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Old 09-23-2008, 02:21 PM   #101
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My apologies to everyone else for having lifted this rock.
Absolutely NO apologies necessary, sam! I'm agree with you!
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You mean the fact that a private security guard won't have a union to hide behind to demand their reinstatement when they are fired for misconduct?
I don't know about labor laws in every state, but I do know somewhat about them here in IL. And here, if private security guards don't belong to a union, it's most likely because they don't want to, not because they can't......workers are allowed by labor laws to organize.

Secondly, if you think that unions are simply like trees for people to hide behind, you're somewhat misinformed. Unions are in existence to protect and fight for workers' rights, safety, and well-being. I don't know if you were ever a member of a union, but if you were, and it was in existence merely as tree to hide behind for habitual screw-ups, then you and your fellow union members failed in your duties to elect conscientious and trustworthy people into office to guide your local in the correct direction.

We had such an instance in our local about 20 years ago, when a couple of renegades got elected to office. They had seemed to be good, honest people up to that time, but shortly after they took office things changed drastically. A very short time later the general membership demanded a recall, and the offenders were unanimously ousted from office.....never to hold positions again.

Yeah, I know, I probably come off sounding like a typical union member, spouting the typical union mantras. But that's only because I'm a 3rd generation union member, who has personally benefited my entire life from the efforts and sacrifices of my grandparents', parents', uncles', aunts', and sibling's union involvement......oh yeah.....and my own involvement as well.

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(and now that we've pretty much beaten all the topics in this thread to death.....I'm gonna spend my time reading recipes and making myself hungry!

Besides, I've heard it said that "Arguing on the internet is like competing in the......" Nah...I won't go there! )
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:26 PM   #102
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utrecht I think everyone knows you're not asking for sympathy, it's just an interesting discussion that's evolved into impossible to prove or disprove feelings on compensation for occupations and what aspects of that occupation are cause for it.

I'm not taking news reports about dead cops as evidence on what jobs are riskier I'm just going off what I've read from hard statistics on who punches in and who punches back out alive at the end of the day, with obvious caveat of statistics usually conforming to a purpose of the author.

Regarding security guards that's probably too broad a category to make a comparison on skill level. The guy in the suit wagging his finger at skateboarders at the Beverly Hills shopping plaza is a security guard, but so is the sniper hidden on the hill outside Palo Verde nuclear power plant.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:31 PM   #103
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Also - my wife works for the city as an attorney so I'm not speaking totally from my behind here, although I've been known to do so.

One immediate bennie I see is that her pension contribution in 9% with a 100% match and an assumed interest rate on the virtual pile of money at 8% annually. That's like a 401k on steroids. She also gets 18 days off per year and she's there long enough her generously dispensed unused sick time is starting to convert to vacation time. She also has a 457 plan to supplement the pension.
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:32 PM   #104
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Unions are in existence to protect and fight for workers' rights, safety, and well-being.
Unions ***were*** brought into existence to protect and fight for workers' rights, safety, and well-being. However, in my experience, they ***are*** in existence for various additional reasons that deflect from what should be their primary objective. But I'm just one voice ...
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Old 09-23-2008, 02:59 PM   #105
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Comparing death and injury rates between occupations really doesn't make sense to me. Yes, police work has fewer deaths per capita than other occupations. But what do employers expect of crab fishermen and loggers other than a strong back, strong work ethic, the ability to follow simple instructions and some degree of common sense?
There is a demand for high standards & safety in the high per capita death rates jobs. High rates of death and injury result in higher production costs, insurance costs, training costs etc.

And yes, a logger or fisherman know they are going towards danger when they go to work - they know the dangers involved and have seen it first hand.

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The same goes for your average cabbie or convenience store clerk, with less emphasis on strength and more on the ability to drive or make change. We're not talking about demanding hiring standards here. I bet that most of the employers of people for those occupations don't find themselves without acceptable applicants, or replacements for the ones that don't work out.
If employers have minimal standards it speaks to the danger and physical demands involved in the job. You lower your requirements to a level to which you have a pool of applicants. The higher the danger and more physically focused and demanding the less the formal education you would require.


There are two reasons that I can think of for the sensitivity towards police deaths vs the jobs on the top 10 list.
1. An attack on a policeman is viewed as an attack on society.
2. The news media covers it and personalizes the story as opposed to a truck driver's death that doesn't get covered.

None of this is intended to be derogatory toward police; just some perspective.
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Old 09-23-2008, 03:17 PM   #106
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I think we've established that we are underpaid and have better pension benefits but the entire package is probably on par with the private sector. Why are we still arguing?
I'm definitely not arguing, but I'll restate my point from several pages ago...... Compensation packages linked to longevity and with DBP pensions you lose if you leave or you never qualify for if you join later in life sometimes keep people on the job who should leave and keep people off the job who should be there.

I think govt employees should have compensation packages that allow the agencies to attract and retain qualified, motivated employees who are fully aware of all that the job entails. But I'd like to see fewer barriers to entry for older workers and fewer golden handcuffs.
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Old 09-23-2008, 03:37 PM   #107
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Compensation packages linked to longevity and with DBP pensions you lose if you leave or you never qualify for if you join later in life sometimes keep people on the job who should leave and keep people off the job who should be there.
This is true. But, there is a beneficial flip side as well. A compensation package structured this way does at least two good things as well as the bad ones you cite:
- It encourages a professional civil service. "Civil service" has a bad reputation in many circles, but a professional corps of peopel who stay for a long time has positive attributes. These are people who regulate businesses and apply rules to businesses and people--whiel some crossflow with the private sector is good, a revolving door encouraging folks to come into public service just to make contacts and then leave in order to benefit from these contacts is not a good thing. And, there's a "critical mass" effect: a core of "lifers" can effectively keep an eye on a few possible abusers, but if the "revolving door" crowd gets large enough to be the dominant culture in an agency--watch out.
- It allows the organization to fill unpopular jobs. If you are being compensated based on the whole 30 year enchilada, you know that there will be a few bad jobs/tours along the way and that is part of the contract. If you are being compensated in real-time for the particular job being done, then it's going to be really hard to get folks to take the crappy short-term jobs that need doing. Sure, some folks would do it if there were a bonus or perhaps a prospect of earlier promotion, but having everyone subject to the same "bad deals" does build a sense of shared sacrifice that is important. I think this point is more applicable to military service than civil service, since the assignments are involuntary. I don't know how cops and firefighters are assigned.
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:01 PM   #108
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We do not want a private company in charge of our Police, Fire, Air Traffic Control etc. A Private company is concerned about the bottom line and therefore will cut services in order to increase profits.
Who is "we"?
Air Traffic Control is kind of already in private hands - when you call a Flight Service Station to open your flight plan you are talking to a Lockheed-Martin employee, not a government one. I have not noticed significant differences in service level (most FAA briefers I think got a job offer from Lockheed), but time will tell.
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:02 PM   #109
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if the "revolving door" crowd gets large enough to be the dominant culture in an agency--watch out.
true enough samclem..... but what I'm saying is pay them enough salary, give them enough 403b match and excellent additonal benefits so they stay for what they're getting today. Don't lock them in by forcing them to stay at below competitive salaries today but with the promise of a juicy pension in the future that our kids/grandkids have to pay for. I agree that an experienced workforce is good. But why lock in 5% - 10% - X% who are burned out and if they could take their pension with them, they'd go do something else? Teachers are a great example.
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- It allows the organization to fill unpopular jobs. If you are being compensated based on the whole 30 year enchilada, you know that there will be a few bad jobs/tours along the way and that is part of the contract. If you are being compensated in real-time for the particular job being done, then it's going to be really hard to get folks to take the crappy short-term jobs that need doing. Sure, some folks would do it if there were a bonus or perhaps a prospect of earlier promotion, but having everyone subject to the same "bad deals" does build a sense of shared sacrifice that is important. I think this point is more applicable to military service than civil service, since the assignments are involuntary. I don't know how cops and firefighters are assigned.
Again, good point. But I still have my concern that the demographics of the country are changing to an older average age and we need to be able to competitively recuit 45 yr olds into govt service. A 45 yr old isn't going to be that impressed with a DBP pension you need to have a lot of years into to be valuable. But he/she might take note of an attractive starting salary and a portable pension plan with a nice match that he/she could roll his/her existing 401k into.

No doubt there are pluses and minuses to any compensation approach. The issues you bring up and valid. I'd just like to see us pay people what they're worth in a competitive labor environment and be more agile in human capital resource allocation......meaning fewer barriers to entry and fewer golden handcuffs. And paying for things now, not putting them on the tab for our kids/grandkids sounds good too.
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:26 PM   #110
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Who is "we"?
Air Traffic Control is kind of already in private hands - when you call a Flight Service Station to open your flight plan you are talking to a Lockheed-Martin employee, not a government one. I have not noticed significant differences in service level (most FAA briefers I think got a job offer from Lockheed), but time will tell.

A Flight Service Station is a far cry from an Air Traffic Control Tower. All major Air Traffic Control in the US is done at through Federal Employees. There are some low-activity towers that are mostly "visual flight rules" that are privatized but where it counts it is Federal.
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Old 09-23-2008, 05:53 PM   #111
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IMHO, unions deserve much of the bashing they get. But, apparently, non-union entities, such as investment banks, are just as guilty of greed and short-sightedness.

I'm an equal opportunity basher...
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:56 PM   #112
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If your local vol. firefighters really wanted to get paid; they should ask for it and if they don't get what they want they should stop working. Your taxes might go up, but your home insurance might go down some. I don't think you should begrudge them the money.

I pay for the police and firefighters through my taxes.
oh, no, absolutely no begrudging here. my intent was to say to help vol firefighters all you can.
my town is too small (1/2 blink at best) to support a municipal fire dept, hence the volunteers. these folks are unbelievable!
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Old 09-23-2008, 06:57 PM   #113
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I'm definitely not arguing, but I'll restate my point from several pages ago...... Compensation packages linked to longevity and with DBP pensions you lose if you leave or you never qualify for if you join later in life sometimes keep people on the job who should leave and keep people off the job who should be there.

I think govt employees should have compensation packages that allow the agencies to attract and retain qualified, motivated employees who are fully aware of all that the job entails. But I'd like to see fewer barriers to entry for older workers and fewer golden handcuffs.
I could argue the other side of that and say that we were better off when the private sector had DBP. At least that way people are forced to save for retirement since their pension contributions arent voluntary. The country would be alot better off if people were forced to save for the future.

As far as fewer barriers to entry for older workers, Im sure that would be fine for alot of occupations but not for law enforcement. There is no private sector counterpart for most law enforcement work so theres no way to get the experience you would need. An engineer could work in the private sector and then go to work for the govt at age 45, but that wont work for cops.

I mean , sure, you can change careers and start in police work at age 45, but you have to start at the bottom since theres just about no place in the private sector that you couldve gained the experience needed to be on a level playing field with a 20 year police veteran and expect to make the same pay and have the same responsibilites as him.
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Old 09-23-2008, 07:01 PM   #114
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I don't think the pay rate should be focused on danger, but on whether you want corruption with police or the firefighter to charge into your house to save your life. My bet, when their houses are burning people don't care how much the firefighter is paid. That's what you pay for...insurance that when you need them you are getting the best.

I want to know that the cops on the street are not corrupt and I will get a fair shake. Paying them well goes a long way to getting the best...cheap out on the pay and suffer the consequences.
Pay me more or I go criminal on you.

Nice!
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Old 09-23-2008, 07:35 PM   #115
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As far as fewer barriers to entry for older workers, Im sure that would be fine for alot of occupations but not for law enforcement.
That makes sense utecht. Law enforcement, along with military, I think would have to be an exception to workers entering a career field later in life. Still, you wouldn't have to have pensions be the barrier. Just leave the rules the way they are now with maximum age limitations for new applications. But make pensions portable so folks can come and go bring/taking their pensions with them.

Or, law enforcement and fire protection could have separate pension rules allowing for earlier retirement due to the nature of the work. This would be for the front line folks only, not support personnel.
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Old 09-23-2008, 08:19 PM   #116
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We can take our pensions with us right now. If I work 13 years and then at age 36 decide to go sell insurance, I still get my 13 years worth of pension benefits. As long as I dont draw it before Im 50, I dont get penalized at all.

If a guy starts his law enforcement career at 37 and retires at 50, he has the same 13 years of service and gets the exact same amount of pension that I do.
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Old 09-23-2008, 09:39 PM   #117
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Off topic, with no attempt to hijack - can one of the cops in this discussion please tell me if those really bright flashing ights that many police have mounted inside the top of the front windshield is distracting to you when driving in an emergency? Does it not reflect to cause a seizure inducing fit? It seems those things are brighter than ever (it looks like they're using LED technology now) that would drive me nuts.

As an off topic to my off topic, what's with the trend of police having fully marked police cars with no roof lights just the ones inside the windshield like that?

Thanks, back to fisherman and pensions.
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Old 09-24-2008, 05:02 AM   #118
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Off topic, with no attempt to hijack - can one of the cops in this discussion please tell me if those really bright flashing ights that many police have mounted inside the top of the front windshield is distracting to you when driving in an emergency? Does it not reflect to cause a seizure inducing fit? It seems those things are brighter than ever (it looks like they're using LED technology now) that would drive me nuts.

As an off topic to my off topic, what's with the trend of police having fully marked police cars with no roof lights just the ones inside the windshield like that?

Thanks, back to fisherman and pensions.
The lights are "shaded" to prevent them from bouncing back into the car. This keeps all of the light going out not in.

Many departments in my area use the no lights thing for the traffic and supervisor cars. It keeps the supervisors from being waived over for stupid stuff and keeps the traffic cars from being noticed at a great distance.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:53 AM   #119
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As far as fewer barriers to entry for older workers, Im sure that would be fine for alot of occupations but not for law enforcement. There is no private sector counterpart for most law enforcement work so theres no way to get the experience you would need. An engineer could work in the private sector and then go to work for the govt at age 45, but that wont work for cops.
If there was no counterpart in the private sector, how can a comparison in compensation be made between the private sector and public sector?
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Old 09-24-2008, 08:11 AM   #120
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If there was no counterpart in the private sector, how can a comparison in compensation be made between the private sector and public sector?
You can't. There is nothing to compare it to. It's all about attracting the right people and keeping them.
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