Friday Feedback: A Kind, Generous, Eccentric Man

istock_000001483014xsmall.jpgFridays the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Elly Fuchs commenting on “Like Leaves, Life Always Drifts Back To Earth” by Charley James.

Here’s Elly’s comment:

I would say I’m sorry and give you my condolences, but that seems almost insulting considering the decision you’ve made. You’re suffering and have been for what I gather has been a while. You struck me as a kind, generous, eccentric man. These are rare qualities these days and so I am sad that all this has happened to you.

However, having said that, I’d rather not see you suffer and while I wish all this was different, I understand your decision to the best of my young, naive ability. I also support that decision.


  1. Sharon Toji says

    I want to give “another side of the story” in regard to union healthcare. First, some background about me and our company: I’m from a long-time union family, and was a union member when I was a teacher. I support unions, and have marched even recently in union parades and protests.

    We have a small, family owned and operated sign company with 20 employees. Since sign painting went by the wayside long ago, there really isn’t an active sign union. Sign installers are “orphans” and not listed on the prevailing wage lists at the DIR. In Northern California, we are “claimed” by the Carpenter’s Union and had to sign a three year agreement with them to get our one installer allowed on projects there. In Southern California, we are claimed by the Painter’s Union, but don’t have to sign an agreement.

    What this means is, that in Northern California, we have to send $21.00 for every hour that our installer works to the Carpenter’s Uniion. This includes almost $10.00 for health care, and additional money for a pension and an annuity, as well as a vacation fund, and other union fees. Our installer is left with only $19.00 per hour! However, since our contracts are so small, our installer can never qualify to actually receive any of the benefits! He would first have to rack up 400 hours of work in Northern California — that might take more than a year — and then he would have to maintain that with 100 hours per month or he would lose all the benefits. Of course that will never happen, so we pay for him to have health insurance, paid vacation, paid sick and personal leave. The union keeps every penny we send them. Every hour of installation costs us close to $60.00 because of the “double dipping” of benefits.

    The story in Southern California isn’t quite as bad, since we aren’t a signatory. We only have the “double dipping” problem for jobs where the union has an agreement, like the Los Angeles Unified School District. Also, the Painter’s Union doesn’t charge as much as the Carpenter’s Union. For the other jobs, we still pay the “double dip,” but instead of going to the Painter’s Union, the money goes directly to the worker. However, our other employees are understandably miffed that the installers get double vacation, pension, and health care dollars!

    Now you would think that the health care policy that the Carpenter’s Union provides would be a super duper gold plated one. However, it’s almost exactly what we provide our employees — a Kaiser Policy. It costs us between $250 and $450 a month per employee, depending on age. But the Carpenter’s Union wants a back-up fund of almost $4000 just to qualify for the insurance, and then close to $1000 a month to provide it!

    Now admittedly, if the worker has a family, the family is covered as well. Most of our employees don’t have families. Either their children are grown, or they don’t have children. But the union takes the same amount, regardless.

    I resent very much, as does our installer, the fact that the union takes such a huge bite of the money that is listed as the prevailing wage. People may think the installer is getting $40 an hour, but no, he’s only getting $19.00, and all his fringe benefits come, in addition to that $40.00, from us, not from the union. The union just banks the money. I know there are a lot of other workers out there who never get enough hours to qualify for the union benefits. This is a story that needs telling.

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