Zorn on Holiday Pay for City Workers Who Don’t Work Holidays

Eric Zorn poses a question on this Sun-Times story in his blog:

The Sun-Times story on the rocky negotiations between the city and the firefighters union notes that one area of contention is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal that only firefighters who work on holidays be awarded holiday pay:

Former union president Bill Kugelman (said)…“ Holiday pay would go only to those who work the actual day. We fought for everybody to get it. … This is all anti-union stuff.”

When I’ve previously brought up seemingly odd provisions in labor contracts, one response has been, “Yes, it sounds strange, but it was almost certainly thrown in as part of the overall bargain,” meaning that the public has no more right to raise an eyebrow at this than at a wage level or a provision that awards bonuses to everyone who has at least one vowel in his or her name.

Still, as a matter of public relations, shouldn’t both union and management strive for contract provisions that actually make sense to the average person?

[sound of guffaws]

First of all, when was the last time you read a labor contract to see if it made sense to you? When was the last time your newspaper of record told you what was in it — and I mean before it was too late to offer input?

Secondly, neither the folks in union nor management care what you think. The union is out to get the best deal it can get. Management wants to see the union succeed, because management can then ask for the same deal as a matter of “equity.”

Your only line of defense — of sanity, really, in these days of serial budget crunches — is your city council. Good luck with that.