An article in the Oct. 27 News Journal spoke about an economic roundtable. As I read the article, the consensus among those in attendance was there is a shortage of workers and that a number of initiatives have been tried, with limited success.

One group noticeably missing from the roundtable were workers. As a retired factory worker, I have worked in sweatshops and in work places where workers had a real voice. The difference is striking. I know that better wages is not the entire answer.

Do the workers have a real voice or are they treated as a piece of machinery whose replacement is a phone call away? What is the turnver rate? What percentage of the workers have been there for 10 years or more? What are the hours of work? Are there rotating shifts?

Is the work environment hot, noisy, dirty, fast-paced? Are you expected to go as fast as possible as long as you can? Is everyone doing the same task, earning the same hourly wage or are you encouraged to keep your paycheck amount private? Is safety a real priority or are OSHA and the EPA scorned by management?

Is there production incentive plan? Is competition encouraged between departments or shifts? Is the foreman a bully? How are disputes handled? A company that is constantly hiring has issues. These are just some of the issues workers face daily.

An employer wants a skilled worker with a good work ethic who comes to work on time, does his job and keeps “his nose clean.” An employee wants justice, dignity, equality and respect in the workplace.

Don Spurling