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Public employees have been targeted this week in Vancouver’s local media. Two guest editorials in The Province newspaper have attacked the “outrageous” wages and benefits government employees make compared to other workers.

The claims arise from a rightwing Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) study back in 2008 that claimed government employees earn 25 per cent to 40 per cent more than their private-sector counterparts.

The CFIB arguments just don’t hold water. CUPE examined the report in 2009 and found the CFIB was very “selective” in how it analyzed the data. Some of our findings were that in the CFIB report:

  • No adjustment was made for education. Public sector jobs often have higher education requirements.
  • Much of the so-called wage premium reflects the fact that most of the public sector jobs are unionized. A comparison with private sector unionized jobs would have been fairer.
  • Many of the higher paid management and executive jobs in the private sector were excluded from the comparison.

It is bewildering how much time and effort organizations like the CFIB spend trying to force wages into a race to the bottom,” says CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill. “It is our wages that buy their products and our pensions that keep the economy moving. Attacking us is like biting the hand that feeds them.”

View a reasoned response to the CFIB claims.