Hop on board the public employee union special

File in the annals of how public employee unions and weak-willed and corrupt politicians are spending us into penury:
Madison's highest paid city government employee last year wasn't the mayor. It wasn't the police chief. It wasn't even the head of Metro Transit.

It was bus driver John E. Nelson.

Nelson earned $159,258 in 2009, including $109,892 in overtime and other pay.

He and his colleague, driver Greg Tatman, who earned $125,598, were among the city's top 20 earners for 2009, city records show.

They're among the seven bus drivers who made more than $100,000 last year thanks to a union contract that lets the most senior drivers who have the highest base salaries get first crack at overtime.

And there was a lot of overtime - $1.94 million last year, $467,200 more than the bus system budgeted for and the most ever for the system - as employees exhausted sick leave and took advantage of unpaid leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act, officials said.

The federal government has been bailing out out state and city governments via the stimulus bill and other measures. We should not federalize this problem. States that are prudent - and citizens that are prudents - hould not be held liable for the debts of the fiscally irresponsible and venal politicians who pay off campaign debts to unions who support them by abusing taxpayers.

Wisconsin is just one example of greedy government unions placing the gold-plated contracts and retirement and health benefits of their members over the interests of taxpayers. Taxpayers who worry over their own budgets, their kids futures and their own retirements should make these demands on their politicians: publicize all salaries of all public employees, along with their benefit and retirement packages; have an independent study show how these compare to similar jobs in the private sector; insist that all future contracts that provide for retirement benefits require large employee contributions and be of the defined contribution type (as opposed to defined benefit, where future obligations are set in stone and become legally enforceable, regardless of how the investments that back these pensions fare).

Furthermore, these employees almost never lose their jobs. That job security should be worth something in and of itself.

In other words, treat public employees as private employees are treated.

Many of our deficit problems are caused by these sorts of sweetheart deals. They are a form of generational theft (because our kids needs are sacrificed to pay for these benefits) that sacrifice the future generations well-being for the sake of very well-compensated public employees.


File in the annals of how public employee unions and weak-willed and corrupt politicians are spending us into penury:

Madison's highest paid city government employee last year wasn't the mayor. It wasn't the police chief. It wasn't even the head of Metro Transit.

It was bus driver John E. Nelson.

Nelson earned $159,258 in 2009, including $109,892 in overtime and other pay.

He and his colleague, driver Greg Tatman, who earned $125,598, were among the city's top 20 earners for 2009, city records show.

They're among the seven bus drivers who made more than $100,000 last year thanks to a union contract that lets the most senior drivers who have the highest base salaries get first crack at overtime.

And there was a lot of overtime - $1.94 million last year, $467,200 more than the bus system budgeted for and the most ever for the system - as employees exhausted sick leave and took advantage of unpaid leave through the federal Family Medical Leave Act, officials said.

The federal government has been bailing out out state and city governments via the stimulus bill and other measures. We should not federalize this problem. States that are prudent - and citizens that are prudents - hould not be held liable for the debts of the fiscally irresponsible and venal politicians who pay off campaign debts to unions who support them by abusing taxpayers.

Wisconsin is just one example of greedy government unions placing the gold-plated contracts and retirement and health benefits of their members over the interests of taxpayers. Taxpayers who worry over their own budgets, their kids futures and their own retirements should make these demands on their politicians: publicize all salaries of all public employees, along with their benefit and retirement packages; have an independent study show how these compare to similar jobs in the private sector; insist that all future contracts that provide for retirement benefits require large employee contributions and be of the defined contribution type (as opposed to defined benefit, where future obligations are set in stone and become legally enforceable, regardless of how the investments that back these pensions fare).

Furthermore, these employees almost never lose their jobs. That job security should be worth something in and of itself.

In other words, treat public employees as private employees are treated.

Many of our deficit problems are caused by these sorts of sweetheart deals. They are a form of generational theft (because our kids needs are sacrificed to pay for these benefits) that sacrifice the future generations well-being for the sake of very well-compensated public employees.


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