FT136: “Unions only represent those who pay union dues.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 21st, 2012

Fundamental Truth

The Cost of Teachers’ Salaries, Health Care and Pensions are so Costly that there is Little Left to Spend on the Children

The Chicago public school teachers’ strike is over.  And the teachers got enough of what they wanted to go back to the classroom.  Or else they wouldn’t be going back to the classroom.  Which proves the benefit of belonging to a union.  In exchange for those union dues they get a lot of political muscle.  Which they greatly leverage by having children out of the classrooms.  Suffering.  For the kids are losing out on their education.  Worse, parents are stuck with their kids longer.  And must wait longer before they get their break from having their kids home all day long.

And speaking of the children one thing you didn’t hear in the list of demands was more supplies for the classroom.  Despite good teachers everywhere dipping into their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.  Why?  Because the cost of teachers’ salaries, health care and pensions are so costly that there is little left to spend on the children.  And that pay and those benefits are pretty generous.  Especially considering with all the time off teachers get they’re technically working part-time jobs (30 hours a week or less).  With about two and half months off during the summer and the breaks during the school year teachers work about 9 months out of the year.  Which comes to about 1,548 hours a year.  Compared to the 1,560 hours (30 hours X 52 weeks) a year a part-time worker can work.  With far fewer benefits.

But yet it’s always about the children.  Higher pay and benefits for teachers benefit the children.  At least that’s what they tell us.  The ability to retire with nearly their full salary.  And free health care until Medicare kicks in.  All paid by the taxpayers.  That’s what’s important to maintain.  So the children get a quality education.  By having their teachers live a higher quality life and retirement than these children’s parents.  Who are paying for both their own quality of life and retirement.  As well as their kids’ teachers.

Big Cities set up Generous Public Sector Pay and Benefits based on an ever Expanding Population Growth Rate

Whenever a city is having trouble paying their bills they always threaten to lay off police officers and firefighters.  As if that is the only expense a city has.  They never talk about cutting back on their health care plans or their pension plans for all city workers.  Like everyone working in the private sector has gone through.  How many times have you been told by your employer that they cannot make a contribution to your 401(k) retirement plan this year because business was down?  It happens a lot.  And that’s the retirement plan most people have today.  It’s mostly what you put away for your retirement.  Pensions in the private sector are long gone.  Only those unionized sectors with enough political clout still enjoy generous pension plans.

Recessions reduce tax dollars flowing into city coffers.  But that’s only part of the problem.  The bigger problem they have is a flat population growth rate.  All these big cities set up generous public sector pay and benefits based on an ever expanding population growth rate.  But that growth rate flattened out in the Sixties and Seventies.  Thanks to widespread use of birth control and, to a lesser extent, abortion.  Women stopped having a lot of babies.  Which means there are a larger number of people retiring than there are entering the workforce to replace them.  So you have a higher growth rate of those consuming taxes.  While you have a lower growth rate of those paying taxes.  Which means cities will pay more out than they collect unless they raise tax rates.  Which they often try to do.  While threatening to lay off police officers and firefighters if voters don’t approve a new millage.

Things can be especially hard for some city workers because of that flat population growth rate.  Not to pick on the firefighters but look at a typical firehouse.  Say a firehouse with one engine/ladder truck and one rescue squad.  That’s about 6 firefighters.  If a city has 30 firehouses that’s 180 firefighters.  If they are 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off that brings it up to 360 firefighters.  If a firefighter academy graduates 100 new firefighters a year that’s about a third of all firefighters.  Now unless each firefighter only works 3 years there will always be more firefighters than open positions.  New building technologies and fire alarm/suppression systems have greatly reduced the number of building fires.  All of this on top of a flat population growth rate makes it very difficult for anyone wanting to be a firefighter these days.  Making matters worse a lot of the old cities are actually seeing population decreases.  Which cities respond to by closing firehouses.  Which reduces the number of firefighters.  Making it even harder for aspiring firefighters.

A Union Represents those who pay Union Dues—not Children, Taxpayers or Patients

Cities collect property taxes to pay for the services they provide.  As well as other taxes and fees.  From that pot of money they collect they divide it between the various departments they have.  Such as for education.  From that money educators have to pay all their bills.  From classroom supplies.  To teachers’ salaries, health care and pensions.  They can only spend this money once.  So if they give more to the teachers there is less for the classroom.  So when teachers strike and say it’s for the children it is probably not for the children.  For the children pay no union dues.  As unions don’t represent the children anymore than they represent the taxpayers.  They represent the teachers.  Because they pay the union dues.  And it is their job to get as much of that money spent on education to the teachers as possible.

There are some moves to unionize nurses and other health care workers.  In fact, that will happen under Obamacare as health care workers will all become government workers.  And eligible to join public sector unions.  Which is why all the unions were so adamantly for Obamacare even though many of them have gotten waivers to opt out.  Because it will swell the ranks of the public sector unions.  While greatly increasing the cost of health care.  And hurt the quality of our health care system.  For if we pay nurses like government bureaucrats we will shift more health care money to these new public sector workers while leaving less to spend on patients.

It is remarkable how selfless all public sector workers are.  For they never want more taxpayer money for their own selfish needs.  It’s always for the children.  The safety of our citizens.  And when Obamacare fully kicks in, the quality of health care our patients receive.  It’s just a coincidence that while protecting the children, the taxpayers and our patients that they benefit, too.  Funny how that works.  Which is what happens when you belong to a union and pay dues.  For a union represents those who pay union dues.  Not children, taxpayers or patients.

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