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Muslims are a religious group, not a particular race of people

To The Daily Sun,

In response to Ms. Michaela Goodell's letter of April 12 calling out a different writer for racist speech against Muslims, I must point out that Muslims are a religious group not a particular race of people. Hence, to criticize Muslims cannot be deemed racist.

The very recent and frequent use of the label racist without regard to its true meaning, in way too many cases, is simply a method to stifle another's free speech. It needs to be put to rest.

Now, delving a bit deeper into Ms. Goodell's letter, it is apparent that she is sensitive about the original writer's hyperbole of branding all Muslims as terrorists and of the religion being pre-historic. She may have a valid point that the other writer has overstated his case. However, that is not sufficient cause to ban that writer and all others who, in her mind, state an opinion she disagrees with.

Better, that Ms. Goodell, should counter such comments by writing a letter setting forth a few of the good things the Muslim religion has accomplished over the past 100 years or so, particularly here in the U.S. Or if that causes her a problem, she could possibly offer a criticism of the terror branch of the religion and praise the good part.

Charles Wibel


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County was unwilling to look at fixed amount raises at home

To The Daily Sun,

Some have expressed surprise and disappointment with the Belknap County Nursing Home employees' rejection of the tentative contract agreement they were asked to consider. They have questioned why the Department of Corrections employees unanimously accepted the same contract. Simply put, a one-size-fits-all option does not work in contract negotiations.

Here's why:

— The starting pay for LNA's at Belknap County Nursing Home is $12.07 per hour. There are numerous other bargaining unit positions that start at $10.61 per hour and reach only $14.69 an hour at the final step increase for the position. This means, the employee who has the most seniority and experience has no ability to increase their wages unless there is a cost of living increase. Twenty percent of the employees in the unit are "maxed out," and therefore not eligible for the 3 percent step raise offered in the tentative agreement. The actual COLA being offered is only 1.4 percent.

— The savings on the proposed health insurance changes on a family plan participant for the county is $5,600 per year. This means that the county was only passing on about $1,300 in wage increases to Nursing Home employees (if they earned both the 1.4 percent COLA and 3 percent Step.) As we have said, 20 percent of the employees would not receive that full benefit.

Conversely, the jail employees, who we also represent, earn an average of $20 hour in wages. The dollar amount of their increase is higher. More are eligible for the 3 percent step raise, leaving them better able to make ends meet due to the added health insurance deductible of $1,000 for a single person, $2,000 for two people and $3,000 for family plans. Percentage-based raises are more advantageous to higher wage earners in exchange for health insurance concessions.

The county was unwilling to try a different approach in negotiations with the Nursing Home workers, such as a fixed-raise amounts vs percentage-based, a health reimbursement arrangement instead of health insurance stipend, or adjusting the wage scale for lower wage earners. In essence, they refused to think outside of the traditional contract box at the expense of their loyal employees.

The county was also unwilling to present a tentative agreement that required any cost appropriation. They insisted on a dollar-neutral contract or a contract that resulted in a savings to the employer.

In the case of the employees at the Belknap County Nursing Home, this was not a viable contract choice.

We look forward to re-entering negotiations and request that the county consider some of these points when they return to the table.

Richard Gulla, President

SEA/SEIU Local 1984

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