Thursday, February 26, 2009

Just My Opinion....(and a few facts)

Checking, checking, one, two, three...... Is this on? Yeah, okay then...

I would like to take a moment of your time here to talk about a subject which has brought about much distress and confusion lately. The "Big 3", yeah the plight of the "Automotive Worker" to be more precise. It has been in the news all over, and I have to say I am "shocked" at the reaction from people. I have heard such disparaging remarks as "They are over-paid", "They get too many benefits", "They did this to themselves", "It's because of the Unions" . Most of these comments are of course from people who do not have a clue. I wonder if this was any other job,  would the same venom would be spat out?

My husband has worked for Ford Motor Co. going on 35 years, he has the carpal tunnel, hearing loss, nerve damage and arthritis to prove it. When he hired in he made $3.73 an hour (he has his first check stub). He worked pulling, and hog-ringing leather seats, next to a hot blast oven, back when they made them all here in America. We have seen our share of lay-offs, wage freezes, plant closings, strikes all throughout our marriage. Unions and workers fought hard to insure that they got a fair share, and because of them many jobs now offer many of these same benefits. The pay he makes he earned. Yes, like many other workers, Teachers, Nurses, Plumbers, Electricians, Road Workers, Government Employees, Carpenters, Postal Workers, all who also have UNIONS . If people took the time to investigate they might find that many of these workers have the same or in some cases even "better" benefits than autoworkers.

People are quick to point out that these auto workers are not "college" educated. True, but many jobs that are vital do not require a college education, and this fact should not belittle their importance. I do not know about you but that guy who pumps out the septic tanks, and charges $25.00 and hour is worth every penny. Why? because it is a job I do not want to do. Many Plumbers Carpenters, Truck Drivers, and Electricians started as "on the job" apprentices, does that mean they are not worth the $30-$50 bucks an hour? Is there anyone preventing you from pursuing these careers and getting paid this wage too? Can someone then explain to me why people feel such animosity for the auto worker?

I work for a company doing the payroll. One of the District Managers was saying how the auto workers have had it too good for too long. This Manager has worked for the company 25 years and makes considerably more than my husband. I asked why she thought this, "Well they get their health care paid for, and they get holidays, and vacation". I agreed, but then quickly pointed out that so did she. Our company pays for her health care(which is the same as the auto workers get), she has 4 weeks paid vacation, and gets paid holidays. I also pointed out that after only 25 years she is making way more than my husband, and she did not go to college either. Her job consists of driving around and checking the stores. So why the disdain and anger? Is it envy? I have to think it is. 

In an age where everyone has become obsessed with "themselves" and seem to take pleasure in someone else's misery, this reaction has become way to common. I turn on the television to hear things like "The Autoworkers make $70.00 an hour with all their benefits". Yet, no one seems to have heard how they got this number. For those of you interested in the truth here it is:

They took the amount paid out to every worker currently employed, then they added the amount paid to retirees, to this they added benefits paid to the spouses of deceased employees still on retirement. They took the total and divided it by the amount of "Employed" workers. 

If we applied that same thinking to the Government it is like saying "We are taking your wages, adding all the benefits we pay out to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, and then dividing it by the number of people actually working, and that's how much we will say all employed workers are getting".

Perhaps we should use this math on the Nurses , Teachers, Postal Workers collecting pensions and working? Why is this formula only used with the Auto industry?

In a very recent conversation with a Nurse I met, she went on about how the government should let the companies fail, because these workers were all overpaid. I asked her if she thought that this "letting them fail" would stop with the Automotive industry? Did she really think that once you cut this major sector of the economy that they wouldn't start cutting others? If you cut the Auto workers wages to say $15.00 an hour, who is going to pay your $32.00 an hour salary? Illegal immigrants? Medicaid? She did not have an answer. The next time we met, the Hospital she worked at was fighting the Nurses Union saying they did not want to pay Benefits for retired nurses, and that they were cutting back and laying off. 

I recently stopped at a craft store and was talking to the store owner. I was telling her that I had seen a story online about all the shops that were closing or going out of business, I believe there were around 33 chains closing all or some of their stores. She said "Well I don't shop at a lot of them so it doesn't affect me".  I said to her "Really? Let's just stop thinking about you for a minute, and think about all those people now out of work. All these people now without an income, perhaps many will lose their homes, go on unemployment and not be able to find work. What are the chances that coming into your craft store to buy supplies will be a priority for them? How long will you be able to stay open if they all stop shopping?" No answer.

I run across this thinking from so many people, and for the life of me I don't get it. Senators and Congressmen say things like "Well we cannot be responsible for the bad choices of businesses" Yet apparently we can be responsible for the Bankers who acted irresponsibly, the Insurance Companies that acted irresponsibly, Congressmen, and Presidents who act irresponsibly?  I just wish people would stop and think about the bigger picture here. These times should "unite" us, not make us bicker and jealous. 

So to those of you with unkind things to say remember, while you are busy looking into your neighbors yard thinking they should not have greener grass, someone may be looking at yours and deciding neither do you!


Renee said...

Debra this is a brilliant post. You are writing with your heart here and I feel it.

I happen to agree with you 100%. My husband is a welder and with the economy and recession in the 80s was laid off and went back to work two years later making much less. Workers of a certain age have no voice as well. His boyd is used up, the same complaints as your husbands. It makes me feel like crying because I know he works so hard.

I think you really summed it up when the store person said well it doesn't affect me. That is simply stupid. Of course it does.

I could go on and on and on, but seriously I have to sleep at some point, so I can't afford to go down that road.

Anyway Debra thank you for this post it is timely and needed.

Love Renee

Ida Clare said...

People can be so thoughtless and such know-it-alls at the same time. Thank you for reminding me about individual lives affected and to not generalize about things when I don't have all the facts.

Losing a job is awful for a host of reasons. I have friends who are presently looking for work and this post makes me want to call them and take them to lunch and give them a hug. And--have some more gratitude and appreciation for the paycheck I have in my pocket.

Thank you for speaking your mind.

Terri said...

So very well said.

Can't seem to sleep

Hope you wake up well rested.

Jodie LeJeune said...

Totally well said Debra. It affects ALL of us, plain & simple.
Thanks for the post. It may be one we need to look back upon often to remind ourselves of where we are going and where we NEED to be.
everything vintage

Ketutar said...

Hear ye, hear ye!
Standing ovations, Debra!

Kelly said...

Thanks for visiting me at my blog~
It's unfortunate this reseccion we are in. I thnk there are very few who are not being affected by it, and it is sad.
My husband is an A.S.E. cert. Mechanic. he no longer does that kind of work because for him, there hasn't been any available (in the areas we've lived).
All I can say is that all we can do is do our best to move forward~

Her Art Nest said...

Hi Deb,
During these trying times, I try not to dwell on all the negative things racing around in my mind and in this world. I am watching fewer and fewer newscasts. It's not that I want to be blind of everything or I don't care. It just becomes something that I try to avoid thinking about continually. If I didn't have something creative to do, I would be totally bummed. I have spent many worrisome nights wondering when it will all end. With my husband in the real estate and mortgage business, you can imagine how the banking fiasco affected us. We have not had a really "good" day in at least two years. I just keep holding my head high, keeping a stiff upper lip, and just hope for things to change. It's really tough when you think I am just about to collect social security! I want to live in this moment with a song in my heart. Keeping the faith....Nance

Nikki via The Scarlett Rose Garden said...

Applause, applause! Well said!

Hi there... just popping over from Bluebirds and Roses.


Bellamere Cottage said...

Hi Deb........

Both of my parents were born and raised in Redford, just outside Detroit. My grandpa worked for Ford for years and years and my uncle had a subsidiary company making molds for bumpers and auto interiors until he sold the business to retire. Most of my family still lives in Michigan even now and although aren't in the auto business any longer are certainly affected. I hope things turn up soon.......I'm sorry this is hurting everyone so badly, especially Michigan. I'm sending you a big hug!

Many blessings!