Letters to the Editor

There’s more to the minimum wage debate

Dear Editor,

Professor Mark Cassell recently wrote a letter describing the benefits of Ohio’s minimum wage laws. However, he fails to mention the trade off associated with the increase. There must be a trade off. Otherwise, Ohio or the nation for that matter could raise the minimum wage to $200 per hour and make us all quite wealthy. He states that the minimum wage is set at a level “below which one can live, let alone raise a family.” However, a 16-year-old high school student does not need to make enough money to live off of. He may not have any bills, but only wants to save money for college. A minimum wage that is set too high may price this person out of a job.

A great majority of people at these low wage levels are not there to raise a family of four. They are there to gain experience, build a resume or supplement another spouse’s income. A higher minimum wage will take away many opportunities for these workers. Furthermore, it will displace many other low skilled workers when employers decide they are no longer worth their higher wages. Any minimum wage increase will increase some people’s wages, but it also will displace many of these workers and leave the newly displaced workers with even fewer opportunities. These trade offs must be considered.

Rocky White

Graduate Student, Science Financial Engineering


KSU domestic partners deserve health care

Dear Editor,

I am dismayed at President Cartwright’s unwillingness to discuss with AAUP-KSU (the faculty union) the possibility of extending health care benefits to the domestic partners of Kent State employees. Cartwright cites two major reasons for her refusal.

The first is the 2004 approval of the so-called “Defense of Marriage” amendment to the Ohio Constitution and the recent suit filled by Rep. Tom Brinkman against Miami University claiming that the extension of domestic partner benefits violates that amendment. However, this excuse rings hollow. Health benefits are not marital rights. Nothing requires an employer to extend health benefits to employees’ spouses. Where health benefits are offered, they are frequently extended to individuals beyond the employee and legal spouse (such as dependent children). Clearly, health benefits are not something approximating the “design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage” as Rep. Brinkman has claimed in his lawsuit.

The second excuse is that, because health benefits are negotiable, domestic partner benefits cannot be extended to employees outside of contract negotiations. However, AAUP-KSU and the administration have collaborated on negotiable issues outside of negotiations on several occasions when such changes would benefit Kent State. The most recent such collaboration was the change in health insurance carriers from Aetna to Medical Mutual during the term of the 2001 contract. It is simply false that the administration is prohibited from collaborating with AAUP-KSU on benefits changes outside of negotiations.

Some might wonder why I am so concerned about this when my husband already receives health benefits through Kent State. The reason is that the failure to extend domestic partner benefits not only perpetuates a significant injustice, it is bad business for Kent State as a whole. It is high time President Cartwright publicly acknowledged what has been acknowledged by the eight Ohio universities who currently have domestic partner benefits and what is widely acknowledged in the public sector (82 percent of Fortune 500 companies extend domestic partner benefits) – that domestic partner benefits play an important role in the recruitment and retention of a highly qualified workforce. Kent State can no longer play a leadership role on this issue. We can only hope that Kent State does not fall further behind.

Deborah C. Smith

Associate Professor of Philosophy