Milwaukee County Pension Payouts: Union Members Aren’t the Beneficiaries
I’ve got a few things to follow up about yesterday’s post regarding the County pension backdrop payment to Mr. George Brotz.
When I wrote about this subject yesterday, the point I was making is that the media, right wing blogs & talk show hosts and the County Executive tend to lump all Milwaukee County workers into the same group when taking them to task for these huge pension payoffs.
The goal in doing so is to try to paint all workers as “lazy and overpaid” in their attempts to trash unions. According to their argument, if it weren’t for these darn unions and their massively damaging and over generous pensions, this County wouldn’t be in the financial mess it is.
So every time we hear about the “pension scandal” these days, a lot of people just automatically start up with the anti-union, “if only it weren’t for those fat cat labor pensions” rhetoric.
As I alluded to yesterday, there’s a small problem here.
Mr. Brotz, the latest retiree to be singled out and ridiculed for the $850,000 pension payout he’ll receive, wasn’t a member of any union while employed by Milwaukee County.
I was able to dig through the still terrible Milwaukee County web site and discover that in working for the Sheriff’s office under the title of “Accting Mgr”, Mr. Brotz was a “NR” or non-represented employee as you can see from the screenshot of the Milwaukee County position spreadsheet below.
As a non-union employee of Milwaukee County, he could have signed a waiver any time in the past 6 years to give up his right to take part of his pension in a lump sum. (I’m not trying to pass judgment on Mr. Brotz or ridicule his decision regarding the lump sum payment, I’ll leave that to “watchdogs” at the local paper)
While County Executive Walker may have publicly expressing outrage over Mr. Brotz’s payout, he knows full well that the waiver could have been signed, or Mr. Brotz could have been made to retire at the appropriate time and avoided the large payout.
But Sheriff Clarke and County Exec. Walker did nothing of the sort. Nor are they doing anything now with the number of non-union employee’s of Milwaukee County who are also lining up to collect their fat lump sum payments.
I’d argue that if the Sheriff and County Executive had any serious consideration for the financial future of this County, they’d be sitting down with all of their non-union employees near or past retirement and asking them to either sign the waiver or retire “on time” so we could avoid hearing about more stories of half million dollar payouts in the paper.
But they aren’t taking those steps now, and I doubt they will because these payouts are politically advantageous for them.
Every time another one is reported in the paper, they can drum up the faux outrage and position themselves as the only people who will stand up to these massive payouts that the unions don’t deserve and are bankrupting… etc, etc.. DESPITE the fact as I’ve explained above that these massive pension payouts are to non-union employees.
If the County Executive has the power to limit these lump sum pension payouts and chooses not to, he should be held accountable instead of allowed to place the blame on those who don’t deserve it… and reporters like Mr. Bice of the Journal Sentinel should perhaps spend a little time asking about that then harassing the wife of a recent retiree about the value of their home.