To the editor:
While we deal with the challenges of a pandemic that is unique in the lifetime of anyone not older than 102, certain things do not change. Just look at the May 17 edition of the Daily News, which shows the concerns of poor working people are still ignored.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not consider taxing the rich to deal with the budget crisis the virus created. So the burden will fall on employees who are needed and grossly underpaid. Michael Elsen-Rodney reports of one group that might face hundreds of layoffs — CUNY adjunct professors.
Elsen-Rodney’s article makes it apparent that they’re getting no respect since, after a pay raise, they’re still only averaging $28,000 a year. I’m a 63-year-old man who remembers, as a youth, being told a college education would assure you good pay.
Now many of those who provide that education make poverty wages.
In that same issue, Thomas Tracy reports on the recognition for heroic EMS workers who were always saving lives, not just since the coronavirus hit. But this recognition has not come from Mayor Bill de Blasio. He preaches against income inequality, but contributes to it when negotiating with unions representing city workers.
EMS workers’ salaries start at $30,000 a year, and peak at $51,000 after five years. For EMTs, it’s $45,000 to $64,000.
Then there is an editorial in a long line that stretches back decades for the Daily News. Again, they call for sacrifice from workers, but not from the rich. City workers have lost much over decades because their “raises,” when they get them, did not keep up with inflation. But in its lead editorial, the paper suggests city workers delay planned raises.
They also suggest cuts to workers’ health care and retirees’ pensions. In these times, those of us with pensions — which we earned (I got my state pension working for New York City Transit) — are a comfort for co-ops and landlords, because we’re able to pay our carrying charges and rents. It’s also obvious that this is not the best time to cut health coverage.
Then again, if we had the same complete health coverage that all civilized nations have, this would not be an issue.
The way to handle the current crisis is not to further squeeze those who already are being squeezed.
One thing that’s not being dealt with is the possibility (since nothing is guaranteed until it happens) that we don’t find a vaccine or a cure. Past pandemics, including the 1918 flu and centuries-old bubonic plagues, preceded modern medicine. They eventually subsided.
Hopefully, with intelligent leadership that we so far have not had (especially on the federal level), this crisis will pass one way or another. If not, along with climate change, threatened extinction of the bees that pollinate the plants that produce our vegetables and the possibility of nuclear war, we will have another threat to human existence.