State Workers Learning About Life in the Private Sector; One Way or Another
Governor Carcieri (via ProJo)
I am fully aware that I am placing the burden of resolving our state’s financial future on the shoulders of our employees….But my responsibility is to the average Rhode Island taxpaying families who put me here. I must act on behalf of all our citizens, and must fix this now for the sake of our children and grandchildren’s future.
And from the Governor’s press release:
State personnel costs have nearly doubled in the last ten years, increasing from $900 million in FY 1998 to a projected $1.6 billion in FY 2008.
According to the Governor, the total benefit cost for an average state employee (making $58,148 per year) will be $51,186 in FY 2008, or 88 percent on top of salary. As a result, the total compensation for an average state employee is $109,334.
By comparison, the average benefit overhead being paid by private companies in New England is 29 percent, or 59 percent lower than what the state is paying. Not taking account of the difference in the length of the workweeks, the average state employee is receiving almost $34,307 more in benefits than those in the private sector.
Referring to this dramatic disparity, Governor Carcieri noted: “This is not fair to average Rhode Island taxpayers. We cannot afford to be that out of line with what is being paid in the real world.”
Unfortunately, state government doesn’t believe it has to live in the real world. Somehow, the belief has crept into the Rhode Island mindset that a State job is a safe job. Never fear, no layoffs will occur. That’s not what happens in the real world, folks. Just ask people who work in the private sector.
Dell to Layoff 8,000 Employees
Motorola Calls In More Layoffs (7,500)
IBM to cut 1,315 jobs in U.S.
Circuit City to Cut More Than 3,500 Jobs
More Ford layoffs
Unfortunately, state union representatives haven’t gone far enough in negotiations. The Governor said (to paraphrase) “to the union reps, negotiation means giving a little bit now for the promise of more in the future; all in an effort to wait it out until I’m outta here.” The Governor has had it with this tactic. So have the taxpayers.
So this is the wake up call. I have compassion for state workers; it doesn’t seem fair. They thought they were all set. But private sector workers learned long ago that the days of working in one place for 30 years are over. In a perfect world, maybe it would be nice to work in a unionized, industrial economy. But we don’t. (In fact, that world didn’t really last that long…)
This is the world we live in. Workers in the private sector deal with these uncertainties every day. Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t take some sort of morbid delight that state workers are now “sharing the misery.” What I’m saying is that they had it good and just didn’t seem to realize it.
And now that the party is over, don’t blame the Governor. He’s been warning about the perils of budgetary inflation since he was elected. Blame the General Assembly who–until this year–have failed to deal seriously with the problem. Or blame the union leaders who wouldn’t budge in negotiations and then went screaming to the media that it’s the Governor who wasn’t playing fair. It’s this same leadership that, time and again, would only reluctantly give an inch–and then only for the promise of getting back a couple more inches down the line. And all they while they failed to do a good job of explaining to the rank and file the economic realities that they and the state faces. It was easier to just blame the Governor.
To forestall this kind of layoff, they should have played it smarter and conceded a few points. You know what they are: privatize pensions, change the medical co-pay/co-share, limit the salary increases. But no. They wanted what they had comin’ and were too stubborn to realize that taking a smaller across, the board hit in the short term would save jobs down line.
Thanks to their bull-headed approach, we have the looming layoffs. But rest assured, the leadership won’t be losing their jobs. Nope, that sacrifice will be paid for by the average state worker.
Just like in the private sector, right?