Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Can Toronto Afford It's Overpaid Employees?
On Friday, the union representing 26,000 city of Toronto workers indicated it can’t settle with the city and is willing to go on strike if it doesn’t get what it wants.
(Both the city and its union have requested a ‘no board report” which begins the countdown to a strike if no deal is reached.)
Why is it that public sector employees seem to believe that belt tightening for the private sector, and badly needed fiscal responsibility at city hall, doesn’t also apply to them?
Those 26,000 inside and outside workers, represented by CUPE Local 79 and 416 respectively, often seem to be fueled in their actions by civic irresponsibility.
What else can it be called when these workers, on average, already have a better deal than most of the people who work hard every day in the private sector to earn the money that pays for most of city workers’ salaries?
Do they think they deserve an even better, better-than-average deal?
As the city struggles to find money for infrastructure and other needs, city workers who threaten to withdraw services enjoy many 100% employer paid benefits.
How many people in the private or public sector get 100% employer paid benefits?
City workers get long term disability which pays 75% of salary compared to about 66% typically in the private sector, although the range can vary from 60% to 85%.
Part-time city employees get benefits. In how many private sector workplaces does that happen?
City employees with over 15 years of seniority have virtually guaranteed job security.
Since it seems almost impossible to fire a government worker starting from day one, it’s not difficult to achieve 15 years of employment just by showing up, except on “sick days”.
So, basically there’s a good chance anyone who slacks off on the job at city hall can do so for life.
I’ve been told the city is asking for modifications to the above and that is what the unions have described as deep cuts.
Is it unfair for the city to take the position that, rather than go again to the taxpayers for more money, city workers begin to pay for some of their benefits?
The people of Toronto can’t afford to keep paying for those higher-than-average benefits indefinitely.
Despite what the unions seem to want, part-time swimming instructors can’t be made full time.
It is not the responsibility of city hall, or any level of government, to create excess public sector jobs.
It is their responsibility to deliver services in a cost effective manner.
Government, which is rarely known for fiscal responsibility, is actually acting responsibly when it fills part-time work with part-time workers.
If a strike by the outside workers should include withdrawal of garbage collection, the city needs to stay strong, rather than capitulate as former mayor David Miller did.
Miller allowed a strike to stink up the city with uncollected garbage for more than a month in the summer of 2009, only to give in to the union in the end.
At least this time, Mayor John Tory has the negotiating clock starting in the winter — as did Rob Ford — so if negotiations fail, the garbage won’t smell worse than the demands of the city’s labour unions do.
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