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Letters: The worth of unions at the LIRR

LIRR at the Bellmore LIRR station on Monday,

LIRR at the Bellmore LIRR station on Monday, July 14, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Newsday's reporting on the potential Long Island Rail Road strike is so one-sided ["Far apart as strike nears," News, July 15]! Your stories don't include all of the facts, just information to incite the public.

When you mention what the city bus and subway workers recently received in raises, 8 percent over five years, you conveniently leave out the fact that in 2009, arbitrator John E. Zuccotti awarded them close to 11 percent raises over three years. LIRR employees have been working without a contract for four years, which equals no raises!

Also in a recent editorial, Newsday talked about how much more LIRR employees get because of two generous pensions ["Strike a deal, avoid a strike," July 13]. Newsday leaves out the fact that railroad employees pay twice the rate of Social Security deductions. We pay a Tier II tax that people under Social Security don't pay.

That means that if I work 25 years, I will have paid $75,000 more in railroad retirement system taxes than someone under Social Security.

Newsday makes union workers out to be so bad. Thanks to American unions, the workday is eight hours long, with a lunch break. Before union advocacy, we worked 12-hour days. Some other things you can thank unions for: paid vacations, family medical leave, sick leave, Social Security, minimum wage, overtime pay, laws ending sweatshops . . . I could go on.

Frank Gifford, Wantagh

Editor's note: The writer works for the LIRR.

Why not fire all the Long Island Rail Road workers who strike and replace them with under- or unemployed people?

Unions once played a vital role in ensuring safe and reasonable working conditions for thousands of Americans. However, today they have many unreasonable demands, one of which seems to be no employee contribution to medical insurance. Get real.

Joe Cavallo, Deer Park

I rode the Long Island Rail Road to my job in Manhattan for nearly 30 years. During the 11-day strike in 1987, my colleagues and I carpooled to Howard Beach, where we caught the (now discontinued) "train to the plane" subway to the World Trade Center. One day we got caught in a blizzard on the way home, and it took me nine hours to drive from Howard Beach to Islip.

While I sympathize with the workers who have not had a contract for more than four years, it is not right that they hold commuters hostage. They obviously care more about themselves than the people they serve.

The LIRR management should take a cue from Ronald Reagan, who fired more than 11,000 striking air traffic controllers in 1981 and banned them from returning to the job. There are a lot of unemployed Long Islanders who would be more than happy to have the jobs and benefits that the railroad workers have.

Roderick Andersson, Islip Terrace


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