See my headline up there? That should have been the headline of a front page story in the Zero today. Instead what we got in the Metro section was:
Labor bites deeper into state budget
Here’s the sub head:
The governor’s deal with unions is $42 million high, making public service cuts more likely
Here’s the story. Multnomah County Governor John Kitzhaber was apparently left alone to negotiate with the SEIU and AFSCME. He led us to believe that he’d get concessions from the union considering we’re facing what is at the very least a double dip recession. Kitzhaber claimed he’d require unions to pay some of the costs of their health care coverage.
|PHOTO CREDIT SILENCE DOGOOD NOT THE O
Instead, what do we get? The Governor doing his Home Alone impression.
Here’s what the tough negotiator got:
The Kitzhaber administration reached a settlement on a new two-year contract with SEIU and AFSCME in July that for the first time requires workers to pay 5 percent of their health premium costs. It also included cost-of-living and step increases, but those will be partially offset in this two-year period by 10 to 14 unpaid furlough days.
So instead of holding the line on his own much ballyhooed cost limit, Kitzhaber BUILT IN FUTURE SPENDING PAY RAISES FOR ALL GOVERNMENT UNION WORKERS!
Co Speaker of the House (and business owner) Bruce Hanna was incredulous about giving pay increases during a deep recession:
“[W]hy would you increase your spending on labor if you know that’s all happening?”
The SEIU and AFSCME say they’ve haven’t realized their pay increases granted under former Governor Kulongoski (4.75%!) because they’ve put them off during the recession. Nice. So what do the unions do? Build in EVEN HIGHER RAISES they know we can’t afford! Unbelievable!
The Legislature based its budget on the 6 percent increase, which carried a price tag to the general fund of $182 million. Now, however, the over all increase is 7.4 percent, or $224 million, according to Ken Rocco, the legislative fiscal officer.
Kitzhaber recently renegotiated the contracts for SEIU and AFSCME, and the result was three permanent pay raises for the unions, continued gold-plated health care coverage, and no change to the 6% PERS employee pickup.
The public employee unions’ gold-plated health care coverage includes medical plans with no deductibles, and coverage for dental, vision and life insurance.
The small victories for taxpayers were a continuation of temporary furlough days and the requirement for state public employee union members to start paying up to 5% of their health insurance.
5% is a pittance compared to other states:
More cost cutting is set to happen to pay for the union raises. The story on the front page of the Zero may tell the tale:
ODOT plans to close the only public restroom on U.S. 26 from Portland to Madras to save money
Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://www.victoriataft.com