While the April 1 article about high job vacancies blames low pay, there is another huge reason why so many of these positions are not sought after — the abomination known as flexible scheduling. In essence, the positions require that the employee work entirely at the whim of management. Typically, a flextime contract specifies things like this:

• You will be guaranteed a minimum of eight hours’ work per week but must be prepared to work up to 32.

• If you are scheduled but are not needed, you will be called and told to stay home, unpaid.

• If you come in to work at a scheduled time and are not needed, you will be sent home early and paid for the hours actually worked.

• Your work times can vary by length and time frame. (For example, you may be scheduled to work two hours in the morning one day, then six hours in the evening the next and so on).

• If the employer is short-staffed and you are already at work, you will be required to stay extra, up to 16 hours continuously. If you refuse to stay more than twice, you will be fired.

• If the employer is short-staffed at any time, you will be called and required to come in to work. If you refuse more than twice, you will be fired.

• You can be fired at any time without prior notice for any reason or no reason at all.

If employers wonder why no one is leaping to work for them, they should ask themselves if they would work like this. Somehow, I seriously doubt it.

Sharon L. Casey, St. Paul

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

A victory for President Obama and for a policy of diplomacy

The promise of President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize early in his tenure has never been more fulfilled than through the U.S.-Iranian “agreement of understanding.” What other world leader could have aligned the disparate national interests of China, Russia, England, France and the European Union to agree with Iran and the United States on anything? The foreign policy of diplomacy first until exhaustion, the policy of removing our country from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the policy of avoiding new conflicts where possible have shown Obama to be a man of unusual courage and determination.

Jim Stattmiller, Minneapolis

• • •

We commend all who did the hard work to make peace possible with the announcement Thursday of a negotiated framework that limits Iran’s nuclear program so it cannot lead to atomic weapons. This is the much-needed first step that directs negotiators toward a comprehensive agreement within three months. Let those words sink in for just a moment: diplomacy, negotiations, peace. We are changing the conversation. Let’s not do anything that jeopardizes where we now stand.

Joanne Boyer, St. Louis Park

 

EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT BILL

There was no intervention that led us to remove our names

We are disappointed at misleading statements published about us by the Star Tribune in a March 25 commentary by former state Rep. Betty Folliard (“A history lesson for Republicans blocking the ERA resolution”). Contrary to Folliard’s inane accusation that Majority Leader Joyce Peppin told us to remove ourselves as co-authors of H.F. 212, we chose to remove our names after we realized that language in the resolution contradicted our core belief of the right to life. We strongly believe that protecting the equal rights of all people is vitally important in a democratic society, and that includes the rights of the unborn.

We are wholly disappointed in the misrepresentation of our intentions and unwarranted attack on our colleague’s character. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

State Rep. Cindy Pugh, R-Chanhassen, and state Rep. Bob Dettmer, R-Forest Lake

 

TIPPED WAGES

The call and response over median earnings continues

According to the Occupational Employment Statistics data referenced by the executive director of the JOBS NOW Coalition in an April 1 letter, apparently 24,025 waiters and waitresses in Minnesota (half of 48,050 in this state) averaged — with tips — $8.68 per hour or less last year. I have an offer for the coalition: You find me just one waiter, waitress, bartender or barista who worked in a regular tipped serving job for the entire year of 2014, anywhere in Minnesota, an average of at least 10 hours per week, who will swear under oath — backed up by their W-2 and cash tip record — that they made a wage-plus-tip average of $8.68 an hour or less, and I will make a $100 donation to the coalition.

Naomi Williamson, Fridley

• • •

As a former waiter who worked in a wide variety of restaurants, mostly high-end, I feel that tipped employees deserve the same rate that all minimum-wage employees receive. While one recent letter writer states “they consistently make far more than $12 an hour,” I would like to point out that a typical lunch shift is less than four hours. Much of that time is setting up or doing side work. A snowstorm can mean a night of folding stacks of napkins with no customers. No tips or wages if one is sick. Good service does not always guarantee a tip, either. Perhaps the chef overcooked the steak or the bartender was backed up, or the table was too close to the door or kitchen. Some people don’t believe in tipping, or they give a 15 percent tip to a member of the party to pay on a card and that person only leaves 10 percent. Tips are not a guaranteed income; a minimum wage should be.

Harmony Bennett, Golden Valley

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Is faith at risk in America?

As an Army chaplain, I had a great deal of experience working with a secular organization and with people of all faiths or no faith to accommodate sincere religious conviction. I found that people of goodwill and good sense could find a way to accomplish the mission and still respect religious people. In light of that experience, I am alarmed at the intemperate response to states struggling to accommodate believers in the face of the secular steamroller. Could the things we see be the opening salvo of a “war on religion” or at least religion that does not genuflect to secular orthodoxy above all else? If so, my hope is in God and in the utter failure of the “war on drugs.”

Alan Johnson, St. Paul

 

GERMANWINGS CRASH

Compassion is nice, but …

“While the Germanwings crash in France was unfortunate, it is important to remember that a majority of those with mental health issues … can work and live very normal lives,” said the kindhearted April letter writer who wasn’t aboard the plane.

Bruce Hughes, Brooklyn Park

 

EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS

Great contributions all around

Every day I read the editorials, comments and opinions from all parts of the state (and sometimes out of state). I must say, folks, you do a great job, all the time, of expressing the many and varied opinions and facts (or maybe not-so-much “facts”), but, at any rate, I applaud your willingness to voice your concerns and comments. So — keep it up! Stay involved! And thanks for sharing.

Robert Nugent, Osseo