Recession? What recession? Not if you are a government union employee

If you missed Jim’s show today, you missed an amazing interview with Boston Globe columnist, Jeff Jacoby. He was speaking about a recent article he wrote for Commentary Magazine, and which appears on Jeff’s blog.  The title…What public sector unions have wrought.  The article is long, but well worth the time it takes to read it.

Let me give you some excerpts.

Even when taxpayers fall on hard times, the good life goes on for public employees. During the first year and a half of the current “Great Recession,” the number of federal workers with salaries of $100,000 and up increased 46 percent.

Well, you say, that doesn’t matter too much as government jobs certainly were lost (as they were in the private sector) during this time.  Not so.

The devastation wrought by the worst recession in two generations has not been evenly distributed. Between January 2008 and June 2010, the American private sector lost roughly 8 million jobs. Over the same period, the public sector workforce grew by 590,000.

The article also completely debunks the concept that public sector jobs pay less than private sector jobs and that is why public sector jobs have richer benefits and pensions.

Nationwide, according to [Bureau of Labor Statistics] data for 2009, state and local government employees were paid an average wage of $26.01 per hour, which was 34 percent higher than the average private-sector wage of $19.39 per hour. Even more lopsided was the public-sector advantage in fringe benefits, such as health and life insurance, paid vacations and sick leave, and—above all—retirement income: state and local governments provided their workers with benefits valued, on average, at $13.65 per hour, a 70 percent premium over the average benefits package in the private sector.

And, what about those pensions…how are they paid for?

…their revenue is acquired the old-fashioned way: through the compulsion of taxpayers.

To some, this may not be a problem as, the theory goes, you can only raise taxes so high.  But, let’s look at what California had to do recently to fund its underfunded employee pension program.

…look no further than the$5.5 billion diverted this year from higher education, transit, parks, and other programs in order to pay just a tiny bit toward current unfunded pension and healthcare promises. That figure is set to triple within 10 years and—absent reform—to continue to grow, crowding out funding for many programs vital to the overwhelming majority of Californians.

This is not a pretty picture.  Government union employees add jobs in difficult economic times when the rest of us are losing ours, earn more than their private counterparts, have benefit packages considerably higher than their private counterparts, and, their ridiculous pension guarantees are beginning to divert funds from schools, mass transit and community Little League playing fields.

And yet, they always seem to want more.  Can anyone say Greece?

5 replies
  1. chris-os
    chris-os says:

    SOS, I agree and often wonder if any state is as bad as CT.

    We have agencies that duplicate the work of other agencies here.

    AND, each agency is top heavy with commissioners, deputy commissioners, executive directors,directors, and assistant directors. Mostly Rowland/Rell Political appointees.

    I agree cuts and concessions need to be made by the unions and if the past is any indication they will be. But the easiest place to make immediate substantial cuts with minimal (or no) impact to services is at the top of these agencies.

  2. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    Are political appointees, i.e. commissioners, deputy commissioners, executive directors,directors, and assistant directors etc., in unions?  I thought they were management.


    Maybe bonuses/raises should be given on how much a department saves and how efficiently it works instead of hiring more people to cover ineptitude and political and family "obligations".


    It is time for the promises and negotiated contracts to be undone, or let the pensions crash under the weight of their own deficits.  You can't pay money you don't have.

  3. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    But then, the US would not be exceptional. It would be like a lot of other places that took the easy way out. Remember how we used to scoff at Italy as ungovernable? Don't look in the mirror.


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