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Government Employees

January 10, 2019

The public impression of government employees is all negative.  They are lazy.  Have you heard the one about looking out the windows?  They are inefficient.  Have you heard the one about planting trees.  They’re overpaid.  That’s likely because they have a union.  They cheat on sick days.  That accusation has even been in the news.  In more general terms, they take advantage of their benefits.  They are protected from firing by their union.

These widespread public beliefs make it easy for governments to cut jobs.  It’s simply a way to reduce the size of the civil service, or to reduce the deficit.  Cutting civil service jobs always has public support;  there’s never public outrage to get in the way.

I have some related experience in this area.  I was an employee of a local university for many years.  Of course, this is not quite the same as being a government employee.  I also worked along side of actual government employees, and have talked to many others.

I can say that government employees are not lazy.  They work hard, just like employees of any large company.  They are paid fairly, often less than in private industry.  Even though their rules of work are negotiated and written in their contract, employees are reasonable and understanding.  There’s a good reason why they are represented by a union.  It’s needed because their employer is not just any employer, but is also the government.  Governments have to power to impose a settlement on the employees.  People can be reprimanded or fired, if there’s a good reason for it.  The union, their bargaining agent, makes sure that it is a good reason.


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