AK Voices: Vince Beltrami

Vince Beltrami is president of the Alaska AFL-CIO, a labor organization. He is a graduate of UAA.

LABOR DAY 2012 - Don't Let Alaska Become a Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Multi-National Corporations - 9/3/2012 6:52 pm

THE CONTINUING SAGA OF HOUSE BILL 110 - 12/31/2011 10:59 am

Palin's No Sister of Mine - 2/19/2011 11:07 am

Battle of wits with the Alaska Republican Party Facebookers and their billionaire allies - 11/2/2010 2:30 am

Spare me the (faux) righteous indignation, Mr. Mayor - 10/5/2010 9:47 am

The Twilight Zone - courtesy of Joe Miller - 9/16/2010 6:28 pm

Non-union Mine Owner Should Stand Trial for Murder of 29 Coal Miners in West Virginia - 4/11/2010 8:55 pm

Resolute...ly! TEN resolutions for '10 - 12/31/2009 3:34 pm

Palin's No Sister of Mine

I’ve tried to stay away from taking part in Palin bashing over the past couple years. That band wagon has been full enough, and paying her any attention only serves to legitimize her as relevant. And not to pile on as yesterday’s “leaked” insider manuscript further discredits her, but she still had the audacity to weigh in against union leaders in Wisconsin yesterday. Now she’s sticking her unwanted finger in labor’s own hornet’s nest.

Like many Alaskans, I have witnessed the utter hypocrisy of Sarah Palin up close. Never have I seen someone so chameleon-like, with such influence over a very specific mass of people who are so enthralled with her every Facebook and Twitter post. She has become a caricature of herself, and there is no clearer evidence than her Friday, Feb. 18th Facebook post.

In the post, Palin begs her “union brothers and sisters” to “seize the opportunity to show true solidarity.” She belonged to my union, the IBEW, for about a minute, over twenty years ago one summer, in a temporary position, and has the gall to call union members fighting for their basic right to collectively bargain her brothers and sisters. It’s shameful.

As our part time governor she worked with democrats and union leaders to get her pet legislation passed. She reigned over the largest tax increase on oil companies in Alaska history and over the largest one-time “socialist” disbursement of over $700 million from the state’s general treasury to citizens and called it an “energy rebate.” And yet somehow, she has pretty successfully repackaged herself as the ultimate conservative. It defies logic.

I just listened to a speech she gave at an Alaska AFL-CIO conference three years ago where she praised us union leaders, and stated “I think it’s a healthy perspective I have on all this. It’s got to be the employers, the employees, the unions, the university, private sector businesses, and state government all working together on this. I’m not gonna let obsessive politics, or personalities get in the way of that.” This, apparently, is no longer part of her ideology.

Since going to Fox News, she must have signed a clause that requires her to bash union leaders and call them “union bosses” yet always making sure to pander to the rank and file member whenever she has an opportunity, which has been frequently lately. Not coincidentally, she never used the term "union boss" until she was on the Fox News payroll. The more incendiary sounding, the better I guess. She is no friend of working families. Talking out of both sides of her mouth comes way too easily, and is an injustice to those who trust her.

Poking her nose into Wisconsin’s business without even a rudimentary grasp of her “facts” is typical Palin. She has no knowledge that Wisconsin’s public employee pension plan is fully funded, that the state’s budget actually had a surplus before Governor Walker gave it away to big business, and she certainly doesn't know that Wisconsin’s hard working public employees actually earn an average of 4.8% less than their private sector counterparts. She once again spews fact-free hypocrisy fueled by self-promotion that continues to undermine her credibility at every turn.

Palin’s latest mantra is to try and drive a wedge between union members and their democratically elected leaders. She has no clue what solidarity means, and no clue that these union members in Wisconsin are standing up for the very existence of the American middle class and against the corporate benefactors that are funding her lifestyle. Or she has a clue, and she just doesn’t care as long as the big checks keep cashing.

The irony is Palin insinuates corruption by union leaders while blindly leading a group of enamored hard-working Americans over a cliff. And of course, Palin never acknowledges the corrupt business leaders like the Koch brothers who own Wisconsin’s governor and have fooled legions of people into thinking she and they care more for the interests of the average worker than unions and their leaders; leaders who have worked their way up with respect, through the ranks, to defend their fellow brothers and sisters.

Note to Sarah: The wages and benefits from Todd's union job that provided for your family for years were negotiated and guarded by "union bosses." Your insults to them and the rest of us shows your blatant disregard for the fabric of the labor movement, and your ignorance of the fact that unions are the only organizations in the country looking out for the best interests of working families in America, whether they belong to a union or not. I would suggest you stop commenting on things you know very little about. Unfortunately, that never seems to have stopped you before.

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