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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 24, 2011/ 21 Nissan, 5771

The Bell May Toll for Jersey Toll Collectors

By Arnold Ahlert




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was one of those little stories, a three-sentence job on inside pages of last Saturday's local newspaper. But it illustrates a mentality that is so outrageous--yet so thoroughly typical of the government union mindset--it deserves far wider dissemination than it has received so far. Last Thursday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit in which union workers were seeking to prevent New Jersey from privatizing toll collector jobs on the New Jersey Turnpike, unless those workers got the "right of first refusal" to keep their jobs. But it gets even better: the suit argued that privatization violates workers' First Amendment rights.

As part of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's efforts to bring that state back from the brink of fiscal oblivion, privatization of some government operations has become part of the equation. In 2010, a governor's task force recommended that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees New Jersey's two main toll roads--the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike--solicit bids from private companies to collect tolls. The move to privatization is itself to be a temporary measure, with the task force recommending an eventual system of all-electronic, cashless tolling. The force estimated an annual savings of between $35 million and $42.5 million when that system was fully implemented.

The reaction of the union workers was predictable. "From the movie 'Wall Street,' it was said, greed…is good--and in our business, greed is another word for privatization," said Ray Stever, president of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council, an affiliate of the union that represents toll collectors. "

Greed" was a rather an unfortunate choice of words. According to State Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, chairman of the authority that oversees the Turnpike and Parkway, toll collectors with six years experience make approximately $65,000 a year--a figure which applies to about 90 percent of toll takers currently manning the roadways. Simpson further revealed that 70 percent of all drivers currently pay their tolls electronically, and that manual collecting costs the authority almost double.

And then, as with so many public service employee contracts negotiated with little or no thought for the taxpaying public, there are the "perks:" work rules requiring two collectors to man a booth at all times; a $70 holiday bonus for working an unscheduled day on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve; bonuses and/or overtime for working one one's birthday; a $700 per year "uniform allowance;" the ability to "cash out" unused sick and vacation days; free E-ZPass transponders for employees to get to work; taxpayer-paid scholarships for employees' children; and a "separation bonus" of $500 per year for every year of service worked.

An audit revealed even more devastating information. $43 million dollars was "wasted" on "unnecessary perks and bonuses" highlighted by one employee with a base salary of $73,469 who earned an eye-popping $321,985 when such payouts and bonuses were included. $30 million of the above total paid to employees in 2008 and 2009--without job performance being taken into consideration. $3.8 million a year wasted when employees were allowed to cash out the aforementioned unused sick and vacation days--in order to circumvent state law limiting the total payout to $15,000 upon retirement. And if that's not enough, toll dollars were even spent on an employee bowling league. (A place to practice union strikes, perhaps?)



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Unsurprisingly, all of this explains why, according to NJ State Comptroller Matthew Boxer, tolls are scheduled to increase in 2012. "While tolls are going up, the Turnpike Authority is overpaying its employees, overpaying its management, overpaying for its health plan and overpaying for legal services," Boxer said in a statement.

Franceline Ehret, president of International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local No.194, brought out the union crying towel. "Until you've done the job, you really don't understand what it is," she said. "You've got tractor-trailers and buses whizzing by. Your booth is shaking. … You're breathing fumes all day long. You have to deal with all the weather conditions," she said. And then she added the kicker. "It's very likely [current workers] going to be on the unemployment line and having to go on federal and state assistance," Ehret said. "They would much rather be productive."

Ehret went on to point out that despite cash drawer shortages which cost more than $350,000 in 2010, losses in EZ Pass lanes were $10.1 million. Agency spokesman Thomas Feeney obliterated Ehret's argument. "We collect just under 75 percent of our toll money through E-ZPass, and our annual cost to operate the E-ZPass program is about $70 million," Feeney said. "Meanwhile we collect just over one-quarter of our tolls through cash, and our annual toll collection costs are $100 million."

Reality check: add the $10 million in lost revenue to the $70 million total, and electronic collection--for three times as many collections as toll booth worker make--is still $20 million cheaper.

Ms. Ehret and her fellow unionists have apparently seen the handwriting on the wall. They have offered $34 million in concessions and staff reductions in order to save their jobs. This was up from an initial offer of $16 million made in January. Among those concessions would be a $6000 salary cut for current collectors, a $50,000 per year cap on salaries for new employees, and the elimination of some of the aforementioned perks. The latest concessions offered were seemingly a tacit admission that a typical union tactic, aka attempted intimidation--as evidenced by a meeting in March where workers shouted down Transportation Commissioner Simpson and staged a 40-minute sit-in because they hadn't been given a firm date to negotiate their contract--is no longer effective.

Then, the lawsuit. The First Amendment angle? The union claimed their free speech rights were violated because the Turnpike Authorityeliminated their right to first refusal to the private jobs when it released a request for proposal for potential bidders. The suit claimed this was done "in retaliation for the union speaking out against privatization and the workers sending applications to bidders for jobs." The Authority contended that the provision, along with union protests against privatization, as well as employees sending job applications to bidders, had discouraged prospective companies from seeking the contract.

U.S. District Court Judge Jose Linares apparently agreed--and then some. His one-page order dismissed the suit on Thursday "with prejudice," and denied the union's application for a preliminary injunction.

The Turnpike Authority is expected to vote on privatization this Wednesday during their monthly meeting in Woodbridge. They will be considering whether to award a five-year contract to one of four companies that submitted proposals which would reportedly pay toll collectors around $25,000 per year, or accept the union's latest $34 million concession plan.

Thus, the option comes down to paying 25K per year for new private workers, versus 50K a year for new government union workers, and/or 65K for current workers--perks, somewhat reduced, included. $500 per week versus $1000-$1300 (plus perks), for the "skill" of sticking one's hand out an opening, collecting money and making change. In a state with one of the highest per capita budget deficits in the nation.

If this "decision" isn't the biggest no-brainer of the year so far, one would be hard-pressed to imagine what is.

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Comment on JWR Contributor Arnold Ahlert's column, by clicking here.



Previously:


04/19/11:
From Medical Dependency to Dependency on the Welfare State
04/14/11: Trumping the Debate
04/06/11: It Takes a Bigot to Expose a Death Cult
04/04/11: Charlie and Snookie --- and Barack
03/30/11: ‘Disabling’ America, One Lawsuit at a Time
03/28/11: The MSM Kills the ‘Kill Team’ Story
03/23/11: Another Military Scandal
03/21/11: Barry, Joe, Helen and Wisconsin Teachers
03/16/11: The Inevitable Viability of Conservatism
03/14/11: Progressives in Their Own Words
03/09/11: $61 Billion in Cuts --- Vs. $223 Billion in One Month of Spending
03/07/11: Bean Bag B.S.
03/02/11: A ‘Green’ Catastrophe in the Making
02/28/11: Ain't Noting Like the Real Thing
02/23/11: Progressive Rot vs. the ROTC
02/21/11: Wisconsin: Progressivism in All its Ugly Glory
02/18/11: News reporters --- or Narrative Shapers?
02/16/11: The Presidents Budget Proposal: An Obamination of Progressive Profligacy
02/14/11: Only Another 9/11 Will Alter the Illegal Immigration Status Quo
02/10/11: Is O'Reilly losing his touch or is he just irresponsible?
02/07/11: Tossing Britain Under the Bus
02/03/11: Starving the World In Order to Save It
01/31/11: Walking the Middle East Tightrope
01/27/11: Small-scale Terrorist Attacks: Big Strategy?
01/24/11: Jeffery Immelt: A Crony Capitalist In Charge of Job Creation
01/20/11: An ‘Intimate’ Prime-time Interview
01/17/11: Progressives: Always Angry, Newly Desperate
01/12/11: Twain vs. the Totalitarians
01/10/11: Politically Correct Passports?
01/05/11: Showdown at the Fiscal Corral
01/03/11: Reading the Constitution Aloud is a Good Start
12/30/10: Getting Our Moral Mojo Back
12/27/10: PC Airport Safety is an Oxymoron
12/23/10: Getting America Back On Track
12/20/10: A Collectivist Coalition of Convenience
12/15/10: The President Who Wasn't There
12/13/10: Tech-No!
12/08/10: A Lethal Military, Inclusive or Not
12/06/10: The ‘Unexpected’ Consequences of Progressivism
12/01/10: Leakers and Losers
11/29/10: ‘We Won’, Part One
11/22/10: Keep Your Hands Off My Constitution
11/17/10: Grope and Change
11/14/10: Taking Back Our Country, One School At a Time
11/11/10: Checks (and Balances), Please
11/08/10: Curtain Up, Progressives Down
11/04/10: Last Chance, Republicans
11/01/10: By Their Own Words Shall Ye Know Them
10/28/10: Progressive Determination to Undermine American Elections
10/25/10: Shock, but more importantly, action: De-Unionize Public Schools now
10/20/10: Multiculturalism? Check, Please
10/18/10: Healthcare: ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vs. The Constitution
10/11/10: Vote for Restoring the Rule of Law in November
10/11/10: Dems: Running From Clarity
10/07/10: Hypersensitive Hogwash
10/04/10: ‘Comprehensive’ Con Artists
09/29/10: Why Dems Are Going Down in November
09/27/10: The Unholiest of Unholy Alliances
09/22/10: Two Words for Republicans to Remember: ‘I Won’
09/20/10: Purging ‘Me First’ Politicians
09/17/10: No More ‘Lesser of Two Evils’
09/15/10: ‘Recovery’ Arms Race
09/13/10: ‘Bigots’ in the Majority --- Again?
09/09/10: Giving Voters Something to Vote For
09/07/10: Irresponsible Dems, Incomprehensible Bills
09/02/10: War Weary Americans vs. Implacable Islamists
08/31/10: A ‘Dream’ Debased
08/25/10: American ‘Bigots’ Versus Media Propagandists
08/23/10: Recovery Bummer
08/19/10: An Unholy Alliance of Radicals
08/16/10: You've Lost America, Mr. President
08/13/10: The Twin Towers of Progressive Disconnect
08/11/10: A Far Better ‘National Discussion’
08/09/10: It's ‘Only’ One Dead Nun
08/06/10: Incremental Tyranny
08/04/10: Ground Zero Mosque: Context Counts
08/02/10: The Arizona Ruling: a Gift for November
07/29/10: The United Cities of America
07/26/10: JournoList: ‘Coordinated’ Ideological Bankruptcy
07/20/10: Go For Broke Or Get Out of the Way
07/14/10: You're a Liberal/Progressive if You Believe…
07/12/10: $33-an-hour--For Sleeping On the Job
07/08/10: Extortionist Government
07/06/10: ‘Commerce Clause’ Totalitarians
07/01/10: Another Public School Travesty in MA
06/30/10: Calling YOUR Bluff, Mr. President
06/28/10: A Trifecta of Progressive Corruption
06/23/10: Plug the Darn Hole --- In Our Border
06/21/10: Our Empty-Suit-in-Chief
06/16/10: Betraying Our Children
06/14/10: Who Gets the Benefit of the Doubt?
06/07/10: Politically Correct Warfare
06/01/10: Bill Maher's ‘Black’ President
05/25/10: A Mosque At Ground Zero
05/23/10: Libs Stand Tall --- For Mexico
05/19/10: The 'Unintended Consequences' of Liberalism
05/17/10: 'Los' Suns: Stuck on Stupido
05/12/10: Union Audacity: Yes We Will!
05/10/10: Greeks, Leaks and and Double-Speak
05/05/10: Twelve Million Illegals --- or Thirty?
05/02/10: Republicans: Playing Not to Lose Doesn't Cut It
04/28/10: Arizona: Progressivism's Waterloo?
04/26/10: Son of Amnesty
04/22/10: Mortgages and Moral Meltdowns
04/20/10: Bashing Christians — Or Gays?
04/15/10: Personal Integri-‘tea’
04/12/10: Fools, Tools and Ghouls
04/08/10: (Tea) Party On
04/05/10: The Triumph of Mediocrity
04/02/10: Two For the Road
03/29/10: The Innate Immorality of Liberalism
03/24/10: The Art of War
03/22/10: I Want My Country Back
03/18/10: A Perpetual Process
03/17/10: American Exhibitionists
03/15/10: A Light Bulb Moment of Clarity
03/10/10: Little Things Mean A Lot
02/03/10: Budgetary Fork in the Road
02/01/10: Liberal Economic Illiteracy
01/27/10: ‘Roe-ing and Wade-ing’ Back to Reason
01/25/10: Arrogance When Up, Denial When Down
01/20/10: Connecting the Educational Dots
01/19/10: The Next Tea Party?
01/15/10: The Myth That Keeps on Giving
01/13/10: Airport Security Begins Away From the Airport
01/11/10: Secrets and Lies
01/08/10: Embracing Bigotry — or Rejecting Bullying?
01/06/10: Hanging by an Ideological Thread
01/04/10: Our ‘Wonderama’ Bureaucracy
12/30/09: A Day Off
12/28/09: Dangerous Myths
12/25/09: I, Me, Mine
12/23/09: A Very Harry Christmas
12/21/09: My Opinon
12/18/09: The Party of Repeal
12/15/09: Privileged Exemption
11/30/09: ‘Settled’ Science and Unsettled Children
11/30/09: American Sharia Law
11/23/09:The Trial (Travesty) of the Century
11/04/09: American Vampires and Their Political Enablers
11/01/09: ‘Opting Out’ of Insanity?
10/28/09: Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer. Brain Required
10/26/09: Communism: Nazism With Better PR
10/21/09: Just Asking
10/16/09: Cost Projections vs. Actual Costs, or Hope and Change vs. Reality
10/14/09: News you can use …
10/07/09: Incremental Insidiousness
10/05/09: MIA: Common Sense and Common Decency
09/30/09: Iran: Bad Options and Unpreparedness
09/21/09: Crying Racism: the Last Refuge of Scoundrels
09/11/09: 9/11 Cannot Be Sanitized
09/08/09: ‘Truthers’ and Consequences
09/01/09: A ‘Paper Trail’ Challenge for the Mainstream Media
08/31/09: Drowning in Amorality
08/26/09: The Republican Recovery Program

© 2010, Arnold Ahlert

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