Time to thank these vital workers
Labor Day approaches. What better time to reflect on some workers we absolutely need?
• Military service people on active duty are at the top of the list, based on risk of death and maiming, mediocre pay, cumbersome work clothes and major disruptions, such as multiple deployments to war zones. And just 1 percent of the U.S. population takes it on, all volunteers, on behalf of the rest of us.
• Oil and gas field workers are making America — astonishingly — “energy independent.” Like pioneer forbears, they pick up stakes to move to remote North Dakota, Western Pennsylvania. “Fracking” for deep reserves bestirs activists to march, shout slogans and make movies against your livelihood.
• Health care providers. Under mountains of paperwork and regulation they somehow comfort the ill, injured, helpless and dying, enduring the groans, tears, mess and smells inseparable from the business of healing.
• Fast-food shift managers, either up from the fryers and flippers, belying the “dead-end job” myth, or down after layoff from higher-paying careers. Fresh out of unemployment pay, or sick of it, they go where the jobs are, in fields once “beneath” them. Good move.
• Police officers keep getting new obstacles to their job-effectiveness. The latest is a judge's ruling that New York's stop-and-frisk system seems unconstitutional to her, never mind the noticeably safer city. The badge brigades also are forbidden to “profile” the likeliest bad guys.
• Schoolteachers. They've got to prepare future citizens who are deprived of parental discipline at home even as school budgets crowd out music and extracurricular activities that enrich kids.
• Sewer, water, power and road systems workers. They maintain the “infrastructure” that's out of sight out of mind till Nature or simple wear n' tear go blooey. Then we realize how much this “information economy” still needs blue collar workers.
• Forest fire fighters, for all the obvious reasons. But wouldn't it be something if this summertime plague didn't have to be quite this bad? That is, if woodlands were managed with less attention to maintaining habitat for “endangered” species.
Do union leaders and corporate chief executive officers belong on this holiday honors list? On condition, yes.
The CEOs would have to voluntarily cut back — otherwise it will surely come by government regulation — on their extreme pay, perk and option deals. The bosses now average close to 400 times what rank-and-filers get paid. True, even if they cut way back to just 100 times (decades ago it was 40), there'd still be class envy. Liberals would see to that.
Union leaders have one chance to regain the prestige they had of old. They must persuade members that “less” is sometimes “more” at contract time. When uneconomical demands push companies out of business and jobs overseas, where's the gain to working stiffs? The equivalent shortsightedness in the public sector is for municipal services to be starved in order to keep up absurdly rich funding for compensation. Labor's great comeuppance in 2013 came in Detroit. No more Detroits next Labor Day.
Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville’s St. Rita Christian Mothers to hold Nationality Day
- Polamalu made 1st-time captain; Roethlisberger named for offense
- Democratic gubernatorial nominee in spotlight at Labor Day Parade
- ‘Extreme extrovert’ takes over at WCCC
- Steelers formalize practice squad
- Steelers receiver Heyward-Bey looks to make most of chance
- Family of Children’s Hospital transplant baby urges feds to change cochlear implants policy
- Indian Creek Valley Community Center demolition under way
- Connellsville Mum Festival to be held Saturday
- Steelers know fast start could be key to upcoming season
- Western Pa. volunteers battle wildfires in West