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A closing vice

December 8, 2013

This concerns the contract reached by the city Streets and Parks Department’s Union of Williamsport, with a 2 percent raise each year for the next 4 years....

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(63)

mikekerstetter

Dec-10-13 3:10 AM

Capricorn1-"Look at the growth of administration within school districts."

Cap, I agree about administration. But most administrators aren't covered by a union, are they? I've long been a supporter of county wide school districts to cut down on administrative costs.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-10-13 3:05 AM

Cap,

It's not that I don't agree that Government is big and wasteful. And I agree that there is a lot of duplication of services. Our disagreement is in where the blame lies. Far too often the blame gets placed on the unionized government employees and the public perception is that they are sitting around with their feet on the desk refusing to work. That's just not the case. Inefficiencies and duplicate services are caused by bureaucracy far more than any union contract.

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Capricorn1

Dec-09-13 7:27 PM

I guess we can respectfully agree to disagree.

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Capricorn1

Dec-09-13 7:25 PM

So in your mind greed instead of service to country/community has nothing to do with it. It is odd that many liberals (which I know you are not), support big government and place a lot of trust in government, also support government unions. Sorry Mike, my bias is probably a result of working with so many of these union members and witnessing how that system has caused many negative effects. People are human and when they have the luxury of knowing that it is very difficult to get rid of them, they often lose motivation. And say what you want, but a lot of supervisors that I encountered prefer not to bother trying to go through the process of firing someone for poor job performance. That in turn leads to increase manpower required to complete tasks, or government growth. Look at the growth of administration within school districts. Why is that in this world of advanced technology and decreasing enrollment?

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 6:31 PM

Because they don't trust the Government any more than you do perhaps? If you can't trust the Government to do the right thing, do really think that government employees can?

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Capricorn1

Dec-09-13 6:18 PM

In the private sector, 6.9 percent of workers are union members and 7.7 percent are represented by unions. In the public sector, 36.2 percent of workers are union members and 40 percent are represented by a union. Why such a large difference? And public sector membership varies widely by state. NY has the highest at 72% and Mississippi has the lowest at 11%. Pa sits at 50%. And while private sector membership is dwindling, public sector is increasing. Any thoughts Mike? Why do public sector employees feel a greater need to be protected by a union? And please don't bring up NSA spying or other instances that don't directly relate to the protection of government workers. What instances in recent history has forced government workers to increase it's membership?

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 5:22 PM

Capricorn1-"The mere idea that you have to be protected from your own government is in itself troubling. Isn't it the duty of our government to protect it's citizens?"

Think about that statement, Cap. Then think about Obamacare, the NSA spying on us, the various public officials who have gone to jail or had to resign in disgrace. How many times have you questioned if the government was doing the right thing.

When you think about that, ask again why you think public employees might feel the need for a union.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 5:15 PM

Andy, as I pointed out, only 1/3 of public employees are unionized. So why is it you only want a say in what a union employee receives for a raise and benefits?

Let's look at your proposal. You want to vote on all contracts. The Government and the union reach an agreement. A vote is taken in the primary and you vote no. The two sides go back to the table and concessions are made. Now you want to have another election to vote on it again. You vote no again, and back they go into negotiations again and back for another vote. How long does this go on, and how much does it cost for all these elections? That's just for one bargaining unit negotiation. There are many throughout the various governments and departments.

It's just not feasible and it strengthens my opinion that you don't have a firm grasp on how things work in the negotiation process.

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Capricorn1

Dec-09-13 5:12 PM

The military are government employees. They CHOOSE to serve their country, not for the pay and benefits, especially now because they are quickly disappearing. Civil Service employees used to have the same attitude before the explosion of government. It was a profession chosen as a way to serve your country/community. Here's my question, why would anyone working for our government feel they need to have a union to protect them and look out for their best wishes? The mere idea that you have to be protected from your own government is in itself troubling. Isn't it the duty of our government to protect it's citizens? Mike, I have worked with and around MANY government employees at the federal level and I'm here to tell you that the sense of job security that they have has caused an atmosphere of complacency and a lack of motivation for many. It is the system that is at fault and the blame for a lot of waste within government.

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andy33

Dec-09-13 3:02 PM

Mike...try to read what I write...any ..ANY union that derives wages for its employees from tax dollars TAX dollars...should be approved by the employer...the TAXPAYERS...now how do you say these are not the facts?...My comments are not to p!ss you off...just to express my opinion.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 2:25 PM

So, in his mind, it was terrible that Government employees were being given a pension that they, in fact, paid twice as much into, as payment for services rendered, but though nothing about the company he worked for being subsidized with no benefit to the citizens who paid for it.

Most of those who think public employees and their unions are vile think similar to my cousin.

Am I angry? NO!! But I think that public employees take a bad wrap because of those misconceptions and false assumptions.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 2:20 PM

Andy, I haven't denied you the right to your opinion. But I have adamantly told you that your opinion is based on false assumptions and inaccurate information. Yeah, my wife worked as a 'lunch lady' at a local school and has since retired from it. She wasn't covered by a union, made $10/hour after 11 years working part time. She wasn't eligible for health care. The only thing she got was a pension, a whopping $40/month.

I had a discussion on public pensions with a cousin. He thought it terrible that he was 'subsidizing' public employees retirement, even after giving him the facts that the public employee pension in PA are funded by 69% investment income, 21% employee contributions and 10% employer (government) contribution.

Funny thing was that he was working because of millions in state and federal grants given to ACF industries to reopen operations in Milton. Cont'd

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 2:07 PM

I also find it interesting that Carl uses a Liberal FDR quote about 'striking' disrupting government. Well, yeah, a strike is designed to disrupt when the employer refuses to bargain in good faith. But in reality striking is prohibited by most essential Government employees; IE firemen, police, prison employees, etc. Except for the rare Teachers strike, I have not heard of a Government Employee strike. And talking about facts, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 35% of Government employees are covered by a union. So how is it that unions, which only cover just over a third of all Government employees, get so much blame for wage and benefit packages?

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 1:43 PM

So, Carl, what DOES the average streets and parks department worker earn? It was you who claimed they made twice the average median income in Williamsport. I just love it when people use median income to compare wages. "Median' income includes all those part time McDonalds workers, part time Weis Market employees, a whole bunch of kids and college students that work a few hours per week. You tell me that I am wrong in my assessment, but that is the amount the City would pay if they 'privatized' the mechanical or electrician services as a lot of Conservatives call for. But then you think it's perfectly fine to compare that full time electrician and lead mechanic with a bunch of part time low wage earners. If you want to accuse me of using flawed arguments, you shouldn't be playing fast and loose with your own numbers for comparison. You're not talking to someone who doesn't know any better.

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RealAmerican

Dec-09-13 11:23 AM

Andy, insulting Mike's personal life and making a 'strawman argument' make this RealAmerican proud. Always fight dirty when you are losing an argument. Never talk respectfully or bring up relevant evidence as CarlHiller does. I am proud of you

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CarlHiller

Dec-09-13 8:07 AM

Mike while I am all for private sector unions, unions have no place in government. FDR, a strong supporter of private-sector unions, drew a line in the sand when it came to government workers: "Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." The reason in FDR's words "[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable." FDR was not alone in this view, even among organized labor champions, The AFL-CIO's first president, George Meany, believed it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

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CarlHiller

Dec-09-13 7:57 AM

Mike, with all due respect, I always present facts and figures that can be backed up. I will usually tell you where they can even be located and the majority of the time it is governments own figures. You, my friend, seem to react by emotion rather than any logic. I have never been proven wrong on any facts or figures I present, usually when someone disagrees they resort to venomous arguments because rather than having or giving their own facts and figures to back up the argument. The figures you cite in the statement, "garages charge $40 - $80/hour for mechanical services." You forget to subtract the insurances, advertising, building costs, tool costs, and a number of other items which would bring the hourly rate down to a much lower level, same goes for a plumber, an electrician and numerous others. The government union employees have none of these expenses. Your argument holds no water!!

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andy33

Dec-09-13 5:52 AM

sorry....derive....I see others refer to Mikes "union button"....funny, I believe that is a real issue with him...he gets so nasty concerning any reining in of unions..wonder why?

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andy33

Dec-09-13 5:46 AM

Mike....I see YOU ARE back to deny my right to any opinion....I did NOT bash anyone....I know you have a vested interest in organized public service workers..your wife...BUT when you derives your income from tax dollars...the employers [taxpayers] NEED to have a direct say in any wage increase.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 3:48 AM

Capricorn1-"Phil, I agree. But as long as there are unions involved across government agencies, thinning out the herd is very difficult."

Cap, there are a lot of Government Employees who are not represented by unions. Do you know of any contract provision that says you can't lay off unneeded employees? I personally don't.

It's a fallacy that the bureaucracy that keeps too many employees is caused by the labor unions.

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mikekerstetter

Dec-09-13 3:40 AM

underwood-"If we’re not careful we’ll press Mike’s union button."

LOL. That made me laugh.

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RealAmerican

Dec-08-13 9:34 PM

Western China is loaded with natural resources. I meant to say the steel industry in Brazil has been banging since the 70s. Go BJJ. My sub's are banging

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RealAmerican

Dec-08-13 9:32 PM

Steel is just cheaper to produce in India and China. Blame liberal politics if you will. Just remember that our mayor is Republican and so are 6 of 7 our city council members, and the unemployment rate in Willpo is still 12%. Despite business friendly politics.

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RealAmerican

Dec-08-13 9:29 PM

I agree with your first paragraph Gavin but not the second. The steel industry left Williamsport and went to Brazil specifically. Local steelworkers blamed it on the unions like corporate interests have taught them to. Blame big money business interests last. Blame the government and unions first. This is the semantic sleight of hand the elite uses to trick the working class into supporting "trickle down" theory. That's not money trickling down.

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gavinf56

Dec-08-13 7:58 PM

I think one of the things that could be done to reel in the public sector costs would be to increase the retirement requirements to mirror those of the private sector. Now we would have to carve out some special exemptions for those positions that require a certain amount of physical strength, stamina, and agility such as law enforcement and prison guards, but that would only be a small percentage of the public sector workforce.

The demise of the Steel and Auto industries was a direct result of an ever growing amount of capital needed to pay for retiree benefits. This is also causing problems in Greece and Detroit. We do however need to keep our commitment to the current employees who were gaurenteed a certain level of benefits.

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