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College As Cheapskate? Say What?

In a column entitled Financial Aid for Dartmouth, the Valley News’ columnist Jim Kenyon made the following observation:

The compensation packages lavished on [Dartmouth] executives wouldn’t seem so egregious if the college didn’t nickel-and-dime its union employees in contract negotiations. In April, a month before the executives’ salary figures were disclosed, Dartmouth also announced that due to “present financial constraints, and the economy as a whole,” most rank-and-file non-union employees would be limited to 1.5 percent pay raises this year. These are often workers — office administrators, science lab technicians and library assistants — who perform essential duties but don’t have much clout.

That comment makes as much sense as the Freedom Budgeters’ complaint that the College doesn’t do enough for people of color. Look at the current SEIU union wage scale for Dartmouth employees. This isn’t “nickel and diming,” particularly when you add to these wages benefits that include five weeks of vacation for starting employees, pension payments that can go as high as 9% for older workers, and a Cadillac medical plan:

SEIU Wages 2014.jpg

But then Jim Kenyon never does take the time to get his facts straight. For example, while Kenyon criticizes the College for tight-fistedness, he glides over wages at the Hanover Consumer Food Co-op without comment. A recent Kenyon-generated Upper Valley controversy concerns the dismissal from the Co-op of wine section manager Dan King and cheese department clerk Dan Boutin, the latter a ten-year veteran of the Co-op. After a decade in a job requiring both extensive knowledge of cheese and good customer service skills, Boutin was making $15.66 an hour, according to an article in the Valley News — less than the Dartmouth union’s lowest-paid employee (a cook helper/dishwasher of whom no experience or education is required). Kenyon makes no comment on Boutin’s wage, just as he failed to do any research on the Dartmouth wage scale for his earlier column.

However, Dartblog readers might wonder why a ten-year customer service worker at the employee-friendly Co-op would make a wage almost 10% less ($15.66/hour vs. $17.12/hour) than a newly hired College dishwasher, who doesn’t even need a high school education to be employed by Dartmouth.

Addendum: Jim Kenyon should win regular awards for sour-spiritedness and lack of accuracy. His column the other day on the ongoing controversy at the Co-op could not be more vindictive and filled with prejudice. In it he can’t seem to decide whether to attack the Co-op’s management for two-facedness or the store’s members for being privileged and selfish. To my mind, he proves only the case — especially given that he puts forward no evidence for either of these propositions — that he enjoys wielding a blunderbuss.

Addendum: A reader wonders about Kenyon’s numbers, too:

To say nothing about how he claims that union employees are being nickel and dimed, and then cites NON-union employees getting 1.5%. What are the union employees getting? That’s the relevant information!

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