Subscriber login

What you need to know for 10/22/2017

Editorial: When times are tough, let public employers leave vacancies unfilled

Editorial: When times are tough, let public employers leave vacancies unfilled

Asking a little more of workers can save lots of money

After a strange confluence of events early this week, the Amsterdam Department of Public Works suddenly found itself short several workers — just in time for its busiest season: spring. Department Supervisor Ray Halgas wanted the Common Council to hire some full-time replacements, but the Common Council had another, better idea.

The DPW lost two workers in February when one beat up another at a South Side restaurant and got fired; the other suffered a broken leg. Then last week, one worker got suspended after failing a drug test, while another died from a stroke. Meanwhile five full-time DPW workers got transferred to the city golf course Monday for the beginning of the golf season. Halgas’ response — that their loss was expected and wouldn’t interfere with DPW operations — spoke volumes about why the council was right to do what it did Tuesday night: move three of the five golf course workers back to DPW, authorize the hiring of seasonal part-timers for the golf course, if necessary, and refuse to hire the additional full-time workers Halgas wanted.

When there’s a downturn in the economy, private-sector employers reduce the size of their work force, either by laying people off or, if at all possible, through attrition: If someone leaves on their own volition or dies, they don’t get replaced. It often means the remaining workers have to work a bit harder, but that’s better than the alternative: the company going bust and no one has a job.

Unfortunately, that approach rarely seems to be followed in public sector: Workers are added when times are good, a hiring freeze may be imposed when they’re bad, and rarely do positions get eliminated or workers get laid off. Taxpayers can’t afford this way of doing business any more.

View Comments
Hide Comments
0 premium 1 premium 2 premium 3 premium 4 premium 5 premium article articles remaining SUBSCRIBE TODAY

You have reached your monthly premium content limit.

Continue to enjoy Daily Gazette premium content by becoming a subscriber.
Already a subscriber? Log In