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Defending unions

October 15, 2009

Re "Labor's lackey," Opinion, Oct. 7

Is Matthew Continetti joking?

I am more than willing to pay a few cents or dollars more for products and services if it means Americans are working and producing products and therefore able to afford to buy a house and send their children to college -- thus stimulating the economy in a real way.

The key? Paying people a union wage. Employers are not going to offer a livable wage unless they have to. Business has become all about profit at the expense of the worker (hence all the factories moving overseas and the sweatshops operating under the table).

There is nothing wrong with paying our police, teachers and factory workers enough to live above the poverty level. Unions allow this to happen.

Perhaps Continetti should try living on the average American wage for a year and then speak on the advantages of anti-union policies and laws.

Jennifer Swoboda

Long Beach


The writer of this opinion article might as well have written: "I vote straight-ticket Republican," because his bias is that obvious. He should be thanking unions for the 40-hour workweek, the end of child labor, workplace safety laws and regulations, and the minimum wage (as inadequate as it is). Instead, we have him blaming unions for everything that's gone wrong in the last 40 years, during most of which the actual power in this country was controlled by the GOP.

Does he remember the air traffic controllers under Ronald Reagan? Clearly not.

Does he remember that the unions at many companies took pay cuts, even in this last crisis, to keep those companies going -- at the same time that company managers were getting pay hikes and bonuses? Clearly not.

If you're reading this, thank a member of a union: Teachers and newspapers both have unions.

P.J. Evans



Continetti's rant against unions shows just how out of touch right-wing ideologues are with the challenges of our time.

For starters, President Obama should be commended for creating opportunities for working families, not just corporate chief executives. His support for policies that protect the rights of workers to join unions, such as the Employee Free Choice Act, is needed now more than ever to create an economy that works for everyone again.

Despite Continetti's attempt at revisionist history, the fact remains that when more Americans are in unions, more Americans thrive. In the decades following World War II, when union density increased, productivity grew and prosperity was shared by all.

Giving workers a fair and direct path to form unions is the best vehicle to rebuild our middle class and put our nation on the path toward long-term economic recovery.

Kimberly Freeman


The writer is the acting executive director of American Rights at Work.

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