Guess which city employee in Madison Wisconsin earned the most money last year? Not the mayor… not the police chief. The highest earner was bus driver John E. Nelson. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that he earned $159,258 last year - $109,892 of it was overtime pay.
I once thought city employees were “public servants” who traded low pay for job security. That was once true. But not anymore. Today government workers earn more money than other Americans. They also have vastly superior benefits.
At a time when cities and states face budget crises, the fat compensation and benefit packages that politicians have negotiated with public employee unions – often big political donors to those same politicians – drain public treasuries. The city of Vallejo, California declared bankruptcy after police and fire department labor costs ate up 80% of the city’s budget. I report on this and more on Thursday’s “Stossel” which airs Thursdays at 8pm and 11pm EST.
I will talk to author Steven Greenhut about his book “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling our Lives, and Bankrupting the Nation." He says that the average private-sector worker will have to work longer, retire later, and pay more so that his public-employee neighbors can enjoy the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.