Editorial: Wages Are High But Inflation Is Higher

Many of us remember the part in Ferris Bueller’s day off, when his teacher was calling out his name..Bueller…Bueller…Bueller. And if you are not an enthusiast when it comes to subjects like Economics or other financial sciences, then topics like supply and demand may sound like they’re being recited by the actor Ben Stein. But in today’s day and age, the law of supply and demand can be applied to a very different resource. With the biggest labor crisis in history, people have become a scarce natural resource affecting our everyday lives, making this conversation a much more interesting topic for discussion. The law of supply and demand, combines two fundamental economic principles describing how changes in the price of a resource, commodity, or product affect its supply and demand. As the price increases, supply rises, while demand declines. Conversely, as the price drops supply constricts, while demand grows.

But when discussing people as a resource, we can’t simply crank up production and make more employment “aged” people.However, if you read back a few sentences, the most ironic part of this conversation is the one about price being affected by supply. Let me elaborate….

Sometimes, when speaking with employers, I get the sense that not all employers understand this idea. I also think that this topic is also a part of a much larger discussion that is affecting our membership, other workers, and the overall quality of life for communities across the country, not to mention the economy as a whole. Lately, it seems that we are constantly hearing about the malignant impact that the current economic status is having on our nation. During the summer, the debate was more about whether we were in a recession, but lately, the conversation has been focused on inflation. The main difference is inflation is the increase in the prices of goods, whereas recession is a steep decline in business activity.

This conversation has also been a very popular item during bargaining. Employers are frequently speaking about the many ways these business cycles affect them. If you are, or have been a bargaining committee member this year, you know exactly what I am talking about. Statements from employers include a very good picture of how inflation has and will impact their business and their bottom-line. Having to deal with increased pricing of goods from their vendors, causes them to pass on higher prices to their customers. And of course, all of this makes sense. If bargaining presentations are going to turn into a review from the organization that defines U.S. business cycles, the National Bureau of Economic Research (or NBER), then I would appreciate it if our members were included. When discussing the hike in pricing due to inflation, don’t leave workers behind. Employers should stop comparing pre-pandemic wages to today’s wages, without having a realistic & respectful approach. The fact is that today’s higher wages are by far outpaced by today’s higher inflation. And our members are also customers, the higher pricing impacts their ability to keep their wagons full too. The same higher pricing should be applied when speaking about their wages, benefits, and retirement plans…period. The same increase now is not the same increase as before the pandemic and before inflation.

Employers who are referencing old contracts for guidance for their proposals are using an outdated resource-which quite frankly is as informative as yesterday’s news. Let me be clear, those wages are out of date with today’s economic realities. Our members deserve respect and proper compensation for the hard-work they put in every day to grow their employer’s business. Our union is committed to continuing to work together to ensure that the members of Local 1500 never get left behind.

Thank you for your membership and for all that you do to make the holidays happen. I want to take a moment to wish you a happy holiday and a healthy and prosperous new year. God bless you all.

#myunionhasvalue #wagesarehighbutinflationishigher