The problem with public-sector unions in a nutshell

From HotAir, better today than it's been lately:
The authors are correct in citing the cost of these retirement packages as a problem. It’s the primary driver which has nearly sunk New Jersey’s state government and embroiled Chris Christie throughout his entire tenure as governor. So one way to look at this (if you happen to be a liberal) is to say, as the authors do, that strong unions are able to push back against cuts to benefits.
Well, that’s a dandy solution if you happen to be one of the people receiving those benefits or planning your retirement around them. But it doesn’t do anything for the tens of millions of people in the private sector who have little chance of landing a job that offers anywhere near that level of retirement stability. It also does nothing to magically make more money appear in state and municipal budgets to cover these skyrocketing expenses. The authors attempt to claim that such expensive pension plans are justified because “many public-sector jobs offer lower salaries than their private-sector counterparts. As a result, public employees tend to have far more stable and secure retirements than similarly situated private-sector workers."
No citation is offered for this incredible claim. If you look long and hard, you can probably find a handful of cases where it’s true, but for the most part and in nearly all cases, public sector workers earn more than their private-sector counterparts. And I did offer a linked citation for that. Perhaps even more embarrassingly, it’s from… The Washington Post.
What they should have been asking was why there was never anyone at the table arguing on behalf of the taxpayers when these labor agreements were originally crafted.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

It certainly was true in New Hampshire when I started working for the state, at twenty cents an hour above minimum wage to do difficult work. People were very clear that they were taking the state job "for the benefits," which usually meant health insurance, not vacation time or retirement. "I've got four kids," they would say. I think we have always had a higher percentage of single parents, especially single mothers, for that reason.

We had five step increases for longevity. (My wife, who worked at a public school, had seventeen, though the salary started very low.) We did have nice health care, and with five boys, that did matter. We do have decent, though not outrageous pensions. I did pay into that for forty years, though. Counts for something. I work as a social worker in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations and never made $50K in a year, in a state where the cost of living is above-average, though not outrageous. I don't feel like I've ripped anyone off, frankly. I know some people who arte working in useless and extraneous state jobs. Not so many, but maybe that's because it's NH. (Vermont might believe in socialism because they have very little corruption and are stingy. In that circumstance it's more likely to work.) Maybe different in New Jersey.

I have said for years that I worked for the wrong level of government. The counties pay worse here, the towns and cities about the same as the state. The people who get federal job, such as at the VA, are amazed at what they get paid.

raven said...

Every Federal Holiday, the ones normal people have to work on, I get a bit torqued off thinking about how I need to work, to make ends meet and get jobs done, when the feds get the day off with pay, and I am the one working that day, to pay for their day off. Put like that, it sort of makes one realize they are serfs, or slaves.

I wonder how the feds would feel if their cushy days off were adopted by every business in the country, by closing for the day with no paid compensation. That would make a nice dent in tax revenue.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

raven - and I used to think when I was working a 7/2/7/5 graveyard hospital shift (It is called Old Hospital Rotation, and you have to put a day of your own into that 5) in my early career how nice it would be to have weekends off, like all my friends in private industry had.

douglas said...

AVI, if you work in a health care facility, or any job with 24 hour coverage, you're gonna have those sorts of scheduling issues- My first job was in a hospital lab, and I worked weekends and holidays like everyone else.

Feceral jobs pay inordinately more in many places because they're working on a national pay scale, so you've got to pay enough to hire people in NYC, but that amount of pay is beaucoup bucks in the more remote areas of the country where the cost of living is quite a bit lower. Just another reason why decentralization and devolution to the states and localities is a good idea.