Editorial: Local government unions create huge pay gap

It is good to be a public servant in Nevada, downright lucrative in fact.

The folks at the Nevada Policy Research Institute have crunched the Census data for 2017 and found the median earnings for local government workers in Nevada were 46 percent higher than for those in the private sector — $58,644 for local government workers per year, compared to $40,259 in the private sector. That 46 percent gap is the highest of any state in the nation.

Hawaii and California had the second and third highest gaps.

Nevada local government workers had the fifth highest wages in the country, while private-sector workers came in at a distant 47th.

NPRI is quick to point out that much of the pay disparity is due to differences in experience, education and other factors, but that does not negate the fact the Nevada gap is the highest in the nation. Also, NPRI notes that when Nevada’s local government workers health and retirement benefits and more generous paid leave are factored in the gap with the private sector widens to 57 percent.

For example, both state and local public workers contribute to the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System. Currently 28 percent of a worker’s salary is contributed to cover the cost of pensions — half from the taxpayers and half from the employee. The figure for police and fire employees is 40 percent to account for often shorter working careers. But many local government unions have collectively bargained to have the taxpayers pick up all of the PERS contributions, effectively adding a hidden cost not seen in salaries alone.

“On a statewide basis, government pay and benefits cost taxpayers roughly $10 billion last year — which was equal to 80 percent of all tax revenue collected by every state and local government agency in Nevada,” notes NPRI policy director Robert Fellner. “Thus, in the event Nevada’s government pay gap continues its upward growth, the resulting tax hikes necessary to sustain such excess may become too great to bear.”

Fellner argues, “Because such outsized pay packages come at the expense of taxpayers who earn much less themselves, elected officials should consider the fairness and sustainability of continually caving in to government unions’ endless demands for even more.”

Unlike state government employees, local government workers in Nevada are largely covered by union contracts. State government workers generally are paid more than those in the private sector, but less than local government employees.

In past legislative sessions, lawmakers have attempted to allow state government workers to unionize, though they should instead take away the right of local government workers to unionize. The unions hold too strong a sway over local elected officials who must bargain with the unions over wages.

None other than the icon of progressivism, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said in a 1937 letter:  “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

He went on to add, “The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people …”

Who is the servant and who is the boss?

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

27 comments on “Editorial: Local government unions create huge pay gap

  1. Anonymous says:

    I guess it’s was naive to think that a column written so often before could perhaps wait for another day and instead some words about the presidents disrespectful behavior toward our fallen soldiers because it was raining might have appeared here.

    Oh well another day in paradise I suppose.

  2. The Trump cancellation was hours ago. This appeared in a weekly newspaper and was filed days ago.

    Also, the excuse given was that it was unsafe to fly a helicopter in the stormy weather.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ok but this article could surely have waited for a few days and been no worse for timeliness and since it’s Veterans Day this weekend an article about Trumps excuses would be timely.

    You can’t even call the guy out for this Thomas? I don’t get it.

  4. That’s what comments are for.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sure but you’re the big dog here and people mostly come to hear wht you have to say. In the past you’ve called out politicians for their actions you consider wrong or bad or whatnot and you’re silence about the bad things Trump has done could reasonably be seen as support for those actions.

    Like here.

  6. Rincon says:

    Personally, I’m far more concerned about Trump’s various shenanigans than I am about him being afraid of the rain. That being said, Nevada can hold its head high. It has one billionaire for every 382,000 citizens, which beats the snot out of the national average, which is only one per 580,357. So rejoice that your state has more than its fair share of billionaires – and they aren’t even union members!

  7. Steve says:

    Well, Rincon pretty well lays that out.
    Trump can cancel all the trips he wants and public employees should all be billionaires.

  8. Was it Trump who canceled or the Secret Service?

  9. Steve says:

    Haters insist he had to “find a way” Trumpers insist it wasn’t a bigly deal.

    The rest of us are tired of the FUD.

  10. It’s all ready, fire, aim.

  11. Rincon says:

    One always should wait for the explanation, but I have to wonder, they had no contingency plan for rain?

  12. Anonymous says:

    If anyone showed up, anyone at all, I suspect the putative president of the United States had greater access to the resources necessary to get there than they did.

    And just silence or misdirection here.

  13. Rincon says:

    When I looked at the political cartoon again, I notice that the four comments are, “I got my hours cut, I got a pay cut, I got laid off”, and of course, the government worker says, “I got a pay raise”. Is this cartoon lampooning government or private enterprise?

  14. Steve says:

    Corps have all the money but they can easily bottom out at zero. Government has a never ending well of revenue that can get severely curtailed when corps zero out but both are only limited by their own foresight. One will spend too much while the other tries to keep as much as possible squirreled away for dark times. Both fail from their strengths carried to extremes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    That’s all well and fine I suppose Thomas.

    But I was hoping to hear it from you. And missing a ceremony at Arlington? That’s got to piss you off right? And yet nothing here?

    I don’t get it. Why not?

  16. I am concerned about national defense, taxes, free trade and liberty. Not so much concerned about gestures made or not made.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know about Thomas. During the last democratic administration you took pen to paper to write a rather long piece castigating the leader of the country for nothing more his gestures.

    “With Memorial Day just beyond the weekend, President Obama spoke in Hiroshima about the atom bombing that ended World War II and saved the lives of countless Americans and Japanese.

    This is the slap in the face he delivered to those veterans who are the parents and grandparents for so many Americans alive today: “Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation, allowing for remarkable feats. But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.””


    I feel like Joe Peshi in the scene from “My Cousin Vinny” after his girlfriend testified nd left no room for the expert witness to dispute what she had said. “Go ahead, you can say it, they know.”

  18. Obama actually said something. Trump just didn’t show up.

  19. Anonymous says:


    “Come on, you can say, they know”

  20. Steve says:

    Obama and Trump. From diametrically opposed places equally affect the other half of the country. With much the same result. One opens his mouth and pisses off half the country, the other doesn’t show up and pisses off the other half. (though with a little more effective because that half wanted to have words they could use to make it even worse, don’t have them now,,,like the OTHER half had with Obama)
    Same shit, different party.

  21. Rincon says:

    Except that one ran huge deficits after a massive recession, and Conservatives complained loudly; the other ran equally large deficits in order to further goose a thriving economy, and Conservatives are silent.

  22. Steve says:

    And your answer is to further the half angry divisiveness.

    good one

  23. Anonymous says:

    Meghan McCain: If Obama had disrespected the military like Trump, ‘my head would have exploded

    “I think there’s this whole collection of sort of disrespect towards the military and towards our veterans and towards our history that I don’t know if [Trump is] aware how intense it is for those of us who still respect our legacy, who still respect the military,” McCain said.

    McCain’s comments come in response to Trump’s feud with retired Navy Adm. William McRaven, who led the 2011 mission to take out Osama bin Laden.

    In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump responded to McRaven’s past criticism of him by blasting him as a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama-backer.”

    “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?” Trump said in the interview.

    “We can’t be gaslit into thinking this is normal, especially as conservatives,” McCain said Monday. “Had president Obama done this, I 100 percent would be screaming bloody murder right here on this show.”

    Apparently, it doesn’t bother anyone that Trump disrespects “our heros”


  24. Steve says:

    Outside the cancer diagnosis…..

  25. […] noted in the past, none other than the icon of progressivism, Franklin D. Roosevelt, pointed out in a 1937 letter the problem with collective bargaining for public employees: “All Government employees should […]

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