An 18.3% increase… are you kidding?  by Anthony Oleck

An 18.3% increase… are you kidding? by Anthony Oleck

Published: Jul 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

So I’m reading the Daily Local and I come to a page 3 headline. “West Chester area teachers union proposes an 18.3% raise. ” The report went on to say they are also requesting expanded health benefits, additional pay for meetings and a reduction of two work days during the school year.

It took a full 10 minutes before I realized this was not a late April Fool’s joke, it was not a misprint and it was not about a town named West Chester discovered on some distant planet.

For those who do not realize it, the range for base teacher salary in West Chester is $44,000 – $97,100. In surrounding districts there are teachers making over $100,000 a year. Keep in mind that base salary is but one component, total compensation includes generous pension and health benefits far superior to anything in the private sector. So an additional 40 percent is probably a more accurate representation of true total compensation. So that $100,000 a year teacher now becomes a $140,000 tax bill for the homeowner. Surprised at the number? You should be, this is not 1960 as the union would have you believe. Teachers are paid quite well from a total compensation standpoint.

So we have a very generous pay package but the union is demanding an 18.3 percent increase and get this … two more days off. Teachers love to compare salaries with the private sector but NEVER compare the work year. Teachers get two major vacations during the school year as well as all federal holidays and as we speak they are on a 2.5 month summer vacation while we in the private sector have to work to support their generous benefits. If the salaries are fair and competitive then it follows that you and I are paying for almost three months of vacation … and the union has the nerve to ask for two more days off! Unbelievable.

If teachers need more money they can do what we taxpayers do … work during the summer months. Summer school, tutor, any number of things they can do to increase their earnings. But, since our public service unions have a monopoly, have us over a barrel, most of them will be content with taking the summer off on the taxpayers’ dime and ask for an 18 percent raise to help offset the cost of suntan lotion and beach chairs.

Folks, there is a Wisconsin-like fight coming to a theater near you very soon. Two things you should remember, as the Daily Local editorial stressed today our state public pension budget is $1.2 billion, next year it increases to $1.6 billion and by 2016 it jumps to a staggering $6 billion. That’s the budget, but the budget doesn’t begin to cover the real costs … at the end of 2010 our unfunded bill for teacher and public sector employees is $118 BILLION. Are you beginning to see the problem? Do you see why an 18.3 percent increase is an affront to decency? Do you understand why Scott Walker did what he did in Wisconsin? A major crisis is right around the corner and the teachers union is asking for more and more.

Second thing to remember is that it was none other than ultra liberal Franklin D. Roosevelt who said public service jobs should not have union representation, they are a monopoly. We the consumer have no choice in the matter. Not a healthy arrangement if you are a taxpayer living on a fixed income trying to spend your last years in the home where you raised your family. Take a good look at your mortgage statement breakdown. With today’s low interest rates many folks are paying more in school taxes than they are in mortgage costs.

Forget the notion that you own your home, you don’t, you simply lease it from your local school board.

Opinion published in the Daily Local News on June 29, 2012.