New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 15, 1983, New Braunfels, Texas
4 New Braunfels HwaM-Zeitung Tuesday, March 15,1983Opinions
Days Kramer, General Manager Hobart Johaeoa, EditorJames J. Kilpatrick
Union ruling a victory for the
It made not even a small splash in the local papers, but a recent decision of a U.S. District Court in Maryland could set off a nice new wave of litigation in the seas of organized labor. Temporarily, at least, the big boys have lost one, and the little guys have won one, and because this doesn't happen often, the story is worth telling.
Back in ’he summer of 1976, nearly seven years ago, 18 telephone workers in Maryland got together and filed suit against the giant Communications Workers of America. The plaintiffs had the help of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation in a cause that is dear to the foundation’s heart. The workers were resisting the kind of extortion, in their
view, that goes with a union shop.
Under a union shop contract, all employees in an affected bargaining unit are compelled (a) to become dues-paying members of the responsible union, or (b) to pay the union the equivalent of membership dues anyhow. The idea is that once a union is certified as a bargaining agent, the union must bargain for all employees whether or not they are union members. It is unfair for “free riders" to accept the benefits of a union’s services without paying their rightful cost. Out of this line of reasoning comes the “agency fee.’’
I can cite an example, close at home, of how the system works. I am not a member of the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Nevertheless, because the local AFTRA union has a union shop contract with local TV stations and major networks, I cannot get on the air unless I pay dues to the union. The union performs no service whatever for me, but that is of no consequence. The rule is, pay up or stay off the air. So I pay up, and it irks me sorely.
This was the situation among the telephone workers in Maryland. They had to pay dues to the CWA, or they had to quit their jobs. It was that simple. But a body of law has been slowly developing to this effect — that compulsory dues may be exacted from non-members for three purposes only: collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance
procedures. Dissenting workers cannot be compelled to pay for a union’s other activities.
In the case at hand, a “special master” appointed by the District Court took voluminous evidence on how the CWA spends its money. Whole batteries of accountants and experts were called in by both sides. The union contended that just about everything was related in some way to bargaining, contracts and grievances. For example, the union argued that its contributions to charities helped to create a favorable public view of union labor, and thus promoted an atmosphere conducive to productive bargaining. The special master threw that one out.
On careful examination, the special
master last summer concluded that an astonishing 81 percent of the union’s funds were being spent for “impermissible" purposes — that is, for purposes not directly related to bargaining, contracts or grievances. The recommendations of the special master floated up to District Judge James R. Miller Jr. On March 4, he reduced the 81 percent to 79 percent, and ordered the union to refund 79 percent of the agency fees that had been extracted from the plaintiffs.
The individual payments won’t amount to more than a few hundred dollars to each of the 18 mavericks, but the legal principle has large applications. The ruling means that, while a union is free to lobby for the
Panama Canal Treaty or the Equal Rights Amendment, non-members cannot be compelled to pay for these extracurricular activities. Those who are caught in the nets of a union shop cannot be made to support causes they do not believe in and have no voice in determining.
The CWA of course will appeal Judge Miller’s decision, and another few years may elapse before the suit is finally settled. Meanwhile, the court's order is bound to encourage the 5 or 6 percent within a typical bargaining unit who resent their captivity and want at least some relief. TTus was a small but significant victory for individual freedom. We don’t win many, but we do win a few.
ViewpointKeep jail downtown
On the surface, it sounds like a marriage of two unrelated matters. What does item one, the county jail, have to do with item two, downtown New Braunfels? Why is keeping it there so important to the future of the downtown area? So the inmates can shop there?
But on closer inspection, the two have everything to do with each other. As a result, the move to keep the proposed jail and criminal justice complex downtown is vitally important.
Comal County must build a new jail. A lawsuit by a former inmate, who charged conditions in the existing jail violated his civil rights, brought this on. The suit was settled out of court, with construction of a new jail one of the stipulations.
So the search is on. The county has appointed a committee to recommend sites for a new jail, which could also include the county's courts and related functions as well. The committee has met and looked at over a dozen sites — almost all of them away from downtown.
We realize it may be difficult to find a suitable downtown site, but we feel every effort should be made to locate one.
The downtown is the city’s core. There's nothing sadder than to drive through a town with a dried-up, forgotten downtown area. You’ve seen towns like that — towns with empty downtown storefronts, towns where all the key businesses have moved to the bypass or interstate highway.
We don’t feel the entire downtown will collapse if a part of the Courthouse function is moved elsewhere, but it does cause us to worry about what the future might bring. Cities with dormant downtowns didn’t get that way overnight — their “hubs’’ eroded bit by bit.
We don’t ever want to see New Braunfels in that boat. Unless the costs are outrageous or a large-enough site cannot be found, we would like to see the new jail remain downtown.
Andy RooneyOn standing in line
There are people who’ll get in any line they see just on the theory that there must be something worth getting at the other end of it; then there are people who won’t stand in line for IO minutes if there’s a pot of gold waiting there for them.
I like the idea of self-discipline that comes when some lines are voluntarily formed. When people get one behind the other so they move forward in an orderly way instead of pushing and shoving to the front like pigs at a trough, this is a civilized procedure. Most lines aren’t voluntary, though, and I hate them.
The people who make you stand in line to get something assume that their time is more important than yours. It is preposterous the length of time some Americans stand in line to do business at a bank these days. Airline ticket counters aren’t much better. These organizations are saving themselves money by not having enough help. They borrow what they save from all the rest of us in the form of the time they steal while we stand on one foot and then the other.
Standing in line to be entertained ■•ems like a particularly dumb thing to do. I’m not so interested in having a second-hand good time that I’m going to stand in line to see a show or movie.
This comes to mind because, unlikely aa it seems, I’ve just been to Disney world near Orlando, Fla. President Reagan was just there too, to visit the new Epcot Center. Considering I’d never heard the work “Epcot" until two weeks ago, my consciousness of it now is high.
Disneyworld is divided into two parts, each attracting roughly the same size crowds. The Magic
Kingdom is the older part and is pure entertainment for children and adults who like to go along with them.
Epcot, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, is more like a World’s Fair. It has six major industrial exhibits and eight buildings representing private or government exhibits by foreign countries. It also has “The American Adventure."
Epcot attracts an older, more sophisticated crowd, although “sophisticated" is relative because no one very sophisticated is airt to go to the place. It appeals to people to whom the word “sophisticated" is pejorative.
People stand in line to buy their tickets, they stand in line to get on a bus or the monorail, they stand in line for an hour to see a 28-minute show, they stand in line to get something to eat, and then they stand in line to go to the bathroom. It is safe to say that anyone who goes to Disneyworld will spend more time standing in line than doing anything else.
I was more interested in the people than the exhibits. You’d have to say the people were middle-American at its best. They were clean, simply dressed and intelligent. They were having a quiet good time. They didn’t seem to demand much. I know them well. They think television news ought to say more that’s good about America.
In Disneyworld, they get what they deserve. The place is beautifully run and spotlessly clean. I wouldn’t mind having our living room look as well-vacuumed as the main streets of the Epcot Center.
McNeill touts recreation division
To the Editor:
I would like to address the issue of creating a “recreation division" within the City’s Parks and Recreation Department for the purpose of coordinating all city sports activities.
I feel this would be very helpful and meaningful to all people in New Braunfels because it would be a department designed primarily to benefit only local residents. Our sister cities, Seguin and San Marcos, have operated a recreation division for several years, and it shows in the excellent sports facilities available to the people.
As it now stands, the parks department has to give the city parks priority. As we all know, a large percentage of the park usage is by non-residents and many hours and dollars are delegated just to picking up trash. Volleyball, hardball, softball, soccer and tennis receive second priority and literally fight over the time and money available for their improvements and maintenance.
I commend the limited help received from the parks department and the determination of the groups who have organized and implemented the facilities we do have. Yet those facilities are dependent upon the quality of the organizations who direct them. Unfortunately, the people in these organizations change from year to year, their areas of priorities change, and frictions do arise. I see the separate interest groups uniting under one director as a necessity to keeping abreast of the
increased number of people participating in recreational activities.
I urge all of you who share an interest in recreational activities in New Braunfels to contact a city councilman and request they allocate a budget for a qualified recreation director and clerk as soon as possible, and that they allow the luanda Recreation Center to be included in the department.
Respectfully, Carola S. McNeill
Fluoridation views inaccurate-McGraw
To the Editor:
I am addressing this letter to the people who expressed their opinions on the fluoridation of our water in the “Man on the Street" article in your paper.
Mr. Klappenbach, fluoride (sodium silico-fluonde) is not an inorganic poison nor is it used as an insecticide. Dichlorodifluoromethane is used for those purposes. However, dichlorodifluoromethane is not being added to our water. Your lack of basic knowledge of chemistry astounds me. I couldn’t care less if you drmk any of this harmless water or not.
Mr. Schumann, I visited a town last summer which has had fluoridated water for 20 years. You will be happy to know both plants and humans are doing fine. If fluoride makes your coffee taste, it is strictly psychologically. I invite you to pick a glass of fluoridated water from five glasses of unfluoridated water.
Mr. Costar, the U.S. Public Health
Service estimates that for every dollar spent on fluoridation, 36 dollars could be saved in tooth decay treatment.
Mrs. Scott, God must have wanted fluoride in our water, since there is some present in our water. Fluoride is naturally present in moat water
sources. Our water lacks sufficient fluoride.
I rest my case, Mr. Editor. This type of nonsense presented in your paper is an insult to the intelligence of the people of this city.
Sen. Lloyd Bentsen United States Senate Room 240 Ruasell Building Washington, D.C. 20610
Sen. John Tower United States Senate Room 142 Russell Building Washington, D C 20610
Gov. Mark White Governor's Office Room 200 8tate Capitol Austin. Texas 78701
Rep. Edmund Kuempel Texas House of Representatives P.O.Box 2910 Austin, Texas 78769
Rep. Tom Loeffler U S House of Representatives 1213 Long worth House Off toe Washington, D C 20616
Sen. John Traeger Texas Senate
I-•pHol Station Austin, Texas 78711