Category Archives: Public Sector

Taylor Made: The Cost and Consequences of New York’s Public-Sector Labor Laws

Source: Terry O’Neil and E.J. McMahon, Empire Center, October 17, 2007

From the overview:
The Empire State was a scene of growing public-sector labor unrest in the mid 1960s. Government employees from Long Island to Buffalo were lobbying for the same organizational and collective bargaining rights as private-sector workers. Municipal unions in New York City had been negotiating contracts since the late 1950s, yet essential city services had been repeatedly interrupted by strikes or threats of strikes-culminating in a disastrous walkout by transit workers in January 1966.

Security Risk

Source: Michael Fielding, Public Works Magazine, Vol. 139 no. 9, August 1, 2008

Focusing on service in a cynical world.

Although the average citizen thinks public safety employees face the most danger in serving the community, the editors of PUBLIC WORKS suspected that public works employees are equally vulnerable–if not more so. To confirm our belief, we asked readers if they’d ever felt threatened, whether the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, and how department operations may have changed as a result.

Clean Energy Strategies for State and Local Governments: Public Infrastructure

Source: Apollo Alliance, 2008

As America faces rising energy and fuel costs, state and local governments lead the way towards energy independence in America, employing strategies ranging from using biofuels in fleet vehicles to retrofitting public buildings to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. In doing so, state and local governments not only help the environment, they help themselves by cutting energy costs, relieving pressure on tight budgets, and demonstrating the essential value of public investment in new energy technologies.

Green Collar Jobs in America’s Cities

Source: Apollo Alliance, Green for All, Center for American Progress, Center on Wisconsin Strategy, March 2008

A coalition of non-profit environmental and economic research organizations from across the country today released a first-of-its kind guide to cities and states to enhance one critical component of America’s shared prosperity. The new guide, “Green-Collar Jobs in America’s Cities,” was made public at the start of the two-day national Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in Pittsburgh. It makes a strong case that pursuing a four-step strategy – essentially a metropolitan green business and jobs development plan – provides a wealth of environmental, economic, and social benefits.

Greener Grass for Public Employees

Source: Girard Miller, Governing, July 2008

Tough times favor government careers — and changes in plan design.

The economy is cyclical. So are labor markets. And so are the attitudes of workers about economic security and job flexibility. As private companies restructure their workforces, cut their bonus pools, move people around the country, eliminate benefits like retiree health care, and ask their workers to make lifestyle sacrifices, the grass begins to look greener on the public sector side of the fence. As reported in one news story, some workers have thrown in the towel on private-sector work and decided that a government job looks pretty good. That could have far-reaching implications as state and local governments cut back on spending and revisit the sustainability of their employee compensation and benefits plans.

Transportation Security Administration’s Efforts to Proactively Address Employee Concerns

Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, OIG 08-62, May 2008

The Transportation Security Administration reports that a stable, mature, and experienced workforce is the most effective tool it has to meet its mission. Despite the value placed on the workforce, employees have expressed their concerns about how the agency operates by historically filing formal complaints at rates higher than other federal agencies of comparable size.

Additionally, Transportation Security Administration employees at some airports have contacted the Congress, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, and the media to report their frustrations with local management’s lack of resolution of ongoing workplace problems. The Transportation Security Administration has taken proactive steps by establishing the Office of the Ombudsman, the Integrated Conflict Management System, and the National Advisory Council to help identify and address its employees’ workplace concerns. Our overall audit objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of these initiatives. Despite the positive steps taken, the Transportation Security Administration could improve its initiatives by establishing more effective internal systems, processes, and controls. Specifically, the agency has not provided sufficient tools and guidance regarding the structures, authorities, and oversight responsibilities of each initiative, and has faced challenges in communicating the details of each to its workforce.

Low employee morale continues to be an issue at some airports, contributing to the Transportation Security Administration’s 17% voluntary attrition rate. More than half of the employees we interviewed described the agency’s efforts to educate them on the various initiatives available to address their workplace concerns as “inadequate.” Accordingly, we are making six recommendations to the Assistant Secretary of the Transportation Security Administration to provide employees with sufficient tools, including clear guidance and better communication, on the structures, authorities, and oversight responsibilities of the initiatives we reviewed. The agency fully or partly concurred with five of the recommendations and has taken action to resolve four, which will remain open until implementation is completed. The agency did not provide sufficient information on its actions reported for one recommendation and did not concur with another. As such, both recommendations remain open and unresolved.
See also:
The Transportation Security Administration’s National Deployment Force

The Best Retirement Plan Ever

Source: Christian Weller, Center for American Progress, July 10, 2008

How Public Sector Pension Plans Provide Adequate Retirement Savings in an Efficient and Sustainable Way

CAPAF’s Christian E. Weller testifies today to the Joint Economic Committee. Read the full testimony.

A recent poll conducted by Bankrate Inc. found that only about 3 in 10 workers expect to have enough money to retire comfortably. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans have set low expectations about their retirement prospects. And one in five Americans say they are afraid they will never be able to retire.