Labor and employment roundup

  • Loosen constraints on local and state deviation from the NLRA labor law model? Idea gathering force on right also draws some interest from left [Ben Sachs, On Labor, on James Sherk/Andrew Kloster proposal for right to work laws at city/county level]
  • Justice Alito dissents from Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in Kalamazoo “employee buyer’s regret” case where asked-for transfer was later construed as retaliation [Jon Hyman]
  • NLRB’s franchise power grab could prove costly to small business [Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Connor Wolf]
  • A very different country: Supreme Court of Canada constitutionalizes a right of public employees to strike [On Labor]
  • Average full-time California municipal employee got 2013 compensation package of nearly $121,000 [Steven Greenhut]
  • Perfect, now let’s mandate sick day banking nationwide: “Montgomery [County] fire department has history of sick-day abuse among workers due to retire” [Washington Post]
  • Yet more unilateralism: Obama administration tightens regs on federal contractor sex discrimination [Roger Clegg]


  • RE: Montgomery County FD and Sick Leave.

    In all my years I have never seen a good policy on sick leave – or rather I have never seen a policy on sick leave that addresses all of the problems.

    We reward people and honor them for having “perfect attendance” while they bring colds and other illnesses into the workplace. They aren’t sick enough to go to the doctor (hello deductible!) so they come in and infect the rest of the workforce because the “policy” often requires proof of illness.

    With “use it or lose it”policies, you have people that fake illnesses. They may do so in the hope that the “doctor’s note” policy will not be enforced, but we all know people who take off days because they have an “eye disease” and just can’t see coming into work.

    Then you have people who don’t get sick, come into work all year round and are given a pin or a piece of paper in a cheap frame for their attendance. They see their co-workers enjoying extra days off because of some faked illness, but they can’t bring themselves to lie to their boss on being sick.

    Years ago there was a study that said something like the average sick day cost a company 120% – 150% of the worker’s salary. This was due to lost production, but still having to pay the worker, and other workers to pick up the slack when the sick worker is out.

    (Take for example a teacher who get sick. The substitute is basically worthless to the education of the kids, so they fall behind. The Teacher gets paid. The sub gets paid. The office workers have to find a sub adding more work to their load, and then when the teacher comes back, they have more work to do to “catch up” from the missed day.)

    Perhaps the best idea is to pay people a portion of their salaries at the end of the year for unused sick leave based on that 20% – 50% additional costs figure but even that doesn’t address all the issues.

    In my little town, the City Council changes the policy of accruing sick leave which was originally to be paid out at 50% when the employee left the job. The City Council killed the payout and then capped the max days to accrue at 10 at which point short term disability kicked in. Shockingly, people that had more days accrued than that began to take time off. The city had to hire people to fill the jobs because people were suddenly “sick.” (And don’t think for a second that a doctor’s excuse was difficult to obtain.) The city ground to a halt which in some cases was a benefit, but in others was problematic.

    When it comes to sick leave, its use and accrual, there are no good answers in my opinion.

  • Average full-time California municipal employee got 2013 compensation package of nearly $121,000

    Sure – if you include the multimillion dollar salaries of sports coaches, investment managers, and CFOs you will get a higher average. But if you look at specific job functions (like we do in the real world) you find a different story. Taking a look at Information Technology managers and lawyers I not finding compensation packages significantly different than in the private sector. Actually Information Technology salaries are on the low side. Its because of these low compensation packages that people like me don’t go into government jobs. It simply isn’t worth it. Especially with hacks from a dying newspaper owned by someone who insists on calling himself “Papa” constantly attacking you for being hired to do a job.

    But this statement is especially bad:

    Consider the anecdotal data: When the Los Angeles Fire Department had some openings at its academy, it drew more than 13,000 applicants. That’s a sign that pay levels are far above market rates.

    This is such a stupid statement I really don’t know how to react.

    I have my issues with how California spends its money and we can point to outliers in the system that have a compensation packages far exceeding private sector levels. But they are just that. Outliers. If you actually look at the data you will find average compensation levels lower than private sector time and time again.

    • Tim: Except for the part where BART operators make more than most of the train passengers and yet they’re still striking for higher pay.