Strike threat diverts attention from future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

To strike or not to strike. That is the question. At least it is the question on the minds of union employees who work for the City of Ironton.

Perhaps using a Shakespeare spin on the current situation implies things are a bit more dire than necessary and it might cloud larger, more serious issues facing the city's future.

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Last week, the union representing 51 City of Ironton workers issued formal notice that a strike is eminent.

At issue is the frustration by union members after a dwindling tax base left the city forced to lay off nine union employees.

Members of the City Council are considering a number of options to raise extra revenue and offer a compromise with the union to avert the strike.

While the strike would certainly have an effect on city services, we urge city officials not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Simply patching up the problem in the short run will ultimately do more harm than good.

From our perspective, we must either trim fat - and apparently little still exists - or raise revenue.

We are upset by the city's flip-flop of priorities. Last year, the city took a bold step in hiring an economic development director. Unfortunately, the times became tougher than expected and that position now is purposely left unfilled to save money. Shouldn't a good economic development director at a minimum pay for themselves within a year or two?

Unfortunately, by leaving that position vacant - essentially cutting it because of "tough" economic times - the city is sending a message that it may not be as focused on the future as it once was.

Lose focus on the future and the city will quickly stumble and fall behind.

To settle for status quo or to build for the future? That is perhaps the bigger question. And it is a question that city officials - and residents - must quickly decide before our fate mimics that of Hamlet.