FLORIDA’S GOVERNOR USING PRETENSE TO FIGHT STATE EMPLOYEES

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, has decided to use a pretense to generate hostility toward state employees.  Under the guise of  “the public’s right to know”, Scott has established a website which includes all state employees’ salaries as well as listing pensions of $100,000 or more.

The pensions are listed by office and do not disclose the recipient’s name; however, the information on state employees includes the employee’s name, salary, and date of hire.  Under the misnomer of “holding government accountable”, Scott is using a thinly veiled tactic to generate animosity toward state employees.

Scott’s tactic is, in main part, due to the protection of collective bargaining provisions in the Florida State Constitution.  In 1968, the applicable section of the Constitution was rewritten and now states:

The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.

In 1969, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the new constitutional provision, giving Florida state employees the right to bargain collectively.  However, they do not have the right to strike.   Originally in favor of collective bargaining and critical of Wisconsin’s governor, Scott now says he wants the Constitutional protection removed.

However, the constitutional protection makes it much more difficult to abolish collective bargaining.  Unlike Mitch Daniels, who, with the stroke of a pen, ended Indiana’s collective bargaining provisions a few hours after he took office in 2005, or Scott Walker, who pushed legislation through the Wisconsin State legislature, Rick Scott is hemmed in by the Florida constitution.  This surely has created a great deal of angst for the flip-flopping governor.

With Florida’s Constitution containing protection for worker collective bargaining, Scott must try another tactic to garner support to abolish the Constitutional provision.  And, what better way to build support for abolishing collective bargaining than to pit worker against worker, private sector employee against public sector employee than to show wages for comparison?

Governor Scott’s plan is nothing short of a devious way of triggering warfare between state employees and private workforce employees.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Collective Bargaining, Florida, Labor and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to FLORIDA’S GOVERNOR USING PRETENSE TO FIGHT STATE EMPLOYEES

  1. Tim Zank says:

    Charlotte, I’ll edit your sentence to make a point:

    “Governor Scott’s plan is nothing short of a devious honest and transparent way of triggering warfare comparing between state employees and private workforce employees.”

    The elephant in the room that democrats & state union proponents ALWAYS sidestep and never mention is, state employees work for the public taxpaying citizens, not the unions. The PEOPLE pay their salaries, their insurance premiums, and their pensions, and as such have EVERY RIGHT to know exactly how much EVERY public employee is earning.

    The state employees should not be “embarrassed” or want to hide their compensation should they?? Is there some reason they should NOT want their neighbors to know???

    Regardless your personal preference for left or right politicians, any thinking citizen wants to know what he’s paying and what he’s paying for. How are you going to characterize Cuomo & Brown when they have to start firing thousands of state workers? (brown has to start next week)…

    • Tim Zank says:

      OOps..obviously my “strikes” didn’t work out..sorry..but ya get the gist of my point right?

  2. Tim:

    Hmm – I think I get it. Are you arguing that it is perfectly okay to list wages for all state employees?

    Scott’s method is simply a way to tick off private work force employees and the general public against state employees. As I noted, he is under different constraints than Daniels and Walker. He can’t use his pen to erase collective bargaining, and he can’t go through the Florida legislature to do so either.

    Amending constitutions takes much more effort. He is simply trying to generate animosity and hatred toward state employees so that, in the end, he can get rid of collective bargaining.

    • Tim Zank says:

      It most certainly is “okay” to list wages for state employees. They work for us, we have every right to know what they make and what we pay for. It’s called “transparency”. Steuben County has been publishing county & city salaries in our newspaper bi-weekly forever and nobody’s freaked out up here.

      What could be more UN-American than “hiding” the expenses of your government?

      • So now it is “un-American” to not disclose salaries, wages, etc. of state employees? A little dramatic, don’t you think?

        Although some states i.e. New York have published salaries for a few years, this latest push by Scott is simply because he has no other way of fighting collective bargaining and unions. And, how interesting, but Floridians already have had access to this information (since 2009):

        http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=106331

        Scott just wanted to make a “splash” with it and manipulate it to his advantage.

        I will ask you the same thing I asked Dave. Who decides what is fair and equitable? A consulting firm hired by Governor Scott? Guidelines from other states?

        If you download the entire spreadsheet – which I have – you will find a goodly number of pretty low salaries. The high salaries are collected in the health care field, the legal field, data collections, and administrators. I wonder how many Floridians would go with cutting back on health care professionals, law enforcement and court personnel, etc.?

        This may, in the end, bite Rick Scott in the a**. The over $50,000 crowd consists of 6,629 people. The under $50,000 crowd includes the rest on the spreadsheet – 53,583.

  3. Judy says:

    Tim,
    Another problem with listing state employee “compensation” is that it’s not only their wages, but also the costs for health insurance,contribution to pension plans, and costs of any other benefits. When the average person reads a $50,000 annual “wage” they think of the worker taking home all of that, or at least $50,000 minus taxes. Then he/she compares it to his/her “wage,” not considering the employer’s contributions to Social Security, health insurance, workers’ compensation, other benefits, and perhaps liablilty insurance.

    • Tim Zank says:

      Uhhhh, you may want to click on the website link Charlotte provided. It’s a very simple process and it’s very understandable, salaries are broken out from pensions very clearly. Taxpayers will not be confused.

      • Judy says:

        “Annual salary includes applicable employee pay additives,” “not including Overtime or incentive payments.” There is nothing on an individual’s line of compensation defining pension payments, etc. Just put in a last name and you will find every state employee with that last name.
        Under the name “Miller” I wonder why there is the clamor, most seem to be reasonably or under paid, even under the poverty level for many.

      • Judy says:

        I should add that I expressed surprise to a superintendent of schools years ago about the wages of teachers published in the newspaper, not by name, but by years of experience. I said I didn’t know that teachers were paid that well. His response was the amount included payments to the pension system and benefits like the part of health insurance paid by the school district.

  4. Dave MacDonald says:

    Charlotte,

    You write, “[Scott] is simply trying to generate animosity and hatred toward state employees so that, in the end, he can get rid of collective bargaining.”

    Your implication is that they have something to hide, that if the public knows how much state employees make, they will be “hated” for it. If their pay and benefits are fair and equitable, what’s the harm? Tim’s right on this one. State employees work for the taxpayers. Taxpayers have every right to know where their money goes. Doesn’t look to me like Scott is the one using pretense.

  5. I made no such implication – at least from my point of seeing the situation.

    But, here are the $64,000 questions – just what is fair and equitable? Who determines fair and equitable? The private workforce workers? Those who do not vote? Private consulting groups?

    For example, my oldest son works at a medium security correctional facility. The facility holds individuals who have committed manslaughter and other violent crimes. He started five years ago in 2006, and he has had one raise – he finally makes just over $30,000. Now if you think that is equitable, so be it.

    I would almost bet you if you went out and took a poll of how much the average Floridian thought a correctional officer with five years of service made, I bet they would say at least $40,000 – probably more. And, they would be dead wrong.

    Rick Scott is using a pretense in that he knows he cannot go about generating opposition in any other way. Collective bargaining is enshrined in the Florida Constitution. He cannot deal with it as easily as Daniels (executive order) and Walker (legislation).

    If you think that he is doing this out of his concern for Florida citizens, then you are mistaken. He has every intention of turning this into a battle of private workforce citizens against state workers and ultimately against the unions and collective bargaining.

    And what better way to build animosity then to publish salaries – equitable or not. How many Floridians do you think were online immediately checking out their friends and neighbors salaries. How many hostile conversations do you think will occur now that the salaries are posted? Equitable or not?

    Rick Scott is simply following through with his goal to break unions and end collective bargaining as many of the elected Republican governors have indicated they intend to do.

  6. Tim Zank says:

    Charlotte, this is your opinion “If you think that he is doing this out of his concern for Florida citizens, then you are mistaken.” which of course you are entitled to, and obviously this has a political upside for the Governor, a Republican, which grinds your axe, which is fine also, BUT…look at the common sense side of it as well, not all common sense things are wromg because it doesn’t fit your political preference.

    Example: Say it’s a corporation, could you hide the salaries of employees and expenses paid from the shareholders? Say it’s a non profit organization like United Way, could you hide the salaries & expenses from the Board of Directors? Companies or Non Profits that would have no oversight would be “pillaged”, would they not? The taxpayers of the city, county, state and country are in fact the shareholders & board of directors of the various government entities. When a state is going broke and the government is forced to cut budgets, can you justify HIDING relevant information from the taxpayers? Most states already publish this info, as I noted here in Indiana, Steuben County has been doing it for decades.

    You are one smart lady and I think highly principled, and I would submit if you put aside your animosity for all things republican for a moment, you’ll see the value in transparency.

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