The status of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10

Ok, I can't possibly make this come out not snarky, so take this with a grain of salt, please.

You are seriously arguing that collective bargaining is bad because someone was voluntarily working overtime? I'm not sure I can even get my head around someone arguing that collective bargaining is bad overall. Sure, some idiots do some bad things with it, but it's shortsighted and naive to assume that employers will bargain fairly on an individual basis. They hold all the cards, in most cases.

Yonder wrote:

In my experience any time someone looks at over time costs as a metric of how the workers are riding roughshod over their employers/the people they are either ignorant or selling something.

People that work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week should be compensated for it. It's supposed to be expensive for the company, because that is behavior that the company shouldn't be allowed to subject on people willy nilly.

Do you understand how this works? They call in sick for their normal shift, then work the next shift for overtime pay. They didn't work more than 8 hours for the day or 40 for the week.

MattDaddy wrote:
Yonder wrote:

In my experience any time someone looks at over time costs as a metric of how the workers are riding roughshod over their employers/the people they are either ignorant or selling something.

People that work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week should be compensated for it. It's supposed to be expensive for the company, because that is behavior that the company shouldn't be allowed to subject on people willy nilly.

Do you understand how this works? They call in sick for their normal shift, then work the next shift for overtime pay. They didn't work more than 8 hours for the day or 40 for the week.

Because you were posting while I was writing mine or vice versa, let me clarify: That specific loophole should probably be closed. It's kind of stupid. But considering the vast number of stupid loopholes that get written in any given rule, it's a poor excuse.

Kannon wrote:

Ok, I can't possibly make this come out not snarky, so take this with a grain of salt, please.

You are seriously arguing that collective bargaining is bad because someone was voluntarily working overtime? I'm not sure I can even get my head around someone arguing that collective bargaining is bad overall. Sure, some idiots do some bad things with it, but it's shortsighted and naive to assume that employers will bargain fairly on an individual basis. They hold all the cards, in most cases.

I'm saying that was one of the the reasons given. It's not the sole reason. Another is the WEA Trust example mentioned earlier. There are others.

These are not considered loopholes by the unions or the people who agreed to these in the contracts, so they will never be closed. The teachers unions are bargaining with boards made up of mostly ex-teachers. From what I understand, these are not elected positions, so the public has no power to vote them in or out. The unions are essentially bargaining with themselves, which is how so many of these great benefits (like overtime pay rules, multiple pensions, etc..) get done. There is no one truly acting on the behalf of the ones paying for all of this.

MattDaddy wrote:

These are not considered loopholes by the unions or the people who agreed to these in the contracts, so they will never be closed. The teachers unions are bargaining with boards made up of mostly ex-teachers. From what I understand, these are not elected positions, so the public has no power to vote them in or out. The unions are essentially bargaining with themselves, which is how so many of these great benefits (like overtime pay rules, multiple pensions, etc..) get done. There is no one truly acting on the behalf of the ones paying for all of this.

First up, I want to thank you for providing the wisconsinreporter.com link. Funnily enough, that's one I'd found when trying to track down your sources yesterday.

The point in the quote above unsourced, which is a drag, but I wanted to respond to it. If it's the case that the folks in charge of negotiating with unions are making bad deals, they should be fired (and, as conceded above, not having any mandatory buffer for sick shift use or locking in a no-bid insurance provider are both elements the state should be very hesitant to give away). This is true regardless of previous affiliation - if someone as skeptical of labor as MattDaddy were nonetheless to negotiate poorly, I would want them removed, too.

This actually gets at the argument against public-sector unions I have been dying for someone to make. The nutshell version is "public sector unions, by virtue of the fact that they can help elect officials who then are responsible (directly or otherwise) for negotiating the contracts governing their members, have a systemic problem absent from the private sector workplace, and should be more tightly constrained" (or banned, in the stronger formulation of this argument).

Here's the thing - that's a reasonable argument to make.

I disagree with it of course. I feel that the right to collectively bargain is important, and those concerns could be addressed without having to abridge it - for example by having contracts negotiated by folks who are insulated from political influence, and are subsequently audited prior to taking effect.

I agree that folks who use a sick day should not be eligible for a work shift for a full 24 hours.

So if someone takes 3 hours to go to the dentist, they should not be able to work the rest of their shift? And if they do the other five hours, and then work four more in the next shift because they are short staffed, they don't get overtime?

MattDaddy wrote:

Do you understand how this works? They call in sick for their normal shift, then work the next shift for overtime pay. They didn't work more than 8 hours for the day or 40 for the week.

From the article you quoted:

State prison and health workers in Wisconsin continue to rack up big bucks in overtime, with more than 160 of them getting a salary boost of $25,000 or more in overtime over 2010, according to a Wisconsin Reporter analysis of state payroll data.
Two of those workers earned a whopping six figures in overtime — overtime that alone amounts to about double the median household income in the state.

And one state worker got enough overtime to make the list of the 10 highest paid employees in the state at nearly $365,000 in total pay.

Despite a decrease in overall overtime spending in the taxpayer-funded Wisconsin state work force since the Legislative Audit Bureau reviewed state agencies’ use of overtime in 2008, overtime remains a reliable payday for many state workers. The LAB is scheduled to release a follow-up audit this spring.

The state paid employees almost $52.8 million for overtime in 2010 — the equivalent of 1,200 workers making the average state salary.

To put it another way, Wisconsin’s overtime tab is about the same as the budget as the state’s Environmental Improvement Program, which pays for wastewater facility construction and cleaning up contaminated lands.

Wisconsin paid $66.5 million in overtime in 2008, a goody basket that has decreased about 21 percent when compared to this year, according to the state database.

You introduced this article as an example of how expensive Wisconsin overtime packages were, however this article is about overtime in general, not sick overtime, which is why I thought that you had a negative sentiment on the overtime budget in general. If you are ok with typical overtime and only have a problem with "sick overtime" then you shouldn't throw the above numbers around. You should tell us how many millions of dollars is spent on sick overtime specifically. As it is we don't know whether this costs $13 or $13 million, which isn't a great place to begin when arguing that this is a terrible term that is weighing the state down.

As for the actual term. Your argument basically breaks down to "if employees say that they are sick and they really aren't then the employees take advantage of their employer!" Um... So? I like sick time, and so does the rest of the nation. If some putz uses a sick day to play a video game, see a movie, or something else oh well. I'm willing to pay that price.

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

Sing, it brother. I don't get sick time, only PTO. (On the other hand, I get a lot of PTO.) If I don't use PTO for two years after I get it (if I recall right), it turns into reserve sick bank, which is only allowed to be used for sick leave after running out of PTO (i.e. it's extra sick days--but pretty much nobody ever gets anything in their reserve sick bank because they'd rather take the PTO instead of getting insurance that if they're ever out of PTO they won't end up owing PTO because they've been sick.)

Trade-off: On the one hand, people don't take fake sick days because they don't want to use their PTO. On the other hand, people come to work and spread disease when they should stay at home because they don't want to use their PTO. And on the third hand, you have to give more PTO with a system like this (since people have to use it for vacations and for being sick), which healthier people *will* use, when they wouldn't have taken those days off if they were sick days.

par wrote:

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

It's simple until you add in benefits.

LouZiffer wrote:
par wrote:

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

It's simple until you add in benefits.

Take the "half" away from the benefits and I bet you still save the state money. And again, you get people who need jobs... well jobs.

Now, I totally understand its a much more complicated issue... but seriously, if there really is a "need" for all that extra overtime worked, then it can easily be remedied w/ hiring more people. Yes, those union people no longer get their overtime, but now they get to spend more time with their families!

PAR

LouZiffer wrote:
par wrote:

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

It's simple until you add in benefits.

You know what, I totally forgot that too. Once you add in health insurance and other benefits then time and a half may still be a cheaper deal.

Yonder wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:
par wrote:

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

It's simple until you add in benefits.

You know what, I totally forgot that too. Once you add in health insurance and other benefits then time and a half may still be a cheaper deal.

Are you kidding? lol

PAR

par wrote:
Yonder wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:

It's simple until you add in benefits.

You know what, I totally forgot that too. Once you add in health insurance and other benefits then time and a half may still be a cheaper deal.

Are you kidding? lol

PAR

Nope. Not sure if you are in the states or not, but a lot of those benefits are really expensive here. In my senior project when were were putting up a business plan we were told as a really rough estimate (we were engineering, so the business stuff wasn't a big part of the project) to assume that employee costs were double the cost of their actual payroll.

I can't remember how much my company actually spends on health insurance, but I know it's in the low ten thousands per employee. They provide life insurance as well, which is more on top of that. If your business is one that pays for job-related education then every time an employee goes out to get a masters or something like that you'll be out another $20-30k. There are probably a lot of other random things that add up as well.

par wrote:
Yonder wrote:
LouZiffer wrote:
par wrote:

Seems to me that if there is that much work that needs to be done that makes this amount of "overtime" legit, why not just hire enough people to bring the overtime work under control? Overtime is time and a half. If you paid someone just that time, you would be saving the state money AND putting people who desperately need jobs to work.

Seems pretty clear to me.

PAR

It's simple until you add in benefits.

You know what, I totally forgot that too. Once you add in health insurance and other benefits then time and a half may still be a cheaper deal.

Are you kidding? lol

PAR

State workers generally get benefits which are above average. Retirement, vacation, holidays, sick leave, and several kinds of insurance at a minimum. There are also support, training, and facilities costs associated with having additional employees.

My "are you kidding" is directed at the fact that, in no way are "benefits" going to account for a full HALF of someones pay. And if Government benefits do equal that in any kind of general ledger, its padded for "civilian" pricing, not for what the Government pays.

On top of that, my solution puts others to work while (oh no!) not letting others squeeze as much out of a system as they can *AND ALSO* allows people who legitimately need to take time off do so and not be forced into work.

Anyway, this is all hypothetical other than the fact that this solution is a lot better, IMHO, than allowing people to be overworked and also keeping others from taking advantage of the system.

Those of you not agreeing with me, do you really think it would be better not to have that money go to some jobless person in dire need of a job?

Ok ok, sorry. I'm baiting you and thats not nice

PAR

par wrote:

Those of you not agreeing with me, do you really think it would be better not to have that money go to some jobless person in dire need of a job?

Nope. Having hired employees in the past I don't agree with you about the cost, though.

par wrote:

Various points about overtime

I'm not sure how much of this you're seriously arguing, but that's roughly in line with what the LAB audit found (warning, PDF link).

During the course of our review, we noted that state agencies have increasingly relied on surplus positions to control their overtime costs and address staffing needs. Surplus positions are intended to be temporary, and s. 16.50(3)(f), Wis. Stats., authorizes their use when “necessary to maintain adequate staffing levels for high turnover classifications, in anticipation of attrition, to fill positions for which recruitment is difficult.”
In the future, the Legislature may be reluctant to authorize additional positions in an effort to control costs. For example, with the exception of a technical request to restore more than 100 FTE positions at Southern Wisconsin Center, Senate Bill 27 and Assembly Bill 40, companion bills for the 2011-13 biennial budget, authorize no additional staffing for DHS or DOC facilities. However, unless additional permanent positions are authorized or other options are pursued, agencies responsible for patient care, corrections, and emergency and law enforcement activities will continue to be challenged in managing overtime costs while adequately staffing 24-hour facilities or otherwise addressing the health and safety needs of patients, employees, inmates, and the public. Their reliance on surplus positions and overtime is therefore likely to continue.

I'm cool with having a discussion on overtime use in the public sector, but it's kind of a derail here. Do we maybe need another thread?

My "are you kidding" is directed at the fact that, in no way are "benefits" going to account for a full HALF of someones pay.

Well, they can if you don't have enough work to keep them fully employed.

Benefits are a hard overhead per month per employee. So if you pay, say, $1000/employee/month for benefits, and then pay the employee him or herself $4000, the benefits are a 25% overhead. If there are 160 working hours in a month, you're paying $25 an hour to the employee, and $6.25/hour for his benefits. So that's $31.25/hr for the first 160 hours.

If you assume time and a half for overtime, then each additional hour costs you only wages, not benefits, because the benefits were paid for already in the first 160 hours. So every additional hour at time and a half costs you $37.50, instead of $31.25, a net increase of $6.25/hour. It's like you're paying for benefits twice on any additional work, basically.

If you hire a new worker, his or her cost per hour starts very high, because of his benefits, and then steadily drops. At 80 hours, they equalize, so your cost per hour worked becomes the same. So anywhere UNDER 80 hours of overtime in a given month, you're doing better not to hire another worker. Anywhere over, and you should hire. But keep in mind that hiring is very expensive (say $5k to $10k/worker), and then you need to consistently have more than 80 hours per month to make him or her worthwhile.

Paying a lot of overtime, in other words, can make a hell of a lot of sense, depending on the circumstances. And note that if they can't FIND a new person to hire, because the public sector jobs typically don't pay well, they may not have a choice.

And the Republicans would beat them up either way. If they don't hire, then the Republicans get all horrified at the overtime cost. If they DO hire, then Republicans get all horrified at the WAGE cost. Either way, they'll shriek about incompetent government, whether or not it's actually incompetent.

par wrote:

My "are you kidding" is directed at the fact that, in no way are "benefits" going to account for a full HALF of someones pay. And if Government benefits do equal that in any kind of general ledger, its padded for "civilian" pricing, not for what the Government pays.

Here is an article back from 2005 on employee costs, keep in mind that health care has gotten significantly more expensive in the states since then.

Once you add in rent and equipment you are getting significantly above half of someone's pay in costs. And remember that time and a half only applies to the actual overtime, that's not how much more expensive the worker is. I'll make a chart showing how much that extra half makes an employee for a variety of hours:
hours a week - Percentage of "base" wage.
40 - 100%
50 - 110%
60 - 117%
70 - 121%
80 - 125%

Assuming that benefits costs companies another 25% on top of wages is extremely conservative for a company with any sort of healthcare. The other thing that would make that a poor assumption is if the employees had a very high wage, but it seems like most of the higher earners in the country (60k a year and up) are salaried, so they don't get overtime lovin' anyways.

If this is really the case then it seems to me these Gov't workers got it pretty damn good! What are they complaining about? Cush jobs, huge benefit packages AND time and a half when they accidentally go over 40 measily hours?

No wonder the small businessman cant make it!

PAR

It's a really sad commentary on the state of politics today that I can't tell if referring to prison and health care as "cush jobs" is a joke or not.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

It's a really sad commentary on the state of politics today that I can't tell if referring to prison and health care as "cush jobs" is a joke or not.

Poe's Law.

Except Poe's Law has bled into the meatspace. If any of the Republican front-runners abruptly started characterizing being a corrections officer or working in a free clinic as The Easy Life, I'd be shocked not at all. Which isn't the law, obviously, but, just saying, it's no longer absurd to think such absurd thinking could happen.

lol, I come up with a "different" idea than what is being discussed here and because it actually has some merit and removes unionized ideals, I'm insinuated to being Republican and/or a Fundamentalist? I have conservative tendencies of course, but most definitely not a registered Republican thank you.

Yes, no doubt a corrections officer is not a cushy job. I utilize a little hyperbole and we're back to things being black and white w/ no gray area.

This conversation is exactly what is wrong w/ politics today. Arguing for the sake of arguing instead of actually putting forth and attempting to solve something. The existing "solutions" don't work. But lets not focus on how to solve it lets just draw our lines and stand behind them, regardless that it gets us nowhere.

Oh, and other than in extreme cases, this whole situation w/ time and a half, benefits etc etc would and could never survive in the private sector. If these employee benefits REALLY do cost half of their actual pay AND THEY STILL get time and a half on top of that when they work a little extra hours, you'll get no sympathy from the majority of those working in the private sector. They might not be cush jobs but its definitely a cush situation... paid by taxpayers.

PAR

par wrote:

Oh, and other than in extreme cases, this whole situation w/ time and a half, benefits etc etc would and could never survive in the private sector. If these employee benefits REALLY do cost half of their actual pay AND THEY STILL get time and a half on top of that when they work a little extra hours, you'll get no sympathy from the majority of those working in the private sector. They might not be cush jobs but its definitely a cush situation... paid by taxpayers.

Personally, I'm not trying to propose solutions. I'm discussing things in a forum. Your viewpoint was a little narrow and simplistic in my opinion, so I was trying to show how I see things. Would it be good to shift more jobs out there? You're darn straight it would be. Who would argue against that?

These folks traded good pay for good benefits for the most part. Proportionally their benefits are a huge part of their compensation because the pay is so low. Teachers in particular are in this boat, and they trade many hours of unpaid time in simply for the benefit of being able to do their jobs properly. The insurance and retirement are more important to these people. Without those they'd be in big trouble if things went wrong, and unable to retire because they have very little ability to save.

You're right that this situation wouldn't survive in the private sector. In a competitive job market, employees wouldn't have to put up with the crap that their employer is shoveling. They'd go do the same job for someone else.

par wrote:

Oh, and other than in extreme cases, this whole situation w/ time and a half, benefits etc etc would and could never survive in the private sector. If these employee benefits REALLY do cost half of their actual pay AND THEY STILL get time and a half on top of that when they work a little extra hours, you'll get no sympathy from the majority of those working in the private sector. They might not be cush jobs but its definitely a cush situation... paid by taxpayers.

I just don't think you know what you are talking about. Time and a half overtime is nearly a constant. I worked part time at Toys R Us and I got time and a half if I worked more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week.

Now it's true that I didn't have health insurance, but I'd like to look at Toys R Us part time jobs as the absolute minimum in job quality at this country, not as the standard to which public jobs should be capped at.

Yonder wrote:

I just don't think you know what you are talking about.

Well that's not a very nice thing to say there Yonder. Seems to me that if you're talking about jobs with benefits your talking about non-hourly wage jobs (i.e. salary in the private sector). And really, the majority jobs in the U.S. (with some minor exceptions) that allow "hourly wage" AND benefits are government jobs.

Most full time employment in the US that includes benefits are "Salaried" jobs.

So, instead of making it personal and replying to you with "I dont think you know what you're talking about Yonder", I'll just say, I think you might be a little confused

PAR

Wages lower; benefits better. Seems like a reasonable trade-off.

par wrote:

Well that's not a very nice thing to say there Yonder. Seems to me that if you're talking about jobs with benefits your talking about non-hourly wage jobs (i.e. salary in the private sector). And really, the majority jobs in the U.S. (with some minor exceptions) that allow "hourly wage" AND benefits are government jobs.

Most full time employment in the US that includes benefits are "Salaried" jobs.

That's incorrect. Nearly all full time hourly employment in the US provides benefits. It's rare to come across a full time job that doesn't at least provide a retirement plan and paid sick/vacation days. Part time? Not so much.

Here's a table which shows the average benefit costs as a percentage of total compensation for different employers US-wide. Note the percentages for states are higher. This is due to the lower wages, whether salary or hourly. This doesn't indicate the total cost of the employees in terms of training, facilities, and other overhead such as management, which would push the figure even higher.

Table A. Relative importance of employer costs for employee compensation, March 2011 Compensation Civilian Private State and local component workers industry government Wages and salaries 69.6% 70.7% 65.5% Benefits 30.4 29.3 34.5 Paid leave 7.0 6.8 7.5 Supplemental pay 2.3 2.7 0.8 Insurance 8.9 8.0 12.0 Health 8.4 7.5 11.7 Retirement and savings 4.5 3.5 8.2 Defined benefit 2.7 1.5 7.4 Defined contribution 1.8 2.1 0.8 Legally required 7.8 8.2 6.0

EDIT: Cited from US Bureau of Labor Statistics Report 8JUN2011