Memo to all my public employee friends

Look, it’s nothing personal. But, you’ve backed my enemy for years.

Do you recall the Great DMV Cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair’s famous schoolhouse sequel to The Jungle? No? Don’t feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.

Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order (so much for democracy), the federal ban on government unions.

There never was a reason for public employees to have unions. Ever. Except for a political one. Unions support Democrats. EOL.

The plan worked perfectly — too perfectly. Public-union membership skyrocketed, and government-union support for the party of government skyrocketed with it. From 1989 to 2004, AFSCME — the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees — gave nearly $40 million to candidates in federal elections, with 98.5 percent going to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And public unions advocate for higher taxes. Always. Because, you see, they don’t get paid from profits, like private sector unions. They get paid by shaking down the taxpayer, and this practice has become COMPLETELY disassociated with economic realities. Which is why collective bargaining has to go. In this dynamic, you’ve got government unions negotiating with politicians (whom they helped to elect) over salaries and benefits paid for by taxpayers. What can the taxpayers afford to pay? Doesn’t enter the equation. Item:

California’s pension costs soared 2,000 percent in a decade thanks to the unions.

The average salary of a Michigan teacher in 2009, for example, was $62,272. That’s up from $54,000 in 2004. In five years, the salary went up over $8,000.

Oh, but there is more. Average insurance plans (in 2008-9) were $15,786, of which only $665 was paid for by the teacher. That’s $55 a month. $26 for a two-week pay period. For a FAMILY plan.

We personally contribute half; over $600 a month.

These numbers stand in stark contrast to statewide averages. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average family premium in Michigan in 2008 was $11,321. On average, employees contribute $2,522, or 22 percent, to the cost of their monthly premium.

Teacher largess is carried on the backs of the taxpayers. The workers.

I’m sorry teacher friends. I like you. You are just disconnected with economic realities.

Take this for example. The pension system, which allows folks to retire in their fifties with a comfortable pension.

Retire. In your 50’s. While many people work until they die, paying the taxes for a teacher who retired at 52.

Articles such as this suggest a modest pension.

A teacher with average compensation of $60,000 at retirement and 30 years of service gets an annual pension of $27,000. Under the MEA’s revised proposal, a teacher eligible for retirement who leaves by July 2010 would receive $31,500 a year, or $375 more a month.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the average teacher doesn’t retire making $60,000. The “average” teacher makes MORE than that, so certainly those who have reached the ranks of retirement are tipping the scales well over that.

Detroit teachers, for example, top out at 73,216. That would give them a pension of almost $33,000. Mind you, this is retiring at the ripe old age of 52 or so. Add in the healthcare

For current retirees, one of the best aspects of MSPERS is the health-care coverage. With as little as the equivalent of five years full-time employment in Michigan public schools, a retiree qualifies for health-care coverage, with MSPERS paying about 90 percent of the premium costs. Incidentally, spouses and dependents are also covered. The rules recently changed so that for future employees, health-care coverage is pro-rated — someone has to work for 30 years to get the maximum subsidy. But those who retired before the rule change are not affected.

OMG, they have to work 30 years to get free healthcare for life? What kind of tinpot dictatorship are we running here?

So, here is the problem as the teachers see it:

We’ve made a commitment to retired educators and it seems unfair to pull out the rug from under them. Yet, are we willing to cut school programs or increase class size as the MSPERS rate continues to raise? Or, if we don’t want that to happen, are we willing to raise taxes so that both schools and their retirees can continue to maintain the status quo?

What do we do? For the children™?

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7 Comments on “Memo to all my public employee friends”

  1. One of my classmates from school is a teacher in Michigan now, not far from where you are, Carin.

    Two days ago, she posted a little note from one of her freinds on her FB page, talking about how much cheaper it is to pay a teacher than it is to pay a babysitter. It was all very clever and precious, especially when it preached about the bargain that we taxpayers get and that they actually educate our kids too.

    I considered responding with the observation that by late Jr. High, and High School, my kids wouldn’t require a baby stitter, and that the education that most kids get at that level is far overpriced for what little they get when the historical analysis is made, but I realized that there was simply no point. Logic doesn’t work with unions.

  2. Car in Says:

    Unfortunately, the comparison is too apt. Some of the kids who graduate appear as if their education were little more than babysitting.

  3. beasn Says:

    The retired teacher down the street gets 72k a year. She retired at 59. She lurves her some unions.

  4. MJ Says:

    More money for teachers would solve the problem.

  5. Says:

    REALITY CHECK FOR ALL READERS!!!I make 560,000 yr. However, I have a PhD, and have taught in the ghetto for 17 years. I have lifetime teaching certification and principal certification. My pricipal cert expires this year. In our district, (taken over by the mayor), my salary was frozen for 3 years as an administrator and 3 years as a teacher. I am single, with 2 teens. I pay support on both therefore, have no savings. I am upsdide down in my house #25,000 due to the collaspe of the housing market. We Just received colllective bargaining in or state, and now you want to take that away too? Tell you what..I’ll take a private sector job at $40,000 yr, retire at 62, and clean out my pension before the mayor takes it. Early retirement?? LOL!!! I’ll trade places with any of you overpaid corpaorate craps that think I’m overpaid. Hey better yet….I’ll do your job for a week and you can do mine, then we’ll see who’s underpaid.

  6. Car in Says:

    Honestly, I don’t believe much of what you wrote right there, but if you think you’re situation is that horrible … @@.

    I’ve got a house that’s upside down by $50,000, and we only paid $67,000. So, whatever. Cry me a river.

    I doubt you’d change places with anyone.

  7. So you’re a failure in your personal life, you made at least one shitty investment (two if you count a PhD that landed you a job in public ed-something that makes you pretty much useless in the real work force, and probably ensures that you couldn’t teach a thirsty man to drink a glass of water) and you think it is appropriate to bitch about people who really do work for a living as overpaid corporate craps?

    Thank you. I needed a laugh this morning.

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