Kriss Says Public Workers Overpaid

JULY 2004
- Claims Salaries 20% Higher Than Private Sector - According to Governor Romney's favorite pit bull, Eric Kriss, public
employees in eastern Massachusetts earn 20 percent more than their
counterparts in the private sector.

Kriss,
who is the Secretary of Administration and Finance, has been touring
the Commonwealth, proclaiming that public sector unions have too much
power. He says that while the belief that public sector employees earn
less than their private counterparts may have been once true, it no
longer holds water.

Kriss also
complained that the state's early retirement plan, which the governor
opposed, was costing the state extra money in pension costs. Of course,
Kriss and the governor would have preferred layoffs rather than
reducing the work force by retirements.

According
to the latest data of the Public Employee Retirement Administration
Commission (PERAC), the average salary of a state employee is $47,947.
While there are various levels of skill among state workers, it is
difficult to compare many of these skills with the private sector. For
example, the Department of Correction has over 5,000 employees
performing one of the state's most dangerous jobs, a job that requires
a lengthy period of training. There is no comparable work in the
private sector.

There is one type of
work that can be compared. Attorneys who work at state agencies start
at about $43,000 and currently average about $53,000 after five years.
This would be a very low wage for a private sector attorney.

What
Kriss didn't say was that most public sector workers stayed with their
jobs when there was big money to be made in the private world, and will
stay with their public sector jobs when the cycle again offers more
lucrative opportunities in the private sector.

High Number Of Non-Vested Employees

PERAC's
data also shows that 48.5% of all state employees have less than 10
years service with the Commonwealth and are, therefore, not vested.

In
looking at this figure, one would assume that the largest number of
non-vested employees in age would be under age 40. While this is true,
surprisingly almost half (46.6%) of non-vested employees are over age
40 with less than 10 years of service.

It
may be that some employees worked for municipal or county government
prior to state employment and have not yet transferred credit for that
time to the state. However, it is doubtful that these numbers and the
amount of time that they have worked for a non-state government would
greatly change the non-vested state membership numbers.

Apparently,
more people have entered state service at an older age than was
previously thought. With a few public safety exceptions, the state is
very much an equal opportunity employer regardless of age, while
private sector employers can "find ways" to make age distinctions.

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