Cut their compensation – Letter to The Beach Reporter by Michael D. Robbins

The following letter to the editor was published in The Beach Reporter newspaper ( on Thursday, August 16, 2012 in the Letters section. The Beach Reporter has a strict 250-word limit.

This letter was submitted in response to The Beach Reporter’s question of the week.

Question of the Week

Hermosa Beach’s police and fire union leaders publicly stated that they’re upset with the city’s proposals after their latest labor negotiations. The union presidents claim they’re facing a 27-percent cut in compensation, which would jeopardize the stability of their already short-staffed departments. They fear additional cuts could pave the way for the county to take over the police and fire departments.

Do you think the police and fire departments can withstand any more cuts?

What are your thoughts about the union leaders going public with their frustrations regarding private contract negotiations?

Should residents be concerned about the county taking over the city’s police and fire departments?

(Editor’s note: Last week’s question asked readers what they thought of the contract negotiations between Hermosa Beach’s police and fire unions and the Hermosa Beach City Council).

Cut their compensation

Hermosa Beach need not and should not contract with L.A. County for fire and police services. Ninety percent of El Segundo voters rejected Measure P, the fire union initiative to force El Segundo to contract with L.A. County for fire/paramedic services.

The real problem is wildly excessive and unsustainable firefighter and police total compensation (salaries, benefits, and pensions). That is the greatest cause of the city’s financial problems.

The city must cut employee total compensation until it is comparable to competitive free-market (nonunion) private-sector employees with similar levels of education, training, experience and responsibilities. After all, “public service” does not mean “loot the public treasury of the city you are sworn to protect.”

In a free-market economy, supply and demand determine employee compensation. However, free-market principles do not fully apply, due to government unions’ inherent and unavoidable conflicts of interest. They support candidates who will give the biggest raises and then raise our taxes. That’s why there are 500 to 1,000 applications per firefighter job opening.

The laws that allowed government employees to unionize and engage in “collective bargaining” have ultimately led to “collective corruption” and “collective extortion.” Those laws must be repealed before more cities go bankrupt.

Please vote “yes” on Proposition 32 this November and tell everyone else to do likewise. It will reduce corruption and city bankruptcies by banning union (and corporate) contributions to state and local candidates, and automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. Corrupt fire, police and teacher unions are spending millions to defeat it.

Michael D. Robbins
El Segundo

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