Ill-Advised StrikeEditor: UAW Local 239 decided to strike...


June 28, 1991

Ill-Advised Strike

Editor: UAW Local 239 decided to strike the General Motors Baltimore Assembly Plant at 10 a.m. Monday. Mark your calendars, because GM management stood up for its principle of higher productivity. International competition has caused the erosion of GM market share and promoted the decay of the UAW. Without union concessions in productivity, the future of the U.S. auto industry is questionable.

I have had the privilege of working with many hard-working and intelligent members of Local 239 the last couple of years. Most members of this local are dedicated to their jobs and can be counted on in times of crisis.

Although in decline, the American work ethic still exists in my plant. Local union management, however, is being terribly short-sighted by allowing this strike to occur.

Recently, General Motors Corp. has been taking an economic beating. The company has reported losses in three straight quarters, has indefinitely idled three assembly plants and has laid off thousands of workers. During the next three years, the salaried work force will be reduced by 15 percent. During and after this reduction, engineers will take on new responsibilities, as will supervisors and their managers. Why doesn't the UAW carry its share of the burden?

My plant builds a product that is slated for redesign in the 1995-1996 time frame. The location for assembly has yet to be decided. This strike is a terrible blow to our chances. If the local union really cared about saving jobs of its brothers and sisters, it would think about where they will be working four and five years from now.

The time has come for the UAW to tighten its belt, roll up its sleeves and help put General Motors back on its feet. There are no guarantees for GM's future until it does.

Erik Lytikainen.


Feeling Taxed

Editors: I read with utter disbelief your editorial regarding the boat tax repeal in the June 11 Sun. The editorial stated, "the budget agreement is proving to be more efficient than expected in holding down federal spending."

As someone who follows the federal budget process closely, I'm unsure what fairy-tale statistics the editors are using. At last count the federal budget deficit was estimated at $318 billion and the debt of the nation is highest in the country's history at more than $3 trillion. The 12-percent increase locked in with the budget deal of last year promises to increase the deficit to more than $1 trillion in the next five years.

If the lawmakers in Washington would only increase their spending to simply 4 percent in fiscal year 1992 until 1995, the nation would be running a $36-billion surplus in 1995.

Robert Lehman.


Homeless in Baltimore

Editor: Your May 31 story,''Holocaust Memorial trashed by homeless, causing visitors pain,'' noted that visitors are moved to anger because the memorial has become a refuge for the homeless.

Those who daily experience homelessness and its ravages are similarly moved to anger by social and economic policies which condemn thousands of Baltimoreans to live the meanest existence amid the wealth of our nation.

Within the shadows of the glittering Inner Harbor and the new stadium one must observe the not-always quiet desperation of involuntarily displaced families, the unemployed, the physically disabled and the mentally ill -- urban nomads with no place to call home.

Among the many lessons of the Holocaust we have learned that silence is complicity and that we each bear responsibility for all of us.

The memorial serves to remind us of these lessons, just as the plight of the homeless teaches us that we have not yet created the conditions in which each of us can live with dignity, that the priorities of property and propriety are yet barriers to social justice.

While the causes of homelessness are complex -- including failed housing and development policies, the radical redistribution of wealth to the already-wealthy, a health care system motivated by profit and not by need -- solutions to homelessness are within our capacity.

In large measure they require a reconsideration of our priorities.

At the larger public policy level we debate funding for the military versus funding for affordable housing.

Locally we recapitulate this debate, proposing fences as a means of defending ourselves from the homeless.

Would it not be more sensible to implement effective solutions -- outreach, accessible health and mental health care, adequate housing with supportive services?

Jeff Singer.


Faulty Logic

Editor: One can't avoid pointing out the faulty logic in a recent editorial. Your writer contrasted flag-burning and cross-burning, very laboriously pointing out that they are different, and therefore different rules of free speech should apply.

But the whole point is that they are not different. They are both examples of ''fighting words". The accepted Supreme Court interpretation of the First Amendment could equate inflammatory expressions, such as these, with shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre.

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