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Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

April 19, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Garbage haulers negotiate contract

Posted by Letters editor

‘Mandatory overtime’ not appealing as it sounds

Editor, The Times:

Yes, garbage workers are lucky to have jobs in these tough economic times. But The Times seems a little tone-deaf with such statements as “incomes are even burnished by mandatory overtime” [“Quit talking trash; sign a fair contract,” Opinion, April 15].

You try working “mandatory overtime” at a physically demanding job and see if you would rather have that time to be with your families or just to live your life instead of having that extra money.

Regarding your “puzzlement” at the garbage haulers trying to look after their benefits and look to their futures when their bodies will be worn out from doing these physically demanding jobs: How about aiming some of your potshots at companies that use these tough economic times to bust unions and squeeze hardworking people in order to make a little more profit?

Just a thought.

— Kirk and Mary Claire Duncan, Seattle

Empty your wallets, executives

Why should workers in the fifth-most-dangerous job in the United States give concessions (recession or not) to a company that made more than $11 billion dollars last year?

Why is it OK for the company to eliminate retiree health care, refuse to match the benefits other sanitation companies provide, force employees to work 12-hour days and harass them when they get injured?

Why does The Times insist on saying the only issues are over-improvements in benefits? Not only is this erroneous, but if true, it could hardly be a crime.

I am tired of hearing that employees should surrender their health and income to huge corporations that pay big CEO salaries and fat shareholder dividends from the labor of those workers. Every wage and benefit increase won by rank-and-file workers helps others —even in other industries. The workers raise the bar of prevailing wages. U.S. employees have been taking a hit for years. It is time for the fat cats to pay for a change.

— Megan Cornish, Seattle

When companies make bank, where do workers come in?

I object to the “Quit talking trash; sign a fair contract” editorial, which indicates that in a time of economic uncertainty, workers with “good-paying jobs and steady employment” are obligated to give up those advantages in solidarity with the underpaid and unemployed.

No, that is not how it works. Over and over again, we have seen workers give back for the sake of the company. But when those companies post record profits, there is no corresponding giveback to the workers.

The way workers such as the garbage haulers — who are putting up a great fight against the mega-rich Waste Management corporation — could help their less fortunate fellows is to stand up to preserve income and safety standards.

The so-called “jobless recovery” we are experiencing simply means that corporations have rescued their profits by driving down wages and conditions. Talk about trash.

— Helen Gilbert, Seattle

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