Anne Manusky took a deep breath on learning that Easton's police chief earns less than a police officer and a sergeant. "It's broken," Manusky said of the municipal wage system. "I'm watching Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. This is a real tough issue."
Easton's chief pulls in $105,900 per year, while his sergeant earns $107,800. Officer Jonathan Arnold has the second highest take-home of all town employees excluding schools with $111,000. Arnold also works for the EMS.
Union and non-union employees generally get regularly scheduled raises, a courtesy not always provided to folks in private industry.
Manusky said union issues are not unfamiliar to her. "I can understand where unions came from, how they work," she said. "They were necessary certainly in the coal mines to have unions." For this Easton mother of three, however, modern times require a different approach.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Dan Bobkoff of ChangingGears.info said, "Union membership in America has been declining for years, especially in the private sector. Today, about 36 percent of the public sector is organized versus under 7 percent in the corporate world."
The disparity between private and public sector wages is a difficult comparison, especially since there are no private police forces (unless you count security guards). However, Donald Grimes of the University of Michigan says public-sector compensation went up roughly 42 percent from 2000 to 2009, versus 32 percent in the private sector.
Easton is not particularly overstaffed with police, either. The town provides 2.2 officers for every 1,000 people, which is slightly below the national average, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports.
Very few, if any, private sector jobs have a salary system where the boss makes less than ground-floor employees. Sixteen-year-old Ava Lorenz wouldn't mind if that logic applied to her job at the Easton Village Store. "I always figured you'd get paid on your ranking," she said. "I think it's strange that they don't."
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