As You See It

Tiers

To the Editor,

I have been following the news about many of the employees at Kohler going on strike after months of negotiations. It seems that both sides are at a stalemate, mainly over a 2-tier wage system and insurance increases that negate a proposed wage increase.

If you watched the Republican presidential debate held in Milwaukee you heard all the candidates respond negatively to raising the minimum wage. One candidate went even further and told hard working Americans that wages are “too high” and that is why “we can’t compete.”

What should have been said is that wages are too low in America… not too high! One can find all kinds of data sources that tell us about the wage stagnation experienced by so many of our workers. A good example of this is the five-year, no-wageincrease contract Kohler employees just completed.

The employees at Kohler helped the company deal with the effects of the recession by agreeing to a freeze on their wages these past five years along with a reduced wage scale for new workers with the 2-tier system.

Two-tiered systems were first used to drive down costs in hard times for companies that were in trouble. That system should expire when companies are once again on good financial ground.

A profitable Kohler Company that is in good financial standing today should return to the bar- gaining table and work with the employees to settle the contract and end the strike!

Anita Klein

Cost of Living

To the Editor,

This letter regards social security recipients -- particularly those of us who count upon our government check for at least 90 percent of our income, a statistic reported by the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).

I was shocked to learn via ABC-TV news a couple months ago that we recipients will not be receiving a COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) in our SS checks for 2016. The reason given was that there has been a drop in fuel prices, thereby keeping inflation low. I imagine we SS recipients can count upon this decline in gas prices to remain steady throughout 2016? Is this a guarantee?

The Senior Citizens League points out that SS recipients have lost nearly one-fourth of their buying power over the last 15 years. This is the third time since 2000 that the Social Security Administration has determined no COLA increase will be given. There was no increase in 2010 or 2011. Yet, In the 1980s, SS checks increased by as much as 14.3 percent per month.

A USA today article noted that many SS recipients will experience a reduced standard of living next year, due to Part B Medicare premiums and deductibles rising at an alarming rate.

In an Oct. 15, 2015 USA Today article, Robert Powell noted that while prices on paper may have dropped, experts say the actual cost of living is rising, and quality of life is falling for those SS recipients depending upon their monthly check to fund most of their bills.

Powell points out that since 2000, the cost of housing, often a retiree’s greatest expense, rose 44%; heating oil, 15%; eggs, 117%.

In addition to these increases, we have experienced steep increases in other groceries, home and auto insurance, medical co-pays, medications, clothing and electricity.

In contrast, SS COLAs averaged just 2.2% per year since 2000, or just 36.3% overall.

To add insult on injury, many seniors who were grateful to be gainfully employed, at least parttime, to supplement SS checks, have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Can they reeducate themselves? Certainly. But it is very, very difficult to be hired when one reaches his or her upper 60s or early 70s.

The bottom line here is that inflation figures on which the SS cost-of-living adjustments are based do not reflect actual expenses.

Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, appeared on ABC-TV’s “This Week” on a Sunday in October. He referred to the plight of SS recipients receiving no costof living adjustment for 2016 as “immoral.”

Sanders said he can’t imag- ine someone trying to make a living on $13,000 per year. I would challenge members of the Social Security Administration to try doing so for one year. You better believe things would change for SS recipients!

Thanks to Bernie Sanders for understanding our plight. He is right on! Something needs to be done to change the method through which COLAs are determined!

Sue Mroz

Random Lake


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