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Letters to the editor

Eliminating unions a backward step

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Oh, but that’s not true of the doctor and the lawyer and business owner on City Council, is it? They and their children won’t repeat the pre-union days of low pay, no representation, lax safety, and life-and-death economic choices. Nor will they be there to bemoan the brain drain. The college-educated won’t be in Fort Wayne. Their parents will have the right to work for less, but not the right to send a child to college.

The council cries about the low pay and lack of jobs in Fort Wayne. How can they be true tears? Politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths. Now they have mastered crying out of one eye while seeking opportunities to posture before the public with the other.

Politicians are working hard to repeat the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, the decades before workers realized they could improve safety and professional responsibility by collaborating and electing representatives from their own ranks in the workplace. The flourishing unions are the American Medical Association, the American Bar Association and the better business organizations.

The unions that the Koch Brothers, et. al., can aim at are the workers who may get paid from public funds as if that fact were the most significant in our history. Taking money set aside for public education and giving it to their own for-profit branches is another step to the ’20s and ’30s. Yes, those days are coming at us quickly. Too many will have to repeat history soon, while others will let their grandchildren do it.

NANCY L. MACK Fort Wayne

Basic benefits result of collective bargaining

When I leave the office on Fridays, I (like many others) am thankful for the weekend. During the work week I am appreciative that I can enjoy a lunch break during the day. I am gratified I have holiday and vacation pay. I am also grateful for other benefits such as maternity and parental leave, Veteran’s Employment and Training Services and the Americans with Disabilities acts, benefits that have been earned (in whole or in part) by the acts of union laborers and the collective bargaining process.

Then there are the unconsidered benefits. Collective bargaining provides a voice for the masses who are intimidated or afraid to speak for their rights individually. Collective bargaining and unions self-police both good and bad behavior. Unions provide skilled-trade laborers and solidarity.

Before we disband collective bargaining in this All American City, let’s remember the benefits earned by collective bargaining, benefits enjoyed by all individuals, both union and non-union.

SHARON TUCKER Candidate for Allen County Council District 1

City workers unfairly portrayed as enemy

Councilmen John Crawford and Russell Jehl claim (May 11) that public-sector unions in the city should be eliminated because they pose a threat to the city and its annual budget.

I have great admiration for the state and local police and city firefighters who daily put their lives at risk in an increasingly violent society. I have equal admiration for the city and county employees who keep our streets free of snow and ice and maintain them throughout the year so that the roads are safe and drivable. Our public unions provide a voice within our local government for these men and women who are most responsible for health, welfare and security. Neither the unions nor the individuals who protect and serve us should be portrayed as enemies of the city and its budget as they were in the article.

I thought the article was particularly offensive when the councilmen attempted to scare the citizens into believing that, if the public-sector unions are not abolished now, the city will somehow soon morph into Detroit. This is a ridiculous assumption when considering the progressive, vibrant and growing nature of Fort Wayne. Do Crawford and Jehl truly believe that our public-sector unions pose such a serious threat to the city budget, or are they simply advocating the standard Republican goal of eliminating all unions, whether public or private, for political reasons?

I commend Crawford for the very good work he did in helping to make all public facilities in Fort Wayne smoke-free. That was a truly good thing. However, on the issue of public-sector unions, he and Jehl are on the wrong side of helping the city and its employees.


Unions have no place in current economy

Councilmen Russ Jehl and John Crawford are to be commended for bringing the debate of sustainability to the table for the city. At a time when prices are rising for groceries, gas, taxes and utilities, it is inexcusable for the city to be paying above-market value to public employees. Through collective bargaining, the nine city unions have negotiated benefits beyond what their counterparts are making in the county. It is incredulous that the city must have a full-time attorney who does nothing but negotiate with unions on the taxpayers’ dime. It is reprehensible that we, the taxpayers, are paying another person to do nothing but negotiate for the unions, again on our dime. Economically, it is time for the City Council and indeed the mayor to make the right choice for a sustainable future in an economy of declining income and declining workforce. It is time to end collective bargaining for public employees.


Georgia’s just the place for gun-totin’ good time

It was fascinating to read the letter from Manuel Silverman and Jane Martin (May 8) about being afraid to spend any time in Georgia because of the new gun law and hoping others would boycott the state.

Next time we drive through, I think we will spend the night in Ringgold, going on to Dawson to see the area of the ending of the great train chase involving an engine the Yanks stole from the Confederates, then spend a couple days in Atlanta, home to the extraordinary Cyclorama in Grant Park.

While there perhaps we can get a reservation to the new upscale restaurant recently opened in the old ice house in Decatur and visit Stone Mountain, home to the world’s largest carving, of two Confederate generals, their president and their horses. I’m told a large group of people once enjoyed a banquet on the brim of Robert E. Lee’s hat there on the side of the mountain.

From there we plan to visit the lovely city of Brunswick, background of the poems of Georgian Sidney Lanier: “As the marsh- hen secretly builds on the watery sod, so I will build me a nest on the greatness of God.” And after that we plan to go to Valdosta for a year’s worth of pecans, bags of stone-ground cornmeal, Jim Dandy grits (regular) and jars of muscadine preserves.

I wish we hadn’t sold the pickup.