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The opinion piece by Elizabeth Stelle of the Commonwealth Foundation is full of the lies and half-truths characteristic of the radical right-wing.

Keystone Progress and The Center for Media and Democracy recently released a report revealing that the Commonwealth Foundation is a “corporate lobbyist propaganda mill,” which is "part of [a] web of groups pushing national corporate agenda at the expense of Pennsylvania’s middle class.”

What is more, the report says the Commonwealth Foundation and other so-called “think tanks” are, “major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.”

Therefore it is no surprise that Elizabeth Stelle’s piece attacks Pennsylvania’s public sector unions without regard for the truth about those same unions.

Let’s be clear, unions are responsible for building our great middle class and for supporting all public policy that benefits average workers.

As they have for at least 80 years, union members pay their dues by payroll deductions just as they contribute to charitable causes and pay taxes. Those dues cannot be spent on political contributions nor ads. Union members who voluntarily choose can also agree to make political contributions in the same way. The state in no way helps or facilitates unions collecting political funds. And unlike giant corporations represented by the Commonwealth Foundation, unions work through the political process for the good of average people.

Unlike the Commonwealth Foundation, unions view education as Thomas Jefferson did. He believed that public education available to all was essential to democracy. That is why we are working to improve our public schools, and ensure they are available to all. Equality of opportunity and education is essential to democracy.

So the Commonwealth Foundation wants to privatize and deregulate liquor stores. Why? To give away a public cash cow to wealthy private interests. Why would we ever do that? And doesn’t the public have an interest in having trained public employees working in liquor stores to spot and prevent inebriated people from buying more alcohol? Will that make our streets safer?

Many Americans still receive retirement pensions that employees and employers have both paid into, as do our public employees. Over and over public employees have sacrificed wage increases for pensions. Does the Commonwealth Foundation want to take retirement pay from firefighters, nurses, police officers, and those who protect abused children?

Don’t the fabulously wealthy who fund the Commonwealth have enough? Why does the Commonwealth Foundation want to impoverish more workers and retirees, and further widen the gap between the rich and the rest of us?

The policies and actions like those proposed by the Commonwealth Foundation are killing our middle class. Time for all of us to begin to rebuild our middle class and end the war on workers.

Photo source: FreePress.net

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