Posted Monday, May 16, 2016 8:37 AM | Contributed by Jeff
Firefighters and emergency service providers working for Reedy Creek Improvement District, protested a stalled contract negotiations Sunday by picketing at the Disney Springs reopening. The issue is the contract talks are now at impasse and awaiting a decision from a special magistrate over pay and health insurance, as well as cancer and wellness screenings.
Read more from WKMG/Orlando.
I have nothing but respect for firefighters, but there are so many realities ignored on the part of the workers. Firefighter jobs are super competitive, and the more that people want to do it, the less the pay and benefits are going to be. You can argue that's how governments can "get away with it," but it's true. As is often the case with government jobs, there also has to be an understanding that the spending is not discretionary. Reedy Creek is a different beast, certainly, but generally, municipalities and school districts can't just pay more because they feel like it. I'm not making a moral judgment, that's just the way that it is.
That said, I looked at one of their recent contracts, and the firefighters are making more than the average from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the district contributes more to their health insurance than my employer does (and they pay pretty well).
You see similar issues with teachers (Westlake is going through contract negotiation now in northeast Ohio). Communities have $x amount to pay comp. You determine how many teachers (or police or fire) you need and how much you can pay them with the money available. If you can get the number and quality of people you want at that comp, you are good. If not, you need to look at either increasing revenues (something which is currently difficult to do in many parts of the country) or cut other spending.
There is often a disconnect from reality. From what I have read, average teacher salary in Westlake is $74,000 (putting them in top 1-2% of all school districts in Ohio) which is about the same as average household income in Westlake (without factoring in other benefits (such as a non-bankruptable pension v. 401(k), summers off and lower premiums/co-pays for healthcare). Tough to get a lot of support when you make more than half the households (many of which presumably have two people working to reach that household income) and increases for teachers (and other public employees) must be paid for with higher taxes or reduced other services (or a combination of the two).
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