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Letters: Public and private unions -- they're different

June 17, 2012

Re "Corporations win as workers battle," Column, June 13

Michael Hiltzik fails to differentiate between the powers of unions in the public sector and those in the private sector.

Workers in the public sector get to elect lawmakers (the top decision-maker); those in the private sector don't elect their chief executives, which would boost their pay and benefits. Furthermore, public sector employees usually work for a monopoly. If they go on strike, the public cannot obtain the required services elsewhere, giving them increased leverage in labor negotiations. If private sector workers strike, customers can obtain the products or services elsewhere and may not return when the strike is over.

Unions should play an important part in employer-worker relationships, but unions' right to strike in the public sector should be restricted. The benefits that they have been able to obtain should be in line with those in the private sector.

Tony Hays

Hiltzik is right: In our current form of social interaction, we've become like animals biting at our own afflictions.

We're a nation proud of military prowess, and yet we leave our wounded behind. Those injured by ignorance and corporate crimes lie unattended, even despised, in our cities and elsewhere. We delude ourselves with proclamations of American exceptionalism while letting our national infrastructure and institutions of education and health decay.

We've become a nation of "cannot-do" under the banners of anti-government anarchists and industrialists, whereas our history has shown us to be a people capable of building infrastructure worthy of emulation.

Will we still be a United States of America for another 200 years? Not if we destroy unions and the bargaining power of the middle class.

Eugene Strantz

Altadena

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