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Unions still play role

Regarding the Feb. 24 Perspective, ``Unions no longer a necessity,'' several major points need to be made:

Owners and managers of companies have a goal of maximizing profits. This means minimizing costs. Workers, unionized or not, do not share this goal with respect to wages. This is the origin of collective bargaining, where both sides sit down and negotiate an agreement. It is not dictated by management or union.

The reason we have ``manufacturing plants [that] are clean, well-lit, [and] safe'' is due in part to union demands at the bargaining table for clean, well-lit and safe places in which to work, not the generosity of management.

For every ``fat-cat'' boss with ``well-padded'' jobs in a union, there are fat-cat bosses with well-padded jobs in the executive suite. Are these salaries part of the higher costs to manufacture that the author alleges are the unions' fault? Are we also still under the illusion that higher profit margins benefit workers?

Management ``thugs'' have undertaken murder and mayhem against union organizers for decades.

Not knowing Johnson Controls, I can't say whether automation is going to be a way to save money for the company. I can say that greater efficiency can come about when management has a relationship with workers that isn't defined by fear and distrust.

Whether you like it or not, workers will band together when they see that individually they have no way to influence what goes on around them. The constructive response is to get beyond the stereotypes and find solutions together. Robots, it should be noted, also do not purchase autos or other products. Something to think about when considering who drives the demand for manufactured products.

Tom Polk

Baltimore

unions check power

While reading the Feb. 24 issue I came across the Perspective, ``Unions no longer a necessity.''

I've never belonged to a union, but I have learned the value of unions. In fact, I've even worked in strikes as a member of management and engaged in negotiations with different unions at the bargaining table.

The issues are not the union vs. management, but rather a much more fundamental difference which results from a human frailty and the overwhelming desire to control and abuse power. Simply put, in the absence of unions, management over time would abuse its uncontested power. Conversely, without non-union operations acting as a watchdog, unions would abuse their uncontested power and bring industry to a standstill.

Until our human intellect advances, we must keep this delicate balance to prevent abuse from either group. Make no mistake about it, if not for union bargaining, the already-expensive medical costs supported by firms today would simply be passed on to the employees without a moment of hesitation at full cost.

Lastly, labor cost differentials with Japanese workers were not the reason the door was opened; it was because of their superior- quality products and allowing existing dealerships multiple car franchises.

Michael Handler

Pensacola, Fla.