Letters to the business editor: Right to organize essential
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As a former member of the Boilermakers Local 154 and Teamsters Local 211 and Local 249, I take great issue with workers being denied the opportunity to organize ("Ferlo Joins UPMC Unionizing Effort," June 1).
The workers at UPMC are seeking to exercise a fundamental right, a right afforded to them through the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. My colleague Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, should be commended for informing UPMC workers of their rights and for reminding the management at UPMC of their responsibilities under the law to respect workers' rights.
The right to organize was something our parents and grandparents fought for during the 20th century. The labor movement did more than create the right to organize, it created the middle class. The 40-hour work week, child labor laws and safety laws were all derived from the labor movement of the 20th century.
A new conflict has emerged in the 21st century, the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. Today middle-class workers are settling for less in the form of lower wages, no pensions and higher costs while corporations and big business enjoy one tax break after another. Executive pay continues to rise, with stock options and lucrative benefits packages, while middle-class workers struggle. This particular corporation, UPMC, also enjoys "nonprofit" status. This billion dollar "nonprofit" is resisting an effort by a group of employees to seek a better future for themselves and their families.
I applaud Sen. Ferlo for his efforts, and I support the employees at UPMC. These workers make an invaluable contribution every day to the health and well-being of our community. They, along with all workers, deserve to be treated with respect.
WAYNE D. FONTANA
First Published June 9, 2012 12:00 am