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Triborough protects workers, employers

The News' editorial writers are once again spreading half-truths and anti-union rhetoric as they call for the abolishment of the Triborough Amendment, a 1980s amendment to the Taylor Law. Triborough protects both workers and employers by keeping in place terms and conditions of an expired contract until a new agreement can be reached. In a nutshell, employees go without wage increases -- in some cases for many years -- but health insurance, vacation days and work rules stay in place.

Opponents claim Triborough makes it easier for unions to resist negotiating changes to contracts. That is a false statement designed to turn neighbor against neighbor and taxpayer against taxpayer. The reality is, the amendment encourages discussion between the parties involved. Through negotiations, cost-savings and efficiencies can be discussed and the integrity of the contract preserved. The CSEA is always ready and willing to negotiate successor agreements and Triborough helps ensure management will also come to the table.

Opponents also decry "step increases" contained in some contracts. "Steps" are a result of negotiations. That means the employer agreed to them. Step increases are not state mandates and they are not "guaranteed by Triborough." Not every public employee receives salary steps.

Public employees do not have the right to strike -- the services we provide are far too important. Triborough balances the Taylor Law's no-strike rule. Without Triborough, the state, counties, cities, towns, villages and school district management would have no incentive to negotiate a new agreement.

Negotiation is a balance of give-and-take. It can be difficult at times, but it is essential in order to reach agreements good for both employees and residents. Triborough evens the playing field between management and unions. It must remain in place for the good of all.

Flo Tripi

President, CSEA Western Region

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Brose is innocent until proven guilty

Regarding the Lawrence Brose case, when we make up our minds before we have all the facts, innocent people suffer. We do not know what was on Brose's hard drive or what Brose knew or did not know. Brose denies the charge, and deserves to be presumed innocent until the U.S. government proves otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, our government does not have a spotless record when it comes to getting the facts straight. It accused Steven Kurtz of biological terrorism, only to later drop the case, and took us to war by telling the world Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Please wait until the facts are in before self-righteously denouncing others.

Robert Hirsch

Buffalo

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New York needs to fund foreclosure prevention

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his State of the State address that in order for New York to move forward, we need to resolve the ongoing foreclosure crisis. So it defies explanation that his proposed 2012 budget eliminates all funding for the Foreclosure Prevention Services Program, which has put New York ahead of all other states in keeping people in their homes. It is even more surprising when you consider that there are 250,000 pending foreclosures and even more delinquencies.

His announcement of a Mortgage Relief Unit within the Department of Financial Services is promising, though a bank regulator cannot replace the services provided by these trusted community advisers. Homeowners need direct assistance with reviewing their budget, copying documents, assembling loan modification packages and ensuring mortgage servicers follow the rules. They also need a lawyer to review their case for claims and defenses, and advocate on their behalf in judicial foreclosure proceedings and settlement conferences in which banks are always represented by lawyers. If funding is not restored, the non-profits providing these services will end or drastically curtail their services. It is inevitable that loan modification scammers, already nipping on the edges, with come swarming into New York and make things worse.

Every dollar invested in the Foreclosure Prevention Services Program has resulted in $68 in savings to the state -- more than $3.4 billion saved to date in property value and tax revenue. Discarding the investment New York has made in this successful program, while we remain in the midst of the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, represents the falsest of economies and an act of tremendous waste. Contact Cuomo and your local legislators to urge immediate restoration of funding to the program.

Sandra Becker

Senior Housing Programs Manager

Belmont Housing Resources for WNY

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Diagnosis of hysteria in students is absurd

Although I am not a neurologist, to expect people to believe this mass suffering of Tourette's-like symptoms is a conversion disorder is simply absurd. We are not talking about a few people getting the stomach bug from a smell and it becoming mentally contagious. We are talking about children who are suffering every second, mentally and physically, from this "horrid disorder." To expect people to think it's all mental leaves me stumped. I might believe that if the symptoms were present for only a day or so. But months? All day and all night long?

Reaching out to other reputable, knowledgeable resources seems like a bright idea. It's obvious the correct answers do not lie with Dent Neurologic Institute. Calling another professional a "zealot" speaks volumes about the doctor's character as well. I hope these children and their families get the answers they are looking for soon. I have been a tic disorder sufferer ever since I was young. I had bouts of strep; who knows if that was the cause? But I can tell you it's not in my head and it's most certainly not in theirs.

Mary Heick

Orchard Park

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Don't knock Obama for rejecting pipeline

Much has been made about President Obama halting the Canadian oil pipeline project. While I am no fan of Obama, Republicans and others use this to discredit him, citing our lack of jobs and dependence on foreign oil. I would invite those who agree with this myth to go to their favorite search engine -- Google, Yahoo, etc. -- and type in "U.S. oil exports." They will quickly see that the United States exports several million barrels of oil a day, yet imports oil from the unstable Middle East. This borders on insanity.

If common sense were to prevail, our government would see to it that our needs were met before shipping out our natural resources to the highest bidder. A similar situation occurs with our clean, abundant hydroelectric power produced by our own Niagara River, which is sent off to other regions while we enjoy some of the highest electric bills in the country. Trust your government, they're looking out for you.

Dave Parker

Lackawanna