Hunter  Lewis

Many reporters reflexively support unions, and prefer not to acknowledge scandals related to them, especially at the local and state level. Nevertheless, troubling news accounts have emerged:

- A New York City sewer engineer is paid $775,000 ($173,000 regular annual rate plus back payments from settlement of a labor dispute).292

?? – A Chicago union leader takes a leave of absence in 1989 from the city’s sanitation department, where he earned $40,000, to work for a union. He is then allowed to “retire” from the city at age 56 with $108,000 pension. (The rules say that the individual should waive a union pension to do this. In this case, the official reportedly does not waive the union pension. The city knows this, but grants the city pension anyway.)293

- Another Chicago labor leader is allowed to return to the city payroll for one day in 1994, so that he can then take a formal leave of absence to work for a union. His city pension is $158,000 a year.294

- 16 psychiatrists working for California are paid $400,000 or more. One of them, with a degree from an Afghan medical school, takes home $822,302.295

- A California prison nurse earns $270,000 a year, principally through overtime.296 Some prison guards earn over $300,000.297

More than half the lifeguards working for Newport Beach, CA earn more than $150,000 in 2010. One earns $203,481. A lifeguard labor union spokesman comments: “We have negotiated very fair and very reasonable salaries. . . . Lifeguard salaries here are well within the norm of other city employees.”298

This union spokesman might have also explained that these compensation levels are comparable to those of California legislators, which averaged $140,000 in 2010, excluding extras such as free cars, free gasoline, obscure per diem reimbursements, and even exemptions from traffic tickets or having to pay on toll roads, a perk shared by other state employees as well.299 Attempts to force California legislators to reveal their total compensation and perks are always left to die in committees so that no one has to record a vote on them.300

- In Massachusetts, four state troopers are paid more than $200,000 and 123 over $150,000.301

Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of