“As a former manager and clerk at the downtown Borders, I am in a good position to provide some of the perspective Craig Matteson’s letter, Editorial unfounded, Borders employees should not strike (11/11/03), finds lacking in the Daily’s editorial, Borders patrol (11/06/03). Although he doesn’t specify which of the union’s actions remind him of “the counterproductive attacks which marked union negotiations in the recent past,” a look at the long-term deterioration of wages and working conditions at the store may clarify the issues that prompted the strike.
When I started at Borders in 1991, the starting wage was $6 per hour with semi-annual raises (usually totaling 6 percent), quarterly profit-sharing checks (usually the equivalent of two weeks’ pay), 12 personal days and seven paid holidays a year, two weeks paid vacation and a good health benefits package. This compensation model encouraged people to stay and master the craft of bookselling; the company’s commitment to its employees helped Borders become one of the best and most profitable independent bookstores in the world.
In 2003, the starting wage is $6.50 per hour with one raise a year (usually about three percent), the number of personal days has dropped to nine and profit-sharing is but a distant memory. Workers routinely take a second (or third) job to make ends meet. I doubt executive compensation packages have suffered similar erosion. By way of comparison, Chief Executive Officer Greg Josephowicz makes approximately $586 per hour. … ”
> From Charlie Murphy’s viewpoint: “Borders not the responsible company it used to be”, see also the Daily’s editorial today: “Holding Firm: continued support required in Borders’ strike”
Also, a letter writer in today’s Daily says she was “sickened” to hear about Mary Sue Coleman’s record salary, concluding “I’m afraid that hearing that “we all have to suffer in these tough times” from people that make exorbitant amounts of money rings completely hollow to my ears.”