Public employees get paid more for working less in 2009

From the Senate Republican Office

New information from the Department of Administrative Services reveals that the average Oregon state public employee will earn $897 more in compensation in 2009 despite working fewer days. Such an unprecedented windfall in an unfriendly economic climate is thanks in large part to massive pay increases and one-of-a-kind health benefits.

“Oregon taxpayers are essentially paying more for less service,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli, Senate Republican Leader (R-John Day). “Almost every business, large and small, in the state is cutting back, reducing payroll and scaling back health benefits. But public employee unions continue to ride the gravy train straight to the bank, while taxpayers get sent a larger and larger tax bill.”

In 2008, the average public employee union member received compensation of $68,131 per year ($47,724 in salary, $20,407 in benefits). In 2009, the same employee will take home $69,028 in compensation ($48,459 in salary, $20,569 in benefits), even after $2,682 has been deducted for furlough days.

“State government continues to squeeze Oregonians, many of whom are unemployed and underemployed, in order to offer public employees one of the richest benefit packages available,” said Senator Doug Whitsett (R-Klamath Falls). “Meanwhile, Oregon hemorrhages jobs so fast that the only thing keeping our unemployment rate steady is that many people are too discouraged to keep looking for work. Government grows on the back of Oregon businesses, and thanks to spending excesses like these, Oregon employers are being crushed.”

During the last budget cycle, in one of the worst recessions of the past 50 years, public employees received pay increases that will cost taxpayers $248 million over the next two years. In addition, 100% of a unionized public employee’s health insurance premium is paid for by taxpayers.

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Posted by at 02:56 | Posted in Measure 37 | 30 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Duck fan

    There’s a word for the terms under which the employees are compensated. It’s called a contract. Want to cut health benefits? Negotiate! Want to cut pay? Negotiate it the next time the contract is open.

    Meanwhile, stop putting all the blame for Oregon’s miserable economy on government workers.

    A lot of it is Oregon’s incompetent business class.

    • Jim Ray (Beaver Fan)

      Or if the State had the guts they’d admit they are bankrupt, declare bankruptcy, and adios contracts. Start over with some fiscal sanity. The current PERS contract(s) are insane.

      • eagle eye

        Interesting idea, even if very unlikely at the present time.

        If the State did declare bankruptcy, do you foresee an asset sale? i.e. the state roads, college campuses, parks, Salem property, etc etc?

        And do you foresee defaulting on state bonds?

        Where would your beavs play without the Reser stadium?

        • Tax payer

          No, taking a page from Obama’s auto bailout. Oregon could pre-package the bankruptcy, voiding the contracts and request that the judges void all previous negotiations. Sounds kinda sneaky but what is good enough for Obama is good enough for Oregon.

          • Duck fan

            Yeah, and in the auto deal, the stockholders got completely wiped out, the bondholders got stiffed, the workers made out far better than either. That’s the kind of deal you want for Oregon?

            ee is right on this one, but it’s even worse for the state than he realizes.

          • Steve Plunk

            In this case who are the stockholders who might get wiped out? The taxpayers? In the long run we get renegotiated labor contracts, renegotiated pensions, and a government that’s learned a lesson about it’s fiduciary responsibilities.

            We have a failed state government. It has bankrupted us by most measures and the coming unfunded pension problems will make things worse. The PERS problem has been evident for decades yet our elected leaders ignored the problem and the professional bureaucracy had no interest in fixing the problem. Both failed us.

            Oregon taxpayers have been without real representation for years. From our local school districts to the state government we have not had an advocate working for us. Too many wanted to just get along and pass the problem off to their successors. Now we have problems that can’t get passed along but have to be dealt with immediately.

            Should we sell state assets? Yes we should and let’s start with state timber land. Should we reduce state agencies? Yes, across the board. Should we enact pay cuts? Right again. There are plenty of jobless Oregonians that are qualified and ready to take those jobs at lower wages. While we are at it we should require all state retirees to, wait for it, retire. That’s right, stop the double dipping that enriches them while keeping another Oregonian out of work. If it wasn’t for their cronies the retirees wouldn’t have those jobs in the public or private sectors.

            Reality is knocking so it’s time for Oregonians to answer the door and get things done the right way instead the old fashioned way that has put us in this predicament.

          • Duck fan

            More of your usual hot air. Why don’t you cut the blowhard routine and try winning some elections for a change? Instead of the wild talk about bankruptcy, how about just showing some moxie in the next round of labor negotiations.

            You say you don’t control the state government? OK, down there in your neck of the woods, take on the local teachers. Cut their pay or just freeze it. Show the rest of us how it’s done.

            Oh, I know, people down there are too busy growing, selling, and smoking pot in your so-called economy.

          • Steve Plunk

            Duck fan, You seem to be confused. This is a place for all of us to share our views, to speak out, to exchange ideas. The hot air you speak of is the exchange of ideas between people of a like mind who want to see better for our state.

            This is not a regional issue but a statewide issue. Using misdirection about this “neck of the woods” is silly. The pot thing, silly. In fact there wasn’t any part of your post that addressed the issue. It’s time for you to step up and get some thought behind your posts before they all begin to look like troll droppings.

          • Duck fan

            Seriously, you people in the sticks should show the rest of the state how to take care of this. You can’t do anything about PERS on your own, but you can cut teacher pay, etc etc. Show us the way!

            Actually, within living memory, the pansies in Eugene have taken a teachers’ strike, a bus drivers’ strike, a strike at UO. Maybe that’s not enough. Show us how to really get tough!

          • retired UO science prof

            I’m sitting here in the UO library reading these amusing posts at a public terminal, in between doing a bit of library research for my double-dipping job. Yes, I may be one of those retirees who is “double dipping”, I don’t quite see it the way you do, though. I retired quite recently, but my department needed somebody to teach a large extra section of a low-level course in my field. Due to the large influx of students here. Yes, business is good. I can assure you I wasn’t dying to do this, but they needed me. I made sure the money made it worth my while, I wasn’t trying to make a killing, but I wanted to get paid decently. They were happy and relieved to be able to call me back. Maybe you’re right, maybe they could have hired some turkey off the street to do it for less, maybe someone decent but an unknown quantity. But they didn’t want to take the risk. Call it double-dipping if you like, I accepted the deal they offered me.

    • eagle eye

      fan — You are right about the contracts — but don’t expect these Republicans (like the ones who wrote this blog piece) ever to do anything. Would they ever come out and say they’d take a strike to break the public unions? Not in a lifetime!

      • Jim Ray (go Beavs!)

        If the State did declare bankruptcy, do you foresee an asset sale? i.e. the state roads, college campuses, parks, Salem property, etc etc?

        No “major” sales but rather a restructuring of contracts, spending, and levels of state employment, etc.

        And do you foresee defaulting on state bonds?

        NO. There are ample funds to make bond payments. Bonds are not the problem. Union contracts, & PERS are. And OH YEAH, Little Davis Bacon needs to go buh-bye!

        Where would your beavs play without the Reser stadium?

        Reestablishing Fiscal sanity is much more important than where my ‘beavs play’. Take notice eagle eye, I’ve got my priorities in order and as much as I love athletics of all types, the State of Oregon has much larger fish to fry right now than ‘where the beavs play’.

        • eagle eye

          This is a very rosy-eyed view of bankruptcy. It’s not how bankruptcy usually works. The stockholders generally get totally wiped out — they lose their property. People who are owed money — creditors, suppliers, etc. — come first. The same would likely happen if a state declared bankruptcy — the “stockholders” being the taxpayers.

          You can’t just say you don’t like the contracts you made, then tear them up and unilaterally write new ones.

          Your attitude about Reser stadium is more realistic. It’s not clear what would happen to the public university campuses. Probably they would be sold to some kind of public corporation which would then pay for them out of greatly higher tuition charged to the students — to pay off the state obligations to current and former employees, bondholders, etc. etc.

      • Rupert in Springfield

        Actually you are dead right about this one. The Republicans you see elected in this state are very much the blue blood Rockefeller type who are more interested in getting along than getting things done. Frankly a Republican that really stood for something would do exactly as you suggest. Renegotiate the contracts with massive cuts in the gold plated health care and pension system and accept the strike that would obviously ensue. Frankly I think it would be in the states long term interest to do exactly that.

        Do I think it will happen? No. Does embarking on a course of raising taxes on business, even if they are losing money in the middle of a recession make more sense? Not on your life, its just politically more feasible, even if it doesn’t solve OR’s long term problems the way breaking up the unions would.

  • Anonymous

    I blame our economic woes on too much regulation and taxation, not on too much salary for state workers. We are strangling our local businesses with redtape, then, if against all odds profits are actually made, we rape and pillage our way through the pocketbook.

    If Oregon was actually a good place to do business, we’d have a booming economy and money would be flowing into the public coffers – and we’d be able to afford to pay a world-class staff of workers a decent wage to better handle a greatly reduced bureaucracy.

    • v person

      “If Oregon was actually a good place to do business, we’d have a booming economy and money would be flowing into the public coffers”

      You may have missed the news, but Oregon is part of the United States, which is just starting to emerge from its worst recession since the 1930s. Whether we are a good or bad state to do business in is not very relevant to the present state budget situation.

      • Jerry

        But to be the second worst state of 50???
        Something is very wrong – very.

        • v person

          Yes, I think we are tied with South Carolina. Try finding a more “business friendly” place than a state with no income tax, no unions, right to work laws, and an all Republican government.

          Sorry if this news bursts your brain.

          • Anonymous

            How about a state with no urban growth boundaries and natural resources you are actually allowed to cut down and build things with?

  • Andrew

    Ha! Jeff Mapes has already called shenanigans on this one because the very basis for the study is factually incorrect!

    With Ron Maurer’s grade-school-grammar, amateur-hour post on federal health reform and now this, the Republicans in the legislature are really doing a bang-up job! Why, again, do Democrats have majorities in both houses?

  • Bob Clark

    One of the big problems with Duck F’s opinion is the folks negotiating the state contracts from the state side do not have the best interest of citizens at heart when they negotiate wages and salaries. The paradigm of good governance is broken in the state of Oregon.

    First conflict of interest:
    Government employee unions are allowed to make large contributions to political campaigns for those running for public office. In fact, these unions are probably far and away the biggest contributors presently. So, in effect the state government employee unions buy off elected officials, the same officials responsible for directly and indirectly negotiating their wage and benefits.

    A second big conflict of interest”
    Many elected representatives of the Oregon legislature end up eventually as agency administrators, and if they can effect as legislators large compensation for state administrators, they too will benefit from negotiating high benefits for state employees.

    To use John Kenneth Galbraith’s own terms. The state sourly lacks a counter balancing power to the state government employee unions.

    I think for these reasons Duck F. has run afoul.

    • Alan Holland

      In reply to several earlier posts:
      1. Oregon is objectively a GOOD state for business according to the total tax burden on businesses… OR is less than WA, CA, ID and about 5th lowest overall in the US. Measures 66-67, Tax fairness reforms will still make businesses pay significantly LESS tax than in our neighboring states! “Job killing tax reform” is a deliberate opposite description of the effects. Schools, city, county, and state jobs and services will have to be cut dramatically if the very wealthy and big corporations are not required to pay their FAIR shares. 97.5% of all Oregonians will not pay more taxes; only those who are not now paying enough and can easily afford to pay more will be affected by M 66 & 67.
      2. Stop the union bashing. unions gave us OSHA, th 40 hr work week, health insurance, safety requirements in jobs, eliminated child sweatshops, and many other things EVERYONE takes as normal, fair, expected worker benefits. Rich business (and mislead smaller business people) object to almost anything that benefits workers and costs the business. It is short sighted to think resisting the provision of a safe, healthy, not-overworked workforce is good business, unions usually have to fight for these things that ultimately benefit BOTH workers and the long term success of good business.
      3. It is mis information to say that “unions are allowe to make large contributions to political campaigns”. Political action committees with some affiliations to unions exist… but they are NOT unions; by law unions cannot and do NOT make political contributions. PAC’s act on the behalf of individuals who make voluntary contributions… separate from union dues, and acting independently of a union. EG, People for the Improvement of Education (PIE) is funded not be OEA Union dues but be totally separate VOLUNTARY contributions from individual citizens many of whom happen to be current and former public educators and support professionals.
      4. To bitch about unions misses the point that this is merely a means for large numbers of citizens with common interests to unite and seek to protect and further their interests… this is VERY DEMOCRATIC. Without uniting, these workers would be at the mercy of the rich and powerful administrations of agencys and corporations. Wealth is often made, not on the creative hard work of a boss but by exploiting the workers by compensating them less than the value of their work.
      5. A contract is a legally binding agreement and should be honored as much as possible.
      6. RE counter balancing govt. employee unions: govt. jobs are typically overworked, and underpaid. the benefit is they are usually more stable than private work. Stability in govt. is a good thing for business and society as it allows predictability in social services and structure without which business is unlikely. We should be grateful to public employees serving the common good, not bitching at them for being compensated for what they do for society.

      • Not Your Pal

        Alan: Thanks for proving you are nothing more than a union/public employee shill. I bet you even work for a government agency. People like you are the problem in Oregon – not a solution of any kind.

        • Anonymous

          Note that you’ve not addressed Alan’s argument, but resorted to name calling. It’s a logical fallacy one might suspect you resorted to because you’ve got no sound argument.

  • Moe

    PACS are a joke. All the union thugs give to them.
    Until Oregon is a right to work state the whole point is moot. The union thug money will flow to the dem coffers unabated.
    Nice try. You must belong to a union to be that defensive.

    • Anonymous

      “All the union thugs give to them?” What exactly does this mean? Are you saying that the membership of public employee related PAC’s all speak with New York or Chicago accents are affiliated with the mob, and run around beating people up who get in their way? If you are, that’s a pretty accurate description of Oregon’s public employees. Actually, not so much. What we have here isn’t sound argument grounded in fact, but uninsightful low quality caricature. We really need to provide better funding to the schools.

  • Roadrunner

    Where’s the correction from Oregon Catalyst?

    The Oregon G.O.P. puts out disinformation, Oregon Catalyst passes it on, then when it’s made clear that it’s disinformation, Oregon Catalyst is silent.

  • Roadrunner

    “OregonCatalyst is a place for conservative Oregonians to gather and share news, commentary, and gossip.”

    You should add “Republican propanda that has no basis in fact”

  • Cull egregious PERSnatching and all other aggravants to the bone

    The mythical state of Jefferson, established south of Salem, north of Sacramento, could be a fine state of existence – in essence, securely pastured far afield from OR and CA State House jackasses and PAC mules bent on pinning taxing tales on their hapless hosts every time some secular socialist paradigm and public sector gee whiz ant cries out like Fanny Brice’s “Baby Snooks” (bwahaha!) character.

  • larnold

    Hi! I’m doing my own research on the subject, and I’m looking for primary sources. Is there any chance that you still have the link to this study you cited? If so, can you post it? Thanks!

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