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Letters To The Edtior

(From Letters to the editor, August 28, 1997:) John F. Austin’s letter of Aug. 26 contained a typographical error. Austin was referring to the United Parcel Service strike, not the United Postal Service.

BUSINESS AND LABOR

Teamsters stood together on principle

Opinion editor John Webster’s Aug. 21 editorial about the United Parcel Service strike settlement was in reality a thinly disguised union-bashing diatribe. I’d much sooner believe 30-second television snippets than Webster’s baloney.

UPS part-time Teamsters do have fringe benefits. I wonder why? Could it be because of the union? Where do the statistics that 80 percent of them don’t even want a full-time job come from? I suppose 75 percent of them don’t want the 37 percent pay increase, either.

Somehow, these 185,000 courageous, hard-working Teamsters are to blame for everything, from hurting small business to making their business noncompetitive. Actually, management made a crummy offer and forced the issue.

As for competition, don’t make me laugh by suggesting someone will beat UPS. By this time next year, UPS will have an even bigger market share. Those UPS Teamsters put it on the line for themselves and for principle, which is something Webster and the media just don’t get.

Right-thinking Americans are filled with pride because the working man won. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if 33 percent or 10 percent of Americans are union members, any more than it matters that only 10 percent are smart and courageous. Gregory P. Hande Spokane

Sweet smell of success can sour

The recent United Postal Service strike brings back memories of a similar labor dispute 20 summers ago in the Silver Valley. Much could be learned from the consequences that followed, in the constant battle of management vs. labor.

In 1977, as a long-haired college kid working underground, I joined 2,000 colleagues in a strike at the Bunker Hill Co. in Kellogg. We had just begun our association with Pittsburgh-based United Steelworkers of America. Bunker Hill had recently been bought out by Gulf Resources in Houston. This meant that labor negotiations that once took on a local flavor were ultimately being bargained in corporate boardrooms in Texas and by union bosses in Pennsylvania.

The impasse of those faraway negotiations had a profound affect upon $100-a-day workers trying to get by on a $40-a-week strike pay.

The lesson to be learned is that, just four years after the Bunker Hill settlement, Ronald Reagan was in office, air traffic controllers on strike were replaced and the pendulum had swung back to big business. In the Silver Valley, Gulf Resources proposed sweeping rollbacks in wages and benefits. Those were accepted by local workers but rejected in Pittsburgh. The infamous result, of course, was the decision in Houston to close the Bunker Hill complex - and 2,400 men and women lost their livelihoods.

So, it might be wise if today’s joyous celebrations were tempered somewhat in union shops nationwide, based on the proven principle involving labor and management, that success is often fleeting. John F. Austin Coeur d’Alene

Teamsters can be justly proud

Opinion editor John Webster’s editorial (Aug. 21) gives the impression he’s become a PR shill for United Parcel Service. Let’s look at some of the facts he forgot to mention in his sour-grapes downplay of the Teamsters’ big win.

UPS wanted to force workers into its inferior health plan and run the worker pension plan. Teamsters wouldn’t have been able to carry their pensions to other jobs, and a UPS-managed plan would not raise benefits for 10 years.

UPS’ starting part-time wage base has been frozen for 15 years. The injury rate is a whopping 33.8 per 100 workers - and that’s just what the company reports.

The company wanted to increase subcontracting on the feeder trucks that move freight from one UPS facility to another. That job is the best full-time union job and might disappear once subcontracting began.

UPS stacks the deck in its own favor by spending huge sums buying politicians. It runs the nation’s largest PAC - far in excess of any union’s, or those of the National Rifle Association or big oil and tobacco companies. It can afford to: UPS revenues went from $13.6 billion in 1993 to $19.6 billion in 1994, with a 59 percent increase in profits.

The strike was about part-time, poorly paid workers, about back-breaking labor, about forcing a company to share it’s good fortune with the workers who made good fortune possible. Most Americans understood this very well.

The Teamsters big win had a lot of them cheering and it put unions back in the nation’s economic power structure. Russ Moritz Sandpoint

SPOKANE MATTERS

Republican event neutral on candidates

Logically, as an officer of the North Side Republican Action Club, I would support a Republican candidate for office, but the facts are that the Aug. 18 “Mixed messages” Public Periscope item by staff writer Kristina Johnson did not accurately reflect the club’s Aug. 3 forum. The implication was that NSRAC supported a specific candidate. In fact, all candidates were instructed to be prepared to provide whatever campaign materials they wished to provide to the public.

At the first First Candidate Face-Off, significant effort was taken to clearly not support or oppose any candidate. All candidates were asked what they felt were the key issues for Spokane and what specific skills they possess that set them apart from other candidates.

I’m following the advice I gave in my Aug. 10 letter, going to public forums to learn about the candidates firsthand, rather than relying on the media to tell me what they want me to think! Martin A. Burnette Spokane

STA should charge for its service

Re: The Aug. 20 letters suggesting Spokane Transit Authority should cease charging fares: I understand that everyone is looking for a free ride these days, but I was not brought up that way. My parents taught me to work hard for my money and spend it wisely. I think it’s great that a company actually has a surplus. Besides, with the price of gasoline and the cost of parking, who can afford not to take the bus? Lori R. Rukes Spokane

OTHER TOPICS

Cougar commercials aren’t offensive

Re: “Offense not what Cougars intended,” Aug. 20.

I object to too many objectors. Aren’t there too many more-important social problems in the world today, than to waste time and energy complaining about a commercial - one I find quite humorous? If they pulled everything offensive to everybody from print, radio and television, we would have no newspaper, radio or television.

Lighten up, folks. James F. Sothers Spokane

Think of the animals and skip circus

Happy days are here again because here comes the circus, with 100 animals (wildlife) that have traveled many, many miles of entertaining in hot weather.

They perform unnatural tricks with the threat of a whip or the poke of an electric prod. They are let out to perform, then it’s back into their cramped cages. This is hardly their habitat.

How do people attending these performances feel about this cruelty? I find it deplorable to see these animals exploited for human profit. Think it over and boycott. The circus is fine, but without the animals. I also feel very sorry for the elephants doing the work the profiteers (humans) should be able to do on their own. Mary E. Cosentini Spokane

Correction

An editing error created an incorrect impression in the Aug. 24 letter from Shelley A. Kerr of Tum Tum. The letter should have read: “I am extremely grateful to the two men, who, instead of going to work to pour concrete, stopped when they saw the fire and risked their lives to save my house and the home of my neighbors, Keith and Bryce Porters.”

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