How public should public information be?

Senator Jerry Stevenson is trying to pass a bill that would make public employee salaries private if the employee makes less than $85,000 a year. Right now, anyone can go to http://www.utahsright.com/h_salaries.php and access the salary of any teacher, school janitor, or other public employee by name.

Short arguments for and against this bill can be heard at
http://www.ksl.com/?nid=400&sid;=14558317 .

Hearing about this bill caused me to reflect on the strike in Wisconsin that has been making headlines recently. Many of the discussions I hear about these events are tied to the low wages teachers receive. Much of the power of the teachers union seems to be linked to public knowledge of their pay and benefits.

Additionally, as mentioned in the KSL video above, this bill would prevent public employees who make less than $85,000 from easily knowing each others salary. Although this may eliminate fighting amongst the teachers, it also promotes unfair pay. In my experience, discovering that a less experienced person makes more than you is terrible. It isn’t a problem that should be fixed by adding secrecy. When I discovered that I was being underpaid, I was able to discuss it with my employer and make a plan to bring me up to a competitive wage. Wage transparency would have prevented my gross underpayment. I am not a public employee, but I would want to help any person avoid similar circumstances.

Would I want my meager wage displayed online for all to see? No. However, would I allow it to be online, if having it there empowered me to make more money and have public support when elected officials were attempting to write bills that take my rights away? Maybe.

I agree with Senator Stevenson that privacy is important, but I also believe that secrecy is disabling.

Afterward: Salt Lake Tribune reported on Feb 28, 2011 “The Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee chose not to vote on SB309 by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, …, a move to essentially kill it….” For more of this artical click on the following website: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51329936-76/bill-employees-government-names.html.csp