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Can Public Sector Jobs Survive?

Ginny-Elmore_LA-County-RN_80x80.jpgPublic sector jobs have been eroded by anti-worker lawmakers and their policy of privatizing as many services as possible. We need to renew the idea of a “trickle up” economy.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal, which put money into public-sector jobs. This created a “trickle up” economy, by creating jobs that put money into people’s pockets. 
 Businesses expanded because they had customers. Public sector jobs were created because the private sector would not provide the non-profitable service. These services were provided to the public without the demand for profits going back to the elite few.  
Fast forward to the 1980s–President Ronald Reagan branded the public sector as the “problem, not the solution” and said that we needed a “trickle down” economy.  Since then, businesses have enjoyed repeated tax cuts and a reversal of regulations on businesses to maximize their profits ever since. Wealth was seen as more valuable than working for wages.
Today, public sector jobs are the most visible way that the government provides services. They are also loathed by the private sector. 
An Example: LA County
For several decades, we have seen the privatization of LA County Department of Health Services jobs. The County has contracted out many services over the years, including security, housekeeping, cafeteria services, registry and traveler services for all levels of nursing, respiratory therapy and pharmacy techs–the list goes on and on.
 
Martin Luther King Hospital is probably the largest example of privatization in DHS. The County is hiring a non-profit company to manage and run MLK Hospital. While the County pays for building and supplying the medical equipment, it also promises to pay for care of the uninsured and the under-insured. This is a win-win for the private sector. And it is unlike County facilities, which have to spread their funding across very complicated non-profitable patients.
We can’t let our guard down. Remember, we fought off the privatization of our public libraries. We haven’t lost yet. We can keep the public sector strong and even roll back some of the privatization we’ve seen.
First, we need to know answers to basic things:
•   Should the safety net services be privatized?  Is there a place for public sector services?
Since we are a public sector provider:
•   Do we compete to be a “provider of choice?”
•   Or do we remain a safety net for the people without insurance–citizens and non-citizens–and the patients that the private sector rejects as too complicated, expensive and non-compliant?
Either choice would require the LA County Board of Supervisors to invest in the DHS infrastructure and continued funding for the patients that the private sector will return to us.
 
‘For the People’
Public sector workers have been doing our best with the limited resources we are given to provide services to LA County residents. We step forward to provide the public with services that the private sector won’t. Private corporations won’t do anything unless they think they can turn a major profit. 
We can take pride in the public sector services we provide. We have stepped up to do the work that is needed for our communities. I believe there is a need for the public sector since there will still be patients who aren’t considered profitable to corporations. These patients deserve high quality care too, so the public sector needs to maintain adequate funding.
We need to bring back FDR’s “trickle up” economics and the value of work. This will bring back the “American Dream”–the opportunity for people in this country to achieve a middle-class lifestyle. Everyone deserves access to quality, public education, healthcare, food security and housing. 
We need a government that works for all people, and not just for big business interests and the wealthy.
-Virginia “Ginny” Anders-Ellmore
LA County Nurse Practitioner
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bonnie chung
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100% agree with you, Ginny. Regarding the “Trickle Up”, all civil servants should get their fair pay to conquer the inflation for the past 6 yrs without any raise. I don’t think it’s a raise but only the LIVING COST ADJUSTMENT. Even the public received the living cost adjustment from food stamps, cash aid, and social security but not the public servants. If we count back the 6 yrs without living cost adjustment, for this contract, we at least decerve 15% to 20% raise to be reasonable. It’s only 2.5% to 3% per year. What do you think.
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