Monday, December 13, 2010
The tease: is there really anything wrong with Hawaii Dept. of Public Safety overtime practices?
by Larry Geller
Civil Beat may be on to something. A story today introduces some numbers on overtime pay in the state’s Department of Public Safety that do look a bit out of whack. See: A Surcharge on Safety: Outsized Overtime at the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (Civil Beat, 12/13/2010)
23 employees earned more in overtime than regular pay
In a private company that would be a hint of understaffing. Is this for good reason? Was there a Lingle hiring freeze in effect? Should we be concerned?
Civil Beat gives us only part of the story, the tease. The rest is at A Surcharge on Safety: Union Contract and Turnover Blamed for Outsized Overtime (Civil Beat, 12/13/2010). The tease is you have to pay to read the story.
Pity. Perhaps the overtime situation needs fixing. In that case, the story should be read as widely as possible.
Worse, the one line we are allowed to see…
The Hawaii Department of Public Safety says high turnover and a rigid union contract have hamstrung efforts to rein in unusually large overtime claims.
… suggests a common reporting abuse by referring to “a rigid union contract.” Many writers seem not to understand that it takes at least two parties to enter into a contract. Unions don’t write “rigid” or any other kind of contracts on their own.
We don’t know if this story, by reporter Nanea Kalani, takes that tack because it’s not publicly available. It’s locked up behind a paywall. Google can’t see it.
If the state is stupid about its contract negotiations, then it will have to deal with the consequences. If the state enters into a contract and then restricts head count, it will have to deal with the cost. If the Department is using the union contract as an excuse, one should question the effectiveness of its management.
We don’t know what is going on, unfortunately.
Think of all the good that Civil Beat reporters could do … if only they were set free.