Re. "Lincoln Club rescinds endorsement of Curry," (May 14):

The conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County no longer supports Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry in his run for the Assembly because he broke a pledge to reject political donations from public employees unions.

What's the big deal? I have been a card-carrying member of the California Teachers Assn. for more than 10 years. I am a proud and dedicated eighth-grade English teacher in Lawndale.

Unions began building the middle class in this country many decades ago. Through collective bargaining, we have gained higher wages, the 40-hour work week and benefits, including healthcare, overtime pay, seniority, pensions and sick and vacation days. Unions have set the standards for working conditions that have benefited the middle class, and those benefits are enjoyed by union and non-union workers nationwide.

Unions give a voice to the workers. Unions give me a voice. If I have a grievance, I know that the matter will be handled fairly through arbitration. Union representation makes management take notice. Whether we are talking about unionized teachers, bus drivers, factory workers, office workers, retail clerks, police officers or, yes, firefighters, management is more apt to bargain in good faith.

Union workers are the middle class. We help keep our country strong. So if a few Republicans want to get on the bandwagon and say, "Hooray, for unions!" so be it. I have always been on that bandwagon and always will be.

Anila Ali

Irvine

The writer is a Democratic candidate in the 74th Assembly District.

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From wildfires to beach bonfires

Many of us in Orange County smelled the smoke last week.

As the San Diego fires turn to embers, I'm thankful that Newport Beach has converted to charcoal-only at the beach fire rings. Just as smoke from the San Diego fires drifted north, smoke from wood-burning beach fires drifted into our local neighborhoods.

When you see or smell smoke, it's best to avoid physical exertion. The elderly, the young and people with respiratory ailments or heart disease are advised to stay indoors, with windows closed.

This summer wildfires may get worse, so why not stick with charcoal-only for beach fires? It makes a nice flame with up to 90% lower particulate emissions than firewood. Let's keep air quality at public beaches healthy for all to breathe.

Barbara Peters

Corona del Mar