Thursday, January 01, 2009

To Protect And To Serve: Comparing Two Unions

Fresh on the heels of Vancouver, Washington’s Firefighter’s Union vote to forgo their annual pay raise, we read that Vancouver, Washington’s Police Department Union will not forgo theirs.

Well deserved kudos were expressed when the Firefighter’s Union announced that 91% of their members voted to forgo the pay increase at a time that the city is facing severe financial problems.

Fire Capt. Bill Garlington, a 22-year veteran of our Fire Department, expressed concern over the economy as he explained his vote to forgo the raise,

People are losing their jobs. The people losing their jobs are the people who are paying our wages.”

Sgt. Scott Creager, secretary of the Police Union said,
Our position is we are due to start negotiations in June. We aren’t interested in opening the contract for six months,” adding, “The spirit of collective bargaining is that you sign a contract and you honor it. If we were going to make a concession on our wage, would the city be responsible to make us whole for the vacation that was given up?”

Vancouver’s Police pay scale ranges between $53,016 to $83,844. Firefighters seem to have a similar pay scale, maybe slightly higher for the Fire Captain.
Average household income for Vancouver is just under $50,000.

Do not think for a minute that I consider the Police as over paid, I do not. Their jobs are worth every dime they receive and yes, even more when they are faced with danger protecting us. I have nothing but the utmost respect and honor for these people, but they are in jobs they volunteered for.

Contrast that with our Military, whose base entry pay is about $17,000 a year. A mid-rank NCO with time in grade earns perhaps $48,000 a year with mid-grade Officers making as much as $78,000 a year.

I imagine the lower ranks earning less are doing the most in the Military and they have no union to negotiate their pay scale nor do they get to vote in their pay raise, as do politicians.

All across the nation, Americans are being asked to sacrifice in order to help in these economically depressed times. People are being laid off. Business are going out of business and closing their doors. Jobs, including Union jobs, are being lost as more people are seeking other employment to weather these troubled times.

Vancouver’s Firefighters have shown the way to keep their jobs and help the community they serve by voting to forgo their pay increase right now. Even with them now being allowed to accrue 24 hours a month sick leave, an increase over what they previously earned and which cannot be ‘cashed in’ should they leave the employ of the city, says Vancouver’s assistant city manager, Betsy Williams.

City managers and non-union city employees will not be receiving pay increases either this year.

Congress is facing scorn for accepting a scheduled pay raise.

Chief Justice Roberts continues his push for a pay increase for Federal Judges.

Our paychecks are declining, tax revenues are decreasing, homes being foreclosed, jobs lost, public debt is rising and unemployment is up. Stimulus checks and corporate bailouts will only go so far before there is nothing left from us citizens to give.

Vancouver’s Firefighters deserve the kudos they are receiving as they have led the way to continue serving the public and keeping their jobs safe.

I don’t see what harm it would have done for the Vancouver Police to follow suit and help Clark County citizen’s weather this storm and to keep their numbers up as well.

They too deserve what they earn and in better economic times, perhaps even more. At this time with revenues scarce and politicians seeking more revenue sources, don’t be surprised to see traffic citations increase in Vancouver to help offset the failing economy.

I hope they don’t pull this old trick, but many other communities across the nation have swelled their coffers with the “speed trap” mentality over the years.

If Vancouver ends up reducing their number of Police Officers, look no further than a Union that demands increases while the rest of us are being asked to sacrifice and facing decreases in our livelihood and lifestyle.

1 comment:

Angie Lee said...

Those old tricks don't just work on a municipal level, either - Michigan instituted a "Driver Responsibility" fee, in which a person who receives a ticket pays not only the ticket and related court costs but a separate fee to the state - sometimes for two consecutive years on the same infraction. Oh, and we had our state income tax increased in late 2007 to cover the 2008 budget (applied retroactively over all of 2007) and the number and types of services garnering a state sales tax. Where there's a will, there's a way, right? All this on top of bleeding jobs like a severed carotid, the highest unemployment rate in the nation...

Trillion dollar bailouts and stimulus checks can and WILL continue - regardless of our (in)ability to pay - because they have a whole lotta blank checks, a Fed willing and able to print unlimited amounts of currency (regardless of how little its worth), and absolutely NO conscience with even less accounability. We can't even count on voting them out of office if we don't like them - look over toward MN and see how elections can be "finessed." (I'm having a cynical day, sorry.)