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Hourly rate not the only issue

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 23, 2006

It seems that the Campus Labor Action Project (CLAP), and America as a whole, puts too much emphasis on one issue, hourly rate. CLAP needs to step back and look at other issues involved in labor, including stability and benefits.

In my opinion, knowing that your current job will still be there tomorrow, next year and the next decade is more important than what one makes. For instance, I worked as a computer programmer for a company in Ohio for two years. About the same time I was offered a promotion at the company which included tuition reimbursement, I received a graduate assistantship at Miami University. If I had stayed and accepted the new position, I could have made three times more than Miami’s offer and still attended graduate school for free, but I left simply because the company was unstable. This became very evident about six months after my departure when the company dissolved and all of my former coworkers became unemployed.

Moreover, working for the same employer for years can lead to larger pensions, increased retirements and better benefits that would not have been possible if the worker was looking simply for a higher-paying job. These are things that are called “hidden income” because you miss them by simply looking at the hourly wage. The benefit package, in particular family tuition coverage, that Notre Dame provides is enviable. For instance, my parents saw their three children attend the same private university in Ohio, and, without a doubt, would have stayed the required time at any wage for the opportunity to have our tuition waived or even significantly reduced.

By looking just at the hourly rate, you are missing the big picture. Even though stability and benefits do not show up on the “bottom line,” they should definitely be considered and discussed when you make your claims about Notre Dame being unjust.

Something concrete to consider is, would you call a $15/hour job at an unstable company with no insurance or benefit package just? Moreover, would you accept that position over a $9/hour job at Notre Dame?

Jon Hauensteingraduate studentFeb. 22