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Old 04-26-2011, 10:49 AM   #41
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To attract and keep the best, good pay and benefits are necessary but not sufficient. Employers also have to have a rigorous selection process to hire the right folks, and be ready to "un-hire" them efficiently so another applicant can move in. Throwing more money at a present batch of mediocre employees (regardless of the job) will not make them better, and if they've got effective lifetime employment guarantees and advancement based on seniority rather than performance, then higher pay is just wasted.
I'm all for dedicated skilled employees and that means continual assessment, and seniority as a basis for employment being abandoned. I don't get the drive to reduce pay and benefits though. True performers will welcome skill and aptitude based promotion and salary increases....but to get those we need to value their work in our attitude to it and in compensation.
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:56 AM   #42
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I work for the federal gov't and read any article I see on public vs private salary levels. I still say that there are a lot of public positions that are under paid.

One thing I can't seem to put a value on is that a lot of the jobs where I work require a credit check and security check. So, if you have credit problems or had legal issues you are not allowed to work here. I don't know how much of the general public would be barred from working here due to these issues so don't know how to value a clean credit and criminal history.

I work in IT and know I am under paid if compared to public companies. I would expect the nuke engineers and other project managers were under paid as well.

I don't know how to value job security either.
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Old 04-26-2011, 11:03 AM   #43
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I'm all for dedicated skilled employees and that means continual assessment, and seniority as a basis for employment being abandoned. I don't get the drive to reduce pay and benefits though.
It's not that people *want* to reduce pay and benefits. I for one don't want to see anyone screwed the way I got screwed with frozen pensions , retiree health insurance taken away, and total cumulative raises of 4% over the last 6 years.

The bottom line is that the steadily increasing gap between public and private sector employment deal is not sustainable. The deal the public sector gets is only as secure as the private sector's ability to fund it, and the more we get screwed, the less we can afford to pay to sustain your deal. It's that simple. I've said it before and I'd say it again: I'd rather bring the pendulum back toward equilibrium by bringing the private sector deal back up than by taking the public sector deal down, but I'd also say that advocates of govvies (teachers in particular for this discussion) won't get much support by painting the other side as a bunch of greedy and heartless folks who want to screw the children and those who teach them.

At least try to understand why the backlash is growing, and help us restore the dream so the backlash will fade. As I said before, *we* aren't the ones who can demonstrate at corporate HQ like govvies can march on the state house. (Especially not non-union folks in right to work states.) It's not like the motivation is pure selfishness. But when our own ability to make ends meet is being threatened by unemployment and shrinking real wages, asking us for more money to help others when no one cared about the screwing we've been taking isn't a good way to win people over to your side.

I guess what I'm saying is: Ending the demonization and the questioning of motives would be a good down payment toward looking for constructive ways out of this and defeating the divide and conquer being foisted on us.
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Old 04-26-2011, 11:08 AM   #44
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Great idea!
Also, as most States as well as the Fed seems to be "broke" at this time.
This could really help the folks on Gov pensions as well.
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Old 04-26-2011, 11:40 AM   #45
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No one likes having the rug pulled out from them based on the compensation/benefit promises made when they first took their jobs. I worked for a mega corp and began to see benefits erode back in the 90s and compensation shortly thereafterafter. We didn't like it, but there was not much one could do about it except go elesewhere. Now it seems that many of the government jobs are starting to face the same fait, with gov't finally realizing it can no longer fund these generous benefits.

Look at Wisconsin, if a group of mega corp employees showed up at their company HQ and started protesting the givebacks, you'd get a quick boot out the door (of course unless you had a union to protect you).
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:09 PM   #46
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I am in the mega corp club that watched and missed every grandfather clause slip by.
In 1984 at 22 yrs old I had 100% medical for life and an 80% pension at 55. Now, I pay about $7000.00 out of pocket for $22K of medical INS (am still working and have never really used it BTW-total rip-off)
My pension will now be about 15% of my base pay.
Most of my check went to paying my house 10 yrs ago at 39 then stashed anything xtra for retirement. 401k, ROTH, CD's etc.
(Think lived well below my means, wife and kids)

One thing we have not mentioned is the medical Ins issue over the past 25 yrs. IMO That is one of the main reasons Gov employees will need to kick in like the folks at mega corp. And, no we didn't get a raise when we started paying in. It was $50.00 a month at 1st, then it just kept getting bigger as the years went by. There is no way the Gov. could pay everyone's med ins. At this time, they cant even pay their own employees (like everyone else)
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:10 PM   #47
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I work for the federal gov't and read any article I see on public vs private salary levels. I still say that there are a lot of public positions that are under paid.
Quotes like this are often made by public employees. And there was probably a time in years gone by where there was some truth to it. However statistical analysis shows that many (most) public employees are paid better than they could do in the private sector.

In other words, what you post just isn't so.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:30 PM   #48
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See, here's the thing. When some people invoke the 80s and 90s and say "the private sector was a much better deal," it misses one thing: Even when it was (and that wasn't always true), the ability of the public sector to retire (often as early as 55 and sometimes even 50) was never in question.
Allow me to interject with the Leonidas exception to all of that.

More than a few have recognized that my DB plan was actually sound and made actuarial sense (except for a brief period of craziness in the mid-2000's). This is my way of asking people to not use their big paintbrushes on this issue, and remember that not all pensions are even close to some of the crazy examples people are bandying about.

Before the mid-00's, the typical "retirement" for my older co-w*rkers was to collect the modest pension from the city and then go work for some smaller government agency until they were too ancient to work anymore - or someone noticed the old coot had stopped breathing.

The running joke in the 80's and 90's was that the pension meant you didn't have to sleep under the bridge with the rest of the bums. At least you could afford a flophouse room somewhere.

The 20-30% that didn't become deputy marshals, sheriffs, or constables, had some kind of self-employed thing on the side that became their source of income supplemented by the pension. I have a file full of business cards for retired cops who will give me a break on plumbing, a/c repair, electrical repairs, real estate, cars, hunting guide services, etc., and so on.

By banking ~27% of payroll every year for decades, and the best stock market returns you could imagine, by the time we hit the late 90's we were very over-funded. The pension board voted to grant us some increases. Which was followed by some malarkey on the part of the city and the union who forgot to ask the pension board what they thought about the first and second contracts we ever had. The pension sued and negotiated a new contract and all has been fixed.
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Also, I don't think a lot of taxpayers would complain about paying for an employment deal (like retiree health insurance and a generous pension even for early retirement) if they were getting the same -- and weren't having theirs taken away. I think one of the best thing the public sector compensation advocates can do is stop bashing the private sector, but advocate for it. If we were still getting anything close to what you were getting, I suspect much of the backlash would go away. Most of us can't protest at corporate HQ when we get screwed, not if we want to keep putting food on the table. (And yes, it *is* a two-way street. Bashing in either direction is not useful or productive.)
You guys in the private sector got screwed - no doubt about it. Your employers saw the opportunity to make/save some money by screwing you over, and they relied on the fact that there wasn't much that you could do about it.

I'm on the flip side of that coin. And like the Euro, this coin has different images on the obverse depending on the jurisdiction. In the Northeast and other places like Bell, California, I think the obverse side is a bunch of scammers and crooks working together. In other places, like where I w*rked, it is more a case of my former employer screwing the employees and the taxpayers at the same time. To save money on hiring when the private sector was a fierce competitor for applicants, they boosted the pension in a delayed manner so they could hold on to employees longer. Then, to save even more money, they decided to reduce their contributions. It was like planting bombs in the city treasury and the pension fund.

They told the taxpayers "more cops for less money!", and told the employees, "more pay and better pensions!" And nobody asked them, "How exactly did you give me more for less?"

As for protesting at HQ when we got screwed - we tried that when they started cutting pay in the 80's. The city only responded when they realized that they were not attracting applicants for open positions. Our options where the same as yours - stay there and eat $*1% or vote with our feet and go elsewhere. I have loads of friends who work for places like the FBI, DEA, CIA, DIA, etc. because they left during that period.

You're absolutely right that this is a wedge issue. The political power structure is using this issue in their never-ending war and the people who are getting hurt are the middle class.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:31 PM   #49
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However statistical analysis shows that many (most) public employees are paid better than they could do in the private sector.
That has been my observation FWIW, for comparison of my/DW income in the private sector vs. her relatives working in similar federal positions in DC.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:32 PM   #50
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And yet, many (if not most) of the people making this argument in "defense" of teachers and their compensation vehemently oppose the ability to get rid of bad teachers more easily, eliminate K-12 tenure or offer merit pay for top performers. Cognitive dissonance, methinks, if the goal is to have the best and brightest become teachers.
This is confused. Could you explain how making it easier to get rid of bad teachers will make it easier to attract more of the best and brightest to become teachers?
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:36 PM   #51
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Could you explain how making it easier to get rid of bad teachers will make it easier to attract more of the best and brightest to become teachers?
I'm not the OP, but I would rather my tax dollars go to those that perform better than their peers, who may just have longivity in a teacher's position, without any measurement of their performance vs. student results.

Nothing more than what I was measured on when I worked in the "commercial" sector. Your performance/results had an impact upon your pay, and those that were considered "less efficient" were let go, to be replaced by others that could perform/do the job at hand.

Get rid of the deadwood, and give those that wish to show their "stuff" perform in a manner in which I (as a taxpayer) am paying for.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:39 PM   #52
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This is confused. Could you explain how making it easier to get rid of bad teachers will make it easier to attract more of the best and brightest to become teachers?
Pretty hard to hire promising new teachers when you can't get rid of the bad ones, isn't it? And if someone really is confident they will make a good teacher, why would the potential for being let go for bad performance be a deal breaker for them?

I see nothing "confused" about it. Every bad teacher getting a paycheck is potentially one more good teacher you can't hire.

Still, there's a lot more to this topic than teachers, and it's funny how so often when discussion of public employees comes up, it always seems to zero in on the teachers (sometimes to cops and firemen as well, but many see them as a different case). No one ever talks about the bureaucrats and paper-pushers (which are also needed to an extent, but they don't draw the same sympathy or effect as invoking teachers).
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:41 PM   #53
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I work in IT and know I am under paid if compared to public companies. I would expect the nuke engineers and other project managers were under paid as well.

I don't know how to value job security either.
Can't buy that IT comparison to public companies, as I've seen first hand most of the mega corp IT worker jobs outsourced to India at much lower wages and no benefits. In fact, I had the unfortunate task of implementing that outsourcing strategy back in the mid 90s and it only got worse from there.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:43 PM   #54
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Quotes like this are often made by public employees. And there was probably a time in years gone by where there was some truth to it. However statistical analysis shows that many (most) public employees are paid better than they could do in the private sector.

In other words, what you post just isn't so.
Please cite some well done studies. To the best of my knowledge some public sector jobs may be better paid in some locations but most? - I haven't seen any evidence of that. The Feds do pretty extensive wage surveys that attempt to fairly balance pay and benefits against private sector as well as state and local comparables. At the behest of GOP legislators GAO has studied this issue time and again and has not found evidence of overpayment. The Reagan Admin tried to find the same and didn't get anywhere.

I agree with many that Government jobs of all sorts look good right now because the pension and health benefits have soared in perceived value. And, to be fair, those benefits may have always had more real value than we understood. So, in retrospect, those of us who worked for many decades under the older systems may have been better compensated than we realized at the time. But those benefits have already been substantially changed in the Federal sector and are rapidly eroding at other levels.

I suspect most government employees (particularly new ones) realize that things have to change. But the current atmosphere of demonization (where teachers are viewed as leaches) has gotten a bit out of hand and is serving no one.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:48 PM   #55
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But those benefits have already been substantially changed in the Federal sector and are rapidly eroding at other levels.
Note that relatively little of the backlash has been aimed at federal workers who, under FERS, have had a reasonable, sustainable and relatively affordable retirement system for close to 30 years now.

Had state and local governments followed suit then -- with a true three-legged stool approach like the FERS plan -- even if they grandfathered those already employed under the old plan, I suspect you'd be seeing far less backlash against public sector benefits. But the feds recognized CSRS was economically and demographically unsustainable in the early 1980s, and the state and local governments didn't. And many of the latter are teetering on the brink today as a result.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:48 PM   #56
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I'm not the OP, but I would rather my tax dollars go to those that perform better than their peers, who may just have longivity in a teacher's position, without any measurement of their performance vs. student results.
Well, of course you would, and getting rid of bad teachers is obviously a good thing. But having an efficient way of removing bad teachers, desirable though it may be, is not plausibly a recruiting tool for attracting more of the best and the brightest. That's the confusion.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:49 PM   #57
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The Feds do pretty extensive wage surveys that attempt to fairly balance pay and benefits against private sector as well as state and local comparables. At the behest of GOP legislators GAO has studied this issue time and again and has not found evidence of overpayment. The Reagan Admin tried to find the same and didn't get anywhere.
The GAO, seems akin to the fox guarding the hen house.
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:51 PM   #58
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But the current atmosphere of demonization (where teachers are viewed as leaches) has gotten a bit out of hand and is serving no one.
As long as my tax dollars pay for their retirement (along with current pay & benefits), I'll have a voice in the discussion ...

When they start paying for my retirement, I'll keep my comments to myself.

BTW, most of my time in school was via a Catholic facility. Taxes were not paid for my time in class.

Along with the fact that I had to pay for school for my (disabled) child, I'm contributing to the education of others, beyond any benefit to myself or my family.

I'll continue to comment if I'm paying for others...
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:52 PM   #59
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Well, of course you would, and getting rid of bad teachers is obviously a good thing. But having an efficient way of removing bad teachers, desirable though it may be, is not plausibly a recruiting tool for attracting more of the best and the brightest. That's the confusion.
That's where "pay for performance" comes into the picture -- another concept that is anathema to defenders of the status quo.

If you think you're going to be a really good teacher, I'd suggest that being an outstanding teacher paid less than a mediocre teacher with a couple years' seniority on you is worse for recruiting than the chance of being let go if you're one of the lowest performers.

Not to mention that in this job market, you don't need "recruiting." Put up a help wanted sign, especially for a permanent government job with a pension and retiree health insurance, and you'll have a hundred applicants, many of whom are qualified and a number of whom would likely be exceptional. If a district can't pick out a good one from that applicant pool, that's an administration and HR problem.
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Old 04-26-2011, 01:02 PM   #60
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Pretty hard to hire promising new teachers when you can't get rid of the bad ones, isn't it?
Not at all, unless you supposing that there are no open positions for public school teachers. (And that is not so.)
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And if someone really is confident they will make a good teacher, why would the potential for being let go for bad performance be a deal breaker for them?
They might suspect that the mechanism for ferreting out poor teachers could be inappropriately applied to them. But even if this possibility doesn't occur to them, why would someone especially want a job where others are more likely to be fired? It doesn't make sense.
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