Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bringing the Public Back In


I have received the following email from a number of people and want to explain why I think it's a good idea for ALL salaries to be public information. Let's suppose you are a worker whose salary is "privately" held, this is the case for most workers in the private sector by the way. In such a circumstance two people working side by side doing exactly the same job could be paid widely different salaries by a subjective decision of their employer. It might be illegal for an employer to discriminate according to ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but if salaries are not public then how would one know? Also, even if the employer was not discriminating what good is being served by not knowing one's fellow worker's wage? The only purpose I, and employers through the ages, can see is dividing workers by favoring one type of worker over the other. Who might these privileged workers be? maybe one that works harder but it could also just as easily be one that does not "make waves" or one that is a "team player" or let's be straight forward here, one who is a rat.

Another reason public workers should be in favor of public salaries in a word is democracy. For instance, do you think we should not know the salary of Superintendent Andrekopoulos or President George Bush? Both are public employees who's salaries we know because we as voters are their boss. If we think that they are over or under paid it is incumbent upon us to change the compensation they get or fire them if we don't think they are doing a good job. Accountability is the key idea here not just for the President but for all civil servants on down to teachers, garbage collectors and secretaries. Just as we hope the people should be vigilant for abuse of power at the higher levels of the bureaucracy we should also keep our eyes open for abuse on the street level.

Now the Journal-Sentinel publishes the information because they are right wing populists pandering to the suburban anti-tax crowd who think teachers and other public sector workers are overpaid because in the last 30 years or so they have seen real purchasing power go down and they want to blame you. But this shouldn't stop us from supporting transparency and openness in government for which we all benefit.

I was reading through the Journal this afternoon and found that ANYONE can look up teacher salaries in WI. I found me at.....
Maybe the salaries have always been available, but geez, in this time of "everything is private" they put us in the paper?? UGH!!!!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here. Here. Knowing what other workers get paid helps you understand how much you are getting screwed. The sad thing is that too often people look at someone who has won higher pay through good organizing and bargaining, and complain that they get paid too much. Much more often, the complainer is getting paid far too little. The key is making that point strongly, every time it comes up. For instance, I get paid 75,000 per year in a neighborhood where the median HOUSEHOLD income is 25,000 per year. Now, some will that's sick! And I agree, 25,000 is an disgustingly low income for hard working people who live in the richest country in the world. Median house prices in my neighborhood are around 220,000 (2-3 bedrooms, 1500 sq ft) by the way. So who is getting the "correct" pay?