Collective bargaining is needed to protect slighted state...

Letters to the Editor

February 28, 1999

Collective bargaining is needed to protect slighted state workers

The article "Md. workers group fights for its life" (Feb 21) seems to suggest that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' purpose in seeking collective bargaining legislation is to threaten the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Missing from the article are the real reasons that AFSCME and other state employees are pushing collective bargaining rights.

For years, state employees have been left out of important decisions that affect their work lives. Budget cuts have meant terminations of thousands of state employees without seniority rights, expanded work weeks without expanded compensation and the major erosion of employee pay scales.

Although state employees know that lean times mean cuts, they want to be part of deciding ways to cut costs and make government more efficient, and they want to have salaries that begin to compete with other major Maryland employers. In short, state employees want a meaningful voice regarding workplace policies. Collective bargaining provides the means to have that voice.

Regardless of who wins collective bargaining elections, the outcome is that employees have selected an organization to assist them in negotiating their pay, benefits and working conditions with management. This is very different from the experience of managers being unable to decide which organization to listen to or whether to ignore employee organizations altogether.

Collective bargaining creates a new mutual obligation between management and labor to work together to find solutions to problems. As such, it is a critical way to improve state government.

Donna S. Edwards Baltimore

The writer is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Unacceptable behaviors should be corrected early

I would like to applaud Baltimore City Public Schools officials who are taking a hard line in dealing with student discipline issues ("Tough school policy spurs debate," Feb. 20). At what age, exactly, do parents believe that students should face consequences for their inappropriate behavior?

Is it OK for a child to play with matches in school when he is 7, but not when he's 8? Or does he have to be 9 or 10 before this potentially destructive behavior is stopped?

In the case of Nicholas Giggers, classroom disruption occurred before he lighted matches in the lavatory. It may have been only a matter of time before lighting matches might have led to some more destructive or dangerous action.

As a high school teacher and former middle school teacher, I say that the sooner kids get the message that certain behavior is not acceptable in school, the less likely today's "wayward tykes" will become tomorrow's "teen-age felons."

Joyce Gray Baltimore

Group homes don't belong in any state neighborhood

As a neighbor of the proposed group home in Worthington Valley, I am astonished at the letters I have read in this column about the subject.

It has been suggested that the residents of our community believe that this facility belongs in someone else's community. I have been actively involved in this crisis since the day that the news of this proposal leaked, and I can say with confidence that everyone agrees that this type of facility does not belong in any residential community.

We have committed all of our resources to prevent this from happening in our neighborhood and in all communities in the state. Instead of turning this into a class issue, let's unite to protect all communities form this kind of unwanted intrusion. The safety and security of all Maryland families are at stake.

Paul Glace Baltimore

Har Sinai needed research for its next location

Har Sinai could not possibly have picked a worse location for its new home ("Worship-free zones?" Feb. 21). The corner of Greenspring and Walnut avenues is already an impossibly busy drive-time intersection situated on what county engineers have discovered is a 50-year-old toxic waste site and filled-in stream.

Would a little field research have hurt the attempt to help Har Sinai find a suitable home?

D. R. Belz Lutherville

`Greatest Generation' had its highs and lows

Can we finally put this "Greatest Generation" nonsense to rest ("Don't belittle achievements of World War II generation," Feb. 23)? Yes, the parents of the Baby Boomers did indeed defeat Nazi Germany and Japan. But it was also this same generation that studied syphilis by deliberately infecting poor blacks and denying them treatment. It was the same generation that deliberately killed more than 100,000 civilians of Dresden with firebombs. And it was the only generation ever to unleash the horrors of atomic weapons on other human beings.

So let's just acknowledge that the World War II generation, like every other before and after, has its good points and bad. They are people, just like the rest of us, and no more.

William Smith Baltimore

Judge Cole a source of Republican pride

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