Elimination of 35-hour week agreed uponYour editorial...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Elimination of 35-hour week agreed upon

Your editorial of Dec. 27 ("More work, same pay") concerning the implementation of a 40-hour work week in Anne Arundel County misstates a critical fact.

Negotiations with the affected unions did not assume "continuation of a 35-hour week," as you claim. To the contrary, elimination of the 35-hour week was from the beginning a management initiative. It became a hotly contested issue at the bargaining table.

Union and management representatives debated at length over its impact on the affected employees' wages. The agreement which was finally reached did not diminish the annual salary of any employee. This agreement was ratified by the members of each affected union.

During the negotiations, the retroactive changes to the county code were discussed. If the county had handled this matter in any other way, unfair labor charges would almost certainly have been made. Instead, the legislative changes reflected the terms of the labor agreement, which also included retroactive salary adjustments.

Simultaneous with the negotiations, Bill No. 28-96 was being considered by the Anne Arundel County Council. This legislation standardized the work week at 40 hours for all non-represented employees with no increase or decrease in annual salaries.

To simply focus on one aspect of a complex negotiated settlement without considering the whole package and without any reference to the agreement being ratified by the majority of union members, your editorial draws a conclusion not based on fact.

I invite you to review the written, signed and ratified documents and contract to that effect.

That some employees did not like the agreement is true, but elimination of the 35-hour week was part of a negotiated agreement.

E. Hilton Wade Jr.

Annapolis

The writer is Anne Arundel County personnel officer.

Why should state pick on Confederate battle flag?

On Jan. 3, The Sun reported that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is revoking the Sons of Confederate Veterans license plates. The reasoning given is that because the SCV logo incorporates the Confederate battle flag as part of its design, it may offend some people.

According to reports on the radio, recent surveys show that the majority of African-Americans are not offended by the battle flag, so that obviously is a case of a select few politicians trying to create a contrived controversy to get a little publicity for their own political gain. The MVA's capitulation is absurd. It deserves the ridicule and derision for silly political correctness that its action is bound to bring upon the state of Maryland.

My great-grandfather served in the 1st Maryland Cavalry, C.S.A. I am proud of my heritage as I am sure are most other descendants of the more than 22,000 Marylanders, both black and white, who served in the Confederate military during the War between the States.

I have been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for several years. I have witnessed first-hand that it in no way promotes racist views or hatred, as implied by the MVA's actions.

For elected officials to compare us to Nazis and the extermination of Jews is pure bigotry and hate-mongering. Their claim that the flag stands solely for slavery is a distortion of history. The overwhelming majority of Confederate soldiers were from families who did not own slaves. In fact, the war raged for more than three years before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and even this exempted the border states that had not seceded. Lincoln himself said that the war's purpose was to preserve the Union and if keeping slavery would preserve the Union, he would accept it.

There is no denying that certain hate groups have all too frequently displayed the Confederate battle flag at their functions. One of the SCV's activities has been to try to discourage these groups from defaming the battle flag through their use of it.

However, these same hate groups also always display both the U.S. flag and the cross -- symbols of our nation and of Christianity.

The MVA should call off this silly attempt at political correctness and reinstate the SCV plate. If it does not, the program should be abolished in its entirety. There is absolutely no reason to single out the SCV.

I read that the MVA has received complaints that the Purple Heart tags offend people by "glamourizing war," while others have complained that the Vietnam Veteran tags incorporate part of the South Vietnamese flag, which offends others. What is the state's logic for ignoring these complaints while revoking SCV's tags and SCV's alone?

E. L. Maddox

Millersville

What price did we pay for Dr. King's holiday?

AT 8 A.M. tomorrow, the 16th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial breakfast will be held at Anne Arundel Community College. This year's keynote speaker is Randall Robinson, executive director of TransAfrica, a lobbying group dedicated to a more progressive U.S. foreign policy in Africa.

Mr. Robinson became internationally renowned when he led the successful non-violent anti-apartheid movement in the United States that eventually led to the freeing of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and democracy in the Republic of South Africa.

I have had the privilege of serving as chair of this breakfast from its inception. In the last few years, on the eve of the King holiday, The Sun has given me the opportunity to write a column on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which I have appreciated.

This year, I wanted to raise a question: "What price did we pay for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday?"

Dr. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He came to national prominence in 1955 when he joined with Rosa Parks and 50,000 African Americans to boycott buses in Montgomery, Ala., over that city's segregated public accommodation laws.

In 1963, he would win national acclaim for his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. In 1964, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Four years later, he would be murdered in Memphis, Tenn.

Immediately following his death, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan introduced a bill that would make Dr. King's birthday a national holiday.

After 15 years and hundreds of marches led by Stevie Wonder and others, a reluctant President Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 making the birthday of Dr. King a national holiday.

For more than a decade now, the nation has celebrated his birthday. No other American in the 20th Century has been so honored. Dr. King was not a president; in many ways, he was a prophet. As a nation, we have paid a high price for this holiday. And not just in the death of Dr. King.

Many, many others died to make America a better nation. The more prominent include Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, President John F. Kennedy, his brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, as well as countless civil rights workers, both black and white, that many of our young people will never know. Each year, we pause to honor not just Dr. King but the brave men and women throughout America who sacrificed so much for the cause of brotherhood and racial equality.

Those of us who honor the legacy of Dr. King will never support any business that holds a "Martin Luther King Jr. sale." To commercialize the day is to do injury to the dream and all those individuals who have paid the ultimate price to make America better.

In Anne Arundel County, we are fortunate that we have had some brave people, black and white, who were willing to take a stand even when it was not the chic thing to do.

Local heroes

I think of Morris H. Blum, a Jewish man who founded radio station WANN in Annapolis in 1947. His radio station was the first in Maryland to hire Africa Americans as on-air personalities. The legendary Charles W. "Hoppy" Adams Jr. was his executive vice-president. He did this before there was a civil rights bill, before Dr. King marched in Montgomery.

I think of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the late Walter S. Mills, who with the assistance of the late Thurgood Marshall, fought and won equal pay for black teachers in Anne Arundel. The only way to truly honor the memory of a Dr. King is to remember those four little children who were in church attending Sunday school in Birmingham, Ala., in September 1963 when their church was dynamited by bigots. Their killers were never apprehended.

"If we stand tall," an African proverb says, "it is because we stand on the backs of those who have gone before us." Indeed, the contributions of those thousands of foot soldiers before us made it possible for there to be a national King holiday.

I am convinced that Dr. King understood that freedom requires the willingness to die for one's beliefs. He said, that, "If a man hasn't found something worth dying for, he isn't fit to live." Dr. King gave all Americans something worth fighting for.

His dream has become our dream. It will never die. The price that we continue to pay for this holiday is our willingness to make America, in the words of Dr. King, "a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

Carl O. Snowden

The writer is an Annapolis alderman.

Pub Date: 1/19/97

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