August 28, 2012

North Kingstown Employees Strike to Maintain Public-Sector Premium

Justin Katz

One question lost in the heat of this school year's example of the annual opening-day labor dispute is: Why should school children pay more for janitorial services than anybody else would?  The practical answer is that parents are very sensitive to the treatment of their children, and that's just one of the points of leverage that public-sector unions have.

According to the North East Independent, writing in July, janitors in North Kingstown used to make $19.47 per hour. Since the school committee voted to switch from the in-house union to the private GCA Services Group, while keeping the same workers, that hourly rate has fallen to $15.17. That's a substantial drop of 22%, and it comes with greatly inferior benefits.  But in Rhode Island's continuing jobs recession and apparent economic decline,  it isn't clear that public-sector jobs, especially in schools, ought to be notably inviolable.

Continue reading on the Ocean State Current...

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

I often think of our janitor, Mr. Brannigan, who let us smoke in the maintenance room. He would also "rescue" the girls "thrown" into the boy's locker room.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 28, 2012 5:11 PM

It just occurred to me that I can't recall a single teacher from that era, but I recall Mr. Brannigan. Are janitors still addressed as "Mr."?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 28, 2012 5:15 PM

"North Kingstown Employees Strike to Maintain Public-Sector Premium"

That's right. (Chris Christie just said, they said we couldn't speak truth to teachers unions.)

Several callers to WHJJ and WPRO this morning invoked fairness in calling for NK not to outsource these jobs.

Fairness. Indeed, let's have it. How is it fair that public employees receive significantly more generous compensation (don't forget the healthcare and pension) than the people who pay for that compensation; aka, the private sector?

Posted by: Monique at August 28, 2012 10:47 PM

Sorry to be semi-o.t. but cannot resist. Great line by Chris Christie just now at the GOP Convention.

"They [Dems] believe in teacher unions. We believe in teachers."

Posted by: Monique at August 28, 2012 10:52 PM

"Privatizing" janitorial services is in furtherance of a principle I believe in "Government shouldn't do anything that can be found in the Yellow Pages".

Hourly rates may seem high, but there are no publicly funded pensions, idiotic "work rules" and you don't deal directly with unions. Margaret Thatcher proved that governments cannot effectively deal with unions, the politics works against them.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 29, 2012 9:54 AM

What I believe a lot of small-government advocates miss is that it isn't necessary to ban public unions. All a state has to do is make them voluntary through right-to-work legislation and much of the membership leaves on its own. Turns out only the most radical in our society actually want to pay the lifetime equivalent of a house downpayment for subpar legal representation, backroom financing of questionable politicians, bad relations with management, outrageous leadership salaries, broken promises about future liabilities, and overwhelmingly negative publicity.

We have great public schools in Virginia. The custodians are great, the teachers are great, and the pay is still great because teachers get to keep all of it instead of having to pay 6-figure union leader salaries and massive campaign contributions against their will.

Posted by: Dan at August 29, 2012 2:16 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.