Job angst dominates barroom bellyachingIn vino veritas?If...


February 12, 1993|By Kim Clark

Job angst dominates barroom bellyaching

In vino veritas?

If barroom conversations are any indication, we're obsessed with our jobs these days.

Love, the Orioles, politics -- none of that seems important when we're whining into our wine.

"People are fed up with their work," says Dion Dorizas, bartender and owner of the Owl Bar.

He says complaints about jobs exceed all other concerns when customers bellyache up to his bar in the Belvedere at Charles and Chase streets.

"People say they have to work twice as hard as they used to. And they are worried about losing their jobs," he said.

That makes Baltimoreans about typical, says a recent survey by Cook Research and Consulting Inc., a Minneapolis polling outfit.

A survey of 400 bartenders across the country found that when people cry into their beers these days, they are crying about the economy. Love and sports, two traditional topics of barroom banter, trail badly.

Oddly, people don't complain much about their bosses or co-workers.

The single biggest complaint: People say they aren't making enough money. The industry with the most complainers: construction. And the age of most complainers: thirtysomething.

At Danny's Belair House in Overlea, "everybody's talking about how they aren't making enough money anymore," says owner and bartender Bill Sapp.

They don't blame anyone in particular, but the economy as a whole, he said.

And if they aren't complaining about low pay, they're complaining about no pay. "There is no work at all, especially in building trades."

After hearing these complaints, is there any job he wouldn't do if he could avoid it?

"Bartending," Mr. Sapp said. His dream is to buy a driving range where people could take out their workday frustrations smacking golf balls instead of swilling highballs.

Baltimore salaries trail nearby cities

Salaries for technical and financial jobs in Baltimore are

slightly higher than the national average, but tend to lag those of nearby cities, a national recruiting firm has found.

Source Services Corp., a Texas-based headhunter, said local salaries for computer programmers, software engineers and systems analysts, for example, rank in the top half to top third of salaries offered nationwide.

But often, Baltimoreans get a little less than their neighbors to the north and south. Starting junior programmers got an average of $28,000 in Baltimore last year, while the same job paid $30,000 in Philadelphia and $31,400 in Washington.

After a few years, the Baltimoreans sometimes catch up. Senior programmers in Baltimore made $43,000 a year last year, $1,000 more than their counterparts in Philadelphia made, but $1,700 less than those in Washington earned.

Financial whizzes face a similarly mixed picture.

Entry-level accountants earned an average of $27,100 in Baltimore last year, $1,100 more than the starting salary at a Philadelphia firm, but $400 less than the same job paid in Washington.

Baltimoreans who work their way up to manager in an accounting firm earn $54,000 a year and trail their counterparts. That's $1,100 less than managers earn in Washington, and $4,800 less than they earn in Philadelphia.

And those who make it to partner see a marked difference. In Philadelphia, partners in accounting firms earned $112,000 a year, while in Baltimore and Washington they earned an average of $98,000.

Cycle says rise coming for health premiums

If past cycles are predictors, health insurance premiums will rise only a little in 1993, then take off again in 1994, benefits consultant KPMG Peat Marwick says.

In a recent report on health care costs, KPMG said the insurance industry works in six-year cycles. Three years of good profits (and low premium increases) are usually followed by three years of losses (and hefty price hikes).

KPMG says 1992 was the second straight year of good profits for insurers. So if the old pattern holds true, insurers will make a little money next year and raise premiums only slightly. Then, costs will surpass earnings in 1994, and insurers will pass the pain on to employers.

Picket line forms at Graphtec Inc.

Union members picketed outside the Baltimore headquarters Graphtec Inc. this week.

They were hoping to pressure Graphtec, which bought assets of Baltimore-based competitor Wolk Press Inc. last month, to rehire or compensate nine workers who didn't get jobs with the new company.

Graphtec Vice President David Rosquist said his company didn't buy all of Wolk, so it shouldn't be responsible for taking over the contract of all Wolk employees.

Labor harmony reigned in 1992

Is labor-management peace breaking out?

Last year saw the fewest number of major strikes and lockouts since the federal government started counting the disputes in 1947.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were only 35 major work stoppages last year. The number has been declining since 1974 when there was a high of 424 stoppages in the nation.

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