To me, this is a pretty tricky issue. I think this paragraph from the article sums up my opinion:
“At a time when many private sector workers have been badly squeezed by stagnant wages, soaring health care premiums and shrinking 401(k)’s, resentment has grown even among private sector union members toward the public employee unions”
Mind you, I don’t know what it’s like with some of the powerful unions that seem so prevalent in the north…perhaps things have reached the point of crisis, but as a state employee (North Carolina) I’m looking at my third year without an annual raise or pay increase of any sort. We don’t have any collective bargaining rights. Our state employee pension system is constantly being tinkered with, and we’re facing what’s become an annual specter of furloughs, hiring freezes, reductions in operating hours, reductions in staff and services, etc. etc. In short, everything we get in the way of pay or benefits is at the mercy of the whims of our legislators.
To imply that public sector workers are somehow not “sharing the sacrifice”, while the private sector is trapped in a Grapes of Wrath scenario seems pretty disingenuous to me. It should also be said that public employees – more often than not – work for salaries considerably less than than private sector employees of equal education and experience…or simply work in fields that don’t even exist in the private sector. In that respect, many public employees have been sacrificing their whole careers. There is a trade-off, and for many of us, job security and a decent pension is all we have going for us.
Is there wasteful spending in the public sector? Of course…that’s not exactly a big secret, but it’s not always a matter of salaries and pensions. If some state’s budgets have gotten so out of hand that employee benefits have become a problem, so be it…the problem should most certainly be corrected somehow, for the common good. But the current mood towards public employees, their salaries and pensions does reek of scapegoating…our current economic mess didn’t develop in the public sector, nor will it be cured by gutting the public sector.