Monday, June 11, 2012

Neil Reynolds’ “ludicrous” error(s)

In today's instalment of the Globe and Mail's ongoing effort to discredit unions, Neil Reynolds reprises a Margaret Wente article from a few days ago, relying largely on talking points from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s campaign. 

But he ventures beyond spin and into fiction when he writes:

“Naturally, as in any bureaucracy, “special privileges” extended to the ludicrous. Correctional workers were entitled to book off sick and collect overtime pay for the very shift they didn’t work”.

This does seem ludicrous.  That might be because it’s not true.  

Under the heading “$150,000 Correctional Officers”, a document from Walker’s own campaign against unions makes clear that these officers may be paid overtime for the following shift - not the same shift for which they booked off sick, as Reynolds has it: 

“Officers can call in sick for a shift, receiving 8 hours of sick pay, and then are allowed to work the very next shift, earning time and a half for overtime”.

Still a little excessive?  Maybe.  But certainly not as “ludicrous” as Reynolds wants it to be.  An error?  A deliberate embellishment?  Won’t know til we see a correction.  

Update:   The following Editor's Note now appears at the end of the online version regarding another error in Reynold's article.  No sign yet of a correction for the one above.
Editor's Note: The Wisconsin teachers’ union (WEAC) created the WEA Trust insurance company in 1970. The union does not run the insurance company. Incorrect information appeared in the original newspaper version and an earlier online version of this article. This online version has been corrected.

Update, the second (now appearing at the bottom of Reynolds' online version): 
After calling in sick for a shift, correctional workers in Wisconsin were allowed to collect overtime for the following shift, not for the shift for which they called in sick. Incorrect information appeared in the earlier versions of this column. This online version has been corrected.

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