Paying for Perks
Special Report: Paying for Perks
When you start a new job, you're probably happy to get two weeks off with pay and that's what most city workers get in Boston.
But one group gets much more. Buried in this agreement with a middle-managers union is a guarantee of four weeks vacation for anyone who may have worked less than six months!
Let me guess, you can't believe it!
Tired of rushing around at Christmas trying to work and get everything else done? Well, how would like two extra days off every December--in addition to your vacation--so you can go shopping.
That's not too good to be true--because it is true--for all those covered by this contract between Boston's School Committee and the union representing the system's Administrative Guild.
Boston's Director of Labor Relations, John Dunlap acknowledges the power of unions:
"There could be things in this that we would frankly rather not have in the contract, but it is in there as part of a balancing act to get the deal we need to get to continue to move forward."
"If you don't make the concessions you don't get the deal?" Hiller asks.
Dunlap says, "That's correct."
Now, turn your attention to the Massachusetts Turnpike, which says it has to raise tolls because it's broke.
Union contracts have helped break it.
While most state employees--and most of us--get time-and-half or double-time for working a holiday...the Pike pays its workers two and half times the normal rate.
And whenever the Pike calls an employee back to work after they've left, the employee is paid time and a half for eight hours, no matter how long they actually work.
And there are other state workers with a deal almost as sweet.
If you're an Environmental Police Officer--enforcing the laws for boating and recreational vehicles, or protecting wildlife and natural resources--and you work one minute of overtime, you get paid for an hour.
It's right here in the collective bargaining agreement with the coalition of public safety.
And while your job may provide education assistance for you--to help you become a more valuable employee--Massachusetts pays the tuition at state schools for spouses of nearly all union workers.
So you can earn while your husband or wife learns on what amounts to a state scholarship.
The president of the state's largest labor group, Robert Haynes of the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts, doesn't defend all the perks, but he does defend the hard-nosed negotiations that produce them...and says unions don't always win the bargaining behind closed doors:
"I accept the notion that at times the employer does better than the union does and sometimes in the business cycle the union does better than the employer does," Haynes says.
And what do the unions that get these perks say, when they'll say anything at all?
That they negotiated for them, or that--in the big picture--they're pretty small.
But the picture's changing and many of the perks we used to wink at can now make us wince because they can cost a lot of money, but don't make sense.
I'm Andy Hiller, 7News.
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