The dollar has taken some hard knocks recently and now a New York union has proposed that its members be paid in something of more durable value.
"Recognizing the possibility of uncontrollable inflation and the serious loss of credibility and purchasing power of [the dollar], the employer, upon union's demand, will probably remunerate employes in mediums of exchange other than the presently used U.S. Federal Reserve dollar," the Professional Employes Federation has proposed in its negotiations with New York state.
"Such alternate mediums of exchange include, but are not limited to, gold, silver, platinum, bullion and coin, and/or one or more foreign currencies," the union contract proposal states.
If the union's idea catches on, the trend could affect television programming. Americans could be watching "Bowling for Yen" and goldbugs could compete on "The 228.57 Ounce Question."
Christine Grosse, public relations director of the union, said the proposal is serious. "Every proposal we put on the table is serious or we wouldn't put it on the table," she said. The union has a number of economists among the 48,300 state workers for whom it bargains and they helped formulate the unique bargaining approach, Grosse added.
"We're not suggesting that the governor pan gold in Colorado and pay us in gold dust," she said. "We want to be paid in the value of gold or silver or another index of value."
She was asked what the state's reaction had been.
"They laughed at it. We said, 'Hey, this is serious. Is this an indicator of how you're going to treat our association?'"
As far as the Professional Employes Federation (which represents doctors, nurses, engineers and accountants among 2,700 job titles) knows, its proposal is the first of its kind in the nation.
It wants to demonstrate to Gov. Hugh Carey and the state Department of Employe Relations that the 7 percent annual wage guideline Carey insist on following is too low in light of continuing inflation and other labor settlements in the nation.
So far, negotiations are not going well, both sides agree. They are close to calling for a mediator and there is more than the medium of payment dividing them.