August 1, 2008

What Would You Private-Sector Workers Do?

Justin Katz

Jessica Knapp's astonishing comment deserves a bit more attention:

As pointed out in the Providence Journal on Saturday, the talks between the governor's people and union reps were not official negotiations. To claim that they were is a blatant lie. Instead of taking the proper, legal channels, King Don has issued another "executive order." Utterly useless.

I'll never understand people who put all their faith in one profit-rabid CEO like Don and not in the hardworking folks of RI. 4,000 people just like you voted against this contract, in the best interest of their families and their state.What would you do if your employer demanded that you pay more of your health care premium? What will you do when men like Don win, and union members lose, and your employer demands the same of you? How much more do these people have to give up, and how much time do you have before the same is asked of you?

What's astonishing is that Ms. Knapp is apparently unaware that public-sector unions are hardly the leading edge in having to compromise with their employment packages, but she is apparently unaware that her opposition on the issue points it out repeatedly. On top of that, the ignorance of the disparity between public-sector union employment and private-sector employment is galling. What would I do were an employer to limit the amount of my raise and require increased contributions to healthcare coverage? Many in the private sector would rephrase the question as "what have I done when."

Moreover, the casting script of the unionists exemplifies their detrimental reliance on a divisive storyline. The few times that I've heard similar tales, whether with small construction contractors or large IT-related corporations, management was sincerely seeking to balance the health of the organization with the well-being of employees.

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In the private sector, failure to maximize every dollar can lead to the company collapsing and hundreds or thousands out of work.

In the PUBLIC sector, failure to maximize every dollar just means you go back to the taxpayers, bend them over, lube them up and TAKE MORE DOLLARS. There is no risk to the individual employee. It's not like government is gonna go out of business so what do they care?

Unfortunately what they aren't yet realizing is that the well is dry, the people are fed up, and the union leadership manages to generate TERRIFIC soundbites for the growing anti-union sentiment.

No non-union person in this state, looking at their growing energy and food bills and wondering how they will get by, is at ALL moved by the whining from the unions. Not one bit. Because everybody knows that a win for the unions will mean yet FEWER dollars in their own pockets to provide for THEIR families.

And that will not stand.

Posted by: Greg at August 1, 2008 8:00 AM

As "King Don" mentioned this morning on the John DePetro show, Massachusetts employees already pay 25% of their health premiums, and the Feds are going from 25% to 30%, which is much more than our RI state employees are being asked to pay, and yet council 94 refuses to consider it. RI state employees need to wake up fast, they've had it too good and it cannot be sustained.

Posted by: Frank at August 1, 2008 8:10 AM

I'm still waiting for the first public employee to quit over this terrible pay package and exhausting 35 hour work week.

Posted by: mac1 at August 1, 2008 8:12 AM

"Profit rabid CEO"? And what profit is there for the Governor in balancing the state budget????

She might be a nice lady, she might be quite intelligent from an IQ standpoint, but she is totally clueless about how the real world works.

This is another reason to immediately freeze the pension system and go to a defined contribution system. People go to work for the state / become public school teachers at a young age, and the pension / prevailing culture is that they expect to stay there for life (and do).

This causes the insular and myopic culture, divorced from reality, that we see with government employees.

This also breeds what we tend to see in government (not just in RI) of a bureaucratic culture fixated on inputs rather than results - for many, it's the only dynamic they've ever been exposed to, so it seems normal and acceptable.

As with private sector organizations, some turnover and fresh blood on a regular basis is a very healthy thing. People coming and going between public and private sector employment would by itself bring great improvement to the quality and cost effectiveness of government.

Posted by: Tom W at August 1, 2008 8:18 AM

And what will you do when your employer makes you participate in a 401(k) instead of a guranteed defined pension plan?

And what will you do when you're told you won't be able to automatically retire after 20 years?

And what will you do when there is an expectation that you may have to work longer than 40 hours a week on occcassion?


Is Ms. Knapp so detached from the real world that she fails to understand that those taxpayers subsidizing the public unions are already doing all of these things!?!?!

Does she not realize that she wants people with 401(k)'s to pay for other people's defined benefit plans?

Her comments only further demonstrate that there is an inability (or perhaps unwillingness) on behalf of some unions to understand the experience of people living in the "real world".

Posted by: Anthony at August 1, 2008 9:05 AM

I only hope that Ms Knapp and folks of her ilk keep commenting - it will only help to increase the groundswell of support for the Governor in his efforts.

Posted by: The Chorus at August 1, 2008 10:01 AM

The unions have a parity clause with all the other teat-suckers on the public dime. Too bad there's no parity clause for the unions based on the what workers (productive sector, to borrow a previouly used, and quite accurately, phrase) in the real world receive.

Posted by: bobc at August 1, 2008 11:50 AM

Which begs the question...

If the unions in this state have a parity clause, why do we need to negotiate with all of them? Shouldn't we be able to negotiate with ONE of them, get the agreement ratified and then yell "PARITY! You all get the same thing. Have a nice day."?

Posted by: Greg at August 1, 2008 12:55 PM

It's sickening every time one of these idiots speaks. Does not one of them read the paper, follow current events or watch television? WE don't have anymore money for you A@%*&^$S to have summers off, 35 hour work weeks, free healthcare etc... etc... I have to go to work every day that I want to get paid. I pay for my healthcare. I support my family very well and have never asked anyone out there to help me do it. If I have to hear one more second of them whining that they have to contribute...dare I say it...10% of their co-pay, I'm going to choke someone. FIRE them all and let them see how good they had it.

Posted by: Bill at August 1, 2008 12:59 PM

I don't get it. If these weren't official talks, then what exactly did the rank and file vote on? Was it a memorandum of understanding? A trial balloon? What?

That statement makes no sense.

Posted by: chuckR at August 1, 2008 3:58 PM
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