Letters for Thursday, March 1, 2018

Syngenta settlement cause for concern

It has been with increasing alarm that I have learned of the pesticide exposure on this island. As a pediatrician I am particularly concerned regarding the consequences for our most vulnerable local people.

It was with great dismay that I learned today that Syngenta was able to lower the fine for the misuse of their poisons from millions to a paltry fraction. This company had revenue in excess of $12 billion in 2016. Does anyone really believe this amount of fine matters to this giant company based in Switzerland?

It is also with great skepticism I view the amount allocated to training medical professionals to treat pesticide exposure. If this company was not bringing poisons and exposing our people, we would have no need of the tiny amount of money they are forced to pay for this training.

The most cynical aspect of the lawsuit would be how the company bet on waiting until after the 2016 election to settle. Well, they bet well. Instead of our island receiving over $4 million in compensation we must be satisfied with a fraction of this amount as the Trump administration appointed extremely environmentally unfriendly officials to the EPA.

Sydney Swetnam, Princeville

Unions fighting for working families

I keep hearing about how great the economy is doing and how the stock market is booming, but that isn’t the reality for the parents in the schools where I work. I see parents who work two or sometimes three jobs and still struggle to make ends meet.

Working families on Kauai need a leg up, and they get the boost they need with the freedom to join in strong unions. Unions have always provided the best path to the middle class for working people.

As a preschool teacher at Wilcox Elementary for the last six years and now a district special education preschool resource teacher for the island of Kauai, I know that a strong union is what helps to ensure students receive the tools and resources they need to succeed in school and in life.

Through my union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, I have the freedom to negotiate better pay and provide stability for my family, and to win the learning opportunities — such as class sizes small enough for one-on-one attention — for my students.

The truth is, unions use their collective voice to advocate for policies that benefit all working people — like increases to the minimum wage, affordable health care and great public schools that provide our students with the support and tools to learn.

Unfortunately, some corporate special interests have rigged our economy and now want to make it even harder for workers to use our collective power. They have brought a meritless case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, in the hope of dividing working people, silencing us, and limiting the power we have in numbers.

They know how powerful we can be when we speak together for our students, families and communities. It is time for us to come together and support the freedom of working people to join labor unions.

Marla Domingo, Kapaa

  1. rk669 March 1, 2018 4:24 am Reply

    Teachers unions Benifit the teachers and union staff at the Expense of our children’s Education! School Vouchers Now! So we may send our children to the same schools as the Politicians!

    1. Sunrise_blue March 1, 2018 2:22 pm Reply

      You’re giving some of the politicians too much credit. The ones that do get paid are paid the average $65,000 dollars annual salary. However, the others get much less of a pay. It depends on how hard they work or smart they are. The planning and budgeting every year is very complex. Since 1970, Act 185. For tourism.

  2. Lenny for mayor March 1, 2018 7:31 am Reply

    These unions need some pesticides!!

    1. Fern March 5, 2018 11:22 pm Reply

      What does this even mean?

  3. Bluedream March 1, 2018 7:32 am Reply

    Janus vs AFSME has nothing to do with denying gov workers from access to gov unions, which is a strange concept in the first place since governments are non profit to begin with.

    Janus Vs AFSME is about allowing gov workers not to be forced to hand over part of their income to a union who spends the money on a political agenda they disagree with. AFSME has a knife at the throat of every democrat political in HI. Their ultimatum: Vote for pro collective bargaining laws and stay rich and powerful, or you get no union money and we get you thrown out of office by our new candidate.

    If The Supremes rule in favor of Janus, Hawaii will no longer be the most expensive place in America, and that teacher who her letter to TGI will see happier parents dropping their kids off in nicer cars!

  4. gordon oswald March 1, 2018 8:02 am Reply

    Marla – if working people want to unionize they do. It’s their right in America. If a working person does not want to belong to a Union, that should be their right also. Unions cost the workers MONEY! They have to pay their Union dues, follow the Union’s directions with regards to actions against their employer, and any other financial costs the Union might require in special circumstances etc. It is up to each worker to decide if they want to be a part of a Union, or not! The Supreme Court is deciding if a person who is interviewed and hired by a company but doesn’t want to join a Union has the right to make that decision for themselves. No collection of people should be able to tell an individual citizen of the United States whether or not they have to join their collection of people against their will! Period!.

    1. Just Saying March 2, 2018 1:13 pm Reply

      The unions provide a service for all employees. As Gordon would probably put it, they sack the company’s treasury and drive it to ruin. Now that’s a lot of work! However, Gordan seems to think business services should be free if the people receiving them don’t feel like paying! Hey, good luck with that concept!

  5. D Woods March 1, 2018 11:05 am Reply

    Great letter…..I agree 100% but I never hear anyone holding the Robinson family accountable.
    Don’t they lease the land to Syngenta. Is anybody paying attention to how wrong this is?

  6. manawai March 1, 2018 11:42 am Reply

    @Sydney Swetnam, Princeville – A $12 Billion fine for their employees entering the field 20 minutes early and who were cleared of any harm by the doctors and the hospital? Are you kidding me? That borders on cruel and unjust punishment. Next time you get a parking ticket, we’ll cut your left hand off. How about you getting on the cases of all the thousands of people on Kauai who spray poisons in their houses and gardens with NO TRAINING? BTW if you think $2million dollars is nothing then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Sheesh! You must be a Gary Hustler devotee.

  7. manawai March 1, 2018 12:01 pm Reply

    @ Marla Domingo, Kapaa – Yes, let’s pay everybody far more than they’re worth and sit back and see what happens to the cost of living here. Think it will skyrocket? Without a doubt. The real reason people have a hard time affording to live here is several fold:

    1. The cost of living is high because Hawaii is a very desirable place to live and we have a finite amount of residential land for all these newcomers to buy. Like wealthy retirees such as Sydney Swetnam (63) who fibbed above and really lives in Albuquerque, NM). So the land prices go up! Business land is also in short supply so the rents are high and a business must recover these rents from higher prices to their consumers.

    2. Virtually everything we buy must be shipped in from out-of-state adding to the cost of everything.

    3. You won’t get much of a job or a wage if you dropped out of school to go surf, and/or do drugs, didn’t care to even try to speak decent English which businesses require, or just plain aren’t very smart.

    Marla, if you’d studied even a bit of economics, you understand the reasons for Hawaii’s high cost of living. It happens in all desirable places. But then, you’re probably a Socialist and refuse to use logic and reality.

  8. Bluedream March 2, 2018 12:52 am Reply

    Hey, not only is Trump appointing people who are unfriendly to the enviorment
    In his administration, he put a Trojan horse in as head of the EPA… Which is awesome. The EPA had turned into a mafia extorting money from corporations, thus forcing some large employers out of our country.

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