Seeking Liberty

Liberty is the Fruit from Which All Progress Grows

SEPTA Employees demand higher pay, no loss of benefits as the rest of the nation tightens its belt

It takes real cajones for government employees to go on strike for more pay during a recession, when most people are losing their jobs or being forced to take pay cuts to keep their them. Leave it to the employees of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, or SEPTA, to do just that.

The strike by Transport Workers Union Local 234 will all but cripple a transit system that averages more than 928,0000 trips each weekday. The union represents more than 5,000 drivers, operators and mechanics of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

“There will be people waking up this morning needing to commute into work. And unfortunately, there’s not going to be service for them,” said SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams.

[snip]

Union workers, who earn an average $52,000 a year, are seeking an annual 4 percent wage hike and want to keep the current 1 percent contribution they make toward the cost of their health care coverage.

Maloney said SEPTA was offering an 11.5 percent wage increase over 5 years, with no raise in the first year, and increases in workers’ pensions.

The average SEPTA employee earns almost as much as an average Pennsylvania family just on their own, yet they want the taxpayers to foot the bill for an average $2,000 per year pay increase. Meanwhile most Americans are worried about keeping their jobs and falling wages as the recession continues, despite the wishful thinking of Congress, the President and certain media outlets.

The unemployment rate for the Philadelphia Metro currently stands at 8.8% with the national rate expected to top 9.8% for October. Account for disgruntled workers and others who are not otherise counted and perhaps 14%-16% of the nation’s labor force is out of work. Vast sections of the workforce are under-employed. Tax revenues are falling across the nation as labor is slashed and property values fall. States and the Federal Government are all issuing huge amounts of debt just to pay for current expenses. Families are scrounging to get by; most people are worried about keeping their jobs.

SEPTA employees apparently see it a different way: They think the taxpayers owe them more. They think they are entitled to better-than-average wages for driving buses and subway trains and maintaining tracks and benches. They believe themselves deserving of ever-increasing salaries and benefits despite the national trend of cutting-back and the need for governments and families to reduce expenses.

Excerpt from “Money”
as recorded by Craig Morgan
“I Love It” (2003)
Broken Bow Records

You can put it in a bank
Hide it in a jar
Scrape it up, save it up for a rainy day
Or blow it on a car
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich
Or just plain dirt poor
Totally set, or swimmin’ in debt
Everybody wants a little more

Moolah, greenbacks
Bread, dough, cash yeah,
Money!
Talking ’bout gold, pearls, diamond rings
Houses, boats, cars,
Ka-ching!
Money!

Benjamin Franklins, Abrhama Lincolns
Hamiltons, Washingtons
–I know what you’re thinkin’–
Money!

Do these unionzed government employees believe that the money their employer pays them comes from thin air? As the song later says, “It might be made out of wood but it don’t grow on trees.” Do beleive think they have a right to an ever-increasing standard of living? To their jobs? To their lifestyle?

The situation in Philadelphia exemplifies two different aspects of the current degenerative state of our nation: The entitlement syndrome, where individuals and groups believe themselves deserving of increasing pay, benefits and standards of living without working harder to achieve it, and the power of unions and other groups that propogate such myths and force employers to give up such concessions.

No victory is achieved, no status improved without it being earned. If SEPTA employees want pay increases, they should first earn high marks for customer service, on-time performance and other factors critical to the authority’s mandate. Tie the pay increases to performance, not automatic gifting from the taxpayers.

SEPTA has a long-standing nick-name given it by people from the Philadelphia area: Screwing Every Person Taking A ride. Not content to screw just their riders, SEPTA employees now appear eager to screw every taxpayer in Southeast Pennsylvania.

Originally posted at The Minority Report.

Filed under: economics, Government, taxes, , , , , , , ,

One Response

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