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1 Daniel Ballard  Fri, Mar 30, 2012 9:57:30pm

Bait & Switch? Nice catch. LOL

How do they get away with it?

2 Obdicut  Sat, Mar 31, 2012 5:06:53am

re: #1 Daniel Ballard

Bait & Switch? Nice catch. LOL

How do they get away with it?

The GOP and the affiliated right-wing media has spent a long time demonizing unions, the federal government, and federal workers in particular. Repeatedly saying the Government never creates jobs, that unions are ripping off the taxpayer, and that pensions-- rather than being something earned by work-- are some sort of unfair gift that the workers get, all of this has created an atmosphere where most GOP voters are actively hostile towards government workers and unionized workers, especially around the subject of pensions.

I think this gives governors a lot of coverage for when they start fucking over government workers.

3 Daniel Ballard  Sat, Mar 31, 2012 8:20:16am

re: #2 Obdicut

Or as we have in California government union pensions were so extremely lucrative that only the very best revenue levels of boom years could possibly support the costs. Instead of 401K's they got "fixed benefit". No matter how little money the state has or how the state investments tanked.

Unions gained an excess of power in Ca. And unaffordable contracts were the result.

An average guy with a good income and a good pension could only look at the government worker benefits and gasp. Then watch the pressure mount for him to pay more state taxes to cover it all.

In California it's not as simple as the GOP. Hell, they have not held the power here for a couple decades. The same problems with the Democratic party in full sway.

How could that possibly be? Simple. These things are not just about the GOP.

4 Obdicut  Sat, Mar 31, 2012 8:34:56am

re: #3 Daniel Ballard

Or as we have in California government union pensions were so extremely lucrative that only the very best revenue levels of boom years could possibly support the costs.

So they shouldn't have been promised those pensions. They were. It was a bad decision, but the decision has been made already. They did the work they were supposed to get those pensions for.

Instead of 401K's they got "fixed benefit". No matter how little money the state has or how the state investments tanked.

Yep. Because that's the deal we made with them. That's how it was set up. That's what they agreed to when they did their jobs. And yet still people try to take it away from them. Unbelievable.

Unions gained an excess of power in Ca. And unaffordable contracts were the result.

Nope. That's a contention, sure, but it's not a reality. A lot of the time, those pensions were in place of actual pay increases. That the unions in CA had a lot of power? Sure. That it was 'excess'? By whose measure? Why?

An average guy with a good income and a good pension could only look at the government worker benefits and gasp. Then watch the pressure mount for him to pay more state taxes to cover it all.

Oh please. The average guy could also make more in the private sector. This was always how it was: better pay in the private sector with a worse retirement plan, government jobs for lower salary, higher pension. Then suddenly everyone discovered oh no those greedy public workers have pensions and our 401(k)s just tanked in the market and we're mad at them now.

In California it's not as simple as the GOP. Hell, they have not held the power here for a couple decades. The same problems with the Democratic party in full sway.

I'm from California, remember? The situation is a little more complex than that, and you know it. Discounting the GOP governors, which interrupts your narrative a little, you know as well as I do that the method California uses to do its budget and taxes is completely fucked up, meaning both that overspending is easier than funding that overspending, and that a small minority can block anything from getting done. California's mess is bipartisan.

How could that possibly be? Simple. These things are not just about the GOP.

You asked how he could get away with it. This is the reason: People have it in for the unions, because of lots of anti-union propaganda. It's not because public workers are evil and greedy and the oh-so-powerful unions dictated terrible contracts to a trembling legislature.

5 reine.de.tout  Sat, Mar 31, 2012 9:08:08am

We don't have a meaningful state employe union in Louisiana, primarily because we have a very strong Civil Service system. People have it in for government employees, just generally, not necessarily because they are anti-union.

That said - some good points here. We worked for the benefits promised. We worked usually under difficult conditions (substandard buildings and furnishings and supplies, lower salaries than private sector) but for many of us, the trade-off was the job security and the end benefits. State employment in Louisiana is also very parent-friendly, in that the holiday schedule is similar to school holiday schedules, and it's not difficult to take off work for sick children, etc.

Louisiana employee retirement is NOT funded from state general fund dollars. Employees make an 8.5% contribution to their retirement; and the state "matches" it with an 11% contribution; that state's match IS drawn from general fund money, as part of employee compensation packages. This money is invested; and retirement benefits are drawn from those investments.

There is an unfunded liability in the retirement system, because the STATE did not always pay its promised portion into the retirement system. That is not the fault of employees; that is squarely on the shoulders of various governors and legislatures. The benefits promised us as part of our compensation package were not funded by our employer.

This goes hand-in-hand with Jindal's attempt to sell the state's group benefits function, which because it has an administrative cost approximately half that of private insurance companies, has managed to accrue a large surplus. In spite of that, however, our premiums just went up. Why? Not because group benefits needed extra money. The premium increase came about as the end result of a study Jindal commissioned to find out how much he could sell the program for. Apparently, to make the program attractive enough to encourage buyers, the premiums had to INCREASE. Part of the sale will include the $500 million surplus - it will be "sold" to whoever buys the program. That $500 million surplus is NOT THE STATE'S MONEY. It is money we, as employees, paid in premiums for our coverage, and the state's match which again, is part of the compensation package (in other words, part of our pay).

Then there's the issue of COLA increases for retirees. These are funded from a SEPARATE pot of money with the state retirement system, NOT GENERAL FUND tax dollars. There is money invested and if the investments earn 3% or more in a year, retirees get a COLA adjustment. Except last year we didn't get it because it would "look" bad, even though the investment account earned double the 3% required.

The whole thing is a major clusterfuck. Citizens demand services. The governor and the legislature pass laws to require the creation of state agencies and the hiring of state employees in order to provide those services. Then they refuse to adequately fund those agencies, or pay increases for employees, and they fail to adequately fund other parts of employees' compensation packages (retirement).

Meanwhile, every legislator has friends/relatives who are the recipients of nice, juicy state contracts, the cost for which contracts are similar to the cost of running the actual agencies. And when push comes to shove, is it the contracts that are cancelled? Nope. It's the state employees who are denigrated for their "cushy" jobs and benefits (which aren't really all that more "cushy" than other major employers offer), and who are taxed over and above and beyond what other residents are taxed.

I'm so disgusted with this - I can hardly see straight.


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