Re "Vulnerable Workers Deserve Protection," by Mark Ridley-Thomas and Maria Elena Durazo, Commentary, Jan. 3:
We should all be grateful that Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas and his friends in the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union Local 11 have figured out a new way to tax those of us who live or work in Los Angeles. Ridley-Thomas and Maria Elena Durazo, from the union, work hard to explain to all of us why their new Los Angeles ordinance requiring city contractors to retain employees following mergers and acquisitions is good for business and won't drive contractors away from Los Angeles.
But all of the rhetoric, and all of their assurances that the law is fair, and all of their class-based demagoguery that their ordinance will prevent "the victimization of lower-rung workers" (evidently they don't care whether middle- or upper-level employees are victimized), cannot hide the fact that this ordinance represents just the latest foray of government into the operation of private businesses--a place government clearly does not belong.
Underlying their theme is the unstated and completely insupportable notion that businessmen fire workers willy-nilly--simply for the fun of it or on a whim. Businesses terminate and lay off personnel for economic reasons--to reduce costs, increase profitability for those who have provided the capital to make the business possible in the first place, and sometimes even to keep the business afloat--thereby saving other jobs. Count on our government to be out of step just at the time when most of the rest of the world seems finally to have grasped the idea that the market is the best measure of efficiency.
We can now count on a new "tax" in Los Angeles courtesy of Ridley-Thomas and Durazo--higher bid costs from the city's contractors as they seek to cope with this new, enlightened law and pass on, as they must or go out of business, the cost of retaining unnecessary or inefficient workers protected by L.A.'s new ordinance.
STEPHEN W. REED
Ridley-Thomas' new law requiring contractors to hire employees of former contractors is excellent, so excellent in fact, that he should immediately amend it so that all City Council members be required to immediately terminate their present deputies and staff members and rehire the staffs of the council members who previously represented their districts.