Sunday, February 06, 2011

Economic indicators

---Sitting behind three late twenties type guys with classic Long Island accents on the LIRR and listening to their way too loud conversation, I gather that they are on their way to the St. Johns/Duke game at MSG. First they talk about how difficult the commute to their jobs in Manhattan has been during the snowstorms - strategy talk about bridges, tunnels, and short-cuts. Then they begin talking about unemployment insurance which they all seem to be collecting. One has changed his home address to a friends apartment in New Jersey since they have the highest benefits in the tri-state, $652 as week he said, is that possible. The take-away from 40 minutes of listening to them is that they all work off the books in family or friend's businesses and collect unemployment insurance on the side, 99 weeks of free money, can't beat that.

---Waiting for a train at Penn Station I overhear two young New York City cops talking to a mid-40's New York state trooper. The trooper is saying to the anxiously inquisitive young cops, "No, they can't touch anything with us, we're locked in, no way". The subject seemed to be salary, benefits, and union rules.

---The WSJ had tables a few days ago showing that Nassau County Long Island policemen make an average, that's average, of $202,000 a year, $135,000 in salary and overtime and the balance representing their rich benefit plan, one that does not remotely exist in the private sector. On top of that work rules are exceptionally restrictive, vacation time, sick days, and personal time are especially generous.

---97% of Long Island Railroad workers retire on disability when they are employed by a commuter line with one of the best safety records in the country.

---The men's bathroom at the Amtrak level of Penn Station, hub of the Northeast Corridor trains from Boston to New Orleans and Florida, has been under renovation for four months and is still not done. Granted it's a big bathroom, maybe eight toilets and sixteen urinal, eight sinks, but four months and counting? So Amtrak passengers are directed to six port-o-potties, or whatever they are called, one level up in the breezeway next to the cabstand - no light, no security, usual sanitation for those things. Travelers can go one level down to the relatively small LIRR bathroom if they know how to find it - Port Authority union labor at work.

---As told to me by a gloating union worker on NYC road projects and repairs, here's the workday --- arrive at central depot and get assignment at 7:30am --- load trucks and leave by 8:00am --- arrive at site by 8:30am --- unload trucks and set up work project for the day --- begin work at 9:00am --- 9:30am, mandatory union required half hour morning coffee break --- 10:00, resume work --- 11:30am, lunch hour required, union rules --- 12:30pm, resume work --- 2:00pm, break down site and load trucks --- 2:30pm, drive to depot --- 3:00pm, unload trucks, clean up --- 3:30pm, buy a Post and head home. So just simple math says that's three and a half hours of actual work on a project in an eight hour day. If that doesn't get the job done and the bosses need more, it's time and a half to stay on the job longer.

I could go on. Greece has nothing on us.

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