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?