Tugboat crews were misled on union vote

The Seafarers International Union (SIU) takes issue with The Sun's article about Moran Towing tugboat crews giving up union representation ("Tug firm crewmen can quit union," Sept. 18). The SIU contends that the company misled the workers to influence their vote.

First -- and this detail is crucial -- no SIU contract provision allows Moran to reduce staffing by one union position. Contrary to what was stated in the article, no such provision exists. It is the company -- not the union -- that is pushing for cutbacks.

It's true that another local, SIU-contracted tug company (McAllister Towing) recently reduced staffing. But what The Sun failed to report is that this idea did not come from the SIU. In fact, the union sought support from the Coast Guard, the state legislature and local pilots to maintain the manning levels.

Ultimately, after many months of tough negotiations, the McAllister men themselves approved a contract that contained numerous gains but did call for reduced crews.

The Sun also omitted the fact that the National Labor Relations Board agreed with the union's charge that Moran for many months attempted to unfairly influence crew members through their captains and attempted to restrict the union's access to employees.

It is clear that Moran tried to discourage employee support for the union. We believe they intimidated the crews and implied that the boatmen would lose jobs if they voted for the union.

The employer's campaign was complete with the standard union-busting tactics we've come to expect from those who take advantage of workers any way possible.

And our strong suspicion is that, by giving up the protection of union representation, the workers will lose out. From our perspective, they've put their trust in a company whose only motive is greed.

Michael Sacco

Camp Springs

The writer is president of the SIU.

Voters deserve another debate

As I tuned in to watch the debate between Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, I looked forward to finally having a real exchange of ideas that would clarify their positions. Instead, I was disappointed to see a scene more like a bad Jerry Springer episode than a serious, professional discussion of issues ("Ehrlich and Townsend exchange jabs," Sept. 27).

After being promised a fair setting by the NAACP and its president, Kweisi Mfume, Maryland voters and viewers were subjected to a circus-like atmosphere that was profoundly unfair to Mr. Ehrlich and an embarrassment for Morgan State University, the NAACP and Mr. Mfume.

The voters deserve another debate.

Michael A. Dubsky


Giving terrorists a helping hand

In and around the Baltimore metropolitan area, sometimes in jest, it is not unusual to hear The Sun referred to as The Daily Pravda. And in its reporting on the government's facility for identifying criminals and terrorists, The Sun certainly earned this name ("Records, fingerprints stockpiled at W.Va. site," Sept. 15).

Pravda could not have done a better job alerting every terrorist and anarchist of the facility's existence, location, and capabilities against criminals and terrorists. And it didn't matter to The Sun that our government expressed the desire for this facility to remain anonymous for its protection, as the article reported.

Laying bare this facility was of no benefit to our society. But it certainly provided another target for this country's enemies, and this endangers all of those who work there.

J. Shawn Alcarese


Welcome reminder of rights we cherish

Thank you for the editorial "Tomorrow it's us" (Sept. 18).

I find alarming the recent polls that show a very large percentage of Americans willing to sacrifice some civil liberties for greater security.

The editorial helped focus attention on the irony of abandoning those civil liberties and especially those guaranteed by the First Amendment in the name of protecting that for which America stands.

Even if the current administration doesn't understand what is at stake here, let us hope that the people do.

Robert L. Mordhorst


Diplomacy is path to disarmament

Mona Charen refers to Adolf Hitler, quotes Winston Churchill and tells us "why we must fight now" (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 16).

But Iraq can no more be compared to pre-World War II Germany and Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler than President Bush can be compared to Winston Churchill.

Mr. Hussein's ruined country is not the industrial-military powerhouse that Germany was in the late 1930s, devouring nation after nation. And Iraq, whose people, infrastructure and military capability have been decimated in an ongoing war for oil and hegemony in the region, has not attacked the United States.

Bombing Iraq while Mr. Hussein hides in an undisclosed location, laughing as his people die, will not protect the United States from terrorism.

Multilateral diplomacy working toward U.N.-led weapons inspections, while not as exhilarating as playing derring-do with other people's lives, and often agonizingly slow, is surely preferable to pointless killing.

Lee Lears


Send 'body brokers' to prison overseas

As someone who spent most of 1979 working among the Marshallese on Enewetak Atoll, I was sickened by the degree of exploitation perpetrated by the so-called "body brokers" ("Indentured in America," Sept. 15-17).

After more than 100 years of not-always-benevolent domination by the Germans, Japanese and the United States, the Marshall Islands are on the road to self-determination. But the despicable acts of the few threaten to overshadow the good works of many.

Here's a possible solution: Enter into an extradition treaty with Micronesia and the Marshall Islands to send the "body brokers" to prison over there, followed by a "contract of employment" that will enable them to purchase airfare home in, say, five years -- if they don't drink too much, complain or abuse the "privilege."

George Kleb


Time hasn't dimmed evil of indenture

The Sun's series "Indentured in America" (Sept. 15-17) was horrifying. This was a tale that seemed to come from the 19th century.

The people huddled together in a dark, cold room without enough food may be Micronesian instead of Irish, but the evil perpetrated upon them remains the same. Indenturement is slavery. It is relentless. It is evil.

But the fact that our government is "negotiating" with these "recruiters" instead of hanging them outright is what horrified me the most.

Lynda Lambert


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