Union hacks

Sometimes it pays to be a socialist. Under a collective agreement negotiated between the provincial New Democrat caucus and the British Columbia Government Employees Union Local 701 back in September 2001, caucus communications and research officers earn between $42,223.82 and $59,481.51 annually - depending on their seniority. By comparison, Liberals staffers earn considerably less. How much less is one of the Campbell administration's many secrets. But those in the know report the Liberal's non-unionized research officers make between $30,000 and $40,000 and their communications officers make around $45,000.

Of course, having unionized employees also means the New Democrats can afford fewer hacks. The Liberal's communications and research offices have around eight staffers each, including managers and assistants. The New Democrat offices, on the other hand, will only have five staffers each when all the hiring is said and done. The following is a complete copy of the caucus staff wage scale included in the collective agreement.


Rates of Pay Communications/Research Officer

Step 1 - $1,481.76
Step 2 - $1,571.43
Step 3 - $1,681.68

Rates of Pay Senior Research Officer

Step 1 - $1,997.00
Step 2 - $2,123.42
Step 3 - $2,279.97


More making less. That's progress

2 things.

First, you could actually do some research and look at public accounts where every single legislative building employee's annual pay is listed if you wanted to know what a Lib research or communication staffer earns.

Second, and more importantly, it been this way since the NDP staff unionized years and years ago and isn't exactly earth shattering.

So what you are saying is that it takes 8 non-union employees to do the job of 5 union employees.

That strikes me as being more like non-union hackery.


I think what Sean is saying is that because the NDP research and communications folks extort more taxpayer dollars per position, they are going to end up with far fewer people doing the important work of holding the government to account than if they made a more reasonable salary.

But perhaps Liberal political staffers are willing to work for less money because they know they can go on to a satisfying and lucrative career in the private sector, while for New Democrats this is likely the best job they will ever have in their entire lives.

First, I fail to comprehend John English's suggestion that Liberal political staffers have "satisfying and lucrative" prospects in "the private sector." Where does he think New Democrats work (so, all in the public sector then??), and where does he get the idea that this work is not satisfying nor lucrative?

But back to the caucus staff, are these wages really that out of line? They seem completely reasonable to me. Regardless of a union being involved or not, in a free market economy don't you pretty much get what you're willing to pay for? That's how it works in the "private sector," is it not? The Liberals choose to offer less and hire more with their budget, and no doubt the quality of their applications is befitting of the wages. If the New Democrats choose to pay more for a slightly smaller group of skilled and experienced officers, what's wrong with that? Maybe if some well-paid "hack" goes and makes an ass of himself like Prem Vinning then it's worth questioning what a caucus is doing with its payroll. Otherwise, it is extremely presumptuous to suggest these individuals aren't worthy of their wages. Do you even know who they all are yet?

Liberal Staff jobs = start of a promising career., and a "proving ground" of sorts.

NDP Staff Jobs = Close-to-retirement, one-last-kick-at-the-can, "my husband's union buddy is an MLA", enjoy the people's money sort of job.

Take note: Most Liberal staffers are young, driven, committed, and intelligent, while a remarkable number of Dippers are, well, "significantly older". (And don't try and tell me that makes them better at their jobs.)

And, as the ultimate injustice, NDP staffers get overtime!! The house sits from 10am to 9pm some nights, and all the NDP staffers will be laughing to the bank. Dedication to the cause, my ass. Dedication to the wallet, more like.

Hey So,

1 thing.

I just looked at the public accounts and it only lists employees with salaries greater than $75,000, the rest are all lumped together.

Too funny. Let's whine because New Democrat staffers make more money and they get overtime. Liberal staffers work their butts of and so do New Dems. It's the name of the game. I betcha though it feels good to be on the NDP side where you are recognized for your work with proper benefits and adequate pay.

I wonder if Maverick has anything to say to the small handfull of people who staffed Jenny and Joy for four years while the Libs leaned on PAB and entire Ministires! I bet they worked a helluva lot harder and longer then most Liberal staffers - and for a better cause.

I love the "significantly older" part. The NDP doesn't even have that many staff, but I would guess the average age to be about 35 or so. Man... that is so OLD.

Oh and the "my hubby's union buddy thing" - bet you haven't tried applying for a job with the NDP lately. They actually have a posting/HR process with applications and interviews with a panel. How do Liberals get their jobs? I've never scene a posting. All I've ever heard is "who do you know... oh okay... come in for a meeting... what a good young liberal... you're hired".

Maverick was nothing without Goose.

Here was an opportunity for Carole James to put a mark on her new NDP and her commitment to divest the party of formal labor ties and instead she signs up the good ‘ol BCGEU at the first opportunity. Same ol’ same ol’ NDP to me.

Just wondering.....but how many of those hardworking go-getters on the right side of the ledger will end up working for firms like the ones mentioned in Mr. Holman's post immediately previous to this one?

A post, by the way, that has generated hardly a whiff of interest regarding some serious snout-in-the-trough pork barrelling.

Be it Kevin Larsen, or John English, or Maverick, their close ties to the Liberals are pretty clear. And some of the respondents are obviously NDP insiders as well.

The picture of the young driven Liberal operative is particularly amusing, and particularly insincere. Anyone who reads The Hill Times was treated last week to a post session picture of the Liberal staff in Ottawa, mostly but not entirely young, all drinking merrily and partying like Parliament Hill was their personal frat house.

And then there's Liberal star candidate Bill Cunningham, now luxuriating in a $100,000 job with the Federal Regional Minister's office in Vancouver, where his "duties" consist of absolute zero, except for accompanying David Emerson on vote getting trips around BC.

Please don't bother me with petty denials about federal versus provincial Liberals. That's just too dishonest to even qualify as funny.

NDP staffers, and Liberals for that matter, should be paid at a decent level. These are extremely demanding jobs. The NDP research and communication officer rates are firmly in keeping with both public and private sector salaries. The Liberal rates are very low.

I'm always surprised to hear BC Liberals squawk about how working people are overpaid. Their outrage doesn't extend to gouging CEOs or VPs whose bloated salaries and stock options should make them feel shame.

No, the BC Liberals are typical school yard bullies, picking on lower income people to distract everyone from the real scam -- how outrageously high the Executive class is paid in this province. But then, they're the people who paid Gordon Campbell's campaign handsomely in his bid for power. After their short stint in politics, most of the Liberal politicians will line the boardrooms of corporations. What a life!

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.