Jake Jacobson, a UAW local 652 member, during a protest on a set of proposed union limits outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

Fabrizio Costantini, NYT

Readers Write (Dec. 14): Right-to-work laws, achievement gap

  • December 13, 2012 - 6:48 PM


The flaws in union opponents' thinking


If a Dec. 13 letter writer and others who are "aggrieved" union contributors had studied history, especially Minnesota history, they would understand that their jobs are what they are and that they are paid and compensated as they are because of the tireless work of the unions for the common man. It's not just the wages but safety issues in the workplace as well.

Before anyone turns their back on their union brothers, they should come up to the Discovery Center in Chisholm and learn about how far we have come and how much of this state and our country was built by the unions. They should take part in their unions to make them even better. As for the Democratic Party, it is working for the common man and the middle class. Big money isn't looking out for you.


• • •

The pro-right-to-work letter from a member of the Minnesota Association of Public Employees missed the point completely. The union was there before she was hired. She did have a choice -- she could worked somewhere where there was no union.

Her statement about her dues going to politicians was an outright lie. Unions are not allowed to spend dues money directly on politics. They have political action committees to which members make voluntary contributions. Other than direct communication with their members, this is the only money that unions can spend on politics.


• • •

Several years ago, we moved into a neighborhood that required membership in a homeowners association and annual dues. There were homes available elsewhere, but the park, trails, landscaping and social events managed by the association, voted on by the members and paid for by the dues were an added benefit. In fact, it made that neighborhood more desirable than others.

Taking inspiration from the recent right-to-work legislation in Michigan, I think I will refuse to pay annual dues next month. Don't misunderstand -- I will continue to walk the trails and play in the park, attend the parties and enjoy the landscaping. I will just let my neighbors pay for it.


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Generic commentary leads us nowhere


"Where's the beef?" An old ad campaign comparing hamburgers asked that question. It's time to ask it again -- about commentaries on education. In the Star Tribune on Dec. 12 ("Let's be the state that learns"), Hector Garcia and Kathy Saltzman, for all the printed space provided them, gave us little substance.

True, there's a big gap in academic performance in Minnesota between whites and minorities.

For solutions, Garcia referred to TORCH, a program for increasing the graduation rate of Latino students in Northfield, and to Finland's program for education reform, yet he described none of the measures initiated through either program. His point is well-taken that the system encourages competition over equity, but dwelling on that meant he missed an opportunity to inform us further.

Saltzman emphasized that we supposedly need the "courage" to "put the needs of children ahead of adult interests." Yet she didn't have the courage to specify those adult interests. She left us to assume the reference is about concerns of teachers' unions. This might be a shocking revelation, but the concerns of teachers and children are not mutually exclusive. In fact, satisfying the needs of teachers is a great way to satisfy the needs of kids. Every employer eventually learns the importance of employee morale for increased production. Schools are no different.


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