Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Doing the right thing" comes with a price

The Dallas City Council this morning saddled up its high moral horse and rode off in favor of the economically downtrodden. Invoking the memory of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was working on behalf of better wages for sanitation workers in Memphis when he was assassinated, the council, especially Mitchell Rasansky, assailed the City of Dallas in general and the Sanitation Department in particular, because of wages over which the City really doesn't have any direct control.

For the most part, only the driver of the truck that picks up garbage in our neighborhoods is a city employee. The rest of the crew -- the guys that actually toss the bags into trucks where automated carts can't be used -- are contract workers. The city takes bids from firms that supply this kind of labor and the winning low bidder is the one responsible for paying those workers. Of course, the company has to include in its bid money that will help it pay for supporting staff, overhead, profit etc. and still be the low bidder. It's understandable that the workers themselves aren't going to be paid that much.

Is there something the City can do about it? Sure there is. The Council can specify in the next bid requirements that any company willing to supply this labor force pay their workers a minimum wage established by the Council. That means, of course, the city will be paying a lot more for this contract the next time it is awarded. That, in turn, means sanitation rates will increase.

I can guarantee you -- absolutely guarantee you -- that Mitchell Rasansky, the city councilman who railed the most about the wages these workers are being paid, will also be the loudest critic when sanitation rates are raised to pay for these increased wages.

No comments: