Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beyond the Call of Duty

I would just like to offer a sincere "thank you" to all of the municipal workers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty this winter.  The amount of extra work that these crews have had to put in this season has been outrageous already--and it looks like the latest "Snowmaggedon" we are getting today will be followed by another blast from the "Polar Vortex"--meaning more icy roads and broken water mains.

It would be easy to say "they are only doing what they are paid to do--I 'thank them' enough with my taxes."  But you have to admit that this winter has gone past the most that we should expect from those who quite honestly, do a lot of jobs the rest of us would really rather not do.  That warm shower you took when it was -25 on some of those mornings last month was only possible because some guys were getting showered with 32-degree water in the -25 to fix that water main.  And that day that you got to work despite the freezing rain was thanks to the guys who had to be out plowing and laying down the salt on those temporary skating rinks.

While I'm sure a hearty "thank you" from all of us would be appreciated by these public workers, a little something in the paycheck for the effort would probably be welcomed even more.  Sure, they got overtime pay for all of the overnight plowing and fixing--but that was just compensation for the additional time away from the family or for not being in bed at 2:30 am.  A little bonus on top of that would recognize the quality of the work--and the extreme conditions that had to be endured-- to provide us citizens with the services.

That's why I hope our municipalities will carve out a little extra room in the budget for merit-based bonuses.  Remember, this is now allowed under Act 10.  Under the old system where union contracts dictated every aspect of employee compensation, such bonuses were not allowed--unless every member of the unit got the same compensation--even if he or she wasn't the one freezing his or her behind off to get the pipeline fixed.  But now, outstanding personal achievement can be acknowledge--with more than some cheesy certificate given to a worker by the Mayor at the next City Council meeting.

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