Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Unions not only help workers, they also benefit communities

With all due respect to Mr. Keller's and Mr. Wheeler's letters to the editor about unions, they have missed the facts concerning the importance of unions. I am a grandmother and my children and I have worked both union and non-union jobs, with one of my children being currently employed with Peak Oilfield Services Co. So, we as a family understand the importance of labor unions in our society.

First of all, union workers, on average, make a third more money and benefits than their non-union counterparts. Unions do not have the effect of closing down places of employment, as each year more non-union companies close than do union companies. A defined pension plan is always better than a 401(k), which may be wiped out if the stock market falls. And besides, most union workers with a pension also have a 401(k).

Unions are basically the only organizations in our society that have the primary function of helping workers improve their work places and work lives.

The community is a beneficiary of unionization, as well. When workers have more money, they have more money to spend at local establishments. It's nice to say that if workers made less money, products would be cheaper, but the less a worker makes, the less a community has.

And, honestly, reducing labor costs doesn't always equate into cheaper products. The next time you buy a shirt or shoes (Nike is a good example), take a moment to look where it was made. Chances are it was made in a third world country (China, Indonesia, El Salvador, etc.). Labor costs in these countries are very cheap -- in a lot of cases, as low as 50 cents an hour with no benefits, and we still pay $50 for the shirt and $100 for the shoes.

It is true that unions have accomplished many things in the past: child labor laws, establishing a minimum wage, Social Security, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Family and Medical Leave Act, time and a half for more than 40 hours worked, workers' compensation, and the list goes on and on. But to say, "we now live in a perfect world free of any workplace problems and the needs for unions are no longer here," is simply not a true statement.

Grandma Ann Creary, Kenai

It's politically incorrect to present other side of gender unfairness

I read with great interest your March 18 editorial on gender fairness. I look forward with equal interest to reading Part II in this series -- you know the part where you discuss these facts:

Fact: American men have shorter life spans than American women.

Fact: The federal government spends more money on women's health issues than on men's.

Fact: In divorce, child custody is disproportionately given to women; when it is not, the state does little to enforce child support rulings on women.

Fact: More women are currently admitted to four-year universities and colleges than are men.

Fact: When these women graduate their starting salaries are higher than men with the same type of degree.

Fact: When a man is the victim of domestic violence or sexual harassment, he is usually ignored and sometimes laughed at.

Fact: Women more frequently inflict domestic violence on their families than men.

Final fact: You won't print a Part II because it is not politically correct to do so.

Norm Brennan, Kenai

American Correctional Association offers reliable prison comparison

I write in response to Mr. James Price's recent letter criticizing Cornell Companies and the private delivery of correctional services. Mr. Price states "the private prison industry has a much higher level of serious deficiencies than our public system." Mr. Price is philosophically opposed to privatization.

While he is entitled to his opinion, the only reliable sources for public and private sector comparison is the American Correctional Association and the annually published Corrections Yearbook. We invite the public to consult these sources.

Cornell Companies operates 71 adult and juvenile correctional facilities with a total bed capacity of 14,845 (twice as many prison beds as the Alaska Department of Corrections). Cornell has a proven history of successful partnerships with local, state and the federal government.

Managing prisons is a complex undertaking. American Correctional Association publications and the Corrections Yearbook report little distinction between private prison management and their public counterparts. The key is a solid working relationship with the state Department of Corrections and being a responsible neighbor; Cornell is committed to both.

Mr. Price from a philosophical perspective is willing to forgo the economic opportunity that a private prison could bring to this community. Local businesses and people who are looking for full-time employment may have a different perspective. What this community needs is jobs, jobs, jobs!

Regarding economic impact, the private prison means a capital construction project in access of $80 million with 300 construction jobs. It means up to 300 permanent jobs with starting wages and benefits comparable to those provided by oil service companies.

There is another public hearing scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Kenai Senior Center. I urge you to participate in the public process and tell the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly that you support the economic development that this private prison project will bring to the community.

Blaine D. Gilman, Kenai

Homer officials, city council need more appropriate meeting area

Due to the frequent executive sessions held by the Homer mayor, city manager and city council, a special meeting place should be supplied for this group.

I suggest a sand pile to help them arrive at their mission of keeping everyone off of our pristine beaches.

We need to supply them with eight small buckets filled with water to help them arrive at a solution about our water usage outside of the city.

The sand pile area should be surrounded with a stone enclosure to remind them to continue their stonewalling on the annexation issue.

The stone wall should be topped with a heavy cage with a trapeze or two so that these quasi-primates can get exercise as well as more ideas.

We need to give serious thought into getting qualified personnel in these important positions.

Roy E. Hoyt Jr., Homer

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