Don’t Blame Unions For Economic Woes

Editor, News-Register:

With the passage of the right to work law in Indiana, and recent right to work legislation being put into effect in Michigan, a traditional union stronghold, one must wander how long it will be until Ohio, West Virginia, or Pennsylvania follow suit. In my opinion it is terrible that this is happening. It is sad when businesses blame unions and workers for the reasons why industry has left the rust belt, the Ohio Valley and United States in general. It is bad enough that the United States has agreements like NAFTA, free trade of the Americas, and so on. Not to mention industries in other countries don’t have any pollution or environmental regulations. Americans have to compete with places that pay well below what we would call a standard liveable wage. Now states that are not right to work will have to do their best to keep jobs in state competing with states such as Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee, that is just a short drive away. Places like Wheeling, Youngstown, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich., and countless other cities used to be some of the wealthiest, most thriving cities in the U.S. because of a strong manufacturing base that offered people good jobs. Now those cities are the polar opposite, struggling with crime, population loss, and lack of funding which mostly is due to the fact that the good jobs that used to be the backbone of regions are now gone. It’s a sad thought that places like Weirton Steel, and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel used to be the largest employers in West Virginia, and now Wal-Mart is. People my generation in their 20s, 30s and early 40s will probably never see the inside of those mills.

There isn’t much else in the form of employment but service industry jobs around the Ohio Valley, so most people have to leave to find a decent job even though they don’t want to. Everybody’s heard stories about how great Wheeling used to be, how downtown Wheeling was booming and even places like South Wheeling had a thriving business district. It would be great to see that again, rather than a bunch of abandoned buildings downtown and gambling parlors.

The Wheeling area has a lot of potential, great institutions and some of the nicest people in the country. It is sad to leave, and see so many young people leave the area. What’s the solution? I don’t know, but it would be nice to be able to make a decent living, and find a good job in the area you grew up in.

Brian Julian

Pittsburgh, Pa

Formerly of Wheeling