‘You haul garbage two, three years, tops. Tops! Then you start taking civil service tests and get into management. In five years, you’re driving to work in a limousine. In 20 years, you retire at half pay and spend the rest of your life writing books.’
Before talking about why city workers shouldn’t strike, it’s instructive to read the lesson offered the son of author Saul Bellow, Adam, about 20 years ago when as a young man fresh out of Princeton and hoping to become an author himself, he was speaking with his pragmatic stepfather who said he should get a job with the city:
“You haul garbage two, three years, tops. Tops! Then you start taking civil service tests and get into management. In five years, you’re driving to work in a limousine. In 20 years, you retire at half pay and spend the rest of your life writing books.”
Adam finally did get to write a book after two decades working for a publisher. He noted that, “Consumed by work and family obligations, without a moment to myself, I had occasion to recall his advice.”
City workers are the elites. They don’t have greedy CEOs stealing their pensions. Most have guaranteed jobs for life. They have sky-high pay and benefits. They have kind employers who understand if a headache keeps them off the job with pay. Politicians bend into pretzels to ensure they get high praise and honours.
Get a job with the city and you’ve got it made! You’ve won the lottery without buying a ticket! “Freedom 55” is a myth for most of us. It isn’t a just myth for you; it’s a bountiful reality.
Now some of these outlandish perks are being challenged in hard times. They’ve been granted by round-heeled politicians spending the money you plunked in buying a permit for a driveway repaving job, parking 90 seconds overtime or just paying your taxes.
So these worker-elites, the civil servants, are mugging the public by withholding the services the public has paid for.
It’s a crime the province should squelch. Outlaw all strikes or job actions by public workers. Force arbitration and abandon the boneheaded notion that because they’re thus deprived of a strike the pubic workers are somehow entitled to get more from arbitration as a compensation for staying on the job.
It’s fine for civil servants to be paid highly for doing the 24-hour-a-day job of maintaining civilization through government. But it’s not at all fine or proper for them to quit their jobs and watch the government and people they serve go without the services they have paid for. They’re paid to provide civilization, not to relinquish it.
It will take a better provincial government than the Dalton McGuinty Liberals. Let’s hope someone replaces him. And let’s get a semblance of the “servant” back into the public service.