Union Dues and Politics

Your balanced report on the upcoming vote on Prop. 226 in California, "Bold Bid to Shrink Union Muscle" (March 3), left out one very pertinent fact.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that unions spending compulsory union dues in partisan campaigns violate the constitutional rights of individual union members. The main opinion in that case (Beck v. CWA) was written by liberal icon William Brennan, which undermines the assertion that support for such worker protections is confined to "right-wing ideologues."

In your article, National Labor Relations Board chairman William Gould alleges that attempts to codify a constitutional right into state law is "disruptive." What is truly disruptive is the refusal to abide by Supreme Court rulings on this issue.

I will concede that Prop. 226 would be disruptive in one sense - protecting workers' constitutional right not to be forced to give financial support to candidates and causes with which they disagree would disrupt the massive flow of illicit funds being funneled to the political party of the administration.

Mark Hendrickson

New Wilmington, Pa.

Your article concerning the use of union dues for political purposes did not describe how this proposed law's purpose is to help big business. Just look at who is sponsoring this law: It is the big corporations and right-wing lobbyists from out-of-state, including an Indiana business executive who spent $49,000 in California to get the proposal on the ballot, an amount just under the state limit that would have required his name to appear on leaflets and in commercials.

The initiative is one-sided and only restricts unions - not corporations or other organizations. Corporations already outspend unions 11-to-1 on politics. Now, they want the playing field to be even less level. It seems as if some lawmakers want to make sure our Congress and state legislatures are exclusive country clubs - and they want to keep working Americans out.

Democracy means that everyone gets to participate in politics on equal footing. Big business's attempt to silence working families is just un-American.

Ernest R. Grecco


President, Metropolitan Baltimore Council

AFL-CIO Unions

Overdevelopment in Jacksonville

"Jacksonville Rides Jaguars Into an Age of 'Urban Cachet'" (Feb. 18) highlights our city and says that Jacksonville is better off now than five years ago. As a resident and native Floridian, I wholeheartedly disagree.

In the past five years, development has skyrocketed and so has traffic. Rush hour crawls at a snail's pace for hours. Newly developed areas are euphemistically named for what used to be there: A former woods with deer is now a corporate business complex called Deerwood Park. Development encroaches on sensitive wildlife habitat, including that of the bald eagle. The relaxed, small town way of life is being pushed out by the hustle of urbanization. To me, this is not improvement.

And while our local government is eager to spend money on attracting more development, they are unwilling to spend on items that do not serve their agenda. For instance, there is a neighborhood park in a less-than-affluent part of town where schoolchildren played basketball by day and drug dealers loitered by night. Rather than spend money for additional police patrols at night, they just took the hoops down.

Not surprisingly, the people who say that Jacksonville is better off now are the ones with the most to gain financially from massive overdevelopment. I wish they would stop and ask themselves if they really believe that they are building a community that will be a pleasant place for their great-grandchildren to live. If they would place the importance of people above their pocketbooks, they would realize that a bigger Jacksonville is not necessarily a better one.

Lisa P. Roziel

Jacksonville, Fla.

Your letters are welcome. All letters are subject to editing. Mail to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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