The Cocoon in which Entitled State Employees Live

There was a government worker union rally held yesterday in Providence, but this wasn’t your father’s or grandfathers mill worker union rally, folks. This rally was for members of public service employee unions: state employees, teachers, firemen, police, etc., supported by taxes and rather ungrateful for it. Here are just a couple things that were said:

At times, the rally got downright nasty. Scott Malloy, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, said he was sick of “the rich” pushing unions around “in order to bring down the taxes of the wealthy.” He called the governor “that shifty bum.”
Stan Israel, vice president of District 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, called Carcieri a “liar and a cheat.”
But for the most part, the unions told stories about the work they do.
Pat Mancini, a registered nurse at the Rhode Island Veterans Home, said: “I am proud to stand up and say I am a public employee.”
“I am tired of hearing this myth about the virtue of the private sector,” she added, naming a string of troubled companies. “We do the work the private sector can’t do or won’t do.”

Apparently, Prof. Malloy’s definition of “the rich” extends to many of us firmly ensconced in the middle class. Of course, it wouldn’t have served his class-warfare rhetoric to admit that non-public employee “working” Rhode Islanders are the ones getting fed up with the self-righteous proclamations of those whose salaries are paid through taxes.
As for Mancini’s comments, the reason the private sector can’t or won’t do those jobs is because they haven’t been allowed (charter schools, for instance, have been severely restricted and demonized by the same unions) or because it would require that they hire union members and thus wouldn’t be cost effective enough for a private company to make a go. Both err if they think that they can gain the high ground by belittling those who ultimately pay their wages: the taxpayer, both individual and corporate. (Before I go on, I will say that I have much more tolerance for the demands of policmen and firemen than I do for the average public union employee, like crossing guards or the average hack. The former put their lives on the line and deserve generous benefits for the risks they take. The latter don’t perform a service that requires any unique skill-set.)
You see, only the state can “afford” to pay public union employees the benefits and wages they now enjoy. Of course, public service union members seem to forget that it’s not the government’s money that they are getting. It’s the taxpayers’. And the taxpayers are beginning to compare their flatlined 401k and their Health care plan that requires, on average, a 23% co-pay with such things as the relatively early retirement and comensurate good benefits, guaranteed raises and no health care co-pay enjoyed by public employees. Then, as if the disparity wasn’t enough, they are confronted with the complaints of the government union members; the whining that by being asked to make a health care co-pay or to modify their retirement scheme they are being “disrespected”; calling the reform-minded governor a “liar and cheat”; their sense of entitlement and their over-inflated sense of importance.
Taxpayers support the governor, the treasurer, reform-minded legislators and school committees that have asked for sensible solutions to alleviate the high tax burden already carried by many. For this, we are accused of being disrespectful towards government union workers and are confronted with demands that would result in the tax burden going up.
Well, I’ve had it. I feel like I’m being disrespected by the unions who think I’m wealthy enough to continue to support a salary and benefit structure much more generous than the one I enjoy. They obviously don’t value my well-being and that of my family enough. Every tax dollar they extract from “government” is, in reality, extracted from the pockets of taxpayers, including me. That’s less money for me to put food on the table, clothing on the backs of my kids and to pay medical co-pays when they are sick or need medicine. It means less time that I can spend with them as I work longer to pay for the car that just broke down or to fix the pipes or to make sure the heating bill gets paid. It means that I won’t be retiring at 58 or 60 because I won’t have been able to put enough into my 401k, which is inherently “riskier” than a pension fund, because instead of putting in 12-15% of my salary a week I only put in 6% (all un-matched) because I have bills to pay. The money and benefits the unions thumb their noses at and claim are disrespectful don’t come from the government. They come from me, the average Joe taxpayer, who would jump at the chance to get such a deal. Instead, I get insulted. I am sick of my future being lessened or sacrificed so that those of ungracious government union employees can be better. I’m sick of being taken for granted.

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Andrew
Editor
16 years ago

Good post, Marc, especially the part about charter schools.

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MICHAEL TINKER
MICHAEL TINKER
16 years ago

I WAS SORRY NOT TO BEABLE TO MAKE THE RALLY AT THE STATE HOUSE ON JUNE 1 I WAS AT A CLASS UP IN PAWTUCKET. I HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL TO BEABLE TO FEED MYSELF AND MY TWO CHILDREN. EVERYBODY THINKS SENSE I WORK FOR THE STATE I HAVE THIS GREAT JOB. I HAVE NOT HAD A RAISE IN THREE YEARS THE GOVERNOR WANTS TO TAKE AWAY MY HEALTH CARE AND EVEN TAKE MY PENSION AWAY FROM ME. SENSE DECEMBER OF THIS YEAR I HAD TO GIVE MY CHILDREN BACK TO THERE MOMS BECAUSE I COULD NOLONGER TAKE CARE OF THEM. I COULD NOT PAY THE DAY CARE BILL EVERYWEEK, I WAS HAVING TROUBLE PAYING MY RENT. I COULD GO ON AND ON SO YOU PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT THINK US STATE WORKERS MAKE ALOT OF MONEY WORKING FOR THE STATE ARE CRAZY. IT MAKES ME VERY UPSET THAT I CANT HAVE MY CHILDREN WITH ME. SO MR GOVERNOR YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO US. MICHAEL TINKER

Marc Comtois
16 years ago

Michael, Thanks for the comment, however I think you are confused if you believe that the governor is trying “to take away my health care and even take my pension away.” That is simply not true. Instead, as we have pointed out numerous times, he wants you to contribute to your own health care premium as most of the rest of the working people do and he wants to reform the state pension, not do away with it. (By the way, this is something that the Democrat State Treasurer Paul Tavares and even some Democrat legislators say needs to be done). As far as your personal situation regarding your children, you are first to be congratulated for going to school. As you state, it will help you feed your kids and will, presumably, enable you to make more money. However, this is something people who don’t work for the state deal with all the time. Plus they have the added burden of paying around 25% of the health care premium and they rely on a 401k, rather than a guaranteed pension, for their retirement. The bottom line is that the taxpaying public, those who ultimately pay your wages, is tired of government employees getting a better deal than that which seems comensurate with the jobs they could perform in the private sector. However, you seem to intimate that a state job is not all that it’s cracked up to be. If that is indeed the case, then why not look for something in the private sector? If it is because your job skills are too narrow to be applied in the private sector, then I guess it is understandable. Yet, if that’s not the case, then I’d encourage you to seek other, more satisfactory and higher paying employment outside of… Read more »

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