Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Why I am pro-union

So by now, you may have heard that USAir is in the process of coming to a contract agreement. While the machinists union has not agreed to the new contract, the flight attendants are signed on for a 9% pay cut and a freeze in pay until 2007 (at which point, they will get a 1% increase).

But here's the point: when I was traveling last week--or I should say, when I was hanging around the Las Vegas airport bored out of my gills, hoping upon hope that I could one day board a plane--a lot of my fellow-delayees were grousing about the USAir sick out. "What are they trying to do?" they would say, "The airline is going bankrupt. There is no money. And now they are making all of the customers upset and hurting the business more."

"Is the CEO taking a pay cut?" I would ask them.

"Um, I don't know."

"What about the upper management and other executives; are they taking a pay cut?"

"Um I hadn't thought about that."

It was like that.

Under the new contract, the average flight attendant who has been at USAir five years makes $50,606. A ten-year veteran, $71,572. That's a lot, I know.

But how much does the CEO make? Last year: $8,996,026. Yes, that's right. Nine million dollars. Seventy-two dollars a minute, to be exact. It would take that ten-year worker 125 years to make a year of his salary. It would take a minimum wage earner until the year 2842.

And what I really want to know is why the LRWM always report labor disputes in that way (e.g., "thousands of travelers were delayed in airports across the country today as USAir employees called in sick while failing to settle a labor dispute with the struggling company"). They should say something like "CEO David Siegel is suffering from a severe case of 'let them eat cake' as he continues to rake in millions of dollars every year while asking his employees to take a pay cut."

The fact is, while I waited in the Vegas airport for 5 1/2 hours, the CEO of USAir made $23,760.

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