Letters to the Editor - Aug. 22, 2014

Economy needs strong unions

“Right to work” legislation has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s right to employment. It is simply a tool created with the singular purpose of pitting one worker against others, manipulating them into a position in which they compete to sell their labor for the lowest wage.

“Right to work” legislation weakens collective bargaining. Propaganda convinces the public that they will be gaining a freedom, but the reality is they are losing the ability to collectively bargain effectively. Collective bargaining is how employees can voice concerns and have a real chance at getting results.

In all states where this legislation has been implemented, wages have declined, and company profits have grown. Discretionary spending falls. and the economy slows. Housing construction declines while rents rise.

Consumption, the engine of the economy, becomes starved for fuel. Tax revenues fall, along with the local governments’ ability to afford services. It becomes a vicious circle as more citizens become desperate for employment and undercut one another’s value to gain employment.

Free trade agreements are the other side of the same coin. When a corporation can’t force wages down, it moves production to a country with slave labor. Then large corporations can undercut the prices of products and increase their profits. Local companies, unable to compete, are forced out.

Without strong unions, our ability to speak as a group will dissipate, and we will lose the “right to work” at a decent wage. We will no longer be able to organize and address the issues we face in our workplaces. We will be left with a bunch of people competing for whatever wage is offered in a race to the bottom.

Robin Zimmerman



Ban smoking in downtown

People love or hate smoking. I hate it, and I applaud the 42 percent of survey respondents who supported prohibiting tobacco use downtown.

I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation in 2014. Exactly 50 years ago, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry concluded that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer, heart disease and bronchitis. Ten years ago, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard H. Carmona revealed that smoking causes disease in nearly every organ of the body.

The same risks apply to secondhand smoke, which is even more harmful to non-smokers because of their lack of regular exposure. Bluntly put, more Americans have died from smoking since 1964 than from the Holocaust, around 12 million.

Smokers can claim that they have a right to smoke, but my right to breathe clean air and live without disease precedes their right to smoke. My choice not to smoke doesn’t even affect smokers, but their choice to smoke affects everyone around them.

Back in 1964, doctors smoked and recommended smoking to everyone, even to pregnant women. Nowadays, we aren’t as ignorant, and that “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” mentality has become outdated. Our city cannot continue to support behavior that leads to the death and illness of residents.

Cigarette smoke is hazardous to public health, tourism and maintaining the image that downtown has worked so hard to create. I care about McMinnville and my fellow citizens. Downtown Mac is one of the greatest places I have ever worked. It’s busy, diverse, sophisticated and intelligent.

I trust that we will make the intelligent decision to effectively ban smoking downtown because it’s the right thing to do.

Donovan Douglas



Consistently inconsistent

Aren’t we a strange people? Among many other things, we open our Congressional meetings with prayer. We sing “God Bless America.” Yet we express concern when our commissioners open their meetings with an invocation.

I just wonder if God is smiling in amusement at our consistent inconsistencies.

Carabelle Muckey


Remembering Tillamook fire

My parents had a farm in one of the pile-dike districts by the Columbia River, between Astoria and Bonneville Dam. I was 10 years old, but I remember the Tillamook forest fire in August 1933.

The smoke settled down on us, for we had mountains on both sides of the river. During that month and for several more years, we never saw the sun, but there was a weird-looking orange ball in the sky.

My future husband, T.J. "Hoyt" Simonson, helped fight the fire.

Following the end of World War II, five of the Simonson brothers formed the Simonson Logging Company. One of their first jobs was salvage logs in Clatsop County.

The fires burn fast, especially if there is wind, so it crowns from tree to treetop, and a lot of the tree is still useful.

Now, because of political correctness, these trees are left to rot, wasting a lot of good timber.

I wonder who dreamed up the term “wildfire”? In order to have a fire, something must burn. Trees and brush can burn — wildfire has no meaning.

Elsa Simonson




Mr. Zimmerman's concerns about "right to work" legislation are misplaced. Said rights do nothing to drive wages down, or facilitate "a race to the bottom." Collective bargaining remains intact, but the influence on political contributions does take a hit. That's where the rub is: a loss of political clout.

Mr. Zimmerman may have statistics to support the surface of his claim that states with such rights have diminishing economies, but they are not evidence of cause-and-effect proof of the claim. Nor can he infer from the claim that the economies of the states without such rights are fareing demonstrably better (or, if they are, that it's because they don't allow such rights).

Mr. Zimmerman has a political agenda, here, couched in the emotional plea for increasingly better wages for workers. Those who do not want to toe the prevailing political line through confiscated dues from their wages should, indeed, have that right.


To Spongebob: Political agenda is a fair assumption. Of course, presently the political climate has been so heated that employment, healthcare, grocery shopping, almost everything that we do now seems to take on some kind of political agenda. Unions do campaign for political causes which they feel are in the best interest of the employees. Unions do have separate PAC funds which are funded differently, through voluntary contributions and fund raisers. The dues are used to fund overhead of the offices. legal counsel, training, etc. Unions are set up with an elected board comprised of the union representatives and other employees chosen by the members of the union. These positions rotate on 2 and 4 year schedules. So set up similar to our own political system, the members choose a group of their own to represent their best interests. Sometime not every single decision is what 100% of the members agree with but that has been found the most effective system to date. Again, pretty much like our countries political system.


Your primary point, Robin, was that weak unions make for weak economies, and that "right to work" legislation weakens unions. I disagree with both the premise and its inferrence. The protection of workers through collective bargaining is not hindered at all by such legislation.

My only point was that workers should not be forced to join a union, any more than they should be forced to join a political party. They should pay "fair share" for the benefits of the collective bargaining effort, just like citizens should pay taxes for the benefits derived from the public government. But workers should not be forced to join the union as a condition of the job. Protecting workers from that kind of coercion is the basis for "right to work" legislation.

My comment about a "political agenda" was directed at the use of union money to buy access to politicians to affect legislation; not how much the union organization mirrors democratic processes.


For Carabelle, Good people all over the country are fighting against those as well. Just because your worldview is so limited that you don't know about the many complaints and legal actions taken against official prayers and other endorsements of religion, doesn't mean that the fight is contained to our small county.

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