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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

March 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM

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Nationwide debate erupts over state workers' pay, benefits

Posted by Letters editor

The upper class has yet to pay its fair share

Regarding the front page article in Sunday’s paper, “Have state workers given their fair share?,” [Feb. 27] I would like to see a similar article on whether the top 2 percent of our tax payers are giving their fair share. With a divide-and-conquer strategy, the very wealthy have convinced the general populace to begrudge fellow middle-class workers a semblance of security rather than fighting for decent wages and union representation for themselves.

In the early 20th century, workers fought for union representation that helped to build a strong middle class. Now, unions have become weaker and the wealthy have become wealthier. Our tax structure places a greater burden on middle-class workers and business owners. Large corporations and high-wage earners pay proportionately very little. The middle class is shrinking not because of state or union workers, but because the upper class has turned worker against worker. When will we wake up?

State workers have experienced many years of frozen wages, while studies have shown most state workers receive lower wages than comparable private sector workers. Health benefits were negotiated as a means of compensating for the lower wages.

— Mona Moloney, Auburn

Fight for living-wage jobs

After reading your article about the demonstration of solidarity for the Wisconsin public workers, I was struck by the quote from a “tea partyer” that suggested public employees make too much money and need to pay their fair share.

These servants for the state teach our children, patrol our neighborhoods and save our lives. They should make a living wage. Nobody gets rich working for the government. The tea partyer should not be whining about the wages and benefits of these workers. Instead, he should be organizing his fellow workers into a union in order to lobby for a living-wage job and benefits. That’s how we got the 40-hour week and benefits. Please remember your history.

Must we all participate in the “Walmartization” of the American worker? Lots of luck trying to raise a family on $10 an hour and little benefits. Unions and the middle class have been decimated by Republican leadership and its agenda. America needs a strong middle class in order to thrive. So stop your whining — get out there and fight for a living-wage job!

— Julee Pate, Seattle

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