Public Safety Compensation and Public Safety

Public sector unions are by far the most powerful special interest in California. And they are united in their goal to pay themselves as much or more than public agencies can afford, which shields unionized public servants from the worst effects of the laws (which they almost always support) that have made California’s cost-of-living the highest in the nation. But there are also significant differences between the various public sector unions in California.

Whatever else one might say about public safety unions, they have not undermined the quality of their profession. To the extent public safety in California is compromised, for the most part that is caused by policies the public safety unions unsuccessfully opposed including Prop. 47, Prop. 57, AB 109, and AB 953.

This is in sharp contrast to California’s teachers unions, which by their opposition to charter schools and desperately needed union work rule reforms such as attempted in the Vergara lawsuit, make unconvincing their claims to care about results.

Any criticism of public safety unions should be in this context. Nonetheless, the case must be made that police and firefighter compensation in California has reached a level where at the least it is appropriate to replace their services whenever possible with less expensive solutions.

With respect to firefighters, an example of this can be found with private ambulance services which can, and often do, replace firefighter personnel to respond to medical emergencies. This solution can save municipalities millions […] Read More