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OPINION | Epitaph 155: Retirees & Unions — A Warning!    

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I AGREE that retirees should have “a voice” in Retirement Issues but more importantly retirees need “a face with TEETH” to make things happen just as the Marijuana Laws speak loud and say a lot but very little is happening to build a Cannabis Tourism & Hemp Industries. 

“Talk is cheap” as the famous saying goes because it is the TRUTH that no-one-can-deny.

The recent article about retirees having a stronger voice is valid but what good is it to have a voice if you can’t influence the outcome of issues — a lesson I tried to teach teachers when I was the Teacher Rep. on the Board but they fought against my help. Here we are almost two decades later and their voices are still muted and their ability to influence PSS Policy is still nonexistent. I think most will agree that retirees already have a voice(S) of all retirees but the problem is “retirees don’t have a leader (individual face & voice) and real power (collective bargaining).  POWER is the only thing in our politics that will have the ability to really MAKE things happen so if the effort to give a voice to retirees doesn’t come with “representation & power” then it’s a waste of time, as I’ve been-there & done-that with Teachers & PSS for TRUE! 

Unions have but all been outlawed in the CNMI but Unions are the only real means for employees & retirees to have a real voice with teeth (collective bargaining agreement) to influence “laws, policies and/or activities of an entity be it “public or private.” America went through this tough period of “Union Representation” that has been fought against in the CNMI. For example: The CNMI Constitution at one time “dictated teachers to have collective bargaining with the Board.” But when I challenged the Board to live up to the CNMI’s Constitution they got the Constitution changed by proposing “a bundle Constitutional change that would strike-out the clause in the Constitution granting teachers Collective Bargaining Rights with the Funding issue for PSS. The bundle of Teacher’s Rights with PSS Funding was ugly unethical political skullduggery because they should have been SEPARATE issues. No citizen would vote against PSS not getting more funding and teachers wouldn’t help me fight which is why I refused to run for a second term. But the truly great and irony of it all is that what BOE did cannot erase Teachers Rights to Collective Bargain which is still Federal Law. Shame on the former BOE but they only delayed the inevitable because “time & progress” is on my side and teachers will one day claim their collective bargaining rights – its just a matter of time and Governors pitting teachers against retirees is only going to serve to speed up the process & progress to Unions.

 So, if the Retirement Fund is restarted those in the Fund should be in a Union with a collective bargaining agreement that our Government can’t tamper with or manipulate anymore —  PERIOD! It should be noted that most Government Employees and even most private sector employees in all the major cities of America are members of a Union.  The NMDs need to form some kind of “Formal Organization that is inclusive of ALL NMDs” in they truly want to have “a voice with power” in the future because the entire NMD situation is “a scatter-brain operation that ONLY the Governor can speak for an manipulate.”  We even need “Village Organizations” with a voice and teeth (power to influence Precinct Elections) because People organizing to have “a collective voice” is truly the future of our workforce and our politics and the only question is when will WE the People get to the fork-in-the-road to take the path for Unions and Organized Retirees & Workforce and even for the NMDs to model the example of Native Americans on the mainland because Chamorros & Carolinians in the CNMI are actually “the Native Americans of this Region.” If WE the People are to move forward, we need Unions and Organized People in the CNMI or our future Governors will forever be pitting “teachers or PSS v retirees” like we have witnessed on too many occasions when the Government’s Coffers are running low.

I keep warning and reminding readers of how “history repeats itself in so many ways” and the retirees having a voice issue just reminded me of how the CNMI’s Progressions & Developments are actually following many of the issues that America has already faced and dealt with on the mainland like Unions.  I can remember telling my students that for many Americans who come here from the mainly, they have already seen and been where the People of the CNMI are headed but Locals don’t like to listen to out-siders, which is true but also very foolish. I can remember my mother telling me in one of her teaching moments after I had messed-up and didn’t listen to her: she said “a wise man learns from another’s mistakes but a fool has to bump his own head to learn a lesson” — true words of wisdom. Just think, the Bible tells us we can learn from children and even the ant then surly we can learn from fellow human beings regardless of their origins which is why we must destroy this “Local v Everyone Else Mentality” as it is stunting the potential for the CNMI to grow and progress. WE will all find prosperity together or continue to flounder in the sea of ignorance.

The CNMI Leaders would do well and do a far better job if they would study America’s history and our course more because it is really already charted territory if our leaders can just learn to read to “Historical Map of America’s Evolution” — it just takes leadership with the wisdom and fortitude to follow the map and LEAD and stop the “safe-politics” that our leaders and BOE was practicing that has gotten us nowhere quick, fact and in-a-hurry for the past two decades.  FYI readers, We the People are virtually in the same place socially and economically that we were in twenty years ago just better roads and highways and some of them are still the same like the road to Mt. Tapochau our most scenic Tourist Destination and the Kanat Tabla Road to Tourist Sites in Dandan. To be continued: One People One Direction.

The writer is a retired teacher, former CNMI Board of Education Member, James Madison Fellow (U.S. Constitutional Scholar) and a Fulbright-Hays Foreign Scholar who resides in Kagman III.

 

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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