll on a spreadsheet and deducted Union dues from each guy's pay. The Company paid a monthly contribution per employee to the Union. This was more like a partnership than an adversarial relationship.

It wasn't easy to get into this local Plumber's Union. It was very inbred. New members had to be nominated by someone already in the Union, usually a father, brother, or cousin.
This Union local was a mix of Italians and Jews. The home repair plumber that worked in the other division was Irish. The owners wanted to help him get into the Union and looked for someone to nominate him. After he was nominated, the father of one of the owners of the company asked if I wanted to take his job.

That was really an unusual offer for 1969. The only female plumber back then was Josephine, the Comet pitch woman played in TV commercials by former child star Jane Withers. I turned down the job and decided to go back to college to finish my degree. Besides I didn't want to be a non-union plumber. That was the yucky side of the business.

Ronald Reagan campaigned as the only presidential candidate to have been President of a Union. He was President of the Screen Actors' Guild from 1947 to 1959. Yet he started Union busting during his Presidency, which was probably one of the worst things he did in office.

Years ago there were abuses by Unions. Some were even controlled by gangsters, but now the pendulum has swung the other way and Unions are needed for balance. Republicans should not be opposed to Unions. Unions created the Middle Class and Unions can bring it back. Republicans need to reevaluate their position on Unions.

I don't vote for candidates because they are financed by Unions or by wealthy business owners. I vote for candidates who are open minded and not bound by political taboos or party stereotypes. Yes we have a two party system, and the parties tend to lean this way or that way, but the individuals who serve should lean in the direction that best serves their region, constituents, and the country without the usual political clichés.