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Letters to the Editor

Stop blaming unions for the state’s problems

Scott Reeder’s Oct. 3rd column, “State worker says forced union dues violate free speech,” was full of contradictions.

Mark Janus, a 16-year state employee, is suing AFSCME because he feels “forced” into paying union dues.

I worked for the state for nearly 27 years and was an active member of two AFSCME locals. None were ever forced to pay dues or made to join against our will. Everyone had a chance to “opt out” of membership and just pay “fair share” monies, a percentage of full dues that went to help defray contract negotiation costs, because even NON-members benefitted fully from the various benefits included in the contract, such as pay raises, insurance, pension, overtime, and so forth.

“Why just government workers?” Reeder writes. “Because everything government does is political. And in political matters, free speech is paramount.”

I’m still not understanding the connection there. Unions encourage free speech; government actually discourages it among workers.

Union workers need to understand how fortunate they are to have contracts, pay raises, insurance, and other benefits, as opposed to the older political patronage way of days gone by.

By example, when I retired, I took part-time employment at a large local retailer, no longer located in Sterling. My rate of pay was $8.25 per hour, the exact same $8.25 per hour as employees who had worked there for nearly 40 years! Such disparity in wages, among other things, does not exist under union protections.

AFSCME is fair and reasonable to both sides, and protects workers from political agendas. It’s time to stop blaming labor unions for the state’s problems, and understand that quality of life is greatly improved by unions, for workers and citizens alike!

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