Monday, March 05, 2012


I have been a public safety consultant doing work for city and county governments for more than a dozen years. In my corporate life, I helped craft public/private partnerships to save taxpayers money. In my consulting practice I have done the same.

I cannot find any substantial fact in the Goldwater Institute's assertion that Arizona taxpayers are losing $550 million a year due to public sector unions. If anything, Arizona's public employees have very modest representation. Outside of police and fire, most city, county and state employees don't really take a lot away in tax dollars. Studies have consistently shown that the vast majority of civil servants are paid LESS than their private sector counterparts.

I know one school teacher who has said due to increased deductions in her paycheck since she started teaching almost a decade ago in a job that requires her to have a masters' degree teaching grade school - she is now taking home $18,000 less a year and has not received a raise in five years. The increase has occurred due to absorbing higher health care costs and putting more out of her check into her retirement plan.

In private sector, where negotiating in good faith with labor is a Federal law, I worked for a national company that had nine unions over its 20 some states of operations. During the three years I was the firm's principle advisor on labor relations, we had great labor relations.

I don't know who the Goldwater folks are advocating for on this one, but not for me and not for many other Republican taxpayers like me. We recognize that our city, county and state employees have been taking cuts and trying to provide good service in a lousy economic climate. I go to church with several of them and none of them I see are living high on the hog.

I think the $550 million touted by GI is their liberal estimate taking in factors that simply don't hold up to spread sheet, or at least no spread sheet I understand after more than three decades of both public and private service.

Good employee relations should always be the goal of any firm or agency. Good working relations means motivated employees who perform beyond expectations and at higher productivity. No military force ferments bad relations with its troops - and the ones that do are armies that fail on the field of battle.

If I were a soldier (and I've been a Sailor), and the GI folks were my CO, I don't think it would be a very happy outfit.

Jon C. Altmann is the President/Owner of the Public Safety Research Group (PSRG). He retired from the U.S. Navy in November 2006 from active and reserve service, as a Navy Senior Enlisted Leader (Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist), with his final assignment on the national command staff of the Navy Intelligence Reserve Command. His personal decorations include two awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, two awards of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Military Volunteer Service Medal. He has served in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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