Bill Knutzen earning his keep

I wanted to commend County Councilman Bill Knutzen, who when faced with the potential for county employee layoffs,  has suggested that layoffs, if needed, should be based on job performance rather than union seniority.  Here’s what he said in Bellingham Herald: Whatcom County Councilman Knutzen angers local unions with layoff discussion

"In the current economic climate I would expect a little flexibility from the unions while we try to preserve their jobs,"
"To hamstring these managers by giving them a staff that is less than their best people to do the same amount of work seems, I don’t know, shortsighted to me."

I think there are a lot of people out here who agree with Councilman Knutzen’s thinking in this matter and his common sense approach is exactly why I voted for him.  

That should be the end of the story, but per usual, it is not.  The Bill Knutzen quote is from today’s Herald article.  It’s interesting that the titles for both the article and accompanying  Politics blog post  Whatcom County Councilman Knutzen makes no friends amongst largest bargaining unit, seem to indicate that Bill Knutzen said something that was out of line or inflammatory.  In fact it was the union official’s response that was out of line and inflammatory.

Teamsters spokesman Chuck Eggert was angered when he heard of Knutzen’s comments.

"Maybe what we ought to do is do the same thing with County Council members and elect someone who is responsible and doesn’t make such despicable comments," Eggert said. "Excuse me … but he really kind of pisses me off. For him to come in here and make comments like that, he doesn’t have a clue as to how we got where we are."

Oh, I think Bill is responsible and does know how we got in this position.  I voted for Councilman Knutzen to represent the people of our county, and in standing up to this type of union intimidation he’s showing me I didn’t waste my vote.     Way to go Bill.

2 thoughts on “Bill Knutzen earning his keep

  1. Hi Wally.
    I didn’t find Knutzen’s comment to be shocking at all. It is a fairly straightforward conservative view to hire people based on the quality and quantity of their work, rather than how long they have been on payroll.

    I would like the union leadership to make their objections more clear. Are all workers absolutely equal in performance? If so, then Bill’s comment would not fit. I think the union position is formostly “Do not fire any of us, you need all of us, every single one”, and it breaks down that argument if someone even starts making the list of who will be fired.

    It is true that in many cases, the most experienced workers do the best job. But Knutzen’s statement wasn’t to fire the old guys and retain the new guys. It was to be sure to retain any outstanding team members, in whatever way that would apply. Perhaps that would end up being the most senior staffers. So be it.

    • It may even be that in most cases, those with seniority are the most valuable to the employer. They’re depth of knowledge can be greater, they likely have more cross training and they are less likely to make rookie mistakes that result in doing the job again. I appreciate that Bill is trying to keep all options on the table in order to get the most out of our taxes.