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Last night’s "60 Minutes" report on the budget crises and shortfalls many state and local governments face could have been written by anti-worker, anti-union New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who used his airtime to slam public employees and their unions as the root cause for the huge budget gaps. Yet 60 Minutes did not give one second of airtime to a public employee or union spokesperson.

Last night’s "60 Minutes" report on the budget crises and shortfalls many state and local governments face could have been written by anti-worker, anti-union New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who used his airtime to slam public employees and their unions as the root cause for the huge budget gaps. Yet 60 Minutes did not give one second of airtime to a public employee or union spokesperson.

Throughout the report, writes Media Matters’ Jamison Foser:

CBS allows Christie, New Jersey's Republican governor, to launch attacks on unions and make unsupported claims about budget problems, all without ever challenging his assertions and without including substantive disagreement from Christie critics... If Christie didn't get a producer credit on the 60 Minutes segment, he should have.

BTW, "60 Minutes" producers never even contacted the AFL-CIO for input or comments. AFSCME President Gerald McEntee says Christie "is more interested in scoring political points than solving state and local budget challenges and getting the economy moving."

The fact is, hundreds of thousands of public employees, just like private-sector employees, have been laid off and taken pay and benefit cuts—even as Wall Street executives lined their pockets with taxpayer money and took home huge bonuses.  And as [the report] noted, much of the pension problem stems from the fact that politicians did not contribute to their pension funds.

While politicians like Christie rail against the pensions public employees have secured through collective bargaining—painting them as overly generous golden parachutes, McEntee notes the average annual pension for an AFSCME member is $19,000, and the workers contribute 80 percent during their lifetime on the job.

[Take action: Write a comment on the "60 Minutes" Facebook wall here and if you're on Twitter, retweet: RT @AFLCIO  #60minutes Why did you do segment on public wkrs in state w/ Christie/Wall St, but didn't contact the workers? @60minutes #p2 ]

The long term solution to state and local fiscal challenges, says McEntee, is "a robust economy, one that is creating jobs and replenishing tax revenue."

Public employees stand ready to help state and local governments get through the economic storm.  But to suggest that they have not sacrificed is a lie, and we will not allow politicians like Chris Christie to blame the economic crisis on working and middle class Americans.

This is a crosspost from AFL-CIO Now.  

Originally posted to Mike Hall on Mon Dec 20, 2010 at 09:21 AM PST.

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