Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bell to bell and the morality of employee pay cuts...

With many Delaware teachers now working Bell to Bell as the DSEA attempts to make a point about the inequity of across-the-board State employee pay cuts, the blog and public reactions are mixed:

Dana stands with the teachers at Delaware Watch.

The mostly anonymous commenters at Fix Red Clay mostly think the teachers have pretty good jobs and are acting like spoiled brats.

There is no party line at Delawareliberal: some for, some against, some confused.

It is interesting to see many supposedly pro-union folks (with Dana as a notable exception) suddenly willing to throw the DSEA under the school bus, and who mouth the narrative so easily: Things are tough all over, you ingrates. Other people have had to take pay cuts. Man up, you wimps. [I'm sort of channeling my inner jason here.]

What is truly intriguing about this situation is the absence of any real consideration of the morality of the situation.

For example, the operative moral impulse here is, Treating employees like shit in the private sector justifies treating employees like shit in the public sector.

There's also, If my health insurance either got cut or is too expensive in the private sector, then it is OK to jack up the price of yours by 50%.

Or there's It is perfectly OK to demand the same amount of work (including extra hours and extra effort worked) for 10-12% less money, even though you had a contract, because things are tough all over.

Notice the position that the government puts you into: the Governor has told the citizens of Delaware that they can balance the budget by accepting a few minor tax increases and an across-the-board salary/benefits cut for State employees.

No pain, right?

On the other hand, here's the DSEA position: We got out the vote for you, which should have given us insurance against any significant pay cuts. What gives?

What's also interesting is the wounded virgin played by the Governor and General Assembly: We had absolutely no idea it was going to get this bad. We're just trying to survive a horrible situation with State services [and gambling] intact.

Amazing, isn't it? These are the people who either supervised Delaware's finances, wrote the tax laws, and expanded government personnel dramatically over the past eight years, and suddenly, suddenly .... they're surprised!

But could we think about different ways of doing things? Could we examine the idea that maybe, just maybe the closed doors of the Big Head Committee, the spending habits of the government and the school districts could use a little ... transparency?

Apparently not.


Anonymous said...

"These are the people who either supervised Delaware's finances, wrote the tax laws, and expanded government personnel dramatically over the past eight years, and suddenly, suddenly .... they're surprised!"

I try to make a similar point every chance I get over at Delaware Liberal, especially regarding Markell's last decade as a state employee. Usually they attempt to distance him from the past *eight years* (or ten), by saying he wasn't part of the problem (Minner administration).


Anonymous said...

Not sure, but I thought liberals liked unions :) The folks at DL just don't get the angst over the pay cut.
"by saying he wasn't part of the problem "

As of right now, I'm considering him part of the problem. Was kind of nice to hear Al this AM on WDEL raise some valid points about this

MArk H

Unknown said...

Any resolution to the state's budget woes has to spread the pain as widely as possible. Moreover, any state expenditure cuts need to take into account resultant job losses.

Therefore, 8% pay cut to state employees does not cut it!

Nor do massive cuts in state expenditures that cause huge job losses.

Nor does the introduction of a state sales tax which impacts middle and lower income families the most, unless the imposed state sales tax is configured to avoid taxing necessities, a difficult thing to do. Besides, having no state sales tax draws in out of state shoppers, including the summer tourists.

Temporarily increasing the state income tax, and adding a more progressive feature to it, is the fairest way to generate significant revenue. Granted, this would temporarily slow down economic expansion, but this is a temporary price we would have to pay because of a greater need for revenue at this moment in time.

Perry Hood

Paul said...

Now that times are bad, people are saying "I lost my job, so state employees should be happy they only get an 8% cut", or "Times are rough, so they should be happy with the pay cut."

Where were all of these people when times were good? I don't remember anyone posting "I just got a huge raise and a bonus in the private sector, so I think all teachers deserve a nice sized raise to be fair."

The government can't balance the budget on the backs of a single demographic, and thats what its doing. First, the numbers thrown around for salaries always talk about the average salary. I'd be more interested in the median salary. That will do a better job showing how it will effect the common state worker. Secondly, does anyone really believe an 8% pay cut is the way to go? How does this go towards eliminating Delaware's long term financial problems? Cuts will have to be made to services and/or departments, or consilidation of administration. Cutting 8% of the workforce that isn't essential (or in some cases really needed at all), is much better than punishing good employees to keep the bad or unnecessary ones employed.

In education, the amount of regulation passed by the State Legislature has lead to an increased bureaucracy at the Department of Education, which travels down to individual school districts as more manadates and paperwork. These mandates and paperwork lead to the creation of new jobs that do not directly impact the students. Cut back on the regulation, cut the positions put in place to oversee those regulations, and the average student's education will not change, but the budget would be improved.

Mike Protack said...

Our budget is 46% personnel costs so there has to be an adjustment to lower those costs.

It would be better to pursue buy outs, early retirements and leaves of absences.

Pay cuts are touchy, I took a 38% cut and lost my pension 4 years ago. Still, there should be room for negotiation in Dover to preclude action in the classroom.

Mike Protack

Anonymous said...

Cut state spending.
Cut subsistence allowances by 10%
Cut state welfare programs 10%
Cut breakfast and lunch 10%
Cancel the summer breakfast and lunch programs altogether.

Furlough 10% of the student population.
Release 10% of the prisoners. At least save on food.
Turn off every 10th light.
Use 9 of 10 computers at a time.
Reduce medicines by 10%.

Share the problem 10 % for everyone.

Why be selective? Prejudiced?
Prioritized? and Privileged?

Cut, cut cut!