Letters: Raising laborers' wages

New 12's Sean Bergin puts on a hard

New 12's Sean Bergin puts on a hard hat to see what it takes to rebuild the Long Beach boardwalk.

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I read labor consultant Kris LaGrange's op-ed on Labor Day and found it to be severely lacking ["Fast-food fight shows we still need unions," Sept. 2].

Instead of addressing a major problem, such as the lack of good-paying industrial jobs, LaGrange used the recent fast-food protests as an example of why we still need unions. Fast-food jobs were always for high school and college kids, and some adults looking for part-time work. These jobs were never intended to support adults, no less families.

LaGrange laments that only 12 percent of today's workforce belongs to a union. Unions bear as much blame for that as anyone else. When times are good, unions make demands, and manufacturers can meet them. But when times are bad, unions never give back anything until disaster has, or is about to, strike. By that time it is usually too late, and a company either goes under or moves operations to a nonunion area or out of the country.

Poor managers and greedy owners must also shoulder plenty of blame for the huge loss of union jobs -- not that they care.

If fast-food workers unionized, prices would go up, and some people would no longer go to fast-food restaurants. This would probably result in a loss of fast-food jobs. Be careful what you wish for.

Dave Lorthioir, West Sayville
 

Your Labor Day articles discussed the economic plight of workers who earn minimum wage. Historically, "laborers" referred to people who worked heavy, strenuous and dangerous jobs in construction, factories and manufacturing. These people were the heart and soul of "labor" and Labor Day, and they have made substantial gains over the past 100 years.

Most no longer earn $9 or $10 per hour. Many now earn $40,000 to $70,000 per year.

During my years as a public high schoolteacher, in the 1970s and '80s, two close friends climbed poles as employees for the telephone company. They were "labor," and I wasn't. Each year, they laughed at me with my six years of college because their W-2 tax-form numbers were always better than mine.

Minimum wage jobs, much like Social Security checks, were never intended to be adequate support for a career or a family's finances.

Paul Lieberman, Bohemia
 

Newsday's grasp of the economy is lacking ["The irony of Labor Day," Editorial, Sept. 2]. Friday's jobs report shows improvement in the national unemployment rate to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent. However, the Obama economy has reduced unemployment not through job creation, but through an assault on the labor participation rate, which at 63.2 percent, stands at the lowest level since August 1978, during the Carter administration.

That the Obama administration is taking us into Carter territory is only fitting, because of the many other parallels of presidential ineptitude. With the costs of Obamacare and the saber-rattling over increases in the minimum wage, it is not surprising that companies are slow to hire.

It would seem to me that in a country where too few are working, the higher priority is not whether you have to work on Labor Day, but whether you can find work at all.

Frank Anderson, Roslyn Heights

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