Friday, May 22, 2009

Why California is broke

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
WATSONVILLE -- More than 70 members of the Watsonville police and fire departments grossed more than $100,000 each in 2008, according to a city report.

Tens of thousands of dollars in overtime pay drove up wages, in some cases by more than 50 percent, the report shows.

The report, produced by officials as background for union negotiations, was released to the [Santa Cruz] Sentinel on Tuesday as the first installment of a public records request for salary information on all city employees. ...

But aside from the top brass, 40 officers and sergeants grossed more than $100,000. Three officers and five sergeants grossed more than $130,000, in some cases surpassing the pay of lieutenants.
The article lists 75 city employees making over $100k. They also get about 25% more in benefits, and get to retire at the 90% of their last year's salary.

In case you are thinking that the California Bay Area is an expensive place to live, Watsonville is a poor farm town on the Monterey Bay. About half the population is Mexican and the housing is relatively cheap.

Update: A Watsonville fireman replies:
Imagine pointing out examples from American labor's bloody history showing the only antidote to capital is organized labor. The only way conditions ever improve for working men and women in this country is when union strength counters management's advantage. ...

The question readers should ask is not "How could firefighters earn $100,000 a year?" but rather, "How can my fire department meet their legal and more responsibility to protect lives and property if the city demands another 10 percent cut from minimal staffing and a shoestring budget?"
With an attitude like that, they need a much bigger cut.

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