CUPE National President responds to Fraser Institute study

On April 3, the National Post reported on a Fraser Institute study claiming public sector workers make too much compared to private sector workers. This is CUPE National President Paul Moist‘s response.
Re:  Public sector paid 12% more than private; Better pension, benefits: Fraser Institute study: 4 April 2013

Dear editor,

The Fraser Institutes study on public sector wages is fundamentally flawed. It uses the notoriously unreliable Labour Force Survey data for just one month – April 2011 – to come to blanket conclusions about comparative wages. Their analysis doesn’t even account for such basic factors as occupation, nor does it report on actual wages.

Are our public sector educational assistants who earn as little as $18,700 a year to care for children in our schools overpaid?  What about long-term care workers paid $22,000 a year to care for our sick and elderly? Should their wages be cut to match and push down even lower private sector pay, just so compensation and profits at the top can be increased?

The type of “regression” analysis they used can be manipulated to produce pretty much whatever results are wanted. Without using a much larger and substantial sample, such as census data, and considering actual wages in similar occupations in the private and public sectors (as is done in the CUPE’s “Battle of the Wages” study) these comparisons can’t be considered valid representations of reality in any way.

The simple fact is there is a small wage gap, largely based on more equitable pay for women working in the public sector vs. the private sector. Curiously, the Fraser Institute study shows men are paid 13 percent more than women yet chose not to voice any outcry over that particular finding.

Fraser Institute and government proposals to make public sector wages reflect the private sector would only serve to reduce wages in the lowest paying jobs – many of which are held primarily by women – and increase executive level compensation. How is this in anyway fair?

Income inequality is a growing problem facing Canadian workers, and is widely acknowledge as a danger to our overall economic health. Instead of attacking the more equitable wage structures in the public sector, we should be pushing for the private sector to provide more equitable wages and benefits instead.

Yours truly,

Paul Moist

National President

Canadian Union of Public Employees