Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

$350 a week not enough for jobless
There was an interesting juxtaposition of articles in the Wednesday edition of the Post. On the right-hand side a story about the firing of 350 workers at Food Lion. On the left side state Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford were shown embracing a cut in unemployment compensation to a top of $550 to $350 per week, for fewer weeks’ eligibility. This followed another layoff at Freightliner of over 700 employees.
Please note that neither Mr. Warren nor Mr. Ford explained how a person is supposed to support their family on $350 a week, or $8.75 per hour. This makes some sense since they make $551 a week for a part-time job which they fight for (and then complain about their financial sacrifice). Oh, and they participate in the taxpayer-funded pension and health plans provided state employees.
Mr. Warren claims this is merely a “fix” for the $2.6 million North Carolina owes the federal government, and points out that employers will also pay more until the debt is repaid. But Mr. Warren’s and Mr. Ford’s concerns seem limited to the concerns of businesses, and ignore the plight of workers out of work through no fault of their own.
Once again, I’d like to see Mr. Warren and Mr. Ford stand up in public and explain how workers at Freightliner are supposed to live on $350 a week and where they are supposed to find comparable work. Or the two gentlemen (and Sen. Andrew Brock, who will vote later this week) could sponsor a bill reducing their pay to the top unemployment compensation level and taking General Assembly members out of the taxpayer-funded state pension and health plans.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for these three to start caring about working people. The devil will be playing ice hockey first!
— John P. Burke


‘Possums work?
North Carolina’s unemployment rate is stagnant at 9 percent, construction is down, and thousands of people are homeless and hungry, but the legislature is spending time and resources to declare war on wildlife. Do hard-working and compassionate North Carolinians really want their representatives working on “The Opossum Right to Work Act”? Should this boondoggle proceed, it will mean a grim future for wildlife.
As it stands, state law rightfully prohibits people from capturing wildlife for use in displays or promotions or to keep as pets. Licenses may only be issued for activities “in the interests of humane treatment of wild animals.” Yet legislators want to amend the law to create a loophole for the exploitation of live wild animals for financial gain or publicity, unrelated to the wildlife protection purpose of the original statute. Not even P.T. Barnum could spin the Brasstown opossum drop — which prompted this proposed amendment — as being in the interest of humane treatment of wild animals.
Those who are justifiably appalled by this plan should get on the phone to their representative today to ask why the legislature is ignoring its own regulations and the will of most constituents by legalizing the gratuitous exploitation of North Carolina’s wildlife.
­— Jennifer O’Connor

Norfolk, Va.
The writer is with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) Foundation.