What Should A Public Employee Be Paid?

Discussion in 'Economy' started by Madeline, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Madeline
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    Madeline BANNED

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    The capitalist will say "pay them as little as you can and still retain a quality workforce." The statistician will say "what is the cost of living in the community where they live?" The union supporter will say "pay them all that you must to avert strikes."

    Who is right?

    I spent my career in government, and I saw many abuses -- not only people paid far too much, but people paid far too little. I suppose any large organization has these inequities. I also saw benefits most of you can only dream of and that were easily worth at least my entire salary. Early retirement, one year of sick leave, six weeks' vacation, free cadillac health insurance...and on and on and on.

    So, what is fair?

    We start police here in Cleveland at $10.50 an hour in the academy. Our average salary is in the mid-$40's but of course, "average" is a loose term. What are the "top cops" earning? What benefits are police receiving? What overtime are we allowing? I'm going to assume the average real compensation for a uniformed Cleveland police officer is closer to $80k, and with benefits, the compensation package is worth closer to $120k.

    Is that necessary? Well, Cleveland pays less than the national average, but we have no difficulty attracting recruits. Seems to me, the compensation for line staff is likely in line, but I have heartburn over the compensation levels of the "top cops".

    What about Cleveland teachers?

    This is a somewhat different situation. We have a glut of teachers in Ohio. Unlike qualified candidates for the police academy, if God forbid we had to fill every teaching position within the Cleveland School District with new people next year, we could. Interestingly, the average salary paid to our teachers is higher than the one paid to our police, but not by much, and teachers have far fewer opportunities to earn overtime. They make an average salary of $45k. With benefits, that compensation package, I'm going to guess, is worth no more than $65k.

    I think we can all agree that $45k plus benefits is a living wage, at least here in Cleveland. So what's the problem with these unions? Well, for starters, there's realistically no maximum amount a teacher or cop can be paid and we have more'n a few of both making twice the average salary. Do we need $90k teachers in k to 12?

    I say we do not. I say we should have a maximum that a teacher can receive as merit raises and retention raises, etc. and beyond that, they should receive no more than an annual cost of living increase -- if the city can afford one.

    What say you? What should public employees be paid? How would you measure it? Are they paid too little or too much IYO in your area?
     
  2. syrenn
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    Pay them what is fiscally possible. Do not base pay on what the voters want. Do not pay them what the unions want.
     
  3. California Girl
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    Personally, I think it depends on what they do. I don't think anyone can intelligently argue that administrators are as valuable to society as teachers, police, military or fire. Those jobs are vital, and add significant value to society. Other public employees, meh, not so much.
     
  4. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    Pay them in trident gum :)
     
  5. william the wie
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    william the wie Gold Member

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    The test is increasingly the U-haul index. If it costs more to rent a U-haul to move from A to B than B to A then B is the better place to live. Like The Economist's big Mac index the WSJ's U-haul index tells you where the problem is but not what it is. So my question is which side is using U-haul data to prove their case, that is the most likely side to have their facts right.
     
  6. Madeline
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    We do have a brain drain in Ohio, especially in Cleveland, but so far it is not severe enough to create a labor shortage for teachers. Might be for nurses, etc. It's harder to measure that because Cleveland has a world class mega-facility, the Cleveland Clinic, and I'd imagine that attracts candidates.

    Of course these employees should be paid what is fiscally possible -- and I dun think anyone will seriously argue they should be paid so little they are impoverished. But should anyone get rich on the public payroll? Do they need more than adequate salaries plus the greatest benefits package mankind has ever seen?

    Federal employees are a somewhat different matter -- they have different unions and, in theory at least, the federal government can print money. Even so, who here thinks we'd have no more mail delivered if we lowered the current average mail carrier salary from $60k?

    The college your kid attends likely starts its new instructors at $25k. Does anyone see a problem?
     
  7. westwall
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    westwall USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Pay them the equal of what a similar job is paid in the private sector. Here in nevada state workers are paid on average 21% more than a similar worker in the private sector and that does not include deferred comps and other benefits. That is stupid.
     
  8. Two Thumbs
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    Basic pay for basic work, advanced pay for advanced work.

    In Il, the union made sure that everyone got paid enough to buy a new car and own a home in Chicago. Problem with that was the cost of living was 50 - 100% higher than the rest of the state. So people would work there 6 months then transfer to the country side.

    The union made it impossible to enforce common rules, like dress code, and it someone did get fired, you had to be sure it was worth a court date with thier union rep.

    Dereliction was common, promotions based only on seniority.

    It's sad, the system is broken.

    And the filth in Wisconsin are not "doing it for the children,"
     
  9. Toro
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    Toro Diamond Member

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    Investment professionals who work for the government are generally dramatically underpaid compared to what one makes in the private sector.
     
  10. Madeline
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    All professionals employed by the government were underpaid IMO, Toro. Our actuaries "only" made about $250,000 -- and while that may seem like an obscene amount, those are truely rare skills and people who have these credentials can command $500,000 at the zenith of their careers.

    Lawyers were a different case, possibly more akin to a broker. You cannot swing a dead cat and not hit a lawyer, and they started out at about $25k, which is terrible but not out of line with such jobs as ADA, PD, etc. Problem is, they get to $40k or so and top out. A lawyer with 20 years' experience at government law is not such low hanging fruit...but they usually do not leave, so by a capitalist's standard, they are paid "well enough".

    Oddly enough, working for a locality or for the feds pays far better than working for the state did, at least for lawyers.
     

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