So my old employer found out that I am back, and I was offered my old job back. I told them I wasn’t interested. I left government service because it is no longer a good job to have. For the past few years, the TEA party has been attacking public sector workers by claiming that their benefits are an endless gravy train.

The TEA party claims that public sector workers have benefits packages that are too generous, and they claim that the public and private sectors should be equivalent. Among their complaints:

– Public sector workers make too much money. The claim is that public sector workers make about 5 percent more than private sector workers
on average.  Of course, they overlook a few details that would change the equation a bit:
 First, the hourly wages for public EMS in my area tell the story. EMS systems for local theme parks have starting wages of $18 an hour for paramedics, while my former employer starts paramedics who must also be firefighters at only $13 an hour. You would never know that by looking at take home pay. Many public workers like fire and paramedics do not get overtime at 40 hours like private sector workers, but at 52 hours. This results in a 56 hour work week because the employer is free to schedule workers to a 24 on/48 off work schedule, so that a firemedic works 2,912 a year, while the theme park medic works 2,080 hours a year. That results in the firemedic making 4.7% more money than his private sector counterpart, but at the expense of working 40% more hours.
Second, comparing all private sector pay to all public sector pay is not an apples to apples comparison. Comparing the majority of government jobs, with their higher educational requirements, to the private sector is not an even comparison.

It used to be that the disparity was made up with benefits packages like pensions and health insurance, but those have been under constant attack. The fact is that public sector health insurance and pensions combined only eat up 4% of the Florida state budget, while Medicaid consumes over 30%. Free lunches for poor kids in school add up to more than what it costs to fund the pensions of state employees.

When I left the fire department, I was earning just $19.27 an hour after spending 15 years at the same employer and receiving two promotions along the way. I worked for the government for a total of 21 years, and I get a pension of $32,400 a year. If I return to that job, I have to give up the pension for the duration of my employment. If I return to a private sector medic job, I don’t. That means that I can work a 40 hour week and make $68K a year, or I can return to the fire department and make $58K a year. That is a no brainer.

I started looking for a job recently. Let’s see what’s out there.

Categories: Uncategorized


Anonymous · May 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I agree with you…but then…I don't. I'm one of those landowners that pay way tooooo much in property taxes.
I hear what you are saying about the wages, for lack of a better word, a "grunt". Those of you that have worked a grunt job know what I'm saying. Firefighters, police, municipal workers. The folks that are on the front lines that do the majority of the work and get the smallest compensation.
As a property owner and taxpayer, I have no beef with that tier of employee. Who I have a beef with…would be those suit and tie folks that have never done a physical job in their life. Just because they have a degree from some papermill of a college they are given compensations that are out of whack with reality. Six figure salaries are not uncommon.

So I can see your point about not going back to the public sector for a job. What I would like to see is some vetting of the salaries of the suits and ties.


Aaron · May 20, 2012 at 1:23 am

Firefighter/Medics in my area make about $95k/year (counting benefits, retirement matching, etc…).

I earn just slightly more than average in the area and I make $38k/year with zero benefits, retirement, medical, etc…

I'm sure it varies widely all over the country.

Anonymous · May 20, 2012 at 11:41 am

$32,000 A YEAR? I worked for General Mills for 35 yrs. and I get $12,000 a year from them and my social security. If I hear one more idiot spouting stupidity about how unions are the death of this country I think I'll scream.

Anonymous · May 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

Anonymous….ok I'll take the challange… about prison guards here in Wisconisn…..their base salaries are $50,000 to $60,000 BUT they get paid overtime of $60,000 to $70,000!??!?!??!

How do they do that you ask? Well, if you call in sick, because it is a "right" according to the union and because the shift will be short a guy…..the supervisors have to "call in" a guy that would actually be "off" that day…..then according to the union "rules" the called in guy gets paid double time. You do that as a quid pro quo thing for your "union brothers" and eventually you ALL get more in overtime then your base pay.
Oh and please understand….there is a difference between PUBLIC unions and PRIVATE unions. The PUBLIC unions are the bane of this countries taxpayers.


Divemedic · May 21, 2012 at 3:33 am

There are firefighters here who make that kind of money. Heck, I made $84K during my best year. However, that was the year that I deployed to the Hurricane Katrina disaster area.
I slept on the ground and worked 18 or more hours a day.
It is the insane number of hours that make good money possible, but you have to work the equivalent of two or more jobs to get there.

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