In Detroit, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department employs a horseshoer.
Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is "not possible" to eliminate positions.
Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say.
The horseshoer’s job description is "to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required." The description was last updated in 1967.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water prices and inefficient services — using almost twice the number of employees per gallon as other cities like Chicago.
A recent independent report about the DWSD recommends that the city trim more than 80 percent of the department’s workforce. The consultant who wrote the report found 257 jobs description, including a horseshoer. Capitol Confidential sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the department for the salary, benefits and job description of the horseshoer position.
In response to the report, John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers.
"They don't have enough people as it is right now," Riehl said. "They are just dreaming to think they can operate that plant with less."
The city pays $29,245 in salary and about $27,000 in benefits for the horseshoer position.