Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 03, 2005

Workers' right to form unions is under attack

News last week focused squarely, and narrowly, on some strategic differences in organizing philosophy among a handful of labor unions. And The Sun's article "2 unions break off from AFL-CIO" (July 26) neglected altogether the fundamental and enduring areas of agreement among every labor union in the country - that a staggering number of American workers who support unions face full-fledged assaults upon their rights in the workplace.

Instead of investing in their employees and contributing to harmony in the workplace, employers pour millions upon millions of dollars - money that could otherwise bolster employee wages and benefits - into campaigns designed to divide and conquer the work force as it considers whether or not to form a union.

Union membership isn't declining because workers no longer want, need or benefit from unions.

If that was the case, 75 percent of employers facing organizing drives would not hire high-power union-busting consultants. Nor would 51 percent of them illegally threaten to close down work sites, or 34 percent coerce workers with bribes and special favors.

How do they get away with such blatant violations of the law? They know that labor law in America is so weak and poorly enforced that it doesn't deter the violation of workers' basic rights to a free choice and fair chance to form a union.

According to a recent Peter Hart poll, more than 57 million Americans want unions.

People of every political and economic persuasion should be outraged that workers' rights - those of our neighbors, family and friends - are being trampled upon and that, increasingly, democracy stops at the workplace door.

David Bonior

Washington

The writer is chairman of American Rights at Work.

Gunmakers need a liability shield

Reading from the deceptive playbook of the anti-gun lobby, The Sun would like for the public to believe that a Senate bill would provide a blanket shield of immunity for the firearms industry ("No immunity for gun sales," editorial, July 29). Nothing could be further from the truth.

This much-needed law would prevent only frivolous, activist lawsuits from being brought against manufacturers, distributors and dealers who act in a lawful manner.

It would offer no protection to those firearms-related businesses that violate any of the 20,000 gun laws they must already comply with.

In the circumstance outlined in The Sun's editorial, for instance, the dealer who knowingly engaged in a straw purchase would have violated numerous federal firearms laws and could be prosecuted and lose his license. The Senate bill would not change this.

Those harmed by negligent or criminal actions of firearms-related businesses would still be able to seek compensation.

Firearms businesses are already among the most highly regulated industries in the nation. They deserve protection when they are operated in compliance with the law.

Paul Dembowski

Annapolis

The Sun's editorial "No immunity for gun sales" was completely wrong.

Gun dealers who do not obey the law in the sale of a gun to the public should be penalized.

But gun manufacturers who sell their merchandise to distributors have no role in this situation and should be immune from liability for a gun dealer's indiscretion.

John Mangus

Crownsville

`Jackpot justice' misdirects millions

The Sun would have people believe that if gun manufacturers aren't given some type of protection from frivolous lawsuits, there would be virtually no effect on the number of lawsuits or the amount of money involved ("No immunity for gun sales," July 29). That is a fairy tale.

There have been numerous attempts by cities and individuals to sue the gun industry for the acts of criminals. And if the right judge and jury are found, more than one of these will be successful - at a cost of millions of dollars.

The practice of naming manufacturers along with the negligent party is a common move by lawyers.

They know that the "deep pockets" will usually have to pay whether or not they are not at fault.

This type of "jackpot justice" costs the manufacturing community millions each year.

It is not just the gun industry that needs protection from these lawsuits, it is the entire manufacturing community.

Carl Bice

Bel Air

Independent CHAP upholds our heritage

Edward Gunts reported the good news of the consensus among local preservationists to support the modest but important compromises between Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and the Department of Planning ("CHAP-Planning Dept. merger a step closer," July 28).

However, his report may have allowed the impression that there was also a consensus supporting the CHAP-Planning Department merger itself. But the strongest strain of opinion expressed at the hearing was clearly in favor of a fully independent and strengthened CHAP that works in close collaboration with city planners, economic development officials and preservationists.

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