For example, average workers ruin the economy?


The Sacremento Bee has forwarded this story (h/t reader Denis)

The unionized government work force has roughly 200,000 or so employees represented by 12 labor organizations. It’s a vast, diverse group ranging from custodians to doctors, clerks to engineers. And don’t forget non-union managers.

All get different contract deals with varying terms. In a given year, one group might get, say, a 5 percent bump while another gets nothing.

So let’s look at one big group, Service Employees Local 1000, which represents 95,000 state employees.

Last year it took $1.60 to buy what it cost a dollar to purchase in 1991, according to the CPI. Meanwhile, Local 1000 employees’ cumulative salary increases over the same period added about 30 cents to that 1991 dollar.

To be fair, Local 1000 members who are in highly demanded professions, such as nursing, have gained more raises. But those exceptions aside, the union’s cumulative raises last year trailed inflation by about 50 percent.

Then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered two furlough days for nearly all state workers. In July, he added a third, a roughly 14 percent pay reduction.

Now Local 1000 wages are back down to where they were five years ago, about 15 cents above that 1991 dollar.

Of course, inflation hasn’t taken any furlough days, so the union’s wages now trail the CPI by about 77 percent.

From one perspective, this is wonderful news that a bloated bureaucracy is getting serious about cutting back. Pensions next?

But if it’s your check that’s shrinking, it’s a disaster.

The California government fiscal patterns deserve severe criticism, but hardly on the backs of average workers who are also unionized. And wage negotiations have hardly been driven by unrealistic wage demands. Of course, something keeps people there…it is worse in other regions, and other regions of the US can hardly accept an exodus of workers at this point either.