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September 7, 2007 | Page 7

The struggle facing security guards
Great work on SW's reviews
The U.S. government's monstrous experiments

The struggle facing security guards

I'VE BEEN a worker at a private security company called Northwest Security Services Inc. in Seattle for about five years now. I enjoy the work that I provide at the Smith Tower very much on many different levels. I get to interact with strangers from all over the world everyday, and I get to assist them wherever they need to go.

As security officers, we are responsible for the operations of the site. We literally control the building during our shift and monitor access control. This means that we are always here to provide help to any of our tenants located in the building. We conduct escorts, interior roves, exterior patrols and give assistance to contractors. We pretty much do it all. We are here for the tenants, but we are also here to guarantee that this $48 million building doesn't stop running for any reason.

Since last summer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 6 has been actively trying to organize the local security companies, and so far, they have had some success. Workers from other security companies have really taken the initiative in demanding better wages, better medical benefits and better conditions at the work sites. They have organized themselves together, and are now in negotiation with their employers for the first master contract.

We are now demanding the same for Northwest Security Services, but my security company has been on the offensive, denouncing everything that spells union for them. They have publicly stated in a recent newsletter given to the officers that "no officers at Northwest Security Services has shown any interest in ever joining the union."

I would love to see the day when security officers in Seattle are no longer treated and disregarded as expendable tools of the clients, and are instead treated as professionals who are valued.

Everyone working in downtown Seattle and Bellevue counts on security officers to keep their property and businesses safe and secure, and now the security officers need their community, comrades and friends to stand up for them in their fight to raise their standards of living and fight for more than subsistence wages, affordable health care, holidays, paid sick days and respect.

This struggle for the workers is all new for me, but it's a struggle that I am willing to take on to the very end.
Ruben Bustamante, Seattle

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Great work on SW's reviews

WITHOUT EXCEPTION, the reviews published in Socialist Worker have been insightful and well written--even hilarious at times.

One particularly fantastic review was published in the August 31 issue. Conor Reed's piece on M.I.A's newest album release, Kala ("A soundtrack for struggle"), was the best music review that I've read in a long time. Too often, music reviews in the "establishment" press artificially divorce the artist (and her work) from her everyday political and social reality, and therefore leave us with an incomplete portrait of the art that she produces.

Reed combines his spot-on and compelling analysis of the actual music on the disc with an overall approach that explains the larger social, political and historical dynamics that inform M.I.A's style and sound. Keep up the great work!
James Fiorentino, Amherst, Mass.

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The U.S. government's monstrous experiments

THE IOWA state government has agreed to pay $925,000 to people who were involved in what was called the "Monster Study"--in which, in 1939, the University of Iowa abused orphans just to try to make them stutter.

Many people don't know, or have forgotten, that our government and private institutions have performed human experiments on Americans. Many different groups--children, prisoners, pregnant women, soldiers, mental patients, comatose patients, etc.--have suffered for science, profit or to win the "Cold War."

The Navy did mustard gas experiments on American sailors in the 1940s.The CIA did LSD experiments in the 1950s. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Quaker Oats Company were involved with feeding radioactive cereal to retarded children in the 1940s and '50s.

In the 1960s, the Willowbrook State School in New York performed hepatitis experiments on retarded children. In the 1970s, there was the "Stanford prison experiments," where students were made to become either guards or prisoners.

And, of course, many people have heard about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on Black men. There are many other examples.

The U.S. government still has files on human experiments performed by the Japanese on prisoners during the Second World War, which, for some reason, they haven't released. They should declassify this information, and investigate and release all information on past human experimentation by our government, and American schools, hospitals and corporations.

We must never forget the people who lost their minds, health and sometimes their lives because of human experimentation.
Chuck Mann, Greensboro, N.C.

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