By Arthur Cheliotes*
One of the first lessons any five-year old learns in kindergarten is to share. Perhaps it’s the failure of this lesson to sink in for so many business and political leaders that leads them to decry the ineffectiveness of public education. Who knows. At any rate, the concept of sharing is clearly alien to those at the top.
When times were good, corporate profits were soaring and city coffers were full, working people did not share in the wealth. CEO salaries went through the roof, while workers’ wages barely kept up with inflation. The Giuliani Administration showered the rich with tax breaks while municipal workers got shafted with the 1995 double-zero contract.
Now times are tougher and budgets tighter and the calls for workers to give up hope for improvements are louder. We are asked to “share the pain.” Never mind that we didn’t get to share in the wealth. Suddenly “we’re all in this together.”
But even now the meaning of the word share seems to elude our leaders. Because when they say they want us to share the pain they really mean they want us to bear the pain. In fact, whenever you hear the phrase “share the pain” being piously uttered by business leaders, pundits or City Hall officials you can be pretty sure that what is about to transpire isn’t an act of solidarity to help ease the hardship for all, but an act of theft. The working families are about to be robbed. Again.
Here are some ways for “sharing the pain” from City Hall:
The idea that this is “sharing” the pain would be laughable if it weren’t so outrageous.
New York City’s working people are willing to share the pain, do their part and help the city through tough times. Most New Yorkers love the city; we are civic-minded and dedicated to making our city better. But we won’t be played for fools: Don’t come to us and tell us we must sacrifice, again, while those who can truly afford it aren’t asked to do the same.
*Arthur Cheliotes is the President of Local 1180 of the CWA
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 edition of the Local 1180 Communiqué.