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Put the kids to work



Published: Sat, June 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some folks call them mushrooms, because they pop up every spring. We're talking about summer workers -- high school and college age kids who traditionally get to make a few dollars and get a taste of the real world in their summer jobs.

If a Warren city employees union has its way, there won't be any mushrooms in that city this summer. That shouldn't leave a very good taste in the mouths of Warren voters.

Fred Harris, the city's safety-service director, says Lee DeJacimo, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 74, won't agree to the city's hiring 15 or 20 youth workers in the city's operations department this summer. The kids would primarily cut grass.

Crisis is over: Warren, of course, is emerging from a fiscal crisis, so you might think that DeJacimo is upset because the city is talking about hiring kids when some of his workers aren't yet back on the job. But that wouldn't be true.

Every operations department worker who wants to return, has been given the opportunity to do so. Some found other work. And there's the rub.

DeJacimo thinks that before any kids are hired for the summer, the department should be brought up to full strength with full-time employees.

It's that kind of thinking that helped get Warren in financial trouble in the first place. It is the mindset of some municipal employees that government is a job bank with a primary purpose of providing a given number of people with work.

It isn't. If the city needs more full-time employees and it has the money to hire them, it should hire them. If it can get by with part-time workers -- and provide 15 or more kids with spending money, money to help their families and money toward their educations -- then it should do that.

By the same token, it is not municipal government's role to provide summer jobs for the children of city officials or kids whose parents have political connections.

All that's really required is for the people who are running the city to act like adults. The city should hire young people based on their ability and pay them to do the work that the city needs to have done.




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