Monday, July 09, 2012

The LuLac Edition #2119, July 9th, 2012

Maynard G. Krebs who never met a 40 hour work week he liked.


Bob Denver played one of the most beloved characters in American history in the early 1960s. Before there was Gilligan, there was Maynard G. Krebs on the Dobie Gillis Show. Maynard was the type of guy who wanted to avoid work at all costs. I thought of him today when at work, as I started out my 40 hour work week, actually my hours are 42 and ½ hours because the company does not pay me for lunch) and saw in the newspaper that the County Council wanted to have all employees put in a 40 hour week. Damn you Luzerne County voters, see what happens when you elect people who are from the private sector! Anyway, the unions predictably put up a fuss saying that since the employees were hourly, they would need to be paid according to the union contracts. That enrages taxpayers who don’t get to work 33 hour weeks but it is there in black and white. How did this all start you might ask? Years ago, let’s go back 45 years or so, county jobs were pure patronage gigs. If you were a Republican and your side won, you got the job. If your side lost, you were out of luck. If you were on the wrong side and employed at the time, you packed your bags. In early 1968 though, things began to change. The Democrats took control of the Commissioner’s office in 1967 (our featured year on LuLac by the way) and everyone in the party expected all of the jobs to go to the Dems. Two things prevented that from happening. In late December 1967, Doctor John Dorris the head of the Democratic party died suddenly. A fight broke out for control of the party. The new Commissioners took office but almost immediately signaled that not every Republican was going to be out in the cold. Ed Wideman and Ethel Price hired one Mr. Robert Edgerton of Forty Fort to be the Director of Property and Supply, at that time a plum position. Edgerton was more than qualified with a solid business background but the Dems, out in the wilderness for years went nuts. Through the tumultuous 12 years of the Crossin and  Wideman administration, it became clear that jobs would not be given because of what party you belonged to but what you could bring to the table in terms of political firepower. Oh sure there were jobs that were ridiculous like the Sealer of Weights and Measures and other jobs that required little or no effort other than picking up your check. In 1979, the Democrats had a tough primary where Frank Crossin and Swoyersville Mayor Ed Brominski swept out Ed Wideman who ran alone. Endorsed no less. When Crossin and Brominski took office in 1980, more than 18 key Democrats were fired. They went to Court and challenged the County. That is when the seeds of today’s union were planted. After Frank Crossin Senior died, Ed Brominski had the task of negotiating with the unions. From all accounts, it appears that Brominski was the last County Commissioner that ever stood up to the unions. Through the years, the Commissioners essentially rubber stamped the contracts. Through the years some concessions were made but the fact still remains that working for the County is not a bad job. You get health care, you get reduced hours than the taxpayers work and depending on your boss, you get to slide if there is a sniffle, a good book you want to finish or an appointment that is too bothersome to count as time off. The union head will tell you that some workers in various departments make slightly over twenty thousand a year. Okay, but for that 20,000 they don’t have to work a 40 hour weeks. A clerk in a Convenience Store who works a 40 hour week makes $15,080 a year. A bank teller who works a 40 hour week makes $21,840 a year. A deli slicer working a 40 hour week makes just $20,000 a year. And these are the people who have the opportunity to work a 40 hour week! There are jobs in this community that aren’t 40 hour work weeks so companies don’t have to pay benefits. The union President is in a bubble where only her membership matters. And that’s what she is paid to do. But she should keep in mind that as she asks for more, she should understand that private business has been asking their employees to do less. There are companies that do not even offer vacation anymore, they have a thing now called Paid Time Off. You want three days off? You have to earn them in time. Sick as a dog? You can use your paid time off. Sorry no sick days either. This is the real world we live in today in terms of jobs. The union head and the County Council should understand this. What bothers me is that nowhere in her public statements did the union head even recognize the precarious position the county is in. There was no acknowledgement of even making a good father effort. That only reinforces my belief that the entrenched powers that be in the county still don’t get it. This is not 45 years ago where you could lose your job because you lost an election. This not the 70s where if you pissed Crossin off, you’d have to make peace with Wideman. And vice versa. This is not the 80s when there were manufacturing jobs around here to be had. This is the new millennium where people work 40 hours a week, have to do more with less and if they don’t like it, get fired. If the County employee unions want to play hard ball, I hope to God the County Council plays hardball too. Dare them to go on strike. See how strong the union heads are. County employees aren’t stupid, they know they have a decent job and almost all are good employees. But I wonder what would happen if the Council called Paula Schnelly bluff? When these contracts are up, I say take it or leave it folks. Not everyone under the dome would understand because there is an element there that can’t adjust to the fact that 1 plus 1 still equals one. But it’s about time that someone did. The debt is real, the budget is real, the taxes are real. The only thing that’s not is the hours that are required. It’s time to adjust that to the real world where real numbers are in play.


At 7:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the history lesson Yonk but this story does nothing to cure the problems of the county. Apparently you have joined the crazies who think the cure for everything is to fire people. Good solid management has eluded Luzerne County and while Luzerne County burned, people such as you who have your own media outlet chose to not take on the big wigs. You didn't say a word when Luzerne county spent millions on the baseball franchise and now are having a real problem proving they own a share. You never said a word when the county went to Philly to hire a lawyer at hundreds of dollars an hour when we have capable attorneys right here in NE PA. You sat and watch money wasted on silliness while employees were being cut and now you seem to have joined the cheering section to cut more jobs. I would love to have seen your reaction when the Christians were being thrown to the lions.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

Once again, Mr. Yonki has hit one out of the ballpark of academia! Young man, you're paper on the Luzerne County slackers garners you an A+!! Keep up the good work.

The business of this classroom goes forward.....

Mr. Yonki's paper brings to mind a subject that has been at the forefront of many peoples thoughts of late. Public employees and the worth/worthlessness of them. Granted, there are some public workers who perform a necessary task, such as sanitation/custodial workers and postal carriers. In the end, however, these positions can be best handled by the private sector. I am happy to see that some municipalities have already terminated their sanitation workers in favor of contracting the task out to a private firm, thereby saving taxpayers enormous amounts of dollars.
It is a well- known fact that a union shop worker is a lazy worker. A whiney worker. One who throws threats of litigation into a supposed supervisor's face when confronted.
It seems as if, in the words of Ronald Reagan we have created a "beauracracy with a life all of its own". But how do we get out???
Public jobs should begin at minimum wage (which is already too high, but I shall save that discussion for another lecture) and wage increases should be determined by performance. Equally, it should not be a difficult task of a million miles of paperwork to terminate an inept employee. Public Unions right to exist should be put up to a referendum. THe result will be in the negative.
This includes teachers unions which hold their students hostage whilst bargaining for more perks. I find this practice extremely disgusting. I will present a more in depth lecture on education in a future lecture.
So, students, in short: No unions, merit pay, minimum wage. The best will be promoted (max. wage of $15 dollars per hour), the slackers terminated.
Sounds like sensible, cut the red tape/red meat government to me.
Something to think about this morning.....
Class Dismissed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How in the hell do you justify comparing current jobs at thec ounty, many of which require credentials to minimum wage jobs in private industry? Why do you insist that county workers must be reduced to welfare subsidized workers simply because you were never able to land a county job? I question the effort you put into your own life that causes you to attack the few fortunate who hae decent even if low paying jobs? You Mr Yonk are in real need of an attitude adjustment.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish someone was writing as well about Scranton as you are Wilkes Barre and Luzerne County.

The Scranton Story is headed for a bad ending! No compromise-no progress...the Beat Goes On.

Waverly Robert

At 7:59 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

You didn't say a word when Luzerne county spent millions on the baseball franchise and now are having a real problem proving they own a share. You never said a word when the county went to Philly to hire a lawyer at hundreds of dollars an hour when we have capable attorneys right here in NE PA.
Why do you insist that county workers must be reduced to welfare subsidized workers simply because you were never able to land a county job?
How in the hell do you justify comparing current jobs at thec ounty, many of which require credentials to minimum wage jobs in private industry?

At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:33 AM.......
Credentials? Puhleeze!!! The only managers who had credentials were Pribula, Lawton and Joe DeVizia. Everyone else is a lackey. Have you seen the list of Court employees? How many actually put in a whole day. How many duties can be streamlined into one job instead of three? And are you going to tell me that the current managers in place like Tom Pisano are paragons of intelligence? C'mon already.

At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 10:33AM......Question the effort he puts into his life??? WTF. The guy has been delivering an on line site for 6 years. The only days off he took was when he had freaking cancer!! He's been working since he was 15 and is one of the most tenacious and talented people I have met. He has written three books, has carved out a niche for his political commentary and has attended and hosted functions in great pain and distress. You want Yonki to question his own life? How 'bout this, why don't you get a life and question that. I am virtually opposed to everything Yonki stands for. But I will never, ever question his work ethic and opinion. He's just speaking the truth and as JaCk Nicholson said in that movie, "you can't handle the truth".

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spinning one's wheels takes effort but it does not relate to improving your lot in life. I commend Mr Yonk for the results of his effort in providing LuLac on a daily basis. But to join the heartless group who insist on lowering the standard of living of ublic em ployees simply because they do not undeerstand what takes place every day in every office of the county is not a good thing. Most certainly there are a few who need weeding out but that would be the job of management and most agree that Luzerne county does not employ managers with backbone. I guess left unattended, employees would go the way of weeds, no contrl, no direction and lousy attitudes. My personal experiences with the county have been mostly with court related offices. Register of Wills, Prothonotary and Deeds. I have never had a problem and found the service to be excellent and offered in a friendly service minded way. I agree with many of the opinions that the couunty problems are mostly due to the debt which the officials and tax payers don't want to recognize and deal with. Trying to resolve county problems by laying off employees will only cause servies to suffer and the debt will still be there. Sooner or later, common sense will take control and the county will bite the bullet with one sweeping motion to resolve the debt and then get a clear view of the management problems.

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thought here, the writer of 1033am states that Mr. Yonki wants to reduce the county employees to the status of welfare recipients in terms of jobs and income expectations. So in effect, he is conceding that most County workers are so incompetent that they would not find employment elsewhere and be reduced to welfare. That's how I'm reading it.

At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, 11:34PM's comments gave me the inspiration to write and tell you how much I enjoyed "Weather Or Knot". A very nice little murder mystery there.


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