Unions aren't to be blamed for all airlines' woes

Recently a Readers' Forum letter writer engaged in union bashing. The writer showed a lack of knowledge of labor/management history in this country. Karl Marx, the father of communism, predicted American capitalism would soon collapse because greedy owners and managers would abuse their absolute power over the workers, causing workers to revolt and set up a communistic economic system. This did happen in many countries. During the first 30 years of the 20th Century, it appeared that his prediction would be correct for the United States.

Marx overlooked the emergence of a powerful, American, labor-union movement.  The Great Depression emphasized the workers' plight. As a result, labor unions were recognized, legitimatize and given the right to strike.

The writer is misinformed about Eastern Airlines. The major problem was created when it bought a fleet of aircraft that could not efficiently fly the routes it served, and then tried every trick in the book to solve its problems at the employees' expense.

In the current American Airlines squabble, the pilots were concerned that the acquisition of a lower-paying airline would set a precedent for changing salaries and seniority if they didn't respond. Their timing was probably a mistake, but management should have entered into discussions with the union much earlier.

Re the statement of unions as ``organizations of blackmailers and parasites'': During my 50 years as a management representative, I've found most union leaders and members to be honest and courageous people who attempt to get a square deal for workers against powerful opposition. I would never argue that unions haven't made mistakes or haven't had corruption. On the other hand, management groups have made mistakes and have suffered from corruption; so have respected religious organizations.

Leland C. ``Bud'' Hunter

Published Wednesday, February 24, 1999, in the Miami Herald
[Editor's Note: Leland Hunter is a former senior vice president
of Florida Power & Light.]

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