Monday, May 18, 2009

Pay Cuts v. Layoffs and Other Alternatives

Today’s rant will be relatively short.

Public servants are facing some drastic changes in employment that were unheard of until recently. Government cash flow is in a bind. The contrived tax revolt and tanked economy have produced a real problem that will affect you other public employees soon if not already. Reliable experts promise it will get much worse before it gets better.

Layoff provisions in most CBAs were an afterthought no one really believed would ever require use. Oh boy, were we wrong or what? Forget about the usual mantra we hum about how they are out to get us. Even our friends are looking to decide whose job is on the chopping block. Our enemies are just trying to decide who to screw first and to make sure it is us. It is every man and woman for him/herself in times like this.

American culture seems to favor layoffs if hiring freezes and attrition will not work. There are other options considered first in other countries that we tend to avoid In America. Let’s look at some of the options:

Find the money they hid away. (That will not work in a time like this. There is probably not enough to meet long range deficits.)

Pay freeze. (This will not fix today’s problem. Only in the future will this lessen the green bleeding.)

Hiring Freeze (Same analysis as above.)

Lay offs. (Hurts a few traumatically and allows the ER to shed unwanted employees but makes hiring costly later on.)

Cut pay. (Hurts all except the ER and is a morale killer for those left behind.)
Reduce work week. (Like a pay cut but makes it easier to restore status quo.)

Shift benefit cost to employees. (Happens every day and will not fix the problem.)
Reduce benefits. (Same analysis as above.)

These are not the only options, just the most obvious. None of this addresses reductions in service and productivity which the ER is trying to avoid and the public does not expect. The public has been brainwashed into thinking you are expendable tax consumers, and your salary could be spent on anything more important. Whose fault is that?

You may have to face deciding how to negotiate a negative outcome. That is something most have not had to do. All the options are unpleasant. Public employees need an education in reality so they can guide their leadership as you try to navigate in uncertain waters. Standing by without participating in reducing the trauma and whining about how mistreated you are will not make things better. Head up the ass syndrome will allow the employers to do as they please. The legal system cannot undo years of bad political judgment, nonexistent planning and poor management unless the employer breaks the law and then not before the axe falls.

And Oh Yes, Have a Nice Day.


*Any rant from Lectores may contain minor error in detail but not in the general idea. It’s a rant not a calmly written research paper.

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