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Letters to the editor

March 21, 2003 | Page 4

Not all SUV drivers are rich fat cats
No "almost-strike" at United Airlines

They're slashing budgets to fund their war

Dear Socialist Worker,

The Republican governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, unveiled his state budget plan last Wednesday and declared the cutting of $2 billion in "waste, inefficiency and mismanagement."

What he found was 2,000 state employees that he hopes to lay off; a prescription drug plan for the elderly and disabled he wants to cut; a state hospital for the mentally ill he plans to close; 150,000 people on Medicare who aren't paying "enough" in premiums that he will raise; free health care for nearly all of the 1 million Medicare recipients he plans to attack by imposing co-payments on; and welfare recipients he seeks to force to work for what meager benefits they do get.

Not only does Romney want to gut health care, he's going after education as well. He plans to privatize three state colleges, increase tuition at the rest of the state colleges and universities by 5 to 28 percent--an almost $100 million increase--while restructuring the whole university system to cut costs. In addition, Romney proposed $1.3 billion in fees and fines, all of this for the sake of not raising taxes, especially for the rich.

This is an attack on us! States all across the county are facing budget cuts--as $400 billion is being spent on Bush's "wasteful, inefficient and mismanaged" military build-up. We need money for jobs, education, and health care not for war!

Dafni Ioannou, Boston

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Not all SUV drivers are rich fat cats

Dear Socialist Worker,

In response to Paul Dorn's assertion that working-class people don't drive SUVs (SW, February 21), I have to say that anyone who thinks that doesn't spend enough time around working-class people. The cars parked at both the staff and student lots at the community college where I teach include many SUVs. The same is true at the city hospital where I sell SW.

I also feel that being anti-SUV is just the leading edge of an anti-car position that tends to disapprove of all the cars that working-class people drive--older model American cars, pickups, muscle cars--that are just as gas-guzzling as SUVs, and just as vital to getting people to work on time.

Not everybody lives in a place where it is practical or safe to commute by bicycle or public transportation. Many San Francisco workers commute from as far away as Vallejo--a two-hour commute--and if they want to drive an SUV, more power to them.

Elizabeth Terzakis, San Francisco

P.S. I drive a fuel efficient Saturn that gets great mileage, because it's made out of plastic and will shatter like a wine glass on impact.

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No "almost-strike" at United Airlines

Dear Socialist Worker,

Regarding Lee Sustar's article ("2002: The year of the almost strikes," February 21): Nothing could be further from the truth at United Airlines than to characterize the situation as an "almost strike." I know. I was appointed to our strike committee during contract negotiations last year.

I remember at the time being offended when a coworker said to me that there was a better chance of United Airlines hiring Osama bin Laden as a pilot than us going on strike. But I should have seen the writing on the wall when my local's vice president gave a nudge and a wink and said, if I did a good job, he would get me on the Executive Board--a supposedly elected body.

We were really just a propaganda committee for the Grand Lodge. Our job was to produce flyers. In my naiveté, I produced agitational ones. Without exception, they ended up in the trash.

The union was very open about its position. The local officers asserted that unlike the pilots and flight attendants, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) would not oppose United's new low-cost carrier because they want jurisdiction over new jobs. This reminded me of something Mother Jones once said: "There are no limits to which powers of privilege will not go to keep the workers in slavery."

The most important thing I've learned is that having an organization is key to building any kind of fightback. The best thing workers can do to defend themselves from the attacks employers are leveling against them is to build union organizations that are democratic.

While some unions may be pressured from the rank and file, the IAM does not fit that category. As it exists now, the IAM is a shell of a union, a rotting corpse--and when it is finally gone, the world will be a better place.

Jennifer Biddle, San Francisco

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