I was reading Rob Astorino’s editorial about repealing “The Triborough Amendment” today (and my good friend Josh Gillespie’s post on the “right to work” battle in Indiana), and it got me thinking about a conversation I had with my cousin recently. We tend to agree politically, but he wasn’t thrilled with some blog posts he thought made me “anti-union.”
My cousin is on the job and has been for thirty-five years, and while he agreed with me on some criticisms, there’s a lot of good unions do that gets lost when you see the protests in Madison or on Wall Street. A perfect example would be that it’s the union that prevents him from being replaced with a rookie right out of the academy everytime the city needs to cut money out of the budget…which isn’t a good thing if you’ve seen some of these kids who are fresh out of the academy.
I’ll admit, there’s a disconnect between some of us on the right and union members (not the leaders who fund the Democrat Party), and one the Astorino tried to bridge in his editorial…
So when I call for reform of the Triborough Amendment, my position is not anti-union, it’s pro-job preservation. I am a union member and supporter of collective bargaining. I’m also extremely proud of our county workers and the quality service they deliver. But we’ve reached the point where if the union workers keep on growing more expensive, we’ll simply have to have fewer of them. Look at the math. The average salary of a private-sector employee working in Westchester is about $63,000, according to the state Department of Labor. In contrast, the average county worker salary is about $71,500. Throw in fringe benefits, which include free health care and pensions, and average total compensation for county workers jumps to $110,000.
I don’t want to cut or take away things that people have been promised, and I also think the police and fire should be held in a separate category. You’re paid to protect us and keep us safe, we can find the money. But read those statistics and think of the MTA workers whose contract is running out, and how no matter how much money is spent and how much fares are raised, the service still sucks and the trains aren’t reliable.
In the private sector when there’s no money, things get altered and restructured. People who aren’t doing their jobs have to find other work. In the public sector, unions promise things regardless of if the money is there or not because they pay off donate to the campaigns of people who they keep getting reelected and metaphorically hold a gun to the heads of the people who don’t.
And taxpayers who get caught in the middle are the one’s who are really screwed, because there tax’s go up while the quality of there services go down.
There has to be a better way of doing things, especially when we start to get into the Keystone XL Pipeline and we’re on the same side as the unions and 20,000 jobs, vs. the President and his special interests.