State of the unions
Jim Stanford says that in the 23 states with “right to work” laws, unions are “effectively prohibited; indeed, in right-to-work states, private-sector unionism is virtually non-existent” (Wisconsin’s Disease Crosses The Border – July 3).
This would come as a surprise to millions of employees in those 23 states who join and are represented at their workplace by unions. In Alabama, for example, which has had a right-to-work law since 1953, 183,000 workers (about 11 per cent of the labour force) are represented by unions, including 84,000 workers in the private sector.
Emboldened or otherwise, Republicans in the states have no authority to alter the 1935 Wagner Act or other federal laws. In states like Wisconsin, they have sought to alter laws prevailing in about two-thirds of states that prescribe collective bargaining by public employees; these laws are of much more recent vintage than the New Deal, often dating to the 1960-85 period. Given Franklin Roosevelt’s well-documented skepticism toward collective bargaining by government employees, it is no surprise that he did not see fit to build any such element into his New Deal.
Walter Olson, senior fellow, the Cato Institute, Washington
I remember being on a small shuttle bus in Orlando and talking to the driver, who had been working 10 hours in the heat of that day. When I asked him why he was working such long hours, he said: “Florida is a right-to-work state.” No doubt that term really meant that if he worked, he had no rights.
Barbara McElgunn, Toronto
As I read about the families with two professional parents struggling with daycare fees for their children (Meet The New Daycare-Poor – Life, July 3), I wondered about the families with one parent or an ill parent or working-class parents who don’t make professional salaries. What is happening to those families, and more particularly, to those children?
Enid Elliot, Victoria
It’s ironic that this story follows Margaret Wente’s opinion piece (News Alert! No One Has It All – June 30). Some truths are self-evident, and I fail to understand why the subjects in this article are clueless to them: Children cost money. Big homes, fat mortgages and cars cost money. If two parents are going to continue professional careers so they can pay for their big homes and cars, their children will have to be raised by someone else and that, too, is going to cost money.
Children are best raised by a stay-home parent, and if this means a lifestyle adjustment, then so be it. Get real, people.
Rachel Corbett, St. Catharines, Ont.
Re School Daze: Carving Out A Career On The Kids’ Schedule (Business – June 30):
I know of parents whose kids go to both before-school programs and after-school programs, and then to what are effectively after-after-school programs that consist of evenings and weekends crammed with various lessons. These same kids’ summer breaks include a curriculum of daytime enrichment camps (often indoors in a university classroom) featuring “creative” math and science under the guise of This Is Fun, interspersed with the occasional ice cream or swimming break for verification’s sake.
And there’s a heated debated going on about whether to extend school hours? Somebody’s having fun.
Sylvia Legris, Saskatoon
Pat on the head
I understand how the sheer vastness of our country sets me geographically and culturally apart from the West, but when it comes to the Calgary Stampede, I admit: I just don’t get it (Horse Lovers Seek A Safer ‘Half Mile of Hell’ – July 2).
While efforts to monitor heart-rates of horses to predict and prevent heart attacks seems well-intentioned, it simply isn’t enough, and comes across as little more than a pat on the head to appease critics.
The Stampede continues to be a part of our national identity, yet as a human being and Canadian, my heart sinks whenever another animal dies senselessly. If the event repeatedly took the lives of humans, the plug would no doubt be immediately pulled. I’m ashamed that we continue to subject animals to cruelty, injury and death for the purpose of an hour or two of “entertainment.”
Kelly Hughes, Guelph, Ont.
Shame on the government of Quebec for funding the mining and export of deadly asbestos (In Asbestos, Sound Investment Or Dangerous Exploitation? – July 3).
With public money, the Jeffrey Mine will live on for 20 more years, but how many more cases of mesothelioma and asbestosis will result? The industry claims its mining practices are safe, but what about the workers in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico and Sri Lanka, who work with our asbestos in unsafe conditions?
The great contradiction here is there is no market to sell asbestos in Canada and most of the developed world, but we continue to mine and sell it to poorer countries. The message our government is sending is appalling.
Farrah Khan, interim executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
It’s hard to imagine a more regressive government policy. Perhaps a public-works project to retrofit municipal water systems with lead pipes? Or a federally funded scholarship program to train small children to be chimney sweeps?
Instead of resurrecting old, failed technologies, Canada should be committed to developing new products and ideas, and exporting those, rather than dangerous carcinogens, to the developing world.
David Maslove, MD, Toronto
I was stunned by Preston Manning’s lament for Canadian politics (The Man Who Loved His Country – July 2). In his sorry tale, we have reached the point where any would-be politician who claims to be motivated by a sincere love for Canada is no longer taken at his or her word.
I hope I’m not the only one who remembers that it was Mr. Manning and his Reform Party who rode the politics of resentment and cynicism right into Stornoway. Mr. Manning and his party exploited citizens’ natural wariness of politicians and government and did much to make us all distrust the motives of those who entered public service. That he could now purport to mourn the passing of a political culture he was so instrumental in killing is astounding.
Ross Macnab, Regina
A wish for fish
It’s welcome news that the cod show signs of returning, after a 20-year absence (Newfoundland Seeing Acts Of Cod Again – July 3). But how ironic that part of the growth of the stocks is attributed to the warming of ocean temperatures off Labrador – up to two degrees higher than what the article still quaintly calls “normal.”
Of course, we all hope that this increase in the cod population continues, to the benefit of Canadians and our environment. However, it’s difficult not to see this as a case of one of the deck chairs on the Titanic happening to get knocked into its correct location.
John Lazarus, Kingston
Re Stage Set For Cabinet Shuffle After Bev Oda Steps Down (online – July 3):
Is it really true? Or will we find out tomorrow that Bev Oda is <not> stepping down?
Susan Cantlie, TorontoReport Typo/Error
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