North Kingstown Employees Strike to Maintain Public-Sector Premium
One question lost in the heat of this school year’s example of the annual opening-day labor dispute is: Why should school children pay more for janitorial services than anybody else would? The practical answer is that parents are very sensitive to the treatment of their children, and that’s just one of the points of leverage that public-sector unions have.
According to the North East Independent, writing in July, janitors in North Kingstown used to make $19.47 per hour. Since the school committee voted to switch from the in-house union to the private GCA Services Group, while keeping the same workers, that hourly rate has fallen to $15.17. That’s a substantial drop of 22%, and it comes with greatly inferior benefits. But in Rhode Island’s continuing jobs recession and apparent economic decline, it isn’t clear that public-sector jobs, especially in schools, ought to be notably inviolable.
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