Let Them Eat Cake

at 11:35 PM

There is only one person serving a long line of customers. As I wait, I watch her coworkers, who should be helping me, eat birthday cake.

I ought to take my business elsewhere, but I can't. I need a public service. Today I need a parking permit. At other times I've waited to register a business and to get a deed recorded. It seems in the eyes of public employees, my needs come second -- after cake.

Is it any wonder that public employee unions are an easy target? You won't hear any rhetoric about pensions from me. I'm referring about the disconnect between the service our taxes pay for, and the service we receive.

The union mentality encourages some union employees to view a paycheck as right, not as just compensation for a job well done. Union leadership perpetuates this disconnect. Union goals are compensation, working conditions, and job protection. There are no union goals for providing exceptionally good service to the public. Worse, when the inevitable job cuts happen, seniority often trumps qualification and service suffers. The result of indiscriminate union protection is mediocrity and public contempt.

All of my clients are in service businesses. They would close their doors if they treated customers as poorly as many public employees treat taxpayers.

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Those of us in the private sector know that our next paycheck depends upon performance: we change, adapt, get educated, and constantly improve. It is why I enjoy going to my auto mechanic. He gives me a cup of coffee and a clean place to wait while my car is brought forward. Not only is it repaired, he has cleaned my dirty windshield. He has exceeded my expectations and I will return and sing his praises.

Who sings the praises of public employees? Their unions. And perhaps Pastry Workers Local #159. After all, it is every day that at least one public employee has a birthday, and that means it's time for cake.

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From line in city hall, with a Perspective, this is Susan Hare.

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