After listening to people in various careers, I've found that the most abused and underrated
professions are those connected with public service. People who work in law enforcement, fire
prevention, medicine and education are underpaid, overworked, and taken for granted. Without the
benefit of these professionals we would be less likely to live our lives with relative safety, the benefit
of education and the good health most of us possess. However, when it comes to salaries, working
conditions and public support for the people in these fields, very little is given without long, com-
plicated labor disputes. Many people would deny even the chance for them to take a stand for the
rights they deserve for fear their walkout would endanger the public welfare. I agree that when people
in these professions call for a strike hospitals go haywire, criminals are freer to roam and kids miss
important weeks of class work. But striking may be the only way for these people to draw
attention to their low wages, poor working conditions and lack of public support; and they should
have the right to do so.
Low wages are obviously the priority issue discussed when contracts are up for renewal and
one of the basic reasons for calling a strike. Even though most union officials often seem to go
overboard in their demands, it may be a necessary tactic used to wake up the administrators who never
want to give even the basic cost-of-living raise. While teachers and nurses are called "professionals"
and spend years of time and money to train for these positions, when it comes to dollars and cents,
their paychecks never come close to what other professionals receive. Police and firemen leave their
houses every day unsure they'll make it home uninjured - if they make it back at all - but their
salaries hardly reflect the risk they take to chase criminals or fight fires. Money, however, is only
one of the major issues public workers take with them to the bargaining table.
Working conditions, especially for medical support personnel and educators, are always a
reason for voting to strike when demands are not met during contract discussions For example,
many teachers spend a great deal of time in old school buildings (full of flaking asbestos) with
inefficient heating systems creating a rather frigid atmosphere for learning. Children sit in classrooms
dressed in coats,...