Stories indexed with the term ‘subsidies’

Living Wage: In-Sourcing City Temps

At their March 15, 2010 meeting, the Ann Arbor city councilmembers heard an update from city administrator Roger Fraser during his regular report to them: The staffing of temporary positions administered by Manpower, a temporary staffing agency, would be be brought back in-house.

And two months later, attached to the city council’s May 3, 2010 agenda was a communication about Health and Human Services guidelines for poverty levels – there was no change this year. That means there’s no change to the minimum compensation required under the city’s living wage ordinance.

How does the living wage ordinance relate to the approximately 35-40 temporary employees who are transitioning from Manpower to the city’s payroll? It doesn’t. The city itself is not required to pay its own workers at the level stipulated by the living wage ordinance – it applies to outside contractors with the city, like Manpower.

But the majority (with some exceptions) of the transitioned workers won’t see a drop in their wages – and that’s viewed as a positive outcome by the city. On the other hand, there’s no health insurance benefits through the city for those workers – Manpower had offered a health insurance option. And a hoped-for increase in temporary workers’ wages – a move supported by some city supervisors – did not materialize, foundering on an overall budget climate that made talk of wage cuts easier than a discussion of increases.

The recent move away from the use of Manpower as an agency to staff temporary city positions provides a good excuse to review the living wage ordinance itself, and its less-than-obvious connection to the upcoming Ann Arbor Summer Festival and to the city’s recycling program. In the case of the recycling program, the city is spending several hundred thousand dollars over a 10-year period to ensure that workers for a private company operating the city’s materials recovery facility are paid in compliance with the living wage ordinance. [Full Story]

Column: Your Tax Dollars at Play

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

With tax day just past, it’s a good time to ask where our money should go – and where it shouldn’t. I don’t have all the answers, of course – but I’m convinced one expenditure should end immediately: stadium subsidies.

Two years ago, the New York Yankees signed third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a contract that will pay him $275 million dollars in exchange for 10 years of catching, throwing and hitting a baseball. That puts him ahead of his teammate, Derek Jeter, who has to get by on a mere $189 million for his decade of duty. Sucker.

Whenever teams sign contracts like that, the player’s agent always justifies it by saying, “Well, that’s what the market will bear.”

If that were true, it would still be insane, but at least there would be a logic to it. After all, if any team is dumb enough to pay someone that kind of money, and if a family of four wants to pay $200 to see that guy play – well, then, so be it. That’s how free markets work.

But the free market doesn’t come close to paying these guys’ salaries. Who picks up the gap? You do – every time you pay your taxes. [Full Story]