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Education Matters: Suffering from a plague of greed

September 08, 2011

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

You work hard. You do good work. You loyally stick with your employer through good times and bad. Do you have a right to a paycheck that rises over time?

If you put that question to Booz & Co., one of the nation's most prestigious corporate consulting firms, their answer would likely be colored by their connection to the corporate bosses who have hired them to increase their bottom line profits.

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Rather than take aim at the bloated salaries of the corporate heads, this company looks to diminish the value of veteran employees who, contrary to the mega-millionaire chief executives, deserve their hard-earned wages.

Analysts for this company advised earlier this year that businesses need to start attacking the "exorbitant" paychecks now going to their most prized, "steady and reliable" workers. They even personified this worker by calling him "Joe the machinist." He has many years of experience, but is now making a lot more than he used to make, especially compared with co-workers who have been doing the same job for just two years.

Joe has been "insulated from the harsh economic realities by receiving above market wages," according to a Booz representative. Translated into cost-cutting efficiency, that means that it's time to retool salary structures. This retooling, the Booz analysts gush, could net U.S. corporations "labor savings of 15 to 20%."

Corporate America, in fact, has been depressing wages to fatten profit margins for decades, and the pace has only accelerated since the Great Recession. Their profits from mid-2009 through the first quarter of 2011 have increased 39.6%. Over that same span, typical full-time U.S. workers have watched their paychecks steadily drop.

The Booz analysts want America's Joe the Machinists to swallow ever-lower paychecks to help their U.S. corporate employers "keep up with intense competition" from elsewhere in the world. Yet they demand no similar sacrifice from U.S. corporate executives.

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