Dependence on Corruption
Not to belabor the conversation about high-priced union executives, but certain aspects highlighted in our comment section point directly toward one of Rhode Island’s major problems.
As Marc mentioned, yesterday, the head of Local 1033 of the Laborers’ International Union, representing 900 municipal workers, Donald Iannazzi, makes $265,870. It’s worth pointing out that the city’s charter caps the salary of the mayor of Providence at $125,000. That is, the system by which Providence operates allocates more than twice as much money for the salary of an employee representative than for the person who has the responsibility of running the organization for which those employees work.
Moreover, the current mayor, Angel Tavares, gave himself a 10% pay cut. That’s certainly relevant to attempts by commenter Russ to distract with comparisons of high-priced CEOs in private industry. Most private companies make their money by developing, manufacturing, or processing something. As obscene as some executives’ compensation packages may be (and as representative of the need to increase other organizations’ ability to compete as it is), the comparative pay of the CEO and the general workforce has to be considered relative to the value and profitability of the product.
In a labor union’s case, the “product” is, in large part, the pay of the general workforce. So, it’s a bit more egregious for the union leaders to coast along with their fortunes as workers give concessions. And to the extent that labor leaders are responsible for the broader well-being of their employees, they should have been the ones demanding full accounting of the pension system and, in Providence specifically, evidence that the city was in good health.
Now throw in Iannazzi’s job swapping with fellow Laborers’ International administrator and RI Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio. Ruggerio’s son works for Iannazzi, and now Iannazzi’s son pulls in $88,112 at the age of 25 as a “special assistant” to Ruggerio. For all of the talk about classes that union members foment, that’s precisely what Iannazzi and Ruggerio represent: An insider class to whom economic reality does not apply.
They get away with it, though, because as Michael exemplifies with his tangential comment to Marc’s post, too many people are reliant on the corrupt system. If they aren’t enraptured with talk of unique rights and battle with corporate big-wigs, caught up in sweeping rhetoric that they must take an ever greater portion of taxpayer dollars in order to stand as the last bulwark of the middle class, they are dependent on union vein-tapping and persuaded that, but for the union, they’d be working for free.