Readers React

L.A.'s trash haulers make great money. That's a good thing

To the editor: I am glad that Marshall Turner has been able to buy a four-bedroom home and provide for five children with his Los Angeles city salary as a garbage-truck driver. People in public service jobs deserve salaries that enable them to be part of the middle class. ("Public, private sector wage gap heavily favors many L.A. city workers," April 25)

Rather than criticizing this pay scale, we should ask why private-sector jobs are paying so much less. In the past, a college education guaranteed a well-paying profession. That is not always the case today.

Regardless of education, a dedicated worker is an asset to the community and deserves good pay and respect.

Jean Koch, Los Angeles


To the editor: In the past, it was believed, public employees received lower pay in exchange for job security and modest pensions. But workers for the city of Los Angeles enjoy higher pay and pensions than their private-sector counterparts.

Voter turnout in city elections is very poor, allowing unions to have an outsized effect on officials. Unless and until more people vote, the unions will continue to dominate city employee policy.

In fact, there should be no right to collective bargaining for public employees, as their unions help elect the leaders who determine the workers' salaries and pensions.

Payroll and pension costs for the city are staggering; they consume too much of Los Angeles' budget. And when the city runs out of money one day, officials will surely ask voters to raise taxes — so go out and vote.

George Orff, Laguna Beach


To the editor: The question should be whether government pays less for services through private contractors. Experience says no.

Private contracts may start out cheap, but then they either get more expensive or provide less service compared to municipal work forces. The main difference with a unionized workforce is that more money goes to the worker and less to the profit-seeking management.

Your example of a garbage collector who, gasp, bought a house and lived a middle-class existence should be celebrated. We all reap the benefit of his taxpaying and purchasing power.

Constantly seeking the lowest wage for services affects us all. When the middle class shrinks, demand shrinks for cars, houses and even newspaper subscriptions, leading to more unemployment and poor people and the accrual of wealth at the very top.

Melissa Walsh, West Hills


To the editor: If we lowered the compensation packages of L.A. workers to the level of workers in other cities, we would have plenty of money left over to hire more workers. With more workers, some of the work that isn't getting done, such as infrastructure upgrades and street repairs, could then get done.

And I assure you, applicants would be lining up for these jobs.

Overpaid government workers are not unlike overpaid corporate executives. One is soaking the taxpayer, the other the shareholder, and both should be stopped. All of us deserve more bang for our buck.

Irwin Spector, Studio City

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