Workers Have To `Build Their Own Safety Nets'
Congratulations on "I'm worried about my job!" (Cover Story, Oct. 7) and "When the bonds of loyalty are broken" (Editorials, Oct. 7), stressing the importance of developing skills and adaptability in today's economy. It is certainly true that global competition and technological change have developed a new economic reality for American workers. As you say, the corporate survivors are those who broaden their skill bases and contacts and build their own safety nets. This is as true for rank-and-file working people as it is for managers and executives. We in the Labor Dept. have been preaching this gospel.
The days when job security could be guaranteed by a company, a union, or even government are largely over. Today, job security can only be achieved when workers have the willingness and the opportunity to learn and are not discouraged from moving from job to job and career to career. You cited the importance of making pensions portable as a key step in meeting the new challenges. You are right; that is why the Administration's POWER proposal is designed to provide retirement security for more working men and women, and to make pensions more portable.
Whether the challenge is for employers to shift from guaranteeing employment to guaranteeing employability or for business, labor, and government to lead a workplace revolution focused on a '90s agenda for job security, all of us must recognize that our people are the critical element in America's ability to be competitive in global competition.
Secretary of Labor