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Posted on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw County not alone in struggling to fund future retiree health care costs

By Ryan J. Stanton

Washtenaw County is nearly $150 million behind on setting aside funding for future retiree health care benefits, but it's managing the problem better than many of its peers in the state, a new report by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan suggests.

CRC's latest report looks at how growing health care costs are impacting counties throughout Michigan. It shows a significant share of counties' budgets are now going to pay for health care benefits provided to retirees for services provided years ago.

Washtenaw County's annual required contribution for retiree benefits is about $10.8 million, more than 5 percent of the county's total budget, or nearly 11 percent of the general fund.


Washtenaw County Commissioner Wesley Prater, D-York Township, said he's concerned about the county's unfunded liabilities.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Because of the size of most counties’ annual required contributions, CRC found many counties do not pay the full amounts. In 2009, the average county funded 61 percent of its annual required contribution, while Washtenaw County funded about 95 percent.

No county is anywhere close to fully funding its future retiree benefit liabilities at this time, and dozens remain zero-percent funded, CRC's report shows.

Washtenaw County actually is doing better than many, with about a quarter of its future retiree benefit liabilities funded. The report shows the county with assets of nearly $50 million versus a liability of close to $200 million, leaving an unfunded liability of close to $150 million.

That's on top of the fact that the county's pension system is about 77.5 percent funded, with about $60.7 million in unfunded liabilities, according to audit figures.

County officials point out the county's Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association Trust saw its assets grow to more than $55.6 million as of December 2010, so the latest numbers are slightly different than the figures cited in the CRC report. But that still leaves a gaping hole that has members of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners concerned.

Commissioner Wesley Prater, D-York Township, said the county's total unfunded liabilities — when factoring in pension obligations, future retiree benefits, debt and time owed to employees — actually ticks up to about $385 million. He acknowledged the county's VEBA Trust is significantly underfunded and said the county needs to take steps to address that.

"It is a big number and we've got to start talking about it so people understand," he said. "We haven't had an in-depth look at the funding for the VEBA, and I really don't know where it is except there is a huge unfunded liability there and I am concerned."

Prater said the county's administration hasn't really communicated much with the board on the issue, and it's "time to start breaking it down."


Verna McDaniel

County Administrator Verna McDaniel acknowledged that Washtenaw County has felt the effects of the rising cost of health care, both for active employees and retirees.

In an effort to stay ahead of the curve, she said, the county established a VEBA Trust in 1996, which acts as a vehicle to assist in funding health care benefits for retirees.

CRC points out that it wasn't until 2004 that the national Governmental Accounting Standards Board issued new guidelines for governments to account for future retiree benefits while employees are still working and earning the benefits. That means many governments now have large future liabilities on the books that were never accounted for before.

Counties' responses have been varied, CRC's report found. While many are closing retiree health care plans to new hires, increasing their pre-funding, raising deductibles, increasing vesting requirements and shifting to defined contribution plans, some have yet to take action.

"As a long-term cost saving strategy, many Michigan counties have switched from providing full or limited retiree health care benefits to not providing retiree health care benefits to newly hired employees," CRC's report found. "Seventeen county respondents, or about a third, have closed their retiree health care plans to new hires."

Washtenaw County is not one of those 17.

The county will be in negotiations with the majority of its collective bargaining units this year, as most contracts expire in December. The county is counting on concessions from labor unions in order to help close a $20.9 million structural deficit over the next two years. Seeking uniformity in health care plans between different labor groups is a goal of the county.

The union representing Washtenaw County sheriff's deputies recently agreed to start sharing the cost of health care premiums starting in 2013, with each employee paying $50 a month. That's expected to save $168,000 a year in both 2013 and 2014.

"At this time, however, the union employees do not pay anything for health care, whether it's a single person or a family. I believe that has to change," said County Commissioner Leah Gunn, D-Ann Arbor, noting that non-union employees already have started paying $50 a month.


    In 2002, the county began negotiating changes to health care, moving from a traditional health care plan to that of a PPO or preferred provider organization.

    In 2008, a three-tier health care system of benefit eligibility was negotiated based on years of service. At the same time, cost sharing for retiree health care benefits was implemented, also based on years of service. The county and its unions negotiated to have employees begin contributing between 0.5 and 1 percent toward the VEBA financial liability.

    In 2009, concessionary negotiations were completed with some employees undertaking modified prescription co-pays, office co-pays and premium sharing on a bi-weekly basis.

Eric Lupher, CRC's director of local affairs, said it's becoming increasingly clear that the budget problems facing Michigan governments cannot be adequately addressed until the cost of health care benefits for public employees is confronted. He predicts the costs are only going to continue to grow as more baby boomers reach retirement age.

CRC obtained data from the Municipal Employees Retirement System — which nearly 700 local governments in Michigan use — showing the ratio of active to retired employees in the MERS program decreased from 7.5 in 1955 to 1.4 in 2009.

It may soon reach the point when there are more retired than active employees eligible for health care benefits, CRC states in its report.

"This is already the case for some counties," CRC says. "This phenomenon magnifies increasing health care costs as counties incur higher costs for a larger number of retirees, individuals who currently provide no services to the county and yet for which the county must pay costs."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, May 12, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Gee Wes. you're just now becoming concerned. Where have you been, dining at the Republican hog slop? You've been a Commissioner for a long time and have probably voted not to pay the pension plan. How much money has the county spent as incentives for early retirement?


Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

The real answer is not with local or state government, it's with the federal. A Universal health care plan would cut the amount money this country spends on health care by 40% --- and we would still be spending more per capita than our european neighbors.


Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

Insurance companies are raising their rates just fine all by themselves. For profit insurance companies are now raising rates at a deadly pace because the Federal Affordable Health care law requires that they spend more on actual care and less on administrative costs and CEO salaries. It has far more to do with insurance company greed and little to do with the new heath care rules that extend better and more affordable coverage to those who currently can't afford insurance.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

Why is it, then, that Obamacare is raising premiums at a very quick rate?

Dog Guy

Tue, Mar 1, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

As a typical overpaid, underworked, and unnecessary government "worker," I am not dismayed by the attention we are getting now. I chose the role of tax parasite in full knowledge that this irrational and unfair socialist scam could not last forever. Those who have known me for decades can attest that I have always admitted that "sucking on government teat beats working for a living." Nevertheless, I expect the working stiffs to go back to sleep soon and I will again be called "dedicated public servant."


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

I don't understand why the perception is that union members are not also taxpayers? I've been a union member all my working life, pay my property and income taxes just like everyone else. I vote, too, and generally vote for school millages, and roads, and green space, and whatever else we need to keep our environment healthy. Most union members, like most workers in the private sector, do their jobs well. There are slackers & harebrains in both the unions and the private sector, and much of that is due to lack of oversight. Lack of management. Union members generally receive the same hourly wage as the person working next to them, in the same position, even if you've put in 30 years and the other guy started last month. This antagonism towards unions seems misdirected. The unions didn't cause the economy to fail. The greedy Wall St. brokers, the International Banking System played fast and loose, made billions and billions.........the middle class is being bled out, and people want to blame the unions?? Don't get me started.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Here's why. Most of the anti union folks are Limbaugh dittoheads who worship the ground that Sarah Palin walks on. They are unable to form their own thoughts. Their only news source is Fox News and they attend Glenn Beck's University of the Blackboard. They live by the Mythbusters dictum &quot;I reject your reality and substitute my own.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> They are all dupes of the Koch Brothers.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

All public sector employees are overpaid, underworked, over appreciated and spoiled. They need to step up and reduce benifits to offset the increase in costs. No gravy train anymore!


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

I suppose you lump firefighters, police and prison guards in the overpaid and underworked.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

Our county commissioners and county administrators have let us down. They negotiated contracts that were obviously not sustainable fiscally for the taxpayers. How can you ever agree to a contract that requires no or minimal contributions for either pensions or health benefits. Poor stewardship. This must be fixed so there are copays and deductibles in addition to contributions to the cost of the insurance. Then for retirement benefits, so need to be reasonable. How can one think it reasonable to pay retirement that is even close to what the worker was making while working full time? Our representatives ignored their duties to the majority of residents in our local municipalities. Hopefully there is a way to somehow address these issues retroactively. And this is not only for union members, but for all municipal employees and commissioners.

zip the cat

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Well they the county could always file for bankruptcy and then they are out from under the weight of a under funded pension plan


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Well time to chance healthinsurance companie ...find a cheap deal.. we all have to shop around.... well come to the american propoganda sytem ...all is rosy..

Harley B. Rider

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

To djm12652: I paid into my retirement to the tune of 7.5% of my gross pay every payday - the entire amount was fully taxed at the time. My 7.5% was a fixed rate, the county only had to contribute enough to keep the system funded, which meant that some years they contributed virtually nothing. To sbbuilder: At one point the retirement system I am in was reported to be OVER funded. I'm sure that's not the case now, but it's my understanding that the system was closed and no new employees can get in, so I presume the funding is not as bad off as some others. I don't know if the health insurance contribution comes from that retirement fund, or some other fund. &quot;Something has to give&quot;, but we might start by eliminating non-statutory county activities, rather than break contracts.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

Is it still a binding contract when it was made between people who weren't honestly representing the financial interests of their constituents? This is bankrupting our entire country. Already, we don't have good roads and decent snow removal because of this problem. Tomorrow, we won't police service or fire service. Shouldn't the public vote on whether to fund these massive entitlements? The same way we supposedly vote on police and school millage? Oh, I forgot, those votes are a sham, too.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

No, I blame the corrupt politicians who are willing to pay union leaders for their votes. I also blame them for making campaign promises they cannot keep. They are willing to bankrupt the entire nation just because the enjoy the power of public office.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Macabre..... So you think workers give themselves wages and benefits all by themselves? Do you not realize that the administration is giving itself that much and more and that's why they go along with those contracts? It's quite a stretch to blame 40 road commission employees for the state of the State. Quite a stretch.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

The road commission receives money from the same revenue source that budgets the Cadillac benefits - the state. So with a higher percentage of our state taxes going to entitlements, the roads are left unfunded. This will soon create a transportation crisis as the unmaintained roads are already falling apart, which means they will require a rebuild. No money for that, so we'll have to abandon some arteries in the near future. Second, have you noticed that the states in financial crisis are all states that were reliably blue in the past? The Dems are beholden to Big Labor the same way the Reps are beholden to Big Business. Big Labor is bankrupting our country. We really don't have a vote, because the parties decide the candidates. When a state is in balance, then the independents have a voice and sometimes you get better candidates as a result. That's starting to happen in places like Wisconsin and Michigan.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

Once again, Road Commission employees are not covered by these county contracts.

Harley B. Rider

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:33 p.m.

By the way, you DO vote on how county funds are spent, just as you vote on how school funds are spent (you do vote, don't you?). As you may recall, we have a representative form of government - you vote for your representative (county commissioner, school board member, local official, etc) and they vote on the budget for the entity to which they were elected. If you don't like the budgets which they approve, don't vote for them - or better yet, run for office yourself. It's difficult to get a rational perspective on how a governmental body makes decisions until you've been there yourself.

Harley B. Rider

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

You might want to do some checking on how the Road Commission is funded. It is my understanding that WCRC funding comes from the state tax on gasoline - and local contributions - not county general fund.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

Ryan, next time you talk with Commissioner Prater, please ask him how much his pension is from the City of Ann Arbor Fire Department, how many hours of comp time was he able to cash out and roll into his final average compensation, and what his final average comp figure was. Also, please ask him how much his pension is from Ypsilanti Township, much of the time spent as a part-time trustee. Also, who pays his medical insurance and what are his co-pays. I appreciate his &quot;concern&quot;, it's just funny that &quot;he got his&quot; and let the devil take the hindmost... There's nothing like a fiscally conservative politician who made sure he collected before he left...


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Wow, I almost forgot Prater's tenure at the AAFF. He left with a mighty nice pension IIRC.

Harley B. Rider

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 4:43 p.m.

I spent a career working for little more than a garbage collector was paid, working nights, weekends, holidays in a job where my family never knew for sure that I would come home in one piece. Yes, I signed up for the job knowing what it entailed. We accepted lower wages in return for the benefit package - which included retirement and health care. I contributed to my retirement, many years to a greater extent than the county did. My retirement has no escalator clause. In fact, next month it is REDUCED 20% (unfortunately, that was upheld by an arbitrator, so I've been preparing for it). On top of that, Snyder now wants to tax a pension that is barely at the subsistence level. Again, had we known that it was going to be taxed by the state (it is already subject to federal tax) our negotiations may have been different. We negotiated in good faith, making sacrifices in wages in return for retirement and health care. If I were 20 years younger I could plan for the future and absorb the cuts. But at my age there is no time left to plan for any cuts. I'm still a county taxpayer and I share the concerns over county finances. But to renege on promises that were made during good faith collective bargaining negotiations in exchange for the financial sacrifices we made at the time leaves the whole process of collective bargaining a sham.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Umm, collective bargaining *is* a sham, Harley. You weren't negotiating with your employer, the people who now have to mortgage their children's futures in order to pay those Cadillac benefits they can't even afford themselves.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

Rider Folks like you are in the eye of the storm. Your contracts were written in good faith. In any normal circumstance, they should be honored. We are living in extraordinary times, however. The very benefits that you now receive will (in part) drive the county into receivership. Something has to give.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Question for Harley, when the county paid into your retirement, was that a taxed benefit? As well, were your contributions pre-tax? I know when I left my job and moved back to MI, I converted my 401k to a Roth IRA and paid the taxes on it then, rather than when I retire and start drawing from it.

Diana Hunt

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

&quot;Inside the Hall&quot; seems a little confused. Is it unions s/he thinks are the problem, or the ruling elite? Because, trust me, they are NOT the same people! Congress-critters, corporate executives, and other high-ranking folks are the ones who make the decisions, and who give themselves well-funded health care plans while exempting themselves from the requirements that lower-paid workers have. Unions came into being because workers couldn't, and can't, count on the powerful to protect them. And union workers -- including City workers -- are tax-payers, too. I don't know the solution to adequate funding of health-care for workers and retirees. I do have the impression that many citizens take for granted all the services that City workers provide, which tend to be in the background of our lives. People seem to want more service and to pay less in taxes -- and that's just not realistic. You know that. You get what you pay for. Whether in health care or any other area of life, the Golden Rule is still a useful precept. It could be your benefits that are the next to go.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:30 p.m.

PS: Why are public pensions typically adjusted for cost of living/inflation whereas private are not?


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

My Opinion, Your post is incorrect. A proposal to provide Social Security recipients with a lump-sum payment of $250, intended as a modest boost in difficult economic times, was blocked Wednesday by Republican-led opposition in the House and Senate.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Social Security gets cost of living adjustments (put in during the Nixon administration, by the way). And, when seniors didn't get any increases last year because costs hadn't increased (using the index the govt has always used), the seniors squawked. They wanted an increase, no matter what. And, they got a little I believe (~$600). In fairness to seniors, some of their costs could have gone up - prescription drugs, heating, etc.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

The way health care costs are going, no public or private sector employer will be able to afford to cover retirees. The solution is to create a truly universal single payer health system. Once a public or private sector employe retires, their health care will no longer the responsibility of their former employer.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

Now we owe the bailout money, unfunded local government liability, AND our taxes and housepayments. Not one day of jail time for those who perpetrated the frauds. Anthony Mozillo of Countrywide is the only CEO prosecuted so far. Penalty: $47 million fine on the $130 million he made in one stock sale. Not bad. So Taxpayers hate the Unions and Unions resent the taxpayers. You are all dancing to Wall Streets tune. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

As long as we all fight each other we don't look to the real cause of the problem. Most pension funds were fully funded until 2008 when the housing crash occurred. The funds then lost 25-30% of their value just like your 401's. Additionally, the loss of property value reduced the ability of state and local governmndets to overcome the shortfall. But the banks and the CEO's were bailed out. CEO's recieved bonuses based on making lots of loans. Regardless of how toxic they were. They gambled with all of our money knowing that WE (taxpayers) would have to bail them out.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Interesting that today we get this article from Ann writer. For the first time yesterday there was an article here reporting on the tax increase to the elderly that Snyder is proposing. It was NOT written by an Ann writer and was clearly identified as not being an Ann written article. I wonder why.


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

Cash you do know why ann does so many pro Snyder stories. They are so tied to SPARK and Snyder that they all squeek when Snyder walks.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

I realize that Ryan, but there have been plenty of Snyder stories here. Plenty. But I was appreciative that Peter wrote that piece.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 3:51 p.m.

I believe you're referring to the fact that we carried a story from Peter Luke yesterday. That's nothing new. He's a political writer for (which we are a part of), and he's a great asset for our company, especially since we don't have anyone from stationed in Lansing.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

What, if any, benefits do board members receive? Do they receive pensions? How about non-bargained for employees? What benefits do they receive? PLEASE start telling the whole story.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Ryan, that would be great!!! I'd love to know exactly what benefits in particular are given to which Washtenaw County officials and employees. i have heard that board members get pension and I wonder if it is true. Lot's of questions but hard to get answers! I hope you can do that. It would be really helpful to know what is really going on.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

This story wasn't meant to be an in-depth analysis of individual benefit plans per labor group. Perhaps I'll track all of that info down for a future story. In the meantime, here's a story I wrote that may answer some of your questions: <a href=""></a>


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

This is scary indeed. I wish the county would begin by looking at some of the non union salaries and take a hatchet to that. Non union makes on average double that of the Union person. We've all watched non union get good raises while the Union employee got nothing. There are departments withing Washtenaw where non union employee's are making six figures and no one knows what they do to earn that. That's where the cuts need to happen. Let these people contribute more of their high paid salaries towards health care and the like. Union employee's work very, very hard for little money. The benefits are what we can count on. Sure, you may take it away from the non union but they will just get a hefty raise to cover the increased cost. It's time to let the rich take the well deserved fall for this mess and stop punishing the middle class and the poor. Washtenaw County is a wonderful place to work and the benefits are excellent...but the Union earns them, not the non union. Actually the non union can thank the Union for what they have. Remember WE paid the dues and fought for the benefits, NOT you!

Hot Sam

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

Donna...If we could get more specific examples, we would have something to address our commissioners with...


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Let's see how this works. Union chiefs get the dues from the workers...unions then give some of the money to the politicians. The rest they keep for their salaries. The politicians then provide more benefits to the workers in return for their votes. The taxpayer gets caught in this circle of greed. This is where we are now with respect to teachers and government employees. Sooner or later we will understand that you can't spend more than you make.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

These discussions are getting disturbing, as they smack of class warfare. In order not to offset the loss of revenue to fund OUR government due to falling property values and citizen flight, some are ready to throw our older citizens to the wolves. These people had an agreement with the County to have retiree benenfits as part of their compensation package. The US has always had a culture of treating our elderly worse that other cultures, but this is getting sadly ridiculous.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

Ignatz The conundrum we face is that on the one side, municipalities are getting squeezed very hard, and need to cut back; on the other, agreements were made in good faith. Those agreements, however, now appear unsustainable. So, what to do?


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

What are the retirement requirements? At what age are employees allowed to begin taking retirement pensions and benefits? I suspect it is significantly younger that age 62. Why not let employees be vested at a certain age but not allow anyone to begin collecting retirement pension or benefits before age 62? I am a member of a union and that is the way ours is set up.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

Most county employees are eligible to retire at age 60 with eight years of service, or meet the rule of 75 with the minimum age of 50. So, service plus age (minimum of 50) equaling 75. For new hires effective Jan. 1, 2009, the minimum age went up from 50 to 55. The county's HR director tells me any additional changes to this would have to be negotiated with the unions as pension benefits are a mandatory subject of bargaining under the law.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

Gee Wes, you've been in that position a long long time. Why are the pensions unfunded??????


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

It is not my job....


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

Maybe they can get zero health care benifits in retirement like what happend at Ford, GM and Chrysler so long ago, that I thought it was just what everyone did. Nobody was grandfathered in when this happened. (like 10 years ago)


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

Sure blame it on the unions, but like CASH says the other side of the table got more. If it wasn't for the unions there would be a heck of a lot more low income people and way more rich business owners.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:53 p.m.

InsideTheHall@ &quot;Where is the option to eliminate or greatly reduce the retiree health care coverage NOW.......We are no longer an affluent nation and cannot afford to pay a ruling elite.&quot; I fail to make the connection between health care for the elderly and paying &quot;a ruling elite&quot;.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

If these public employees make so much money, then they are probably paying more in taxes than you, and certainly pay more taxes that Bank of America. (BoA payed no taxes this year! Get it?)


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

Bank of America is not an American Bank ...mexico

Barking Bear

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

Public sector employees pay taxes from the tax dollars they receive and it takes more public sector employees to administer the recollection of the original tax dollars!


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:18 p.m.

OT3, The workers pay taxes and are not freeloaders. In some cases (like BOA) the employer pays NONE.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

What has that got to do with this?


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

And please, stop acting like public employees live in castles and don't pay taxes.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

Anybody ready for government run health care yet? Will you be ready when your premiums go through the roof?

Hot Sam

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

If we are going to have societal systems for things like health care and retirement...such as medicare and social security, then ALL public employees, from the President on down should also be subject to them.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

SB, &quot;As always, for whatever reason, it appears as though the unions are on one side of this argument, and the taxpayers are on the other. Now why the heck is that always the case?&quot; LOL, Yes, lets NOT finger-point, eh? I believe I answered your question in my post.....because the administrators are getting their benes and raises to match, plus some....and laughing all the way to t he bank while they point their fingers at the workers.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:04 p.m.

I don't see an option &quot;None of the above.&quot; Nor is there a choice for Universal Health Care, which would assist in bringing down costs for the government, businesses, and individuals. The survey leads to a result that public employees are at fault for the high costs no matter how the votes are counted.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:58 a.m.

Cash I don't really care a rat's hind end about the historical greed lesson at this point. More finger pointing. So what. Unfunded liabilities. No health care contribution for union workers. Bankrupt municipalities. A stone age mentality with regard to profligate spending. That's what captures my interest. As always, for whatever reason, it appears as though the unions are on one side of this argument, and the taxpayers are on the other. Now why the heck is that always the case?


Thu, May 12, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

The last time I looked I still pay taxes as a union member.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Completely flawed? Completely? Of course union folks pay taxes. However, here we are talking about PUBLIC service union members who garner 100% of their income from taxpayers. Then, out of that tidy 100%, they pay their taxes. We're also talking about paying for their health care ad infinitum when in retirement. Completely flawed? Nyet.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

&quot;As always, for whatever reason, it appears as though the unions are on one side of this argument, and the taxpayers are on the other. Now why the heck is that always the case?&quot; Your argument above is completely flawed. It assumes union folks don't pay taxes.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:33 a.m.

Well, how about a dose of reality? The administrators get whatever the contract provides for union members PLUS more. There is the real incentive to give until it hurts...they are giving to themselves! This is about greed, for sure, but the greed isn't union-based. A contract is an agreement between two parties. Someone on the other side agreed. Now, why did they agree? there anyone who doesn't know that the administrators on the other side of the table know that they will also get the good benefits fought for by the workers? Do the people who inked the contract for the employer now get the same benefits? You betcha! And without paying union dues. Greed got us where we are today, for sure. But let's be clear that at no time did the administrators have to lay down and play dead. The &quot;ME TOO&quot; unwritten clause was the motivator.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

And yet, the administrators rake in the money! When an administrator left WC, an internal one was chosen, with. Why? Because things were being run so well? I remember all too well here how people thought it was great that they promote without even as much as interviewing outside candidates. Well? That is the kind of hiring that should be questioned by voters. What is going on that we don't want an &quot;outsider&quot; coming in? If status quo is not acceptable, then why is it still in force?


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

Per you logic, the unions are also getting the 'good benefits'. There, you said it yourself. The auto's did very much the same thing for decades, until reality caught up with them. The unions got wonderful benies, the management got glorious pay and everyone was happy. Problem is, everyone knew that the party couldn't last forever. The autos got shoved into bankruptcy, and if we're not careful, we will be in the same boat.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

the Republicans are chomping at the bit to start another war with money taken from the middle class.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:15 a.m.

Where is the option to eliminate or greatly reduce the retiree health care coverage NOW! We are just now seeing the harvest of the seeds sown back in the 60-70's when unionism took over this country. We are no longer an affluent nation and cannot afford to pay a ruling elite.