01/04/11 104 W - + 2 - 2 Public Workers, Public Salaries, Public Reactions

Here's another interesting article, this time from the New York Times. Public outrage as public employee salaries and benefits stay large as budgets get small. The story's not necessarily targeted at public safety employees. And it talks much about unions and their impact in the issue. We reside in a non-union state, so it's a bit of apples to oranges. But it's an interesting issue for discussion. How do you keep the citizens supportive of salaries and benefits (as well as other budget expenses), as revenues drop or stay dropped in these turbulent economic times? Discuss as desired.

First, you have to remember that you’re talking an environment up there that is very different than Raleigh. Unions have been running cities for decades; the relationship between the unions and politicians are pretty strong. It’s easy to give away citizens’ tax money in return for political support.

But how do you keep the citizens supportive?

1. Give great customer service, so the citizens support you BEFORE the crisis comes.

2. Be reasonable. Don’t demand raises when nobody in the private sector is getting raises.

3. Share the pain. Wake County employees are in their third year without a raise.

Historically, public employees did jobs that were considered “undesireable” by many people becuase they were dangerous (law enforcement, firefighting), dirty (trash collection, sewer maintenance)or otherwise undesireable. They were also low-skill and low pay. To get people to take the jobs, they offered instead good benefits and lifetime economic security (retirement).

Like many good things, it got out of hand. In many places public employees do the same work as folks in the private sector, get paid the same or better, and still get the better benefit package.

Citizens don’t like to see that waved in their faces.
SkipK - 01/04/11 - 19:42

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