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Letters in brief

June 25, 2004 | Page 4

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Dirty laundry at Cintas
A half-hearted strike won't do
The divide-and-conquer strategy
More sports on the pages of SW
Reform support doesn't hurt Nader

What the Reagan tributes left out

Dear Socialist Worker,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for a beautiful article on the real Reagan. ("Good riddance to a bigot," SW, June 11) I'll never forget one story about him. He made a lot of "political hay" by calling the sports heroes of the moment, and congratulating them and inviting them to the White House.

The year the "local" team, the Washington Redskins, won the Super Bowl, a Black quarterback, Doug Williams, was the MVP. Williams waited in the locker room a long time for a phone call that never came. Reagan, the bigot, could never call a Black man and pat him on the back for a job well done!
J.H., from the Internet

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Dirty laundry at Cintas

Dear Socialist Worker,
I used to work for Cintas in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, but recently I had to quit because of too many employees on my afternoon shift quitting--which resulted in me working 11- to 12-hour shifts and getting around three to four hours of sleep before having to drive my wife to her work at 5:30 a.m.

I started working at Cintas on May 6, 2003 as an unloader for $9 an hour. As the first few months passed, I saw someone quitting almost every week, and most of the employees weren't happy. In a short time span of two months, around 10 people quit leaving our afternoon understaffed.

I was quickly burning out, and I told my manager about this. He said, "You can deal with it," or something like that. All the lead hands were very young white males--late teens to early twenties. They definitely didn't have any plant experience. The older plant workers, women and minorities who applied for the lead positions never got them.

All the truck drivers are white males--no women or minorities. Whenever a new position opens up, it's because someone quit. They always hire from the outside, bypassing all those who applied from within the plant. In many cases, including mine, our medical and dental plan wasn't properly activated after our six-month probation period, and it took many months later to get it properly activated.

Management selects a few plant workers they really favor, and everyone else is almost ignored. Management just says, "Get it done," "Suck it up," and "It's not the power of the man, it's man power."

On occasion, management comes onto the floor with a clipboard and asks us their many "core values" and slogans. We have to answer them right if we want to advance and be favored. This is just the tip of what I know goes around at this plant.
Former Employee at Cintas, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

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A half-hearted strike won't do

Dear Socialist Worker,
After several weeks of working on an expired contract in the hopes of reaching an agreement with SBC, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) called a four-day strike, which began May 21. The anger and frustration of SBC workers was plain at the picket line, as they demanded the preservation of health care benefits and job security.

The four-day strike involved 100,000 workers in 13 states. A crowd of energized picketers, 200 to 300 strong, chanted slogans at the SBC office in downtown San Francisco.

Like the rest of the American working class, SBC workers are being squeezed out of their livelihoods for the sake of profits. Indeed, SBC is the second-largest telecommunications company in the United States, which earned $8.5 billion in profits last year alone!

And while workers are being asked to pay more for their health care insurance, SBC CEO Ed Whitacres received a pay increase of 93 percent. His 2003 compensation was $19.5 million. As one picketer summed it up: "They got the money; they just want to keep it for themselves."

Although the four-day strike was a good start, history has shown that it takes a lot more to win at the bargaining table. This was plain to picketer Vera Van Hook who explained: "I think the idea of going out Friday and Monday makes sense because these are our busiest days, but frankly, if we are really going to get what we want, we're going to have to be out longer."

It is time for workers to get organized and fight. There is a rich legacy of workers struggles in this country alone to learn the lessons of the past and to move forward with more consistency and confidence.
Abraham Gutierrez, San Francisco

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The divide-and-conquer strategy

Dear Socialist Worker,
In an otherwise excellent article, Lee Sustar writes, "George W. Bush called on Kurds and Shiites to rebel against Saddam Hussein in the closing days of the Gulf War--but allowed Saddam to crush the revolt, rather than see Iraq break up." ("What the U.S. has in store for Iraq," SW, June 4)

I think the U.S. would want to see Iraq "break up." The U.S. has a history of dividing and conquering. After all, earlier in the same article, Sustar points out that the U.S. "leaders" who have previously sown the seeds of division in countries like Afghanistan and Lebanon are now choosing who will be filling the top posts in Iraq's government.

The real reason why the U.S. allowed the rebellion against Saddam to be crushed appears to be best explained by the words of Brent Scowcroft, Papa Bush's national security advisor. Scowcroft stated, "I envisioned a postwar government being a military government."

The U.S. would have preferred a new strongman in Iraq over allowing real democracy take place. Iraqi democracy would threaten U.S. corporations' profits since the Iraqi masses would not allow their country to be plundered and looted.
Dominic Renda, New York City

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More sports on the pages of SW

Dear Socialist Worker,
I want to thank you for your recent increase in sports coverage. David Zirin's incisive articles have been eye-opening. Socialist Worker ought to run a regular sports column featuring Zirin and others' writings on collegiate and professional sports from the socialist perspective.
John Green, Davis, Calif.

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Reform support doesn't hurt Nader

Dear Socialist Worker,
Your article on Ralph Nader ("Is Nader offering a left alternative?" SW, May 28) does him a huge disservice. The fact is that the Reform, Green, Socialist, Communist, and many other parties agree with Nader on many points, probably the most important of which is the need for a thriving plural democracy--which would be a major goal of a Nader presidency.

Do Nader and these parties see eye to eye on all issues? Of course not. The fact of the endorsement of such a "leftist" from the extreme "right" speaks volumes not only about Nader's character, but also about his positions. By making such an endorsement, the Reform Party is essentially saying, "We know what actions you may take on the positions on which we differ, but we are willing to sacrifice them for the greater good your presidency would do to us, our country and the world."

This was a courageous act by the Reform Party, an act which shatters the tired illusion of "us vs. them," "left vs. right," "good vs. evil"--and I applaud them for it. Note that Nader hasn't come out and endorsed the Reform Party. They are endorsing him, and he is accepting it.

Should Nader shun the Reform Party nomination? No! To "shun" such an endorsement would be nothing less than an act of blind hatred, a form of bitter divisiveness that dehumanizes the people of the Reform Party, who have the same fundamental human needs as the rest of our species--for freedom, security, prosperity and all the rest.

Shame on you for stooping to the level of the same old tired rhetoric of "good vs. evil," "left vs. right," "us vs. them" that has undermined the entire revolutionary struggle since its birth.
Ryan Anthony Charlesworth, from the Internet

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