Email letters, Dec. 20, 2012

Editorial on ‘right-to-work’ laws contained misconceptions

There were some factual errors and misconceptions in your editorial (“Unions reality check”) Dec 1.

First, there is no such thing as “forced unionism.”  Nobody is forced to join a union, even in an all-union shop. In a free bargaining state—which is the opposite of a right-to-work state—nobody is forced to join a union. Workers are required only to pay their fair share of the union’s expenses in maintaining and enforcing the collective bargaining agreement, which guarantees wages, hours and working conditions superior to those offered by nonunion companies. A so-called right-to-work law allows employees to be “free riders,” getting the benefits of the union without having to pay for them.

Two:  According to the Economic Policy Institute, right-to-work laws have no impact on the performances of state economies. Seven of the 10 highest unemployment states are states with RTW laws, including Nevada, Florida and South Carolina. Factors other than RTW laws, such as major industries, climate and education shape states’ economies.

“RTW laws lower wages for union and non-union workers by an average of $1,500 a year and decrease the likelihood employees will get health insurance or pensions through their jobs. By lowering compensation, they have the indirect effect of undermining consumer spending, which threatens economic growth. For every $1 million in wage cuts to workers, $850,000 less is spent in the economy, which translates into a loss of six jobs,” says EPI.

Three: Detroit’s auto workers have given up millions of dollars in concessions in the past 20 years, so it is absurd to blame their present wage and benefit structure for the state of the current U.S. economy.

Remember, it takes two to tango. Those old contracts, which no longer exist in their original form, were negotiated by labor and management.  The press, however, never faults incompetent bosses.


Four:  Free bargaining does not lead to “an economic wasteland.”

Some 23.3 percent of jobs in RTW states are in low-wage industries, compared with 19.5 percent of jobs in free bargaining states. Right-to-work states spend less on education; they have higher poverty and infant mortality rates; and they have higher workplace mortality rates. Those are among many reasons Colorado voters overwhelmingly defeated a RTW initiative in 2008.

Five: Yes, the unions have been losing members. But polls show that more workers would willingly join unions if employers were not allowed to intimidate and threaten them during organizing campaigns. There have been no major revisions of federal labor laws beneficial to working men and women since the Wagner Act was passed in 1935. The only revisions ever enacted were Taft-Hartley in 1947 and Landrum-Griffin in 1957, both of which made it harder to unionize.

“Card check” legislation would have simply leveled the playing field for unions in organizing campaigns.

JAMES HANSEN

Denver

Bear Ranch land swap would benefit hunters

After reading the letter about the Bear Ranch Land Exchange last Sunday I feel compelled to correct a few inaccuracies. I’m sure they were unintentional, but the “facts” just aren’t accurate. 

According to the letter, the proposal “…takes away and locks the public out of good hunting land forever … they cannot dispute it no matter how many pretty flyers in color they send out.”

Well, I can dispute those claims, and I need to. I am on that flyer.

I tried hunting the BLM strip in question last year and was very disappointed. It’s not exactly what I would call gorgeous. More specifically, it’s very narrow. So narrow that it’s almost impossible to harvest an animal without trespassing on private property. The road also dead-ends way before getting into the Raggeds Wilderness.

Because of the ruckus over the exchange and my experience during hunting season, I was interested when Bear Ranch publicized public tours and I took the opportunity to learn more.

Fact is, the exchange will improve public access to the Raggeds, not lock out the public. The new improvements proposed on the Buck Creek property will be a boon to the public, and the Ragged Mountain Trail off Munsey Creek Road will continue to provide access to the same Forest Service land. Access for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, off-roading, etc. will remain, but will be improved with two new trails and a safe, new trailhead and parking area.

“As a hunter and a local in the area, I am very excited about the new opportunities for accessing the Raggeds from Buck Creek Ranch.” I stand by that quote, on or off the flyer.

I support the land exchange, and I am sure those who do their own research will as well.

FRANK MASTRULLO

Paonia

Higgins’ auto analogy apt in school tragedy debate

In a recent “Letters” section, I found encouraging the possibility of emergence of some level of common sense regarding the tragedy in the Connecticut school. I especially appreciated Michael Higgins’ subtle reminder of our difference in reaction to another, more common source of much greater tragic, human carnage: our even greater addiction to our automobiles.
 
It has also been repeatedly stated that there is “no apparent reason” for these senseless slaughters. What about one of the most powerful of human motivators, the senseless craving for personal publicity?  Most of us, I’m sure, have known those who appear willing to do nearly any strange, weird thing to see their names in the media.


I’ve had a great 89 years here, but there were a couple of times when I had a gun when needed and I appreciate the Second Amendment. I feel it is the real target of this most recent media blitzkrieg on the gun  - - an inanimate object. 

And, of course, since there appeared to be no intent, or even pretense, of objectivity in the attack, no mention of the guns ever having had [BEG ITLS} any[END ITALS]  - - benefit to humanity is offered - - this, in spite of the fact that we owe the very existence of our great nation to the gun more than any other device. The Second Amendment was second for a very good reason - -  which, we must admit, has not gone away. Consider the following bit of support to this position.

Each month the NRA publishes in its journal, the American Rifleman, reports of incidents of ordinary citizens using guns to prevent major crimes. I just reviewed July through November 2012 entries and found that in that time (about the time from the Aurora theater shooting to the Newtown school shooting) 35 major crimes involving some 40 people were prevented by guns in the hands of ordinary citizens - - 12 over 60 and seven were women. 

RAY LASHLEY

Grand Junction

ACLU deserves some ownership of recent acts of gun violence

It is rare that I would defend a Democrat from an attack by one of his own liberal thinking constituents. For Bill Grant to do anything but praise Gov. Hickenlooper for what amounted to a very clear and sensible approach to the “gun problem” in this country demonstrates either a complete lack of a true understanding of the problem or just a blatant attempt to make a political issue out of what amounts to a real problem.

If Grant (who presents himself as knowing a lot about a lot of things) were to take the time to research a topic for facts before stating what is little more than a half-thought-through opinion, he would find that indeed the greatest factors to consider when discussing the gun problems in the U.S. are directly a result of the mental state of the people who go out and commit mass killings.

Furthermore, if Grant wants to learn more about the issue, he should take the time to research the direct connection of our gun problems with the ACLU. He will need to go back far enough to when the ACLU deemed that a certain level of emotionally unbalanced people had the right to be kept in mainstream society.

So what if they might be homeless, undereducated, cared for by the state, filled with diseases, on drugs, unable to function within a structured society—they have the right to be free and mingle within our social structure. In his research, if he is willing to take the time, Grant will find that about the time the ACLU opened societal access to so many of these individuals mass shootings and killings started to occur with greater frequency.

Come on. I know Grant can do better than this petty sniveling about Gov. Hickenlooper’s very spot-on approach to the problem. I will say it again: If the Sentinel pays for this kind of blind, opinionated, unprofessional approach to a real problem, it needs to put its money to better use.

DAVID SHRUM
Grand Junction

Denver City Council’s stance on Western Slope resources insulting

Concerning the Denver City Council voting on a resolution supporting the BLM’s draconian oil shale plan, I suppose we ought to at least be thankful that a couple of folks on that council recognize that they do not occupy the center of the universe.

Councilman Charlie Brown appears to be one of the only members of that body to realize that. I have to agree with him that the resolution will “increase the rift between the Western Slope and Denver.”

The arrogance displayed by the Denver City Council in adopting the resolution is astounding. Never mind the council’s ignorance on the topic of its resolution – what makes its members think that they have any right to our water or to tell us how to manage our resources?

In their proclamation they inform us that our water is theirs to decide what to do with, and then they weigh in on whether and how we should develop the other resources in our backyard – namely oil shale.

This resolution seems to confirm the open secret that Denver considers the Western Slope little more than an extension of its municipal area, a mere source of water and other resources annoyingly populated by a bunch of backward hicks who occasionally need to be put in their place.

Oil shale is a tremendous resource and blessing to the Western Slope. If Denver decides it does not want to share in the benefits of oil shale development, fine, that is its call. But for Denver to feel entitled to our water and at the same time decide it appropriate to pass judgment on an issue that so greatly impacts our regional economy smacks of arrogance and conceit that are, as Brown understands, insulting and offensive.

DENNIS WHITE
Grand Junction

Public schools should not promote types of sexual expression

School District 51, specifically Palisade High School, is allowing “It’s Okay to be Gay.” My children and many others do not feel it is OK to let adults lead them to this expression.

It is always a debate to say the pledge, pray or promote our Christian beliefs or even read older books that may suggest a racial way of how things were, such as “Huckleberry Finn.”

I don’t feel this should be promoted by the posters on walls or suggestions printed in their newspaper; on top of that, they charge every student a fee for the newspaper, when I personally do not support it.

Any type of sexual expression should be left to the parent, not other peers. Teachers should do their job and teach them for what they are paid. I do not feel our tax dollars are paying them to teach students how to express themselves sexually; we pay them to teach students to be educated.

ANGIE SCHROETLIN
Grand Junction



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