The LuLac Edition #1129, Mar. 23rd, 2010
BLOW IT UP
Lost in the heath care coverage, the beautiful weekend weather and the NCAA Basketball tournament was the fine reporting over the weekend by the Times Leader on the County Courthouse. Jennifer Learne-Andes wrote about how the county has a patchwork quilt of benefits and goodies for their workers. There is a certain inequality all across the board and no uniformity. Here are some of the highlights:
The county paid more than $15 million for health care last year, with only about $1.2 million contributed by employees. There’s no deductible, and co-payments are $10 for both primary care and specialist visits. The plan is administered by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The BC employees that service the plan have deductibles. The county employees do not.
Six union pacts guarantee bonuses based on longevity. More than $350,000 was paid in longevity bonuses last year county records show. Longevity bonuses? You get money for staying in one place? Mrs. LuLac has been in the same place for more years than she’d care to admit. My brother in law has worked for the same company since 1964. Both never heard of a longevity bonus. I tried to ask my current employer about a longevity bonus and unfortunately I caught him in mid sip of his morning coffee. He nearly choked before throwing me out of his office.
We touched on the on call pay situation last week where workers in several departments receive stipends ranging from $15 per hour to $585 per week, costing taxpayers $261,400 last year.
Since the County Courthouse is a family affair, how about this: Employees also receive a $1,500 bonus for opting out of county health coverage, even when a married couple works for the county.
But my persona favorite of all is a clothing allowance of $450.00 for court employees. I’ve known TV reporters, fashion models, Corporate Trainers that are constantly in front of the public where their clothes are part of their presentation and none of them had a clothing allowance. I guess what really irks me is that I’ve seen how some of these third floor lackeys dress and I am sure they pocketed the money and went for the Sam’s Club attire. Someone in the article pointed out that “It’s not all gravy having a county job”. Maybe not, it’s more like a Thanksgiving feast every day at lunch when you see what underpaid private sector taxpayers have to go through to make a living.
Commissioners Petrilla and Cooney say they are saddled with these contracts and are trying to scale back. The unions are fighting them. Look, my father benefited from unions on the railroad BUT this stuff in the county budget is outrageous.
It is time to start over.
1. De certify the unions. Ronald Reagan did it with the Air Traffic Controllers who were a hell of a lot more indispensable than the Courthouse employees.
2. Suspend operations of the entire Courthouse. 1 month. Put everyone except elected officials and senior managers on unemployment compensation and then have them reapply for their jobs.
3. End the money for on call pay, double dip health coverage and clothing allowances.
4. Blow it up and start all over. To those who say this is unreasonable, I say the more we find out about this operation, the more it needs to be destroyed and rebuilt to fit the challenging economic times of this century.
By the way, Eric and I paid for own suits, ties and shirts!
A Harrisburg jury convicted former state Rep. Mike Veon