Beyond Locals Only, Volume 5: The sound of (union) laughter

“Your unions over there in Ocean Shores don’t hold a candle – or even a flashlight – to our labor boosters!

That was Tome O’Scanlinn, sounding two (maybe even three) sheets to the wind as he crowed out his usual one-upsmanship, proclaiming how much more whacked-out his Atlantis City is than Ocean Shores.

As soon as I hit the “post” button on a recent blog entry about how Ocean Shores employees get paid, I knew I’d hear it from him.

“Sure,” he snorted, “you guys pay out big fat ‘longevity bonuses’ for everyone who hasn’t been stupid enough to get fired and the clock seems to start running on vacation time before someone’s job interview is over. But that’s nothin’ compared to what we got goin’ on over here, I tell you it’s nothin’!”

Believe it or not (I choose the latter), my man Tome says the Atlantis City Senators all got re-elected by proclaiming they were “cutting all city salaries down to minimum wage.”

Some were stunned that the town’s powerful union,  IAFF (International Association of Feared F-—-s) Local 666, had seemingly gone along with the pay cut. “Keep in mind, the IAFF is run by guys who got kicked out of Hell’s Angels for being too mean and conniving,” O’Scanlinn tossed in. “So when they barely put up a fight, and then I saw them later that week partying it up with the Senators, I figured there was something fishier than a chum boat.”

That muck-making editor swam his way over to the floating Atlantis City Hall and made a public records request for the union contracts. It turned up an elaborate systems of bonuses that includes the following;

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): Sounds reasonable enough, until you read the fine print – the increases are tied to the inflation rate . . . of the Democratic Republic of Congo (26 percent inflation).

Step Increases: Each employee advances to the next “step” (with a pay-rate increase) when he/she completes a month’s work without falling asleep on the job. (Nearly half of the city’s employees were able to take advantage of this.)

“The Buddy System”: Public Works employees required not to lift anything on their own, be it a dumpster or a waste-paper basket or paper clip. This was allegedly for safety reasons, but turns out to be a juicy overtime-producer, nearly doubling hours of most workers.

Education Bonus: Four-year college graduates receive 25 percent bonuses. Those with Associated Arts/two-year degrees get 20 percent bonuses. High school graduates, 15 percent. G.E.D., 10 percent.

The Working Under the Weather (WUW) program: Those “team players” who report to work with a tummy ache or a sniffly nose are rewarded with a week paid “recovery time.”

Uniform Allotment: A fat loophole in the “uniform reimbursement policy” allows city workers to be reimbursed for Raiders jerseys, Dodgers jackets, even Halloween costumes.

  Bottom line: Though “base pay” was cut, most employees saw their take-home checks double.

The joke goes that a visitor asked a Local, “Where’s the nearest bank?”

“Don’t worry about the address,” answered the Local. “Just follow the sound of the union guys laughing.”

About Tom Scanlon

Tom Scanlon started his journalism career as a sports stringer with the Pittsburgh Press (RIP) and Post-Gazette, then moved on to the Seattle Times, Mesa Tribune etc. He is the author of plays including "The Superhumans" and novels including "Ocean Shores Tourist Killer," "Atlantis City," and, now, "The Immaculate Jagoffs of Pittsburgh."
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12 Responses to Beyond Locals Only, Volume 5: The sound of (union) laughter

  1. Indentured Servant says:

    Tom, I appreciate the work you are doing here on this blog. I have lived in Ocean Shores for over 10 years and have never witnessed a more corrupt and inept government. By corrupt, I’m specifically commenting on the amazingly poor stewardship of taxpayer provided revenue. By inept, I’m referring to the various lawsuit/judgments brought against the city and the continuous lack of wisdom exhibited over the years by our elected officials and city department supervisors.

    As you have pointed out, the public employee unions are extremely strong (and well funded) and it’s doubtful anyone will be able to win that battle. The former Mayor Bunkers found this out the hard way.

    In the all the time you were editor of the North Coast News, I don’t recall you presenting an informational article about the option of bankruptcy for this city. I believe many taxpayers in O.S. would be interested in knowing if bankruptcy is a viable option for getting us out from under the onerous burden of this city’s employee labor contracts.

    Worthwhile article or not?

    • asparagus says:

      Ooohhhh! I’d love to hear Tome O’Scanlon’s take on that!

    • Sand $$$$ says:

      Mayor Bunkers and as well as the following 2 mayors could have closed the offices 1 day a week, or 1 a month, but the procedure has to be set and it is based on the budget.
      In Grays Harbor County, there have been cost cutting/saving measures in the previous years. 2012, the county offices were closed 1 day per month. The reduction of 1 days’ pay for each employee was instituted by the closure, and the commissioners had the equivient of a pay cut by personally donating a portion of their salaries back to the county. The county commissioners and some employees have personally paid for their dependent premium on their insurance to help with the budget. Whether you agree or disagree with the county, hopefully you will recognize they made the effort and it impacted employee wide. That could be done here to help with reserves and expeditures.
      The attempt here, was done haphazardly and wasn’t defended. The result was most employees (with the exception of the City Clerk, who worked during the closure), got an extra day off and paid for it later without having to reimburse the city by time worked.
      Something to think about.

  2. Gary Iversen says:

    Is that noise I hear Tom thinking?

  3. Tome O'Scanlinn says:

    Does it sound like gears grinding for lack of “oil”?

    • starfish says:

      Or something, he’s busy with FB! OS needs to unincorporate or go bankrupt, whatever will cost less!

      • suomynonA says:

        Starfish, You might want to catch up. The new North Coast News Facebook page is not Tom’s. It is now under the control of the new editor. Tom has this blog linked to Facebook. Two separate entities. Unincorporation is a vote of the citizens. BK is a much harder row to hoe.

  4. North Poll says:

    To undo the incorporation might be the solution. Seabrook is doing far better than Ocean Shores, It is unincorporated and depends on county services as does the rest of the North Beach. Ocean Shores could do the same and cut down on the 5.4 million it has to pay the 72 city union and exempt employees. The county employees would be less expensive and more professional and there would not be the bad union contracts Ocean Shores is afflicted with. Some suggest if 800 citizens refused to pay the extra $7.48 a month there is nothing the city could do to such a huge number and then it would have to cut back. That $7.48 a month was imposed by 4 people on a 5500 population city which could last forever and the 5500 had no chance to vote on the matter or even have it discussed at a Town Hall.

  5. AnonyMe says:

    Before you withold that utility fee from your water bill you might want to research just how badly a vengeful city staff could and did damage those who refused to pay the illegal “standby charges”. It made for interesting reading in the NCN for many years. When it comes to taxes and fees O/S appears to have a learning disability. Of course the cheerleaders do have bright new pom-poms, always a plus for the taxpayers.

    • suomynonA says:

      And how much did they get for their lawsuit? We are still waiting to hear about the Banks lawsuit. There is also the $750,000 lawsuit. Any more out there we missed?

  6. AnonyMe says:

    The people the city sued and harassed for years got nothing but a hellacious legal defense bill for refusing to pay an illegal fee. No apologies, no kiss when it was over. And a prominent position on the official enemies list.

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