Monday, November 07, 2011

Issue 2 Update: Make Public Workers as Accountable as You and Me

In a message from Jeff Berding, former 3 term DEMOCRAT member of Cincinnati City Council and an Issue 2/SB5 SUPPORTER:

Think about this comment:

“If you or I get pulled over, we get handcuffed and go to jail. But if a sheriff’s deputy shows up to work drunk, he can keep his job. Assuming it’s a first offense, he suffers no real consequence. He gets a clean record; we don’t.”

That's just a taste of what you'll learn in this Cincinnati Enquirer article about some of the fringe benefits and protections uncovered in government employee union contracts. Here are a few highlights:

· Health care coverage at NO COST

· Protections for employees who "repeatedly engage in misconduct"

· A clean record, even if you test positive for drugs or alcohol

· Cash bonuses for being in shape or for not missing work

It sounds ridiculous, but you'll find these provisions and more stuffed into government labor contracts all across Ohio. And YOU'RE PAYING FOR THEM.

The bottom line here is too many of these contracts are out of control, and they're costing us more than we can afford (not to mention protecting bad employees).

Opponents are fighting hard to keep these contracts in place. They are fighting for the 7% of employees in Ohio who work for government. Don't you wish they fought as hard for the 93% who are paying for the bill? Vote your pocketbook. Vote for fairness.

On Tuesday, November 8th, we can fix this. We can respect our government employees AND taxpayers by finally getting the system under control, stopping the wasteful spending and moving Ohio in new, more prosperous direction.

I hope you'll join me in voting YES on Issue 2.


Jeff Berding
Former Three-Term Cincinnati City Council member

P.S. - I'm a registered Democrat, who's in this fight to help build a better Ohio for this generation and the next. Join me. Forward this message to your family and friends, and encourage them to look beyond partisanship and vote YES on Issue 2.

What article is Jeff talking about? It is here and below are some "highlights":
Contracts approved by Cincinnati City Council include benefits that, among other things, permit many workers to draw 13 sick days a year, grant three weeks’ worth of compensatory time to public safety employees for holidays whether they work them or not, and entitle veteran police officers to nearly 10 weeks of various leaves annually.

In Butler County, sheriff’s deputies can earn a $200 per year physical fitness incentive based on how fast they can run a mile and how many pushups and sit ups they can do. There are different standards based on age and gender.

The public employee contracts in Cincinnati and the counties of Hamilton, Butler, Clermont and Warren, their municipalities and the state are laced with lucrative provisions, all approved by our elected representatives – township trustees, county commissioners, city councils – but seldom found in the private sector.

Wow. That seems a bit much compared to you and I, common working schleps who have to work private sector jobs. Listen to this contempt and lame excuse from a "union boy":
Don’t fault the unions, said Doug Stern, a Cincinnati firefighter who is active in the campaign against Issue 2. “We have always been willing to talk,” he said. “Good negotiations come from sitting down together.”

Wrong-O, bub. Unions distract with other issues on one hand while adding in perks like these with the other. When they come up later for discussion, the union is aghast and says, it was always in there. We aren't giving up this or that. How do I know? I have been in unions and have many people I know who have been on leadership teams of unions. Some even joke about misdirecting attention to get perks. You think these are a little much? Check out this stuff from the Enquirer article:
many examples exist where contracts diverge between the private to public sectors. Here are a couple:

• Provisions found in public safety contracts in Hamilton County remove prior discipline from employee records after a period ranging from one to five years. This means a police officer or deputy sheriff can repeatedly engage in misconduct involving the public or co-workers, such as excessive force or sexual misconduct, and as long as enough time passes between each incident, each time it’s treated as if it never happened. A similar provision appeared in the three-year contract that ended in 2008 for union employees of Hamilton County’s Head Start program.

• Hamilton County public safety employees suffer no discipline the first time they test positive on the job for drugs or alcohol, as long as they willingly submit to rehabilitation. The union contracts say the test results can’t be used for criminal proceedings.

This stuff is what Jeff Berding was getting at in his message. Private sector workers don't get this amount of protection. Why should those who are, as the We Are(NOT)Ohio ads say, our everyday heroes, responsible for our lives? Should we let them walk when they are the ones who are supposed to enforce the laws they are breaking? Sound hypocritical? You betcha.

Issue 2 will help change things from this status quo and give cities and districts MORE MONEY and flexibility to hire more teachers, firefighters, etc. and hold them accountable. It will also open up formerly closed shops in the public sector.

Despite what the commercials say, think logically. If you make the public sector workers contribute a little more, that frees up money back to the government agencies, districts, cities, etc. That money can be used to hire more people. And if, as they anti-Issue 2 ads say, that staffing goes down to below preferable levels, the people have the ability to vote out govt. officials who cut staff and elect new ones who will get staffing up.

Now, if Issue 2 fails, let's think about it. Unions will continue to hold districts and cities hostage and demand more and more. If, as the unions say, they are all for negotiating for more teachers, then why have they not already made changes to allow more teachers? They haven't. That should tell you logically that it is not about staffing, but about their own pocketbooks. If issue 2 fails, spending will grow, budgets will have to be tightened. This means less activities for kids, larger class sizes, and teachers who long ago decided to mail it in. I don't think that is good for Ohio's future, do you?

Instead of leaving it in the hands of unions, who just want more money, let's give it back to the voters, eh?