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Letters 1-21-2013

- January 21st, 2013  

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Swim death mystery

I am concerned about the drowning death of Arianna Alieto in the Northern Michigan University swimming pool after the team worked out in the pool on November 30.

On January 16 I met an NMU student I hadn’t met before and asked her how the women’s soccer team members were doing and what services were available to students experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I understood her to say that NMU students were told that Arianna Alieto was known to have left the locker room with her team mates and that Campus Public Safety was still investigating the matter and awaiting the results of the autopsy.

Assuming that Arianna showered and changed and then left the locker room with her team mates, I cannot help but wonder how an 18-year-young college freshman with a knee injury and epilepsy and possibly living away from home for the first time in her life managed to return unnoticed to the locker room, change back into her swim suit, return to the locked pool area, and drown beyond the point of resuscitation in the 35 minutes between the time a lifeguard was reported to have locked and secured the pool area and the time her body was seen in the pool.

Could she have taken a key to the pool area or jimmied the lock? I also wonder where her clothes and personal effects were stashed when her body was found.

I am calling for the truth to be brought to the light so that everyone involved can process what happened in a safe and healthy way, forgive ourselves and each other, correct our mistakes, and move on together in peace.

Rachelle Giuliani • Marquette

Right to Work myths

So called “right to work” (RTW) laws are best understood as state government interference with privately negotiated contracts to weaken and defund unions.

A real “right to work” is not at stake anywhere in the USA. Since 1947, it has been unlawful for private employers and unions to require workers to join a union to obtain a job.

It is also unlawful to require workers to become full-fledged members of a union to keep a job. All that can be required is what the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1963 decision called “financial core membership,” which is solely the obligation to pay the reasonable costs of union representation.

It is also well-established constitutional law that no part of these “financial core” dues may be used to fund the partisan political activity of unions.

What is at stake is the union’s right to be paid for its services in those shops where a majority of workers have chosen union representation. The type of clause outlawed by the new Michigan law, often called a “union security” or “union shop” clause, requires workers to pay dues after their 30th day of employment.

Workers obtain and keep their jobs without regard to their union status or preferences; their sole obligation is to pay dues after they have been hired.

Thus RTW has nothing to do with worker rights -- unless you believe in the right to freeload.

Unions need such a clause to stay in business because they negotiate “collective services and goods.” These include a written contract with just cause discipline standards and a grievance procedure, plus improved wages and conditions that extend to all workers in the unit, not just union members or those who paid their dues.

For most of what a union tries to do -- secure higher wages, better hours, a safer work site, retirement benefits and due process for disciplined workers -- there is no feasible way for the union to limit negotiated improvements to those who pay dues.

Indeed, the Supreme Court held in the 1940s that whenever a union obtains authority to negotiate on behalf of a group of workers, it has a corresponding legal duty to represent fairly all within that group, whether they are supporters or opponents of the union. A “fee for service” concept cannot work when services are and, under the law, must, be provided to all, whether they are willing to pay the fee for not.

When opponents insist on a right to a free ride on union representation, they usually claim the rhetorical high ground of liberty and job growth to conceal a more politically partisan motive -- to deprive unions of a funding mechanism so that they no longer can play a useful collectivebargaining role in our society.

It is an inherent contradiction to argue that RTW has nothing to do with collective bargaining rights while also arguing that employers are attracted to such states. Business decisions on where to relocate are more often based on things like transportation access, proximity to market, land costs, business taxes, infrastructure, the education and skill levels of the available workforce. RTW status is far down the list - if it all.

No business groups, and certainly not the auto industry, were demanding freeloader status for Michigan workers as a business method to grow jobs.

Finally, 60 years of RTW in the South has proven that such union defunding has only resulted in lower working class standards of living.

Leonard Page • via email

The debt debate

I was sorry to read that Stephen Tuttle hasn’t figured out the dynamic underlying the deficit battle.

The purpose of that fight is to impose austerity and cut federal programs in an effort to balance the budget, a program that is clearly failing in the European Union.

As economists Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz have repeated, a depression is not the time to cut government spending: it is the time to increase it. That is the way we claw our way out of this mess: spending on school teachers, infrastructure improvement, and education for the young.

Stephen, who do we owe the money to? Not the Chinese who hold eight% of the treasuries. We owe the money to ourselves with the Fed, pension funds, and private investors financing our debt. Read Krugman’s book, “End This Depression Now!” and discover how the federal deficit is nothing like household debt.

Richard Fidler •TC

Stop the violence

If “your” woman hits you, call the police.

FIRST! You may have one chance to avoid going to jail.

Don’t imagine that you can handle it yourself. Don’t imagine that anyone will ever listen to your side of the story if you don’t take it to the law right away.

The Women’s Resource Center will not help you, they will only protect the abused woman. She hits you and that makes you a criminal. The love is gone. Get out now, and make a statement to the police. Go to www. Stop the sexism. Stop the violence.

Eric Pyne • Frankfort

The value of whole foods

Thank you for the whole food story featuring Dr. Mary Clifton. As a certified instructor for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) Food for Life programs, I can attest to the dramatic health improvements people gain from eating real food. I’ve had students get relief from arthritis pain and step away from their meds, elimination of migraines, diabetes reversal, significant drops in blood pressure and cholesterol, and that is just a start.

I know it can seem overwhelming or confusing to make these dietary changes, but one step at a time and they can get there. (If I can do it anyone can!) A great start is watching “Forks Over Knives” (available through Netflix).

Sherry Davis • TC

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