Working for a living

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Can I say up front I've never belonged to a union? I tried way back in the day when I thought I wanted to work for the railroad, but I couldn't get a toe in the door. When I worked for large corporations like the casinos, I never worked in a union house because I could never get a job in one. I don't know why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that union-type gigs often require family ties.

So when police and fire personnel come up for raises at Reno City Council, and I see people on social media and hear people in restaurants freaking over a 2 percent raise, I just have to ask, “What the hell is wrong with you people?

I'm not some kind of cheerleader squad for first responders. I've known quite a few I've liked, and not very many that I've had problems with—and my problems are wholly related to trying to get public documents from administrators. It's not about that. It's about America.

I think it must be schadenfreude, that feeling people have when they enjoy other people's misery. Loves company, maybe?

It's not that public workers are making so much. Median household incomes have not stayed up with the economy for more than 40 years. If they had, the median household would be at $92,000. It's about $50,000.

So think about it. The annual median salary for a police officer in Reno is about $52,300, according to They're barely above median for the country, which puts them more than a tick above median, $47,814, for Reno. But they're making far less then they should be, just as you are making far less than you should be, just as I am.

So the thing isn't about pissing on some city employees for getting a 2 percent raise because of their union representation. The thing is to raise all incomes in the community, so we can pay more in taxes, so we can afford to pay first responders and government employees a decent wage, the sorts of wages our grandparents had.

We need to help each other instead of getting grouchy when someone else gets a benefit. It's simple human courtesy.