Like most HR folks I’ve been keeping a close eye on Wisconsin’s budget issues and their battles with state employee unions. Here in Michigan, and really every state in America, is facing almost the exact same issue. Public employee unions have done so well in negotiating over the years (or I could say, the state HR folks and our elected politicians have done such a bad job manging to the “business” of running our states), that they’ve bankrupt most states. From a recent article on this issue: “Public Unions: A Bad Deal for the Public“:
“Wisconsin is nearly bankrupt. There is a $137 million shortfall in the fiscal year that ends June 30 and a projected deficit of $3.6 billion for the two years after that.
The deficit cannot be closed without trimming the pay and benefits of public employees. In 2008, these accounted for half of all state and local government spending, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. If government workers were paid the same as equivalent private sector workers, no state would have a budget deficit, calculated blogger George Noga, a certified public accountant.
Gov. Walker wants public employees in Wisconsin to contribute roughly half as much, proportionately, to their health plans and pensions as do workers in the private sector. The governor also wants to restrict public employee unions to bargaining for wages only, leaving the health and benefit packages and work rules up to elected officials to decide. And he wants the state to stop collecting dues for the unions, and to require them to win recertification elections each year.”
I guess as an HR Pro, I’m looking for someone to blame – so here it is – I blame my Grandparents. You should to – what the heck, their old or dead, they can take the blame. Plus, it’s really their fault – they were the one’s who made us believe – you can work 30 years (sometimes with little or no education) can paid a good enough wage to have a 3 bedroom/2 bath house, a summer cottage on Lake Unionskilledusslowly, then upon retirement at that old age of 50 – the company or public organization you worked for would keep paying you a pension for the next 30 years – or maybe even longer with that great medical insurance they were paying for as well. Damn you Grandma!
So clearly, we are collectively, as a society too stupid, to understand this issue. But I think I can help educate everyone with one simple solution – let’s Unionize everyone – I mean everyone – every single occupation from CEO to the Janitor – every single person will get a great wage, great benefits and full retirement after 30 years. Sounds great doesn’t it! Oh, you know the UAW, et al. are ready to make me President right now (wait a minute – no I’ll answer that call later). One Question, I have – how long until we go bankrupt as a society? What do you think? I’ll give it 13 seconds. We can all enjoy the same pay benefits and pensions as the unions for 13 seconds – hope you liked it!
I know how we got here – I’ve gone though my labor relations courses, I know the history – the issue is that what we faced 50, 60, 70 years ago, is not what we face now. We created a system that is unsustainable, not only in the private sector (hello GM), but also in the public sector (hello Teachers, government workers, guys making $42K a year holding the sign on the highway to “Slow Down”). We’re done. And Damn It Grandma it’s your fault!