Mike Simon's letter (Sept. 28) blaming American voters for all this negativity is correct in most points. I disagree with one: big unions carving huge chunks out of workers' paychecks.
I have been proud to be a member of Pipefitters Local 597 for 40 years. I recently retired with a pension that will provide for me until my death. If I go first my wife will receive that full pension until her passing. I was also able to contribute to a 401(k) that will provide additional income for us above and beyond that pension.
Over the years I have worked in some awful places. Often times the work was hazardous. Most jobs were 30 miles or more from home.
I was always fairly compensated for it. A good hourly wage with extra pay for overtime and night shifts. I never got rich, but I was able to properly provide for my family, own my own home and send three children to college.
There is also an outstanding health care program. Full medical, dental and vision care. Not to mention a state-of-the-art training facility, offering educational opportunities to all members, journeymen and apprentices alike. All privately funded.
All of these benefits were negotiated on behalf of myself and all members by the union, and I will be forever grateful to the union for them. The union dues that I paid over all of these years to Pipefitters Local 597 are peanuts compared to what I receive in return.
Anyone who believes that organized labor unions are some kind of a plague should read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." Or better yet, hire in at Wal-Mart.