Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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February 11, 2009 - MidWeek
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Workers’ rights

In his column of Jan. 21, Bob Jones seems to be concerned about Barack Obama’s support of the Employee Free Choice Act. This legislation would allow recognition of a union if 50 percent plus one employee in a potential bargaining unit sign cards asking for union representation. Should Congress approve this legislation, Obama is likely to sign it.

So that an employee can have some influence over the conditions under which he/she has to work, signing a card to indicate that he/she desires union representation would be a free choice. Similarly, an ordinary citizen’s signing a petition to address a civic issue would be a free choice.

Isn’t this a lot different than what Jones implies: that joining is not a free choice, like in the Soviet Union?

Also, the Free Choice Act would call for binding arbitration of a first contract if union and management cannot come to a timely agreement - say, in 120 days, not two years. A lengthy bargaining period allows management foot-dragging to delay and prolong negotiations long enough to weaken the union’s position.

If the Free Choice Act had been in place so that a contract between the Pacific Beach Hotel and ILWU Local 142 could have been settled a long time ago, wouldn’t 30 laid-off workers still be employed?

Those “job banks” that Jones would have car companies dump are designed to discourage the export of jobs to foreign car makers. A company is more willing to keep those jobs within its own industrial structure if the alternative is that its employees would be diverted to an unproductive job bank. These employees are not free to pursue their own ends; they must be readily available for work at the company’s discretion. (By the way, they receive 95 percent, not full pay.)

Should these employees be dumped to the outside job market, thereby increasing unemployment in their communities?

John Cannell
Waipahu

Reality check

As I watch the debate over whether or not the Legislature should forgo its 2009 salary increases, a couple of thoughts come to mind. First, of course it should. Hawaii is entering a period of economic hardship and it is unconscionable that our elected representatives would award themselves a 35 percent pay increase while, in the private sector, businesses are closing and jobs are being lost. That’s the same private sector that pays those legislative salaries.

Are there other places where the Legislature can cut costs? Since about 2002, appropriations to run the Legislature have increased by an eye-popping 80 percent! While the economy was good the incremental growth was a bit more tolerable. But now that taxpayers are hurting, it seems reasonable to ask why the government needed all that extra money in the first place. How about cutting the Legislature’s entire budget by 80 percent until it can demonstrate to taxpayers how those additional funds improve its performance?

It’s long past time for our elected representatives to experience a reality check - kind of like the one the private sector faces.

Robert R. Kessler
Waikiki

Railroaded

Now let me see if I have this right - Phoenix built a light rail system, the same length the one from Kapolei would be, at a cost of less than $1.5 billion. Mayor Hannemann wants to ramrod his system to be built by Parsons Brinckerhoff at a cost of $5.3 billion and counting. Does this sound to you, especially those on the City Council, like Mufi is looking out for the people of Oahu? This sounds like a major conflict of interest.

Robert Kruse
Honolulu

Throwing money

I am not a Michelle Malkin fan, but her column “Mooching From Obama’s Stimulus” should be required reading. There’s no question our economy is in trouble, but it appears Obama and the Democrats aren’t just giving away money, they’re throwing it away. Didn’t we get into this mess because of a lack oversight and regulation?

Jack Ryan
Moiliili

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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