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Letter: Employees still need unions

A silent protester cries while wearing a sticker

A silent protester cries while wearing a sticker over her mouth signifying the loss in wages from the right-to-work law in Lansing, Mich. (Dec. 12, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

The letter "Unions outlived their purpose" [Dec. 18] is the latest in a series of bitter and uninformed anti-union diatribes.

The writer refers to labor departments and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, agencies that are chronically underfunded, as an adequate replacement. He ignores the fact that some Republicans -- spurred by business groups -- continue to chip away at many of the laws designed to protect employees and will continue to do so if unions are not there to oppose them.

Those agencies do nothing to help employees fight for fair wages and benefits and, when employees are exploited, often are only able to step in after the damage has been done.

Right-to-work laws allow employees to opt out of having to pay any dues, while still enjoying all of the benefits and services of the union. Right-to-work laws have nothing to do with sound public policy, and instead are part of an effort by Republicans to punish political opponents, actions that are far more dangerous to our democracy than organizations that fight for employee rights.

I believe many employees would like to be part of a union but that the process to organize has been made more difficult by laws that strongly favor employers, and by employers' workplace threats.

Ralph DeRosa, Oakdale

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer who represents unionized physicians.