Tucker Carlson claimed that Wisconsin public sector workers "make more than you do" and "won't even consider" taking pay and benefits cuts. In fact, Wisconsin public sector workers make less than their private sector counterparts, and union leaders in the state have agreed to take cuts in their take home pay.
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Carlson: Public Sector Workers "Make More Than You Do" And "Won't Even Consider Taking Any Kind Of Cut"
From Fox News' Special Report:
TUCKER CARLSON: Here's, in my view, the politically effective and the true argument. They make more than you do, right, these public sector employees, they can never be fired, their benefits are things you can't even imagine, and by the way, they won't even consider taking any kind of cut in the face of the worst recession in our lifetimes and they expect you to pay for it. You can win that case.
And in fact, anybody who makes - Chris Christie, when he makes that case, wins hands down, even among liberals in New Jersey. Much tougher to argue against a rights-based argument, which is, in effect, where the Governor puts himself now. And as the polls you alluded to a second ago show, Americans are very hesitant, even when they're sort of on your side, to concede that anybody's rights to do anything ought to be limited in any way.
That said, there's a reason that those Senators fled the state. This is a massive defeat for organized labor. [Fox News, Special Report, 3/9/11]
EPI Study: WI Public Sector Employees Earn "4.8% Less ... Per Hour" Than Private Sector Counterparts
EPI: "Wisconsin Public Employees Earn 4.8% Less In Total Compensation Per Hour Than Comparable Full-Time Employees In Wisconsin's Private Sector." A study published February 10, 2011, by the think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that when "[c]omparisons controlling for education, experience," and other factors are taken into account, "Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector." From the executive summary of the EPI study:
[T]he data indicates that state and local government employees in Wisconsin are not overpaid. Comparisons controlling for education, experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability reveal that employees of both state and local governments in Wisconsin earn less than comparable private sector employees. On an annual basis, full-time state and local government employees in Wisconsin are undercompensated by 8.2% compared with otherwise similar private sector workers. This compensation disadvantage is smaller but still significant when hours worked are factored in. Full-time public employees work fewer annual hours, particularly employees with bachelor's, master's, and professional degrees (because many are teachers or university professors). When comparisons are made controlling for the difference in annual hours worked, full-time state and local government employees are undercompensated by 4.8%, compared with otherwise similar private sector workers. To summarize, our study shows that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector.
These compensation comparisons account for important factors that affect earnings, the most important of which is the educational levels of public employees. When comparing public and private sector pay it is essential to consider the much higher levels of education required by occupations in the public sector. As a consequence of these requirements, Wisconsin public sector workers are on average more highly educated than private sector workers; 59% of full-time Wisconsin public sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree, compared with 30% of full-time private sector workers. Wisconsin state and local governments pay college-educated employees 25% less in annual compensation, on average, than private employers. The compensation differential is greatest for professional employees, lawyers, and doctors. On the other hand, the public sector appears to set a floor on compensation, which benefits less-educated workers. The 1% of state and local government workers without high school diplomas earn more than comparably educated workers in the private sector. [EPI, "Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-compensated?" 2/10/11]
EPI: "Workers With A Bachelor's Degree Or More ... Are Compensated Between $20,000 ... To Over $82,000 A Year Less" Than Private Sector Counterparts. The EPI report also included a graphic showing the average compensation for public and private sector employees in Wisconsin by education:
The February 18, 2011, EPI post accompanying this graphic stated:
The campaign against state and local workers is often justified with claims that they are privileged relative to their private-sector peers or have somehow been cushioned from the effects of the recent recession and slow recovery. These claims are clearly false.
In Wisconsin, which has become a focal point in this debate, public servants already take a pretty hefty pay cut just for the opportunity to serve their communities (Keefe 2010). The figure below shows that when comparing the total compensation (which includes non-wage benefits such as health care and pensions) of workers with similar education, public-sector workers consistently make less than their private-sector peers. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more--which constitute nearly 60% of the state and local workforce in Wisconsin--are compensated between $20,000 less (if they just have a bachelor's degree) to over $82,000 a year less (if they have a professional degree, such as in law or medicine). [EPI, 2/18/11]
Union Leaders Have Agreed To Walker's Proposal To Cut Their Take Home Pay
AP: Unions "Willing To Accept" Eight Percent Cut In Take Home Pay. Wisconsin public employee union leaders have indicated that they are willing to contribute more of their salaries to health insurance and retirement benefits, which would result in a pay cut of approximately 8 percent. From The Associated Press:
Walker's plan would allow unions representing most public employees to negotiate only for wage increases, not benefits or working conditions. Any wage increase above the Consumer Price Index would have to be approved in a referendum. Unions would face a vote of membership every year to stay formed, and workers could opt out of paying dues.
The plan would also require many public employees to cut their take home pay by about 8 percent by contributing more of their salaries toward their health insurance and retirement benefits. Union leaders said their members are willing to accept those concessions, but they will not give up their right to collectively bargain. [The Associated Press, 2/21/11]
Wisconsin Education Association Council President: "Public Employees Have Agreed To Governor Walker's Pension And Health Care Concessions." The New York Times reported:
Mr. Walker's plan would require government workers to put 5.8 percent of their pay into their pensions (most pay less than 1 percent now), and would require them to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums (most pay about 6 percent now). Union leaders said they would go along with those plans, but they wanted to remove provisions that would prohibit collective bargaining for issues beyond wages, limit pay raises to a certain level without special approval by public referendum and require unions to hold annual votes on whether they should remain in existence.
''We have been clear -- and I will restate this again today -- money issues are off the table,'' Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said on Sunday. ''Public employees have agreed to Governor Walker's pension and health care concessions, which he says will solve the budget challenge.'' [The New York Times, 2/20/11]