Sunday, June 15, 2014

You Get What You Pay For

Since this story was posted on the trains are running again. I guess that's a good thing for the greater good of our region because it will result in less congestion and safer travel to work Monday. So, I guess the federal government decided it needed to send these workers back to work after a one-day strike, and it looks like the protocol now means that any other work stoppage is averted for about half a year. I think it's worth noting, though, that these workers have been without a contract for nearly half a decade.

Half a decade of status quo? If I understand labor law correctly, the workers haven't been able to receive pay raises in that time. That's a long time to go without any increase in compensation.

I cannot look at this objectively. I work for an employer who has declared that the labor force and management are at an impasse, though we still have a few weeks remaining on our contract. He has warned parents to prepare for a strike, though there was still more than a month before the expiration of our current contract. Why? Because we disagreed that the employer's offer of a four-year contract with scant pay raises was a fair reward for our labor.

I live in an adjacent district. The teachers in that district received an even stingier offer to continue employment. Those teachers, also, declined the offer to sign that contract.

We're missing sight of the forest because we're fixated over trees. The political consensus seems to be focused entirely on reducing costs. Not just reducing them, but driving them into the ground. What is cost to one person is income to at least someone else. And our fixation on cost for labor is stalemating our economy. Meanwhile, we seem to have no problem with the cost of Social Security benefits or of Medicare expenses.

One gets what one pays for. When one consistently looks for the cheaper alternative, one eventually gets products that break down. I guess the public and quasi-public labor force of southeastern Pennsylvania is about to break down.

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