Two reports from unlikely sources suggest that the public is beginning to wake up to the lavish compensation our government workers enjoy.
USA Today (August 10) has divulged the fact that federal employees’ average compensation (salary, bonuses, pensions, healthcare, etc.) is now more than twice the average for workers in private industry. As of last year, federal workers averaged $123,000 in total compensation, compared to $61,000 for private workers. This disparity has grown during the last decade: total compensation for federal workers has increased nearly 37% since 2000, while for private workers it has risen less than 9%.
When this report hit, public employee union spokeswhores immediately put out the claim that federal workers have higher education and training. Yeah, right. As if postal workers, airport screeners, and ag department bureaucrats are all Ph.Ds.
The second story comes from an even more unlikely source, The New York Times (August 26). It notes that across the nation, cities have cut such services as policing and fire protection, because of budget shortfalls caused by the rapidly increasing costs of the pensions and health benefits that past public employees are receiving.
In particular, fire departments are starting to cut back on personnel and firehouses, and instituting “rolling brownouts” in which firehouses are closed on different days. The president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Harold Schaitberger, says that he’s “never seen it so widespread.”
The story recounts (in typical Times style) the death of a two-year-old San Diego boy, Bentley Do, who choked to death less than a block away from a fire station that happened to be shuttered that day. (San Diego has hovered near bankruptcy for a number of years because of the costs of public employees.)
Cities are reporting that they are forced to cut services because the public employee unions are absolutely unwilling to make any concessions concerning the lavish pay and benefits their members receive. Certainly the aforementioned union president has said that his number one priority this year is to protect the pensions his members have won.
This all prompts the question of why the public allows public employees to unionize in the first place.