Crossing Up Cicilline

So, Providence Mayor Cicilline thinks he’s made quite a deal with the Providence Crossing Guard union because he negotiated down the hourly wage of new guards from $16.95 to $11.20. The truth of the matter is that guards are guaranteed a four hour work day, so it is essentially a 20 hour, $224/week salaried position. This is to make sure the kids cross the street and the cars stop. Providence, Cranston and Warwick are the only cities in the state that pay crossing guards. The efforts, and results, of Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey against the Cranston crossing guards are well-known, and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian made a deal last year that was more than this taxpayer could accept. The Providence deal doesn’t strike me as any sort of “deal”:

  • Taxpayer-funded free health care for life for all crossing guards with 10 years’ service.
  • A guaranteed four hours of “work” a day — though only part of that time is spent supervising children crossing streets — letting guards rack up a total of 20 hours a week and thus be eligible for city pensions. The guards will use up the extra time by patrolling schools and doing whatever principals tell them to do, said John Simmons, the mayor’s director of administration.
  • Protection against privatization of the crossing-guard program (Cranston discovered that private companies were willing to deliver the service at a much lower cost). The contract stipulates that layoffs cannot exceed 10 percent of the workforce.
  • Minuscule co-pays for health insurance. Crossing guards would pay only .006 percent of their base salary for an individual program, and .0138 percent of their salary for a family program. Do the math: If their annual salary is about $8,006, they would pay $48 a year for the individual plan. (But at least the city got its foot in the door by requiring some co-pay!)
  • Free dental coverage.
  • Extra money if they don’t participate in the health plan — say, because a spouse on the public payroll already gets free coverage. Crossing guards would get $750 a year for declining the individual plan.
  • Another $8 a day from the taxpayers, to go into a fund to pay for drug prescriptions, vision care and “wellness” benefits.
  • Another $8 a day per guard to go into the Laborers’ pension fund.
  • An extra $1.20 per day per guard to go into a Laborers’-connected legal fund.
  • Time off, with pay, for three crossing guards to engage in union negotiations.
  • Paid vacations.

Look, I don’t mean to attack the individual crossing guards: they can’t be blamed for wanting a good deal. Nonetheless, these are the types of agreements that add up to create the huge government/union Shelob, never sated, always hungry and always happy when the political Gollums bring her another juicy morsel of taxpayer money. Until taxpayers start taking elected officials to task, by either voicing their complaints or kicking the Gollums out of office, Shelob will engorge herself and continue to grow, ever looking for more.

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