Letter of the Day (May 20): Wages

  • Updated: May 19, 2013 - 4:02 PM

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A May 15 letter writer made a good point when he noted that news coverage of labor disputes, like the case between the Minnesota Orchestra board and musicians, often ignores the plight of other workers believed to be “ordinary,” or of lower status. For example, how many readers know that the orchestra is seeking to pay the poverty-generating hourly wage of only $8.50 per hour to a part-time ticket representative?

Even if employed full time, that person would be unable to acquire the basic needs of even a modestly dignified life while living alone — not to mention having to support others. For example, to afford renting even an efficiency apartment in the Twin Cities area, and to afford other basic necessities, that person would have to be paid at least $13.98 per hour, working 40 hours per week — as of April 1, 2013.

But who cares? Certainly, not the board of the Minnesota Orchestra, which includes such distinguished citizens as the mayor of Minneapolis and the president of the University of Minnesota. Both of those board members head public institutions that also pay some of their own “ordinary” employees impoverishing wages.

An $8.50-per-hour worker seeking a Section 8 rental subsidy might have to wait as long as eight years before getting such a subsidy, according to a recent announcement by the Metropolitan Council’s housing unit. But, who cares?

Maybe we all should.

ROLAND WESTERLUND, Minneapolis

  • Twin Cities AREA cost of living

    Hourly wages needed to afford the monthly rent on apartments of various sizes as of April 1, 2013, not including the cost of utilities:

      Size Rent Wage  

      Efficiency $727 $13.98

      1-bedroom $843 $16.21

      2-bedroom $1,048 $20.15

      3-bedroom $1,332 $25.62

    Source: Roland Westerlund, using federal housing affordability guidelines and Apartment Trends first quarter 2013 data.

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