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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673
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In defense of unions

To The Editor:

My first understanding about unions occurred when I was a teenager. There were six delivery routes in the small town where I lived. We delivery kids delivered newspapers six days a week and were paid nine-tenths of a penny for each four cent paper we delivered. We went on strike for a penny a paper. The strike only lasted for about an hour and we won and the newspaper company remained in business.

When I was older but still in high school, I got a job ditch digging (that is with a pick and shovel) with a company that was installing sewer pipes. We union workers were paid $1.25 an hour and those who were nonunion received 95 cents an hour. The job was completed in three weeks and I am sure the company made money.

In today’s economy, the workers who build roads, bridges, sewage systems, schools, courthouses and other public buildings are paid union wages. These private companies are paid by the taxpayers. Is it unfair for those who then work in the buildings and on the roads to be denied the right to collective bargaining and unions?

The workers who work for defense contractors and build military bases, ships, airplanes and other military items are paid by a company who is paid by the taxpayers. They, too, may have unions. Currently, there is a two-month-old strike at Lockheed Martin plant in Forth Worth, Texas, where the F-35 stealth fighter jets are made. Others work at Edwards Air Force Base in California and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.

I knew a fellow who drove a truck and delivered bread to grocery stores and when the union went on strike there was no bread. I guess we could say, “Let them eat cake.” He is retired now and lives on a pension.

All workers deserve to have collective bargaining rights. Without companies, workers wouldn’t have jobs. But without workers there would be no companies. The exception to this may be services such as police, firefighters, the military and other such workers. But we should certainly listen to their organizations. These people put their life in their hands when they go to work. Though I know little about their pay, whatever it is, it is probably not enough.

It is true that public employees’ unions try to influence politicians by getting workers to vote their interests. This is usually for the Democratic party. Companies and other individuals use their money to have politicians vote for their interests. This was made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that corporations could spend unlimited amounts on elections. A good example of this was in the New York Times on Sunday, June 24, 2012. Sheldon Adelson has donated a total of $60 million of his $25 billion fortune to influence Republican hopefuls.

In conclusion, I would like to add that I have worked in both the private sector and the public sector and both areas had unions.

 

Bob Brightbill

Waitsfield

 

 

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