September 26, 2013 at 11:37 AM
How low can you go?
I was struck by the presentation of the “no” position in the minimum-wage debate. [“Should fast-food chains pay a ‘living wage’?”, Opinion, Sept. 21.]
It makes sense that entry-level positions are just that: for people entering the job market, learning to be reliable and able to follow directions. But this sensible idea was then twisted to say that the wage for such positions was low in order to inspire these people to get out of such positions.
This is an argument for lowering the wage, thus making the incentive all the stronger. Companies with unpaid interns love this argument.
For a rational approach to this problem, it would help if those in favor of the “no” position would come up with a minimum-wage amount that they would be in favor of.
Were they in favor of the present $7.25 federal minimum wage when it was being installed years ago? Is there a fair wage for entry-level positions?
Dan Geels, Bothell
September 11, 2013 at 7:02 PM
A picket line that needs to be crossed
I do not understand the longshoremen’s union’s position on the removal of dirt from the tunnel project. [“Tunnel work grinds to a halt over union dispute,” page one, Sept. 7.]
They apparently agreed to arbitration but dislike the July ruling. They were offered a reasonable split of the jobs in question a month ago by the project team, but said no.
Meanwhile, the work has been stopped for at least two weeks, presumably at great taxpayer cost. This kind of intransigence is one of the reasons the public view of unions is often low and leads to successful union-busting.
Has the International Longshore and Warehouse Union not noticed the flow of manufacturing jobs to states where unions are weak or nonexistent? Has it no regard for the greater public good?
I am a firm believer in the need for worker protections provided by unions, but this turf defense at any cost is becoming ridiculous. This is a picket line that needs to be crossed.
Leonard de Vries, Seattle
September 10, 2013 at 11:34 AM
Waste of time and money
Do you really think the taxpaying public really cares who moves the dirt? [“Tunnel work grinds to a halt over union dispute,” page one, Sept. 7.]
Holding up a project of this magnitude and cost for eight jobs is absolutely ludicrous. In the meantime, there are 250 construction workers twiddling their thumbs, waiting for someone to get off the dime.
Come on, project manager — get Bertha moving! Go with those you hired to do the work, and let the other group pout and picket.
John Moe, Federal Way
May 3, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Not everyone takes advantage of the system
I was appalled by Froma Harrop’s column [“Free America’s ‘work beasts’ from disability scammers,” Opinion, April 26].
Let us be clear: This was nothing more than a naked attack on the safety net that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can provide. It’s an old tactic — take a small truth and enlarge it to encompass the entire network.
The small truth: There are some who do scam the SSDI system. This does not make that system bad or undesirable. This attack casts aspersions on anyone getting disability, insinuating that all who do are lazy good-for-nothings.
I am gratified to read letters of support for disabled workers from the likes of Ruth Kimball from Renton, David Warner from Seattle and Anna Kysar, also of Seattle. These people know and understand something fundamental: Disability is not an easy road for many, many people, and the stigma often attached to getting the needed help from the safety net makes it even worse. We cannot tolerate more stigmatizing. In fact, let’s call it what it is: bullying.
Philip Ryburn, Seattle
Harrop was not suggesting everyone takes advantage of the system
Ruth Kimball’s Northwest Voices letter indicts Froma Harrop for attempting to discredit the integrity of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries [“Disabled workers deserve more respect,” Northwest Voices, May 1].
What the opinion article suggests is stopping the disability scammers to ensure the long-term viability of SSDI, not attempting to abolish SSDI or paint all beneficiaries as scammers.
The letter even goes so far as to suggest the opinion author meet some Seattle claimants so she could see for herself that there are no SSDI disability scammers in Seattle.
Since the letter author makes her living defending such cases in court and in turn makes her living from such unfortunate people, I wonder if it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask her for a record of all the questionable cases she has turned down over the years to protect the integrity of SSDI?
David Cutler, Medina
March 12, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Seattle’s progressivism may not be global
The recent protest that took place in South Lake Union at the headquarters of Amazon.com should serve as a reminder to us all that Seattle may not be as “progressive” as we like to believe. Protesting Amazon’s refusal to negotiate a union-wage contract with its currently nonunion workforce in Germany, the protesters implicated Amazon of less-than-standard working conditions in its Germany-based warehouses [“Battle escalates between Amazon, German labor,” Business, March 5].
While the particulars of the working conditions are presented in different lights from different sides of the story, the bigger picture to focus on is the mere possibility that the economic upswing we feel here as Amazon maximizes its bottom line, could in fact be perpetuating the exact opposite effect across the globe.
Seattleites are quite progressive on a micro scale — as can be seen by the careful consideration and pride we put into deciding whether to recycle this or compost that. But do we truly stop and think how our regional businesses, companies that many of us (or our family members and friends) may work for, significantly impact, for better or worse, the lives of others around the world?
–Jessica Muhm, Seattle
September 11, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Does S. Carolina know how to build a Boeing?
Editor, The Times:
Though I never built a Boeing aircraft, I did fly them. Because of the dedication, knowledge and expertise of Washington state craftsmen and women, many of those well-designed and constructed airframes are still flying.
Consider that the 707, 737, 747, B-52 and even some B-17s are still aloft. For nearly a century, Washingtonians knew how to build airplanes.
I can appreciate Boeing involving potential buyers in building new aircraft. However, it appears, Boeing has sacrificed quality for a kumbaya feeling. It seems that almost every day I read about some offshore partner — whose workers do not have the history, the experience or know-how of the Washingtonians who bleed Boeing blue — erring in their responsibilities.
But it is not only foreign builders and suppliers, but Americans as well. Who ever said South Carolinians could build an airplane? Who installed the wrong fasteners in the wrong places and caused damage to the composite structure?
Again, without the historical background and skill found in the Puget Sound area, the Gamecocks have stumbled. It seems to me that if I ran Boeing, I would want the best product at the best price. And that does not mean the lowest price — paying a worker $40 an hour for the job done correctly and professionally is less expensive than paying someone $30 an hour for a shoddy job that has to be done twice to get it right.
I guess I am not seeing the big picture because Boeing must know what it is doing and be going in the right direction — it’s too big to fail.
– Richard A. Virant, Bothell
Threats of strikes, then a final departure of 787 from Washington
The unions and government in Washington state should heed the knell of the vote to throw out the union at the Boeing facility in Charleston ["Boeing Charleston votes to oust Machinists Union," Business, Sept. 11].
As one who grew up in western New York and watched businesses move manufacturing out of state due to the union and government attitude toward business, I see a dramatic parallel with the events of the past year. First, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (Idiots Against Management) strike on the only busy business in the nation; second, the shuttering of all the U.S. Marine plants while shifting that production to business-friendly states like Tennessee and Florida.
We should all remember: “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
– Gary M. Schmidt, Seattle
Albaugh will respect Boeing’s skilled workers
With the appointment of Jim Albaugh as CEO of Boeing’s Commercial Airplane Division ["Boeing fix-it guy leads airliner unit," page one, Sept. 1], a mending process can now begin to right the division and get the 787 Dreamliner flying.
Quoting Albaugh from a Times column: “In its soul, Boeing has always been and remains an engineering company.” He continues to say, “the heart of this company is the skilled machinists, technicians and mechanics — true craftsmen and wizards — who deliver on their promises everyday.”
Albaugh thus recognized the truism that a company’s greatest asset is its workers, and it appears the 787 is in good hands. Bon voyage, Boeing!
– Anthony E. Pomata, Maple Valley
September 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM
To protect teachers’ rights and public interest, introduce binding arbitration
No matter which side you believe is right in the labor dispute between Kent’s teachers and their district’s management, we can all agree teachers should receive fair contracts and a teachers strike is never in the public interest. So when negotiations reach an impasse, how can they be resolved without teachers applying the pressure of a strike?
The answer is simple: Give both sides the right to request binding arbitration when contract negotiations on a particular issue have stalled.
State law does not guarantee or prohibit a right to strike for teachers, but state courts have always granted injunctions against teachers that choose to strike because of the “irreparable harm” a long strike would potentially cause.
State law specifically bars police and firemen from striking, but the law gives them the right to binding arbitration when they hit an impasse in bargaining to preserve some semblance of a level playing field during bargaining. If teachers can be forced to work by the courts even when they do not have a labor agreement, they absolutely need the ability to bring in a fair and neutral arbitrator during bargaining to help them ensure disputes over contract provisions can be resolved quickly and fairly.
This simple reform would dramatically streamline negotiations, thereby saving taxpayers and unions a lot of money and completely eliminating the annual ritual of looming strikes in Washington schools every September.
The Washington Education Association should organize a ballot initiative to change the law in Washington state to specifically provide the right for arbitration wherever state law will not provide the right to strike.
– Pat Mead, Maple Valley
Fine striking teachers, cut administrators’ positions, salaries
Each and every one of Kent School District’s striking teachers should be fired or at the very least fined at least $500 per day retroactive to the first day of the strike. In addition, they should work the full 180 days but receive no pay for the days on strike.
If class size is the issue, then teachers should give up any pay raise and give money back so the district can hire new teachers.
However, on the other side, the district needs to rid itself of half the administrators and reduce salaries. What they make for what they do is downright obscene.
– Lynn Folsom, Issaquah
Think the strike is bad? Try being a teacher
As a former high-school English teacher and football coach, I understand the Kent Teachers’ Association’s position and support their strike. The attitude of some members of the public and the Kent administrators needs adjustment.
They want and expect teachers to go into classrooms with 30-plus kids, and within a 55-minute period, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages and instill in them a love for learning. They want and expect teachers to check the kids’ backpacks for weapons, counsel them on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases and raise their sense of self-esteem and personal pride. They want and expect teachers to teach kids patriotism and good citizenship; sportsmanship and fair play; and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook and apply for a job.
They want and expect teachers to recognize signs of anti-social behavior, and make sure the kids all pass the final exams. They want and expect teachers to provide an equal education regardless of the kids’ disabilities while communicating regularly with parents in English, Spanish or any other language by letter, telephone, e-mail, newsletter and report card. And they want and expect teachers to do all that and more with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books and a big smile.
All that and more is expected of teachers on a salary that qualifies most of them for food stamps. Yet teachers are castigated for striking for smaller classroom sizes, more time with their students and a pittance of a raise in salary.
– Patrick Watson, Federal Way
Teachers are fighting for the quality of education
My wife and I have wisely decided to have only one child. The reason is not because we don’t like children, but because it is much easier for us to manage if we only have one rascal than to have more than one.
My heart goes out to Kent School District teachers on strike, and I give them 100 percent of my support for their sad plight.
If I whine because it is tough to manage one child in my household, how much worse would it be if your job is to manage around 30 students in a single class by yourself at least six hours a day everyday? That is a mountainous job.
I don’t blame teachers for their courage to go against the court injunction to go back to school to teach. Disobeying the court order doesn’t mean teachers don’t have regard for our court of law. It does mean that if they decide to go back to work against their consciences, the quality of education will certainly be affected.
Picture yourself as a teacher with 32 students of different ethnicities, traits, characters, idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes. Do you think it’s easy to manage that big of a class? I bet it would drive you nuts!
– Warlie Villasencio, Kent
Teachers need time in detention
While I’m sympathetic to the goals of Kent School District’s striking teachers and value the bargaining process, the teachers’ decision to defy a court order is not OK.
They are teaching now in a very dramatic and visible way, as all adults do by their actions, that the judicial system doesn’t apply to them — only everyone else, I guess.
Will students respect guidance from teachers expecting rules to mean something when those expecting to be respected have publicly violated what a judge says? Will students feel respect for teachers who ignore the law, and instead of doing their job while continuing to negotiate, as professionals, have treated a court order the same way a hoodlum would?
This isn’t OK. Kent teachers need to go to detention.
– Kevin Grossman, Shoreline
September 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM
A sense of sacrifice from UW president
I for one am terribly impressed by University of Washington President Mark Emmert’s shared sense of sacrifice ["Emmert gets new perks, no pay raise," page one, Sept. 4] as the UW has made deep cuts in its budget, including eliminating its swim team as well as increasing tuition by 14 percent.
If leaders lead by example, may we all be so lucky!
– Patrick Burns, Seattle
Can I be Emmert’s driver?
I think you printed the story about the University of Washington’s benefits for its president, Mark Emmert, just to raise the blood pressure of folks like me.
I will be so sorry if Emmert is unable to live on his $906,500 per year, plus change he receives in cash and stock for sitting on various boards. As far as I’m concerned, all of this is a disgrace. How much do people really need?
Of course, this salary is nothing at all compared to the corporate titans’ compensation. My point is, however, how much is enough? Where does it stop?
Since I have been out of a job since October, perhaps I could sign on as Emmert’s driver. I wonder how much it would pay …
– Kathleen Collins, Bellevue
September 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Strike illegal, but will teachers face consequences?
For being educated people, striking Kent teachers don’t seem to understand their strike is illegal, yet they still serve no consequence for their action. ["Kent teachers delay decision on whether to stay on strike," page one, Sept. 4.]
Kent teachers point their fingers at other school districts when they talk about money and class sizes, so why don’t they leave the Kent District and go to those other districts?
The teachers’ strike has caused the rescheduling of the start of classes, so why don’t the students, parents and taxpayers insist the teachers’ union pay the district’s expenses for the period of time the strikes cost?
– H. Lontz, Kent
A history lesson in strikes from the Boston Tea Party
Is there ever a right time to strike? A right time to break the law?
Some of my ancestors believed strongly it was right to remain loyal to the crown, so they moved to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada; others thought the law bad, so they disguised themselves as Native Americans and threw tea into Boston Harbor to protest.
These Americans thought they had an inalienable right to break a bad law.
I taught for 31 years, and I am sure there’s more to the Kent teachers’ strike than is on the surface. I say, “Throw the tea in the harbor.”
– Delbert O. Lawrence, Bellevue
September 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Furloughs undercut vital, dedicated county workers
Thank you to Tracey Thompson, principal officer at Teamsters Local 117, for speaking up on the King County furlough issue ["Stop scapegoating King County workers over budget woes," Opinion, guest column, Aug. 26].
It is too bad that Teamsters 174 has not acknowledged what King County is doing to its workers.
After working nearly 17 days straight, including Christmas Day, during the 2008 snowstorm in December, a furlough day was scheduled for Jan. 2. However, workers were requested to work on Jan. 3, for “storm cleanup.” If King County workers are so important to have to work overtime on Jan. 3, why not work on Jan. 2? It does not make any sense.
We all know how to fix the budget crisis. Cut the fat in the county, especially downtown. Our political candidates should take on jobs like utilities, laborers, truck drivers, flaggers and more and see how quickly they acknowledge the importance of the King County worker. Furthermore, try to hire this type of service during an emergency, and I guarantee that the costs will be exorbitant.
Remember the next time there is an emergency — flood, snow or wind storm — our King County workers are out taking care of business, away from their families and the comfort of their homes in order to make life safer for all of you.
– Lynette Johnson, Sammamish
Is county revenue really eroding?
I happened to glance through Tracey Thompson’s column about blaming King County workers for budget woes, and one sentence in particular really caught my eye: “Revenue flow has been eroding for the past decade ”
Any time I see someone making the claim that the government is getting less money I get suspicious.
A cursory search of the Metro King County budget seems to say that total revenues went from more than $3 billion in 2006 to $5 billion in 2008. I may not be a math major, but to the untrained eye that would appear to be a fairly substantial revenue increase.
If that is an example of revenue eroding, then I wish my revenue would start eroding!
– Philip Peterson, Puyallup
County workers shouldn’t be exempt from belt tightening
In her guest column in The Seattle Times, Tracey Thompson appears to feel government workers should be immune to the current financial crisis. She complains that revenues have declined “thanks to an uncooperative state Legislature and voter-approved initiatives that have reduced revenues while demand for services continues to increase.”
All over the country in the private sector, good workers have been laid off due to lack of revenue for their companies. For many of these companies, there is continued, though reduced, demand for their goods, forcing employee layoffs if the companies are to survive.
There is no reason why state employees are impervious to layoffs or reduced pay in order that the state can stay within its financial means.
As to the “uncooperative Legislature and voters,” who speaks for the public? The voters and legislators or the unions? Cuts must be made and that includes state, county and city workers, too.
Once again a union representative reveals the arrogance that helped bring down Chrysler and General Motors. Unions are not immune to the financial limitations of their employers, be they corporations or governments.
– Spencer M. Higley, Edmonds
Trending with readers