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Letters to the editor

October 22, 2004 | Page 12

OTHER LETTERS BELOW:
Political invasion of a swing state
The illegal assault on Falluja
Proud of the work that SW is doing

D.C. tries to gut collective bargaining rights

Dear Socialist Worker,
Members of the Washington, D.C., City Council are attempting to set labor rights back decades in the nation's capital by gutting collective bargaining rights for D.C. workers.

Council members David Catania and Phil Mendelsohn have led the latest attack on workers by sponsoring legislation designed to eliminate terms and conditions of employment from the bargaining table for city government and school system workers. The Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining Amendment Act seeks to model city workers' contracts after those seen in the private sector by removing as many issues as possible from contract negotiations besides wages and benefits. Working conditions, hours of work and the grievance procedure are all possibilities for the chopping block.

Likewise, the School Accountability Act ultimately aims to eliminate crucial issues involving working conditions for teachers, such as class size, from the city's negotiations with the Washington Teachers Union (WTU). This absurd act insinuates that it is the collective bargaining process that is impeding classroom instruction in D.C.--not a lack of books, computers and instructors in D.C. classrooms.

More importantly, the city council wants to carry out a backlash against the WTU for its actions during the 2003-2004 school year. Last fall, D.C. teachers threatened to strike and staged a series of protests to pressure the city to honor the contract it negotiated with the WTU and grant teachers the 9 percent raise they were promised.

Teachers won their raises by fighting for them, demonstrating the potential power labor has in this city.

This lesson is more valuable than ever in D.C. Local labor leaders recently invested money and resources to help oust pro-corporate council members from office. On one level, they were successful: One defeated council member was a leading voice for charter schools and school vouchers in D.C., and three newcomers to the council were elected--all of whom opposed public financing for a new baseball stadium, including former civil rights activist and ex-mayor Marion Barry.

But it will take much more than this to defeat the attacks on workers in D.C. and the corporate greed that lies at the root of them. Labor needs to organize a visible challenge to fight back against this legislation.
Michele Bollinger, Washington, D.C.

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Political invasion of a swing state

Dear Socialist Worker,
Over the summer, we Ohioians were invaded by billions of noisy cicadas racing to mate and die. This election season, we're dealing with a much worse invasion--John Kerry and George Bush.

They've targeted Ohio as a "swing state," essential for their victories. The mind-numbing drone of cicadas has become the endless chatter of campaign ads running into the millions of dollars.

Two important issues have been buried in the onslaught of the presidential media blitz. First, the Ohio General Assembly recently approved a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriages in the state--as well as civil unions and domestic partnerships! Worse yet, Jim Crow laws have been part of Cincinnati's city charter for over 10 years. Under Article XII, access to housing, work or even a restaurant can be denied to anyone based on their sexual preference.

We should vote "yes" on Issue 3 to repeal the Jim Crow Article XII in Cincinnati, and vote "no" on the marriage/civil union ban. But activists can't rely on the vote. In 1993, Article XII won by a 10 percent margin. We need a movement in Cincinnati and Ohio that pushes for gay rights--not just another voting campaign.
Eric Kerl, Cincinnati

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The illegal assault on Falluja

Dear Socialist Worker,
Falluja, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city of 300,000, has become a center of resistance to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted man, is thought to be based there. U.S. military actions have so far failed to capture Zarqawi and defeat the rebels. Negotiations are also deadlocked.

In order to bring this to a close, Iraq's interim leader Iyad Allawi has threatened an assault on Falluja if residents do not turn in the Jordanian militant--a case of surrender or you'll all be destroyed. This is a policy of collective punishment, which is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. However, I suppose anything goes in an illegal war.
Dave Edwards, Doncaster, England

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Proud of the work that SW is doing

Dear Socialist Worker,
Your unique and interesting issue (October 8) helped my paper see the other side.

Your information and timing was well selected: a ruthless judge sentencing a pot-smoking quadriplegic to jail ("A sick injustice system"); the outrageous Zionist Organization of America campaign against Duke's president ("Targeting supporters of Palestine"); the report on the latest bloody imperial attack in Iraq ("Washington's new terror in Iraq"). There was great writing on "Maimed for oil" and a great front-page picture of a grinning Bill Gates.

The content of "Debating how to dominate the world" could have been phrased with a sharper focus, though. You guys have to hone in on Kerry--if only to "honor" the skills that have allowed him to mastermind Plan Colombia, be tops with the powerful biotech industry, have a vote-along-with-Bush record...and still be the liberal hero used to save us from "four more years of the same." Now that is an able man!

Please publish an e-mail where we can send letters of protest against the judge who killed the quadriplegic by sending him to jail. I am very proud of people like you in journalism.
Maria Eugenia Mayer, Editor, Avance, Los Angeles

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