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Union letter is scary 

San Luis Obispo

Today I read the letter sent out to the membership of the SLO Chamber of Commerce from the leadership of the local firefighters and police unions (“Unions boycott chamber awards,” Feb. 10) and would like to address them in public.

Gentlemen, it was very disappointing to me. I am a longtime resident of SLO and not a member of the chamber, though I do know several of the people named in the letter. To portray these people as self-serving profiteers is absurd.

Collectively they represent a citizen resource that has both passion for our city and good fiscal sense. Our city is well served by their perspective. Is it the only perspective we should seek? Of course not. All parties need to be heard on the important issues facing our collective future. I believe most citizens appreciate having as much information as possible when making decisions.

Like many other out-of-the-public-eye citizens these days, our dinner table and office conversations are discussing the issues of compensation, pension, public safety, and community services. I have not heard a single person express any vitriol or resentment toward our police or fire fighters. I have read the recommendations from the economic task force. I see nothing that constitutes an “attack” or a “personal agenda against public employees.”

Now let’s look at your letter. It reads plainly as an indictment, literally a call to the chamber membership to tell their leadership to butt out. The letter also uses the words “public safety” and “risk” several times. What the hell are you going for here? Are we supposed to be scared of what may happen if binding arbitration is repealed? I am no prude nor paranoid, but can you understand how a letter from the union leadership of our city’s trained and well-equipped protection professionals naming prominent citizens you consider “hostile” could have a chilling effect on open dialogue?

In all honesty, this letter is the scariest thing I have read in a while. Fellow non-chamber citizens: Get a copy of this letter and read it and all other information at your disposal regarding the current fiscal and public services issues we face. What kind of a city do you want to live in? Please get involved. Fellow citizen firefighters and police: I think a fair question works both ways. Have you read this letter? Isn’t it time to ask your leadership why they are bringing gasoline to a community bonfire?

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