Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Should 'double dippers' be paid less?

Over the weekend, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner announced that he was going to reduce the wages of employees who are 'double dippers' by 40%.

In case you've never seen this term before, it refers to public employees who have retired from prior positions and are collecting pensions from their prior employer, but have been hired by a public employer and are getting standard wages.

I am absolutely opposed to elected officials who do this - and we have several in the Toledo region. They ran unopposed, retired from their office, usually for the months of November and December, began collecting their public pensions and then took office again for their new term on January 1. They are then collecting their pensions and their public salaries.

Employees of government jurisdictions are different. Many have worked outside of the public area, though some have worked in government, and have retired. They have then applied for and been appointed to work in government, often in another jurisdiction or in different positions. They earned their pensions from their prior employers and they have decided to continue working.

The perspective from our mayor and from many people is that because these people have other income, they are somehow not worthy or deserving of the same pay as anyone else who might be appointed to that position.

And I don't think this is right.

If you have set a salary for a position, commensurate with experience and skills needed to perform the described tasks of the position, you should pay the person selected that set amount. Whether or not the individual has a pension should never be a consideration.

If we begin down the road of setting salaries based upon the other income of an individual, we have stopped compensating 'fairly' and have, instead, decided to compensate based upon the perceived wealth of the individual.

Would the people clamoring for 'double dippers' to get paid less also advocate for someone with an inheritance to be paid less? After all, they don't really need the full salary since they already have other income/assets. And it's the same argument.

There's a third category of people that often get lumped into the 'double dipper' category: individuals who've worked their entire lives, retired and then sought elective office. These are usually people who didn't have the ability to seek office while working full time and, now that they're retired, can do so. It would seem that, rather than attacking such seasoned individuals for wanting to be paid for the work they do, we would welcome their experience in elective office.

It's easy to find a group of people to attack as 'double dippers' and use then use that name as an excuse to pay them less than others in the same position. But it's promoting class warfare to say that simply because a person has other income or wealth, they should be paid less. This puts government into the position of making a determination of what you need, rather than what you deserve. And that's a very slippery slope, indeed.

6 comments:

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

The job/position has a wage/salary assigned to it, which suggests that's what the job/work is valued at//worth.

So, it should matter not, whether a person doing that job has other income any more than it should matter if they've won the lottery.

In effect, paying the person less because in your opinion they don't need the full wage/salary is more likely an invitation to lowered performance and expectations.

If someone chooses to spend the vast majority of their life working and earning more money rather than enjoying the fruits of their labors, it's nobody's business but their heirs and the government.

Double dippers should be paid what the job/work is worth just the same as someone who has a life...

That said, double dippers are crazy/greedy IMNHO.

Even crazier if they return to the very same or similar work/position for less compensation.

Al said...

Public employees in Ohio generally participate in one of the several State of Ohio retirement programs, such as PERS, etc. Therefore, for pension purposes, these "double dippers" are working for the same employer that pays their pension.

In the private sector, you often lose your pension if you return to work for that same employer.

As such, let those "double dippers" get full salary and benefits, just like in the private sector. And, as is common in the private sector, let them lose their retirement benefits when they return to work for that same employer.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Here is another take. The retired person that is working for that government entity is taking away a paying job from a person in the workforce that is trying to raise a family. Toledo constantly cries out about brain drain, but if you keep paying the good old boys without bringing in fresh blood, you lose efficiency and new ideas.

Maggie Thurber said...

BSRG - I understand your point, but think that's a very slippery slope as well.

What makes the younger person more 'eligible' for the job - his qualifications or his 'need'?

Whether or not a person needs a job and has a family to feed should not be part of the decision on who is the best qualified for employment with a city.

In following your logic, we should mandate retirement at a specific age, regardless of skills or ability, just so that younger people - or unemployed individuals - can have that position. Let's take it to an extreme and then say that such people should then be euthanized so they don't take up resources that younger people might 'need.'

This is part of my concern - where such thinking will (il)logically lead some people....

If you are the best person for a position, you should be hired - even if someone more needy than you is also applying.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

The problem with the budget has never been the double dippers, it is with money spent for the pay of city jobs that don't need to be done at any salary.

Political featherbedding and paybacks have bloated this city's budget to the point of the Monty Python fat man. Drastic reduction in staffing is what we need to see from our leaders, and not the "wafer thin mint" of double dipper salary concessions.

Jack McHugh said...

Beware of those "DROP" programs also, Maggie. I wrote about one for the Michigan State Police (link below), and I'm sure you have them in OH also.
JM

http://jackmchughblog.wordpress.com/2009/04/30/why-another-budget-%e2%80%9ccrisis%e2%80%9d-excessive-state-police-bennies-among-other-reasons/

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