Earlier this week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s office released some specific examples of how collective bargaining abuses significantly increase costs to Wisconsin taxpayers, and how reforming collective bargaining in the state will save taxpayers millions of dollars annually (link here
, it's fixed now). I'm sure these collective bargaining abuses are common in other states as well, and helps put the whole issue into perspective:
1. In 2009, the City of Madison’s highest paid employee was a bus driver who earned $159,258, including $109,892 in overtime, guaranteed by a collective bargaining agreement. In total, seven City of Madison bus drivers made more than $100,000 per year in 2009.
2. Correctional Officer collective bargaining agreements allow officers a practice known as “sick leave stacking.” Officers can call in sick for a shift, receiving 8 hours of sick pay, and then are allowed to work the very next shift, earning time-and-a-half for overtime. This results in the officer receiving 2.5 times his or her rate of pay, while still only working 8 hours.
In part because of these practices, 13 correctional officers made more than $100,000 in 2009, despite earning base wages of less than $60,000 per year. The officers received an average of $66,000 in overtime pay for an average annual salary of more than $123,000 with the highest paid receiving $151,181.
3. Under the Green Bay School District’s collectively bargained Emeritus Program, teachers can retire and receive a year’s worth of salary for working only 30 days over a three year period. This is paid in addition to their already guaranteed pension and health care payouts.
4. Due to a 1982 provision of their collective bargaining agreement, Milwaukee Public School teachers actually receive two pensions upon retirement instead of one. The contribution to the second pension is equal to 4.2% of a teacher’s salary, with the school district making 100% of the contribution, just like they do for the first pension. This extra benefit costs taxpayers more than $16 million per year.
5. Some state employees, due to the nature of their positions, are required to carry pagers during off-duty hours in order to respond to emergency situations. Due to the collective bargaining agreements, these employees are compensated an extra five hours of pay each week, whether they are paged or not. For an employee earning an average salary of $50,000 per year, this requirement can cost more than $6,000 in additional compensation.
6. Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Megan Sampson was laid off less than one week after being named Outstanding First Year Teacher by the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers. She lost her job because the collective bargaining agreement requires layoffs to be made based on seniority rather than merit. Informed that her union had rejected a lower-cost health care plan, that still would have required zero contribution from teachers, Sampson said, “Given the opportunity, of course I would switch to a different plan to save my job, or the jobs of 10 other teachers."
7. As a cost cutting measure, Racine County began using county inmates to cut the grass in medians and right-of-ways at no cost to the taxpayers. A county employee union filed a grievance indicating it was the right of government workers to cut the grass, even though it would cost the taxpayers dramatically more.