HOW FAR WILL GUAM GO TO PROTECT GOVERNMENT WORKERS?

Editorial

Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Nov. 2) – The Solid Waste Law Review Commission continues to lumber along in its mission to review Guam laws preventing the closure of the Ordot dump and recommending changes to those laws, as they continue to tweak the proposed Guam Recycling and Solid Waste Authority Act.

But during the commission's Wednesday meeting, it did manage to ensure Department of Public Works employees in the Solid Waste Division – both classified and those on contract – would maintain employment and current benefits when the division becomes the Guam Recycling and Solid Waste Authority, which will be an autonomous agency.

And, if the new agency is privatized, those employees will remain on the Government of Guam payroll and be given hiring priority for open positions elsewhere in the government.

It's understandable that government officials don't want Government of Guam employees to lose jobs, but how far is the government willing to go to protect employment? What if the outsourcing happens and there are no positions in other government agencies for which the employees are qualified? Will the government continue to pay the salaries and benefits?

There has to be some degree of reasonable limitations. Elected and appointed officials must get beyond the mentality that the government can never cut jobs and must always protect Government of Guam employees first and foremost.

Government officials have a fiduciary responsibility to all taxpayers and residents, not just those who work for the local government. These officials have a duty to spend public money judiciously and to keep such spending within budget limitations.

The vast majority of the government's budget – at least 90 percent, according to Pacific Daily News files – goes toward employee salaries and benefits. This means that to realize any level of significant savings – which is necessary to continue basic government operations – the size of Government of Guam's payroll must be reduced.

And that can't be done if elected and appointed officials continue to be overly protective of Government of Guam employees, to the detriment of the rest of Guam's taxpayers.

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