Don't blame the unions

Dear Editor:Regarding the letter to the editor "Unions No Longer Necessary" (The Downey Patriot, 9/29/11), Ms. Niemann writes that "unions are bankrupting state and local government as well as in the private sector" and that is the reason jobs are "moving overseas." She goes on to equate unions as "Marxist revolutionaries." She back steps a bit and says that "unions once played an important role in providing balance in our capitalistic economic structure." Ms. Niemann ends her diatribe by completing reversing herself when she states that "I stand for the right of every American to negotiate what he/she thinks is fair compensation for their time and effort spent in a job." As I understand her letter, the dire economic conditions that most of the world faces now is due to unions and their salaries. Apparently she knows little about contract negotiations which consist of a psuedo barter system. One side presents a list of demands and the other side agrees or contests it. It is a back and forth system that continues till both sides agree. It is a far cry from the Communist system in which there was little negotiation. So while blaming the unions for the present situations, shouldn't some of the blame be placed on the public officials or those in the private sector who agreed to the contract? I think the letter is trying to indicate that it is the retirement packages that is the culprit in most cases. However, at the time the contracts are negotiated, those agreeing to those contract conditions most likely thought that it was better to add to the retirement package and deal with the consequences than give substantial monetary raises. So who is really to blame? The fact is that union jobs are mainly skilled ones and it is reflected by those who worked in the auto manufacturers, aircraft plants and on the docks as longshoremen. They help build cities like San Pedro, Lakewood, Long Beach and Bellflower. Their union pay allowed them to provide for their families, buy a home, a car, go on vacation, buy a TV and washer, which in turn kept others working. Today, with a glut of unskilled workers doing what was once considered a high school kid's summer job - flipping hamburgers, box boys or working at a car wash - it is impossible to provide for one's family, which in turn leads to multi-family homes, overcrowding of schools, streets (anybody seen Paramount Boulevard in the morning or afternoon rush hour?), overuse of sewer and water systems, etc. In many cases one is forced to work many different unskilled jobs in order to make ends meet. Speaking as a union member in the private sector of more than 40 years, most retirement packages in the private sector are below what city, state and federal government employees receive and that is because private companies are more frugal with their money; they must answer to stockholders or go broke. They are in the business of making money to survive and do not have the luxury of getting it from taxes. Furthermore, in the public sector, it is the public's money and not their own that they negotiate with so are they going to be as careful or prudent? I think not. In the end, I have to agree with Ms. Niemann that it is the right of every American to negotiate what he/she thinks is fair compensation. So who should we really point the finger to? -- Ed Romero, Downey

********** Published: November 10, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 30