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Archive for Sunday, June 14, 2009

Clothing costs

June 14, 2009

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To the editor:

Item: “The city spent $45,411.72 to buy work boots and jeans for public works, parks and utility department employees.” (Journal-World, May 26)

Comments: 1) Back when I was working for a living (last century), it was customary for the worker to supply his own boots and jeans. Has the custom changed, or was it merely my misfortune never to have worked for the city? 2) Even at Vanderbilt’s, one can get a pair of boots and a pair of jeans for, say, $100 (well, maybe not Carhartts but plenty good enough). That’s 450 pairs of boots/jeans. I suspect that, had the workers been buying their own clothes, they would not have needed quite that many.

The new city auditor has his work cut out for him.

Mitchell is from Lawrence

Comments

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 10 months ago

Newell_Post, I think you have the most sensible post on the subject. Public works, parks and utility department employees is such a general statement. I don't think we should become outraged over one sentence in an article without knowing a lot more about it. Numbers don't convey the truth behind the numbers.

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Newell_Post 4 years, 10 months ago

I used to manage a maintenance group with crews in 7 states. We provided steel-toed boots ($120+), safety glasses (prescription, $250+), heavy leather work gloves ($20+), kevlar "chaps" (for chainsaw users), back braces, and other safety-related equipment. (And those prices are with large-quantity, industrial discounts.) It wasn't cheap, but the alternatives were much worse.

The city expenditures seem reasonable to me for crews that are out doing heavy work.

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pace 4 years, 10 months ago

Some clothing should be considered part of the job. It helps keep a safety standard that I would expect the city or county to keep pretty rigidly. Some examples such as fire, hazardous waste, water treatment, would be a months salary for the employee. My construction company which was private and not government, supplied steel toed boots, hard hats, good gloves. If you didn't last 60 days, the cost were pulled from the last paycheck or you returned the goods. The boss didn't care if he used them for someone else, it was his way to keep from buying outfits for the guys who didn't show up Mondays or Fridays. I think it is a reasonable and smart that the crews have the hard hats, gloves and steel toed boots for work. It probably prevents more expensive injuries that might occur from working without the right gear. I do hope the city isn't buying sandles for the City manager. His suit should be on him.

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Starlight 4 years, 10 months ago

I too once had an employer provide steel-toed boots for safety reasons.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 10 months ago

Godot (Anonymous) says…

"She said that government jobs are better than private jobs because they generally have higher wages, better benefits and perks, better pensions, and job security. No joke."

No joke - every bit of that is true, for federal jobs. State, county, and local jobs? Also mostly true, except for the wage part.

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imastinker 4 years, 10 months ago

If uniforms are required they are typically provided. I'm not sure what the street crews and maintenance workers wear, but I don't find this unusual.

Government jobs are a pretty sweet deal though. Lots of job security and little oversight.

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labmonkey 4 years, 10 months ago

Many jobs that might ruin clothes either provide ways to cover up (i.e. labcoats in labs), provide uniforms, or provide a clothing/boot allowance for their employees. Personally, I receive a $140 allowance every year for boots since my job requires steel-toe boots (and my AMERICAN-made Justins cost $140.10). Of all the things to complain about, providing clothing to their lower paid workers is not one of them.

Now if this was an RNC/Sarah Palin thing, I would understand.

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mom_of_three 4 years, 10 months ago

Federal government jobs are different from local government or state jobs.

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Godot 4 years, 10 months ago

On June 4, on CNN, I saw a bright and smiling "journalist" reporting that the Federal government has 47,000 job openings, ranging from cooks to doctors, touting the website where one could find the openings. She said that government jobs are better than private jobs because they generally have higher wages, better benefits and perks, better pensions, and job security. No joke. This was reported as "news."

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 10 months ago

I don't have a strong opinion on this one way or the other, but generally speaking, government jobs pay less than comparable private sector jobs (part of the conservative effort to starve government.) Could it be that providing this clothing is an inexpensive way of partially making up for that discrepancy?

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Pywacket 4 years, 10 months ago

Good letter and excellent points. I can't remember any job I've ever held where the employer paid for my clothes--whether I was wearing an ugly uniform dress and ugly black or white nurses' shoes (Denny's & other restaurants when I was a teen), office dressy or casual, or suits and dress shoes! And you can bet, when I was a humble little waitress, I made less than a city public works employee.

Does anyone from the city have an explanation for this? I'd like to hear their justification/reasoning if they have any. Or is it one of those, "Gee, we've always done it that way, so now they expect it," things?

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