The National Review, that bastion of traditional entitled conservatism, founded by the quintessential erudite elitist William F. Buckley, has weighed in on the Stop Staples campaign. The Review thinks that postal workers should be attacking their union rather than USPS management or Staples.
That in itself tells you a lot about the right wing mindset. They have a problem with democracy, and can’t quite grasp the idea that postal workers belong to unions by choice, and they elect the union leadership (or as the right wingers like to call them, “union bosses”). So telling workers to attack their unions is the same as telling them to attack themselves.
Here’s how the Review explains why postal workers should apparently be lobbying to slash their own pay:
Consumers benefit from having more options, and the Postal Service may also save, if a recent internal memo is any indication. The memo estimated that private-sector retailers could offer the same mail services for less than a third the cost, which gives a bracingly clear picture of how inflated mail workers’ pay has become. The memo also added that “the [Staples] pilot will be used to determine if lower costs can be realized with retail partner labor instead of the labor traditionally associated with retail windows at Post Offices.”
So as far as the heirs of Bill Buckley are concerned, postal workers wages are incredibly “inflated”? Really? A level five clerk at top step makes around $52,000 a year. That works out to $25 an hour. I’d love to see the writers at the National Review try to survive on that.
Exactly how “inflated” is that wage? When I started as a mail handler with the USPS in 1978, my hourly wage was $6.89. It wasn’t a bad starting wage back then. Thanks to raises negotiated by my union, my salary steadily increased. But was it “inflated”?
No. If you check the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, you can determine what $6.89 an hour in 1978 dollars is worth today:
So the “inflated” salary a veteran postal worker earns today is the purchasing equivalent of what a newly hired mail handler earned thirty-six years ago.
But if the country club kids at the National Review had their way, postal clerks would be grateful to get $8.33 an hour. Presumably with no benefits- unless you consider eligibility for medicaid and food stamps to be a benefit.
If you really want to see how downright offensive the NR’s suggestion is, use the inflation calculator to see what that $8.33 wage would have equaled in 1979:
Which would have been exactly 60 cents an hour less than the minimum wage at the time.