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Letter: Misinformation is out there on public employees

Recent writers and newscasts have discussed public employees and their union organizations. A lot of misinformation is circulating regarding public employees and the salaries of workers in the private sector. For example, Rand Paul said, in a news interview, that the average teacher in Wisconsin earned over $89,000. In fact, the average Wisconsin teacher earns $46,390. To earn that, requires 10+ years of experience and a master's degree. Their starting salary averages $25,222. The average worker in the private sector with a master's degree earned over $78,000.

It is also popular to attack the salaries of federal employees. Their average salary is often pegged at $120,000+. (Again by Rand Paul). Speaker of the House Boehner also said the average federal worker earned over $120,000. In fact, that number is also wrong. The Bureau of Economic Analysis put the actual figure at $81,258. This number might seem high but we should know that 44 percent of these workers have bachelor's degrees while only 18.7 percent of private sector workers do.

Their analysis is based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and done by dividing total compensation (salary and benefits) by the number of current federal civilian employees, including benefits being paid to retired employees, which also leads to inflated averages. The average federal civilian worker is better educated, more experienced and more likely to have management responsibilities.

The office of Personnel Management says federal civilian workers on average are paid 24 percent less than private sector workers doing comparable work. It should also be noted that many of the lower skilled jobs, which pay less, are contracted out to the private sector at low wages and are not included in the statistics.

The Wisconsin governor has been in the news lately for his attacks on collective bargaining for public employees. Neglected in his attacks is the fact that he would have a $120+ million surplus in the budget except that in the two months he has been governor he has given two tax cuts to big business. It is also seldom in the news that he bragged to a phone caller, whom he thought was one of the Koch brothers, that he considered using paid anti union agents to disrupt the demonstrations but had rejected that because it would be bad publicity. He openly boasted of his plan and efforts to break the unions for political reasons. A recent ad by the front group for the Koch brothers, (the ones who brought you $3.55 gas prices despite a record high supply) owners of several refineries and other businesses, states that public union workers make 42% more than non-union private sector workers. You know the fallacy of that ad if you read the above information.

Norm Leistikow

Park Rapids