A Race to the Bottom: Public Sector vs. Private Sector

May 31, 2014

Ontario’s economy shifting from “stable full-time jobs to shaky part-time jobs”? Toronto Star

“The wage and pension divide between public and private sector is growing.” Globe and Mail.

The latest election trend demonizing public sector workers is disturbing.   Perhaps it’s the ‘Rob Ford’ effect, but it appears that the wages and pensions of public sector workers will be fodder for the upcoming municipal election debate. For it to have any traction, there must be a wedge, a crisis, and demon to hate, so that a candidate can come in and solve it all. The solutions are usually the same old tricks — privatize public services, cut jobs, slash benefits, get tough with unions, open a snitch line to ‘out’ all the abusers and turn full-time jobs into part-time positions.

How does this help our community? Well, it doesn’t.

Public sector workers are our neighbours who live in and contribute to our community. They are the skilled, hard-working citizens who pick up our waste, process our ‘biosolids’, maintain our parks and trees, fix our potholes and plough our streets. They deserve respect. And a living wage.

The gap between a public sector and private sector job used to be the other way around. The recession economy has shifted the paradigm. The result has been to protect corporate prosperity, but has done little for private sectors workers who have seen frozen wages, layoffs, off-shore production, and pension and benefit erosion. The widening gap is not because the public sector is out of control, but because the private sector isn’t keeping pace.

Rather than focusing on the race to the bottom, why don’t we look at it another way…

What if we focus on creating a local economy that attracts and retains employers who offer stable and quality jobs?

What if we create value-added jobs and policies that support local business and economic development?

What if increase the value of public sector investments (capital and labour) so that we lower operating expenses (ie. increased transit ridership)?

It’s time to stop the race to the bottom by blaming the public sector.

LP