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'US Protests, No Rage, Only Concerns'

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TEHRAN, March 6 (ICANA) – Thousands of people have joined intensifying protests in the US state of Wisconsin against efforts by the state's Republican lawmakers to limit the power of trade unions.
Sunday, March 06, 2011 10:44:53 PM
'US Protests, No Rage, Only Concerns'

Press TV interviews former US ambassador Edward Peck to discuss the issue further more:


Q: Reverend Jesse Jackson said it's really not about Wisconsin it's about something far greater than that in what's basically happening is throughout the US, what's your take on that?


Edward Peck: Well, I know Reverend Jackson, and I've spoken to him and I've been on his program, a very thoughtful and intelligent man, and the point that you are raising is one of those things that's very interesting that Susan being there and watching what's going on and having that in her package, people saying that these are our basic rights. Well yes, your basic rights are that you are allowed to talk you are allowed to demonstrate, you are allowed to do these various things but not if you are a supporter of unions and I belong to one and I am a supporter of unions.


It is distressing at times to see in the press, and by the way I disagree they are getting enormous coverage in the media here in the Washington area and on television which is what someone was complaining about -- there are times in which unions have striven for the one thing that they want, more. And they have put together packages of retirements and various privileges which wind up costing a great deal of money and perhaps it's ok to take a look at that one.


You see an article from the New York Times that says a retired police chief was taking home a pension of 2,000 dollars a month, what? I mean that's an awful lot of money for a pension but it was negotiated, it's part of his package maybe he should have it.


Q: Do you see what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa connected to what we are witnessing in the United States?


Edward Peck: I don't think it's the same thing at all and I must admit the other guest has a more apocalyptic view of what's going on than I do. Realistic is how we see it, don't misunderstand me, my own realistic view is that most Americans are supportive of the idea of collective bargaining, what some Americans don't like is to see the extremes to which it can be taken.


One of the fathers of the unionism in this country was a man named Samuel Goppers, who many years ago in New York when he was leaving the 'Lady Garment' workers to a union, somebody asked him what it was that he wanted and he said, more.


And I can understand that, that's how capitalism works. But there have been some problems generated through the abilities of the unions to extract what they really want because it has placed -- I don't know whose fault that is -- excessive burdens on the finances of various states.


And by the way I think it's sometimes useful to explain to those who do not know much about the US , that we call it the United States on purpose , each state has its own law , its own legislators , its own police , its own its own speed limit , these are states which are semi-independent in a sense and there are some places , apparently New York is one , where the unions have made themselves very very well-off at the cost of all the other people, including themselves of course .


And so the idea of putting some limits, some rational thought into what it is the unions get might not be hurtful, I'll offer one small example, there is a state in this part of the country where I live in which something like 61 percent of the police officers have retired on disability almost all of them have gone to work for security as private citizens, so disability is nice to have. Justified, well that is another question.


Q: Do you think that the middle class is bearing the brunt of the financial crisis and asked to sacrifice the most though it was the financial sector that caused it?


Edward Peck: Yes I think I would agree with both guests, we had a famous American, Will Rodgers, who once said, professor you know this, that the Americans can be proud of the fact that they have the finest congress that money can buy. It's true. That seems to happen in almost every country in the world, and the fact that the unions are willing to discuss concessions, they are dealing with hardliners who were elected by the people who are now in a position to pose their own views, I don't agree with all their views.


But it's clear that something rational, reasonable democratic and balanced needs to be done, I'm not sure they are doing it the right way and I can understand why people are upset but I am not yet prepared to consider that those events there in any way is similar to what's been in Libya and Yemen and Tunisia and so forth. As far as I'm aware, nobody has been seriously hurt or killed by the forces trying to kill the demonstrators. It's not rage, its concern, it's different, and its deep worries.

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