Having no experience in this business, do politicians seriously think they know how a company’s profits should be utilized and how much to pay their workers?

Three hundred and five hourly workers, members of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 220, have been on strike against Mott’s apple processing plant in Williamson, Wayne County, since May 23. They gather every day, alongside a giant inflatable rat, to picket against “unfair labor practices.” Subsequent concessions by management — including the company’s “last, best and final offer” — were rejected by union vote.

Earlier this month an “open letter” to the CEO urged Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc., Mott’s parent company, to return to the bargaining table to work out a “fair deal.” The letter was signed by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Reps. Daniel Maffei and Louise Slaughter, and 24 other Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation.

After brief explanation of their interest in the matter, the letter continued: “Since Dr Pepper made approximately $555 million in profits, we feel there is ample room to promptly negotiate a fair deal with the workers at the Williamson plant.”

Given the dismal economy, I applaud the legislators’ concern for their constituents’ livelihoods; but that sentence strikes me as outrageously brazen and presumptuous.

Having no experience in this business, knowing nothing about the work conditions, skills, knowledge, or judgment involved, do these politicians seriously think they are in a better position than its managers to know how the company’s profits should be utilized and how much to pay their workers? (I don’t, either, but I don’t pretend to.)

By what right do politicians make such pronouncements? It got me wondering about the work experience of these elected officials. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to look into it.

I trust Sen. Schumer won’t mind me singling him out as an example. Mr. Schumer scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT in high school, earned a Juris Doctor at Harvard, and became a member of the state Legislature at age 23. He served in the state Assembly from 1975-1980, the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981-1999, and has been a U.S. senator ever since. His occupation is listed as “politician.” What does he know about hourly wages, never mind running a profitable company?

Sen. Gillibrand majored in Asian studies at Dartmouth, speaks Mandarin, earned a Juris Doctor at UCLA, interned for Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, and was special counsel to Andrew Cuomo when he was secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton Administration. Then she served in the U.S. House of Representatives 2007-09. She was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s term as senator in 2009. Again — what does she know about meeting a payroll and running a company?

Rep. Dan Maffei? Bachelor’s degree in history, master’s in journalism, Master of Public Policy; spent 1996-2005 as an aide to Sens. Daniel Moynihan and Bill Bradley, and Rep. Charles Rangel. He was also senior vice president for corporate development at Pinnacle Capital Management (a “boutique investment management firm”) and guest lecturer at Syracuse University.

Louise Slaughter studied microbiology and earned a bachelor’s of science and an master of science in public health. She has held political office for 27 years. Is she qualified to tell Snapple Group how to run its business, how much to pay its employees, how much it can afford to contribute to employees’ 401(k)s?

I read biographies of the other 24 signees. One worked for two years as a cement laborer and has held public office for 35 years since then; one was an nurse; three were teachers; one who reportedly “misremembered” that she hadn’t earned a degree and had to be “reminded” to repay her student loans, has been in politics since 2001; one is an engineer (worked for a state agency); one has the distinction of having been a roomie of liberal pundit Jon Stewart, was on Schumer’s staff when he was in the House of Representatives, and has been in government since 1992. One oddball, a “Blue Dog” Democrat, founded a software company and has served in the House of Representatives for only one year.

Again, what qualifies career politicians — who choose not to work in the private sector — to tell others how their business should be conducted? No wonder we’re more than $13 trillion in debt.

Cheryl Miller can be e-mailed at Fortuna_reilly@yahoo.com.