Labor Day 2014: The Difference Between Private And Public


Back when the State of Illinois actually had a “middle class” worthy of the name, most of its unionized employees worked in the private sector and were heirs to the proud tradition of private-sector trade unionists like William Sylvis (iron molders), Samuel Gompers (cigarmakers), John L. Lewis (mine workers), Walter Reuther (auto workers) and George Meany (plumbers).

But while Illinois ranks 7th (behind New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and California) in public-sector unionization with 54.7% of its public-sector employees belonging to unions – up from 38.4% in 1983 – less than 10% of Illinois’ private-sector workers are unionized, down from approximately 22% in 1983. And that’s even as private sector employment has grown by 30% versus only 3% in the public sector.

Meanwhile, the public sector expansionists and apologists bemoan the shrinking “middle class” – which in Illinois is generally described as a household income between $37,500 and $112,500.

Which means that here in Park Ridge many/most households with two public-sector incomes exceed “middle-class” status and become “upper-class” after only a few years.

If those incomes were all merit-based and the product of fair arm’s-length negotiations, we’d have no problem with them.

Unfortunately, the proud tradition of private-sector unions got lost in translation as the public-sector unions turned collusion with politicians of both Democrat and Republican stripes into a quasi-pornographic art form – while also becoming adept at manipulating soft-headed “non-partisan” local politicians who lack the backbone to aggressively negotiate contracts on behalf of their taxpayer-constituents.

Yes, invertebrate board members at School Districts 64 and 207…we mean you!

Fortunately, rookie Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s small but significant victory last week over Illinois’ Dark Lord of the Sith, Michael (“Darth”) Madigan, is the first sign in decades that an Illinois governor not only isn’t in the pocket of this state’s public-sector unions but, also, that he might be able to go toe-to-toe with those unions and their Sith co-conspirators.

Rauner was able to beat back Madigan’s and his Dem sycophants’ efforts to override Rauner’s veto of a bill that would have stripped the governor of the authority to negotiate contracts with Illinois public employee unions, particularly AFSCME, and would have empowered some unaccountable arbitrator (very likely a Madigan stooge) to impose on taxpayers his/her idea of what’s a “fair” deal for the unions.

Our local Dem puppet, Rep. Marty Moylan, voted for override while RINO Rep. Mike McAuliffe voted a gutless “Present.”

And that victory over Madigan was essential, considering that the Illinois Senate led by Madigan lackey, Illinois Senate president John Cullerton – assisted by his Senate sub-puppets like Park Ridge’s own, Sen. Dan Kotowski and Sen. John Mulroe, both Dems – had already overridden Rauner’s veto.

Rauner was right to fight that battle, and Illinois taxpayers are lucky he won it. Because every time Illinois’ public-sector employees have their compensation and benefits, including their $100 billion-plus underfunded pensions, juiced up without a commensurate increase in productivity, Illinois becomes less attractive to the private industry and investment needed to pay the taxes that fund such arguably overpriced employees.

But Rauner is dead wrong when he tries to lump private-sector unions together with the public-sector ones and treat them similarly. The former are bound by inherent capitalistic checks and balances of the free marketplace, including real risks such as termination, employer relocation and bankruptcy – while the latter operate on unchecked socialistic principles and captive markets with few, if any, of those risks.

And the longer the public sector continues to dominate the private sector, the tougher it will be for our children and their children to pursue the American Dream.

So as we wrote in our Labor Day 2013 post: “consider spending a few minutes contemplating how we can restore to prominence the private sector labor and management that built this country – while reducing the growing dominance of the collusive public sector labor and politics that is undermining it.

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9 comments so far

Dawg, public sector unions haven’t become a “quasi-pornographic art form”, it’s more akin to de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom; a few privileged pensioners indulge in financial sadism upon the unsuspecting taxpayer that cultivates in the destruction of us all. The annual pensions of these despicable pension cheats exceeds the average yearly incomes of most Americans. I’d love to suggest the storming of the Bastille as a kind of taxpayer revolution but the closest Illinois has to such prison, Tamms, was closed in 2013, in part, to pay for these very same pensions!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again you missed the boat, Serf, because you’re looking at only the tip of the iceberg when it’s the rest of the iceberg below the surface that is sinking the ship.

For every one of the “Top 200” on that list (which ends at $197K of annual pension) there are another 100 or more – including many recently-retired classroom teachers – who are at lower levels but still knocking down high-5 or low-6 figure annual pensions that they started drawing at age 55 or 60 after contributing single-digit percentages of the multi-millions they will eventually receive.

Given your myopia on this – e.g., you apparently missed the small print at the bottom of page 2 of that report, which states that “[t]here are 11,054 pensioners collecting more than $100k per year…[and] 78,526 pensioners…collecting over $50k per year” – maybe you’re one of those high-5/low-6 figure pensioners yourself who is trying to get the average taxpayer to focus his/her wrath only at the Top 200.

Something that needs saying, said well. Now watch the public employee union trolls start commenting.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Perhaps they’ve already started.

If each of those 11,054 were getting just $100K/year (and we know they are getting far more than that), that is over $1 Billion right there. And the 78,526 getting just $50K/year (also an underestimate) adds another $39 Billion. And that’s real money that will only increase.


Interestingly enough, as best as we can tell NONE of our units of local government publish lists of their retired employees’ annual pensions, their total contributions, their year of retirement, their age at retirement, pension paid to date, and the estimated lifetime payout (to age 85). That might make for some interesting conversation over the back fence if a 65-year old, still-working-in-the-private-sector taxpayer were to discover that his 57-year old public-sector retired neighbor – oh, say, a teacher – is drawing a $90K/year pension…and tutoring kids out of our Library for $50/hour with no overhead.

I agree, but the collusion doesn’t end with just the public employee unions. The Prevailing Wage Act extends state protection to all the plumbers, electricians, masons, painters and drivers who work on any government capital project. That means the State has been setting wages that every school district, park district, and municipality must pay those contract workers as well. Painters, for example get around $70 per hour including benefits.

This turns many of these traditionally private sector occupations into de facto state patronage jobs, causing the same cozy relationships between those union leaders and members and the legislators that currently represent our fair city, not to mention their Sith overlord.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Not a meaningful comparison, because the prevailing wage means only that a union private painter and a non-union private painter are on equal footing re labor costs for outsourced work that still has to be competitively bid. So no private painting contractor can be guaranteed to get the work unless it’s the low bidder; and the only way to be the low bidder is, generally, to acccept the smallest profit; or to have the more efficient painters who paint more per hour. to

Public employment, on the other hand, is a no-bid closed shop. So a painting contractor bidding on work has no real incentive to contribute to an alderman’s or School Board member’s campaign, unlike Local 150 or the PREA who monopolize their respective closed shops.

Whoa, you and I are in agreement about something; and all the sudden you veer off the cliff of logical fallacies and say that I miss the boat because I mentioned only the top 200 pensioners rather than the top 100,000?

Of course the 100,000+ pensioners, probably more, are part of the problem too, but my comment was only a paragraph long!

Newsflash: Taxpayers United publishes a list of 200, and not 200,000, because it’s easy to put names and faces to these public servants that are fleecing our great state. Pointing out the worst of the worst who are 1%ers due to pensions creates fervor and momentum to actually make change; droning on about 78,526 pensioners with $50k+ pensions is putting me to sleep just thinking about those actuarial figures…

Also, I’m probably half your age but I’ll be paying these pensions the rest of my life. And will my generation ever get social security? Well, I’m sure I’ll get some nominal dollar figure from social security, but the purchasing power of that nominal figure won’t buy me gallon of milk!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sorry, Serf, but you’re either lost in the funhouse or you’re playing “Look, there goes Elvis!” with your Top 200 – because the 11,054 getting that $100K/year sock the taxpayers for over $1 BILLION right there; and the 78,526 getting a measly $50K/year add another $39 BILLION.

Next time, drink a couple of cups of Starbucks (or just put a good-sized pinch of ground Jamaican Blue Mountain between cheek and gum, snuff style) and force yourself to write an additional paragraph because we’ll definitely print it.

If you want to keep paying these pensions while wondering whether you’ll get social security that can’t buy you a gallon of milk, you deserve whatever you get.

A billion here, and a billion there, and then we start talking about real money!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here in Sillinois, a billion doesn’t even get anybody in Springfield’s attention anymore.

“64% of millennials believe that they are more likely to win the lottery than receive any money from Social Security, compared with 49% of Gen Xers.”

So yeah, get off my lawn!!!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pretty darn sad when 50% of the neo-“sharp” generation is that dumb.

We always read your pension cries and the public sectors employees are never good enough for you. What is Illinois welfare recipients costing us? Tomorrow is September 11th, where’s the love?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Public sector employees aren’t bad, just not always worth what they’re paid – especially with pensions more lucrative than those enjoyed by the taxpayers who fund them.

The relatively soon to be ex governor of Wisconsin got private sector unions on board to silence public sector unions … and once he did that, he turned on them. Why are you shocked that his protege, the one term governor of Illinois, is doing nothing different. Unions either need to stick together or they will be picked off individually by a coporatist spokesman who could care less about tax payers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: What Scott Walker did or didn’t doesn’t change the fact that the dynamics of private-sector, for-profit labor is far different from public-sector, non-profit labor.

Workers in the public sector get to elect their “bosses” – the lawmakers – and, therefore, have leverage over those “bosses” that private-sector workers can’t match when it comes to wage increases irrespective of productivity and constitutionally-guaranteed pension benefits. Public sector employees generally also work for monopolies: when public school teachers go on strike, there is no competing public school system available unless parents want to move to another town.

Hence, we have public high school teachers making $100K+ for 9 months of work before retiring at 55-60 with guaranteed pensions of $75-85K that private sector teachers can’t begin to match by Social Security (even deferring retirement to age 70 for max benefits) and 401(k)s.

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