Some clunky assertions in your union coverage

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Friday, March 4, 2011; 7:35 PM

I was greatly disheartened to read Peter Whoriskey and Amy Gardner's Feb. 28 front-page article, "As unions' dynamic shifts, so does fight," about the complicated conditions of collective bargaining with a government.

The story's overall idea, of course, had merit, as the reporters showed, but the wholesale swallowing of the conservative language by which citizens are reduced merely to "taxpayers" was irresponsible. Yes, we all pay taxes, but we are also workers, patients, parents, students; we are users of trains, roads, water, garbage removal. Whatever elected officials may say, they are elected not to "represent the taxpayers" - as one source put it - but to represent the citizens.

Joshua Shannon, Washington

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Peter Whoriskey and Amy Gardner wrote: "Throughout U.S. history, the most prominent union clashes largely involved employees squaring off against big corporate owners over how to share profits." Sweatshops, brown lung, field labor, the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, black lung . . . .

Seriously? "How to share profits"?

David M. Siegler, Oakton

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Being balanced is not always the same as being fair. In an apparent effort to balance his criticism of recent GOP radicalism reflected in the proposal to defund the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Steven Pearlstein ["The new deal: We win. You're finished," Business, Feb. 27] unfairly maligned both a board member and the president who appointed him.

Before his appointment by President Obama to the NLRB, Craig Becker was an associate general counsel (not general counsel) to the Service Employees International Union, but he was also an associate general counsel to the AFL-CIO. He was one of the few who bridged the AFL-CIO/SEIU split because union leaders of all stripes valued his sensible advice and expertise. In contrasting Becker with past appointees, Pearlstein overlooked Becker's tenured professorship at the UCLA School of Law and his teaching at the University of Chicago School of Law.

There is nothing inappropriate about appointing a distinguished union-side lawyer to the NLRB. As efforts to block the nomination of career NLRB lawyer Lafe Solomon as the board's general counsel show, it is enforcement of the law, not a union pedigree, that incites the opposition.

Becker is highly qualified to serve on the NLRB. Opposition to his nomination is rooted in the same hostility to unions and worker protection manifested in the House defunding bill.

David Reiser, Takoma Park

The writer was a law school and undergraduate classmate of Craig Becker.


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