This Week in Labor

Ariana Costakes

The New York Times ran a powerful story this week about municipal sewage workers and how their wages haven’t gone up in 15 years. The article presents the ghastly details of their job to the reader, then the almost ghastlier facts about their salaries. While most other municipal workers’ wages have gone up steadily since 1995, sewage workers, who should perhaps be given the most incentive to continue their vital work, got the shaft. The Times says this is because the Local 1320 of District Council 37, the municipal sewer-workers’ union, pulled out of negotiations for incremental increases and pursued a different route, comparing their wages to those of private workers of a similar ilk. Thus sewage workers have been left behind in terms of city wage increases. I thought it was a very spirited and informative article. It highlighted how tough and versatile sewage workers have to be in order to survive the gory job. My favorite quote was from Anthony Mongiello, a nine-year veteran of the city sewage plants: “I’ve been knee deep in raw sewage at 7:15 in the morning, and let me tell you, it don’t smell like Folgers in your cup!” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/nyregion/18sewage.html The New York Times ran a powerful story this week about municipal sewage workers and how their wages haven’t gone up in 15 years. The article presents the ghastly details of their job to the reader, then the almost ghastlier facts about their salaries. While most other municipal workers’ wages have gone up steadily since 1995, sewage workers, who should perhaps be given the most incentive to continue their vital work, got the shaft. The Times says this is because the Local 1320 of District Council 37, the municipal sewer-workers’ union, pulled out of negotiations for incremental increases and pursued a different route, comparing their wages to those of private workers of a similar ilk. Thus sewage workers have been left behind in terms of city wage increases. I thought it was a very spirited and informative article. It highlighted how tough and versatile sewage workers have to be in order to survive the gory job. My favorite quote was from Anthony Mongiello, a nine-year veteran of the city sewage plants: “I’ve been knee deep in raw sewage at 7:15 in the morning, and let me tell you, it don’t smell like Folgers in your cup!” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/nyregion/18sewage.html

-Ariana Costakes

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