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September 6, 2012 at 1:30 PM

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Cost-of-living adjustment for Washington employees

Move to the 21st century

What century is Jeff Johnson living in? It certainly isn’t the 21st. Why in the world should an employee, any employee, whether public or private, receive a cost of living adjustment? [“We can’t grow the economy by shortchanging state workers,” Opinion, Sept. 3.] Since there are fewer public jobs, that means our elected representatives are doing their jobs and the management in the public sector is doing its job by cutting fat, eliminating redundancies, eliminating unnecessary positions, creating efficiencies and controlling costs — that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

As for wages and benefits, a recent survey pointed out that the majority of public-sector positions, when equated with those same positions in the private sector, showed that the public employees were not only receiving higher average wages, but also significantly better benefits with less cost to the employee; included were pensions, health care and age of retirement.

Having spent my career in private industry, I can recall in the days of “stagflation,” a “one-time adjustment.” Our compensation was “merit” based. If we didn’t do it well, we didn’t get a raise, or worse, were asked to look for another position outside the company.

In addition, we paid a large percentage of health insurance, life insurance and dental insurance, while the company matched a portion of 401K and funded a portion of our pension.

When I joined this sleepy little-known company in 1973, it was barely in the top 100 in its industry. I retired from it 32 years later and it was a global company and in the top in its industry.

Our organic growth was because the employees found efficiencies, worked with management and management worked with the staff. It’s called teamwork. Those that did a good job were rewarded, and those who didn’t, left.

It’s time to move from the 1950s to the 21st century; remember, when you demand mediocrity, you get something less.

— R.E. Callard, Seattle

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