Collective bargaining is needed to protect slighted...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Collective bargaining is needed to protect slighted state workers

The article "Md. workers group fights for its life" (Feb 21) seems to suggest that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' purpose in seeking collective bargaining legislation is to threaten the Maryland Classified Employees Association.

Missing from the article are the real reasons that AFSCME and other state employees are pushing collective bargaining rights.

For years, state employees have been left out of important decisions that affect their work lives. Budget cuts have meant terminations of thousands of state employees without seniority rights, expanded work weeks without expanded compensation and the major erosion of employee pay scales.

Although state employees know that lean times mean cuts, they want to be part of deciding ways to cut costs and make government more efficient, and they want to have salaries that begin to compete with other major Maryland employers. In short, state employees want a meaningful voice regarding workplace policies. Collective bargaining provides the means to have that voice.

Regardless of who wins collective bargaining elections, the outcome is that employees have selected an organization to assist them in negotiating their pay, benefits and working conditions with management. This is very different from the experience of managers being unable to decide which organization to listen to or whether to ignore employee organizations altogether.

Collective bargaining creates a new mutual obligation between management and labor to work together to find solutions to problems. As such, it is a critical way to improve state government.

Donna S. Edwards Baltimore

The writer is president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Unacceptable behaviors should be corrected early

I would like to applaud Baltimore City Public Schools officials who are taking a hard line in dealing with student discipline issues ("Tough school policy spurs debate," Feb. 20). At what age, exactly, do parents believe that students should face consequences for their inappropriate behavior?

Is it OK for a child to play with matches in school when he is 7, but not when he's 8? Or does he have to be 9 or 10 before this potentially destructive behavior is stopped?

In the case of Nicholas Giggers, classroom disruption occurred before he lighted matches in the lavatory. It may have been only a matter of time before lighting matches might have led to some more destructive or dangerous action.

As a high school teacher and former middle school teacher, I say that the sooner kids get the message that certain behavior is not acceptable in school, the less likely today's "wayward tykes" will become tomorrow's "teen-age felons."

Joyce Gray Baltimore

Group homes don't belong in any state neighborhood

As a neighbor of the proposed group home in Worthington Valley, I am astonished at the letters I have read in this column about the subject.

It has been suggested that the residents of our community believe that this facility belongs in someone else's community. I have been actively involved in this crisis since the day that the news of this proposal leaked, and I can say with confidence that everyone agrees that this type of facility does not belong in any residential community.

We have committed all of our resources to prevent this from happening in our neighborhood and in all communities in the state. Instead of turning this into a class issue, let's unite to protect all communities form this kind of unwanted intrusion. The safety and security of all Maryland families are at stake.

Paul Glace Baltimore

Har Sinai needed research for its next location

Har Sinai could not possibly have picked a worse location for its new home ("Worship-free zones?" Feb. 21). The corner of Greenspring and Walnut avenues is already an impossibly busy drive-time intersection situated on what county engineers have discovered is a 50-year-old toxic waste site and filled-in stream.

Would a little field research have hurt the attempt to help Har Sinai find a suitable home?

D. R. Belz Lutherville

'Greatest Generation' had its highs and lows

Can we finally put this "Greatest Generation" nonsense to rest ("Don't belittle achievements of World War II generation," Feb. 23)? Yes, the parents of the Baby Boomers did indeed defeat Nazi Germany and Japan. But it was also this same generation that studied syphilis by deliberately infecting poor blacks and denying them treatment. It was the same generation that deliberately killed more than 100,000 civilians of Dresden with firebombs. And it was the only generation ever to unleash the horrors of atomic weapons on other human beings.

So let's just acknowledge that the World War II generation, like every other before and after, has its good points and bad. They are people, just like the rest of us, and no more.

William Smith Baltimore

Judge Cole a source of Republican pride

Three cheers to The Sun for celebrating the exceptional life of one of Baltimore's finest leaders, Judge Harry Cole.

Judge Cole truly embodied the qualities -- determination to succeed as a pathfinder, dedication to the family and education, service to the community and fairness to all -- we should emulate if we are to help move the city forward.

Republicans who knew Judge Cole as a leader and friend will not soon forget the courage and determination he displayed in the face of tremendous odds or the stature he enjoyed as a senior statesman in his later years. He stands as a model, and we're proud that he was one of us.

Dick Fairbanks Baltimore

The writer is vice chairman of the Baltimore City Republican Party.

NAACP shouldn't blame gun makers for violence

In response to the article "Handgun under fire at NAACP meeting" (Feb. 21), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Chief Executive Kweisi Mfume said the organization should consider suing gun manufacturers because he believes some of them deliberately market weapons in communities, knowing there would be problems.

The organization represents constituents who disproportionately are affected by gun manufacturers. I can't believe Mr. Mfume would make a statement implying gun manufacturers' responsibility without mentioning the shooter or the shooter's family.

Is Mr. Mfume aware that there are more youths in this country killed in automobile accidents than by AIDS, handguns, and drugs combined? Maybe he should go after the automotive industry.

Harry E. Kirchner Bel Air

Government should keep felons off the streets

The article in The Sun ("Criminals easily get new guns" Feb. 23) described the findings of a new federal study about guns used by criminals. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said criminals get their guns by buying them from people with no criminal record.

The story says a man was sentenced to five years in prison for selling two guns to an East Baltimore drug dealer with a long history of felony convictions. We are expected to believe that guns, manufacturers, dealers and other straw purchasers are to blame for his life of crime.

Nothing in the article explains what happened to the drug dealer or why he was not serving a prison sentence for his long history of crime. It appears the newspaper and ATF are bent on showing how someone can lead a life of crime and let the blame fall on otherwise law-abiding citizens.

We know where the problem lies. Not with society as a whole, but with a government that releases dangerous criminals into our communities while placing restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

Wallace L. Chance Jr. Centreville

Pub Date: 2/28/99

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