Saturday, February 18, 2012

Federal Workers are not the Problem

As the recession lingers there are more complaints about the compensation received by federal workers. The claim is the average federal employee makes twice what the average American makes when pay and benefits are combined. The way some are complaining one would think the federal employees have a say in how much they are receiving in compensation. Federal employees have no say in how much they receive in pay or other benefits. The fact of the matter is federal employees have become a punching bag. Those claiming disparity between public and private workers use generalities. They use averages but the comparison is apples and oranges. The equivalent of CEO's in the federal government make no where near what their equivalent CEO in private industry. The work place in the government is not a microcosm of American labor. Simply put the jobs are not distributed the same way. In order to make the claim some are making one would have to look at job description by job description. In my opinion if one were to look at the number of lawyers, auditors, and doctors required one would see a strike difference in the numbers when compared to the private workplace. The generalizations and comparisons of averages simply don't pass the sniff test. I think if one was to include the military in the calculations the federal compensation for employees would be lowered closer to the private workplace. Yet, those on the right crying about federal employees dare not speak ill of the military so they conveniently leave out a very large segment of the federal workplace.

Federal workers do not have a strong union. The federal government is basically a right to work organization. The federal government does not automatically deduct union dues and many belong to the bargaining unit without ever becoming union members. Compensation is not negotiable and unions have no say in the matter. Compensation comes in the form of proposals and legislation. The harping on federal employees like they have a strong union that is bankrupting the country is not true.

Now this is not to say that reform could not be made to reduce some of the compensation federal employees have. Reforms could be made, reforms that compared job by job to the private work place so people are compensated similarly in both the public and private work places. Under Obama there has been an explosion of people at the very top of the federal workplace. Some of these Czars and special offices created by Obama should probably be reduced. The government has added numbers to the ranks and perhaps some personnel cuts need to be made. I'm not saying federal workers do not have to make sacrifices, they will. The issue is the comparisons are making federal workers look like they are reaping some huge benefits while the case is probably federal workers are compensated similarly to their private counterparts. The budget wars should not be about the workers private and public but rather what we want government to do and what we want them to stay out of so we can reduce the budget deficits. Federal civilians have not received cost of living increases in over a year and will not receive one for at least the next year. This passed without any mass protests. The federal workforce took the hit and moved on. The right need to focus on the programs that are bankrupting the country and the workers. The public workforce will decline as programs are scrapped. The federal workers are people just like private workers, focus on the problem and not the symptom.

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