A Finger Here, a Finger There
I’ve been meaning to note the chutzpa of retired state employee Robert Davis’s recent letter to the Providence Journal:
Why is The Journal so preoccupied with the money that state workers make?
Recent articles have explored who is the highest-paid state worker and how much overtime is being paid, as if the state workers were the ones at fault for Rhode Island’s financial trouble.
Here’s a suggestion: Why not look into how much the bond issues that voters approve every election are costing the taxpayers?
Last election, they approved about $200 million in bond issues without blinking an eye. Most voters didn’t even know what they were approving. They just looked at that title in big letters and said, “That sounds good; I’ll approve that!”
We’ve had this discussion before (in part in the comments to the posts linked here), but the bond issues do so well because they often are good ideas and often seem to be the sorts of things that government ought to do (such as road infrastructure work). The reason I refuse to vote for them out of principle is that I get the impression that the government gives away all of its revenue to special interests — notably unions and the poverty industry — and then comes back to the taxpayers for more in order to pay for things that ought to be central to its budget.
By contrast, the pill of public labor has the distinct flavor of utter waste, as Arlene Violet described a few weeks ago:
Another contributor to overtime is the staffing minimums in contracts. When there’s a call for a rescue, many firefighters’ contracts require a fire engine to accompany the call complete with four firefighters. Think about that for a moment. Why is a fire truck going to a call? …
At the Adult Correctional Institutions, a guard cannot be called from another building to compensate for staff shortages in a facility. Other guards have to be called in, even if they haven’t put in their full work week yet. The “call in” triggers overtime. So on Monday, a correctional officer not scheduled to begin work until Tuesday night gets time and a half if he goes in on Monday. The warden can’t jigger schedules to avoid more than 35 hours per week. …
Out in the private sector if you are a boss you are management. Your salary already reflects your responsibilities and the fact that you work extra hours. Allen LeBeau makes $88,537.72 in base pay as a supervising nurse at Eleanor Slater Hospital. He piled on $126,000-plus in overtime, apparently because he’s on call! Psychiatrists earning six figures get overtime. Their counterparts in the real world get peanuts for answering calls outside of working hours. Quite plainly, if someone is in management or professional staff there should be no overtime. Period.
Another poor practice is employees getting called in for overtime based on seniority. Politicians have dealt away management rights. When overtime is necessary, the boss cannot call in workers at the lower pay levels but must call in the higher paid people. Even a rotation of overtime among employees would help stem costs.