There are ghosts among us. No not supernatural beings from beyond the grave, but ghost workers. These are employees who spend their time working on union business, but get paid by taxpayers like you and me. These workers are a drain on government resources, and quite possibly illegal in many cases. According to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s Mike Stenhouse, ghost workers are driving up property taxes and appear to be illegal. He writes:
Providence, RI— One of the most objectionable schemes of collective bargaining contracts with government unions are provisions not found in the private sector that pay workers for not working, that increase the cost of government, and that unfairly drive up property taxes. Even more egregiously, in this case, public employees are being paid by taxpayers to work for someone else.
According to a post today as follow-up to to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s landmark Public Union Excesses report on the excessive costs of collectively bargained government services, ‘union release time’ provisions that allow for “ghost workers” – public employees paid by the public NOT to conduct work for the public; but rather paid by the public to conduct union work – are a major taxpayer rip-off.
In the post, Paid For Not Working; a Taxpayer RipOff; Ghost Workers and the Triple-Whammy of Union Release Time, multiple examples of contract language, as well identification and cost-calculation of actual ‘ghost workers’are provided.
“Worse, this unfair and unjustifiable practice appears to be in direct conflict with state law,” exclaimed Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.
For example, in the city of Providence’s collective bargaining agreement with the Providence Teachers Union, publicly paid special educator, Maribeth Calabro (with an estimated $100,000+ compensation package), also the local union president, is contractually allowed to spend 40% of her school schedule on union business. Add in the cost of substitute teachers and the total annual cost to taxpayers likely exceeds $60,000 per year.
The full ghost worker post provides other individual examples and also discusses:
- The ‘triple-whammy’ on taxpayers, once substitute-worker costs are added-in
- State law on what constitutes an “unfair labor practice”
- Further abuses of unauthorized release time
“If public workers want to assist their unions, they should do so on their own time and on the union’s nickel,” suggested Stenhouse, “and certainly not at the taxpayers’ expense.”
According the Center’s May 2019 Public Union Excesses report, Rhode Island taxpayers dish-out $888 million per year (or $3500 for a family of four) for excessive compensation provisions in collective bargaining agreements with government employee unions, which may drive up local property taxes by as much as 25%.
Read more here.
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