Albuquerque’s Plague of Unions

Various unions seem to be hell-bent on ruining Albuquerque’s day. First, there was this enlightening story on KOB TV last night which clearly showed the harm that can occur when fat government employee pensions are calculated based on earnings from the final three years of employment.

Because the very modest cuts the city is trying to implement would be averaged into his pension, he is retiring. The retirement of one fire fighter is not like to inflict harm on the citizens of Albuquerque, but this contract is way to generous. Only 21 years of work and his pension is already locked in and generous enough that it makes sense for him to retire — in a very tough job market — and take his pension. Something has got to change.

Then there is the out-of-town carpenters union protest that landed on the front page of today’s Albuquerque Journal. First and foremost, protesting a church is pretty low in and of itself. After all, churches are not normally high-dollar entities like the carpenters union that can afford $20 million to build a new training center. But now the union protesters are, according to the article, using “loud, dirty language” within earshot of children attending school at the church and are disrupting mass.

While the carpenters union protesters have a Constitutional right to free speech, I see them as little better than the scumbags at the Westboro Baptist “Church” that protests military funerals.

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8 Replies to “Albuquerque’s Plague of Unions”

  1. Let the old fats go, change the pension plans and hire the younger guys. AND, no double tipping with any other government jobs by those retired guys either. They left their secure government jobs with a chunk of change and don’t deserve another penny.

  2. I agree that free speech is important. It was formed as a right when society had a natural sense of self censure due to living in a civil society.
    Now, unions, brought in from outside, and probably paid to do so, have no self censure, but rather take liberties born of protection. What a delicous way to keep them busy during an economic down turn if your a boss, and have politics in mind.
    May it be a very hot summer for them. The foul language only afirms they should not be hired on a decent job. They cannot be decent.

  3. A wave of firefighter retirements is good news. They can easily be replaced with new hires at entry-level pay. Certainly there are plenty of young military veterans out there. And if the new hires stay sober, that will be an improvement.

    This would be a great time to offer a slimmed-down pension plan to new employees.

  4. PERA, which manages this fireman’s pension, does not calculate based on the final three years. The pension is calculated on the three highest years.

    Usually, the highest three years will come at the end of a career, but not always.

    There is a lot of misleading information regarding public employees and their pensions. The public deserves better reporting from all sides.

    1. Thanks Dan, you are correct. Slight mis-statement on my part. Either way, the point remains valid.

  5. I wish Paul wouldn’t paint with such a broad brush. AFSCME led the charge to end double dipping this year (something we’d worked on for two years previous to success in the ’10 session). We worked with PERA, Democrats like Speaker Ben Lujan, Representative Lucky Varela, and Senator David Ulibarri, and Republicans including Minority Leader Tom Taylor, Minority Whip Keith Gardner, and Representative Janice Arnold-Jones.

    AFSCME has also proposed several ways to limit “spiking”, although the case here doesn’t quite fall into that category.

    Defined benefit plans make total sense in a sector where recruiting and retaining people for decades is the goal. In the private sector, where job mobility is often desirable, companies come and go, and entire industries rise and fall in a 30 year period, defined contribution plans (e.g. 401k’s) may make more sense.

    But don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater–instead, work with entities like AFSCME who want to shore up the pension plans to ensure that taxpayers are getting full value for their investment in public servants like firefighters, corrections officers, nurses, teachers, and other hard-working people who often put their lives on the line for all of us.

  6. This baby is not worth saving. Throw them all out and start new with younger and more realistic thinking babies. Get a clue…the money is not there…thanks to people like Speaker Ben Lujan.

  7. Is it any wonder that the slow death of union sat the hands of corporatist conservative Republicans has coincided with the gap between the richest of the rich, who the Rio Grande Foundation caters to, and the rest of the population?

    Unions are great at helping the middle class. Unfortunately, the war on the middle class started by Reagan and continued by folks like Newt Gingrich, the CATO Institute (which helps fund the Rio Grande Foundation) and other far-right groups continues to this day.

    The fact that Gessing and his cabal are more interested in these people than the billions of dollars in corporate subsidies (including to the Oil and Gas industry which dwarf that of any green energy production, which the Rio Grande Foundation have opposed at every turn, perhaps because of funding by oil and gas entities) shows where their priorities lie.

    Sad.

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