timesleader.com

Longevity pay merits short life

March 20, 2013

GIVE IT UP.


“Longevity pay” has, bluntly, been around for too long.


As county union workers come to the bargaining table in the coming months and years, they should show a good-faith effort at helping balance the constantly teetering budget by not only agreeing to consider eliminating the perk; they should propose it.


The orignial notion doubtless was to give low-paid public employees incentive to stay on the job, but it has far outlived it’s usefulness, if it ever had any. Getting paid more simply for sticking around each year? That’s what negotiated contractual raises are for.


To the many taxpayers who have seen little, if anything, in the way of raises for years (assuming they kept their jobs), the notion of raises on top of raises is obscene.


But the county’s various union leaders and rank and file members should decide to negotiate longevity pay away for three simple reasons:


First, surely they have seen enough co-workers furloughed in recent years to understand the county simply can’t afford to continue old and outdated practices.


Second, longevity is inequity. The practice not only makes an uneven field among the 10 county unions when some get it and others don’t, it makes it uneven within a union as new workers quickly realize talent and effort can be trumped, pay-wise, by simple endurance on the job.


Third, it mucks up negotiations. Getting rid of the raise on top of a raise gives both sides a clean starting point. It lets unions negotiate based on what their work is worth, and it clears the debate when management decides what it can afford (“we can’t give you bigger raises because of all that longevity pay” becomes a lament of the past).


All of which adds up to a simple fact. When negotiations reach longevity the discussion should be short:


Bye Bye.