Happy Labor Day
Charles McCollester bemoans the "assault" on city workers that he said will be the result of the Act 47 process. While his defense of labor unions in the abstract is admirable, he chooses to ignore or gloss over several important facts about Pittsburgh's present situation. He implies that any job cuts are bad, but offers no evidence that Pittsburgh's workforce is understaffed. McCollester insinuates that police cutbacks are to blame for recent high-profile crimes, but he offers no evidence of causation. He neglects to mention the city's overpaid crossing guards (now paid for by the school district), who receive health insurance and paid time off, and nowhere do I find a mention of the fact that not only do the firefighters have a no lay-off clause in their contract, but so do the city's clerical workers. And he also trots out the fact that a majority of the city's sanitation workers are African American as one reason not to privatize trash collection. If the city can do a better job collecting trash than a private company, and can prove it, then don't privatize. But the composition of the workforce is no reason to keep a unit operating if it doesn't bring maximum efficiency to city residents. The city is not an employment agency, though it has acted like one for some time.
Of course, unions are not entirely to blame for the city's woes. They occupy only one side of the bargaining table in any negotiation. On the other side are elected officials, who McCollester would have us believe have served us well. If that was the case, why are we in this present situation?