The news that federal workers are more likely to die in harness than be fired will have come as no surprise to readers of my book Stealing You Blind. Far from being an indicator of a skilled and intelligent workforce, as the supporters of bureaucracy claim, it actually shows that something is seriously wrong with government personnel management:
San Francisco State University management professor John Sullivan, an expert on employee turnover, says the low departure rates show a failure to release poor performers and those with obsolete skills. “Rather than indicating something positive, rates below 1% in the firing and layoff components would indicate a serious management problem,” he says.
The government laid off 385 people in reorganizations last year — a 0.02% rate, or one in every 6,000 employees. No comparable private sector layoff rate is available.
In Stealing You Blind I document some examples of how difficult it is to fire government workers. For example, there was the fellow in Arizona who remained a municipal employee despite being accused of six murders. His union, AFSCME, refused to drop his case until he was finally sent to death row.
Indeed, it is precisely because of labor union power in government that we have reached this state. So if you are worried about all those inappropriate gropers in the TSA and those who share your nudie scanner pictures with their colleagues, now that TSA officers are going to be “protected” by a union, you can be even more certain that they won’t be fired.
By the way, if you’d like to read some of Stealing You Blind, there’s an excerpt from Chapter Five up elsewhere on the site today. You can also get more news about the book at my Facebook fan page or follow me on Twitter.