This letter is in response to fire union President Joseph Foley's comments in the Oct. 21 News regarding city employee compensation. Foley asserts that the control board is "manipulating the numbers and comparing us with people who flip hamburgers" and that "a true comparison would be looking at people who have our training, level of expertise and who put the same number of hours in on the job."
I would like to provide a "true comparison." I served two years active duty service as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army and was shipped to the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. Thereafter, I put myself through college and law school, at a cost of more than $100,000. I passed both the New York State Bar Exam and the Patent Bar Exam, both of which were very difficult.
I have been practicing law in Western New York for more than two years. Consequently, I have high levels of training and experience far exceeding that of most city employees. I, like most attorneys, work many "overtime" hours. However, our salaries generally approximate that of the average city employee and we are not paid any overtime. Thus, a "true comparison" reveals that the pay of city employees is not being compared with burger flippers, but rather, with individuals who have high levels of training and experience exceeding that of most city employees.
Public employees need to accept the economic realities of living in Western New York and should be happy that they are compensated at levels that are higher than those in the private sector. They should at least be happy they are not living paycheck to paycheck because of the enormous student loan debt they incurred to obtain their training, and will likely be paying off until they retire.
S. Peter Konzel