Letter to the editor: It may be time to reexamine benefit packages


To the editor:

I have been retired for about 20 years after working my entire life from the time I was fourteen years old. In all that I was never in need of employment. I always had some employers desirous of my service. I finally retired after 37 years with the Diesel Workers Union at Cummins. Now I watch and pay attention to the many reports about migrant labor, and struggles over minimum or starting wages. A few weeks ago UPS avoided a labor conflict and the Teamster union secured a new contract. Now the UAW and the auto industry are at the table while 1,000s of members are on strike.

I will not venture to say what should be a fair or equitable wage for others. I could name my wages or would go to someone willing to pay what I asked. I always had more than one place to turn if I desired to change employment. When I got married, I stopped my youthful wandering jobs and went to work and Cummins.

In my life, I rarely worked just 40 hours or 5 days a week. Raising a large family on a single paycheck required working significant amounts of overtime. I understand the demands of the UAW when they look at the corporate leaders’ record profits and excessive income. What is a reasonable package today is a fair question. A recent poll I read this weekend showed that 77% of the average public is not satisfied with the present economic conditions and they struggle regularly with personal financial situations. Gas prices along with food and clothes prices are climbing at a steady pace of 4+% making families set priorities for what they would like to do together. With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas all coming soon, most say they cannot spend as much as they would like to spend compared to previous years.

It may be time to reexamine what is a reasonable benefit package for employees not just across the country.

When schools need to furnish breakfast and lunch for the students because they don’t receive balanced meals before school. There is something wrong with the current system. Unions started because of the abuses of the “robber barons” that controlled the industrial world. It wasn’t until Ford bucked the system and paid significantly more than the going wage saying. “I want my employees to earn enough to buy what they make.”

William Gerhard, Scipio

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