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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | NOVEMBER 15, 2010 7:20 AM

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Injustice is not the solution

The Nov. 9 guest opinion, titled "Market solutions needed to improve economy," contained factually incorrect statements.

In the United States, there are no federal "employment-protection laws" that "mandate that no one can be fired without due process," as the author asserts. The government never tells employers that they "must keep an employee no matter what."

Most U.S. private-sector employees are "at-will" employees, meaning they can be fired at any time. The main exception applies to employees who have organized unions and negotiated contracts that require that employees cannot be fired without "just cause," meaning that employers must have a good reason to terminate an employee.

Oddly enough, employers who attempt to blame such union protections for plant closures rarely seem to choose more pliant, less costly nonunion U.S. workers ahead of overseas workers whose pay is measured in dollars per month.

The other exception is Montana, where state law protects private-sector employees from unjust dismissal. Montana has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and since the passage of the Montana Wrongful Discharge Act in 1987, state unemployment has declined steadily (save for the ongoing economic downturn).

If the writer of the opinion is serious about providing market solutions to unemployment, he should aspire to own a business that provides jobs in which the marginal value of the labor required enables him to pay his employees a living wage. That would be exactly the type of high-value-added, dignified work that this country needs to compete in the global economy.

Jennifer Marsh
Iowa City resident


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