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STATE OF THE UNIONS

Re: “Union Triage” [September 26–October 2]. Tamar Lando’s sharp writing brings to life the challenges faced by hospital workers and the daily struggles they courageously take to improve their conditions and the quality of care they provide. In the wake of labor’s myriad failures over the past decades, it’s heartening to see that unions such as the SEIU are employing innovative strategies — and winning. It’s about time that labor figured out it needs new approaches and fresh ideas to take on the corporations of today, blending novel campaign strategies with the industrial-unionism vision of the early CIO. Lando’s quotation of Lichtenstein, “Once people get organized, amazing things start happening beneath the radar screen,” sounds almost prescient: It’s easy to imagine that if labor can take on the Tenets of the world and win, plenty will begin to happen above the radar screen. Bravo!

—Brian Olney
Los Angeles

 

As an R.N., I am heartened to know that our local media have an interest in informing the public about current organizing activities in local hospitals. So often, health issues are covered in a superficial manner and do not address the issues that affect our ability to care for patients. Tamar Lando’s in-depth article was quite informative even to nurses, who are often as confused as anyone else about the issue of union organizing. I found the article hopeful, fair and excellently written. Hats off to Lando!

—Mary Tinker
Los Angeles

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In these days of overblown corporate power, “size matters” when it comes to building worker power, and the strategy for organizing at Tenet described by Lando in her article is a quick way to build that power. Ultimately, the agreement with Tenet and the SEIU will raise the standards not only for health-care workers, but also for the thousands of patients who receive care at Tenet facilties. When health-care workers have a voice on the job, they are better patient advocates.

—Aly Young
San Francisco

 

Tamar Lando did a good job of capturing the challenges facing the labor movement. Just as in the 1930s, industrial unionism is as threatening to craft unions as it is to big business. Corporate executives must be laughing out loud over the California Nurses’ Association’s attacks on the Service Employees International Union.

—Irving Kagan
Los Angeles

YOUNG: NO RIEFENSTAHL

Did Judith Lewis go to the Neil Young show in Irvine [“Don’t You Get It?,” A Considerable Town, September 26–October 2] to enjoy a rock show or to play leftier-than-thou with one of the few artists who’s managed to say anything about our current situation? It’s true that Verizon Wireless Amphitheater is a big corporate shack with overpriced concessions and tons of ad space for sale. So is every other place where I’ve seen a gig with more than 6,000 people. And sure, there’s some irony in the act of promoting Hummers at a show with a green message, just as there was in 1988 when Neil took his This Note’s for You tour to the Budweiser Summer Concert Series of the World. We the fans are able to make the distinction between sponsorship of a building and sponsorship of an artist. We also recognize that you gotta play somewhere. At least VWA has great sound, even in the cheap seats. As to Clear Channel, there’s just not a lot of options. Considering Clear Channel has a lock on the Greek, the Universal Amphitheater, Blockbuster Pavillion, Staples Center, the Forum, the Wiltern and even the Palace [now the Avalon], where exactly would Lewis recommend Young perform? An open field with the Hog Farm cooking up pots of barley?

I won’t argue the artistic merits of Greendale with Lewis (I loved it, as did everyone I brought out to the shows), though it must be said, if she’s expecting complex chord changes from Crazy Horse she hasn’t been paying attention. But I do take issue with the idea that in order to say anything positive, an artist either has to operate in a politically correct, vacuum-sealed environment, free of shills and overpriced beers, or be accused of being a Leni Riefenstahl for our times. I definitely do not get that.

—Bob Lee

Burbank

COOPER VS. DEMS

Re: Marc Cooper’s Dissonance column. I’ve listened and read patiently for the last couple of years or so while Cooper has bashed everything Democratic that he could get his hands on. Not only has he devoted countless lines to tearing Gray Davis a new one, he has gone out of his way to attack President Clinton long after he’s been out of office. Now Cooper sees fit to defend the recall. It all leads me to ask, just what part of the progressive movement does Cooper claim to represent? Could the GOP have a better spokesperson (or mole) than Cooper? Suggestion for his next column: a simple sentence declaring “Marc Cooper hates Democrats.” With his position finally made plain and readers left in no doubt as to his future position on anything any Democrat says, he can take the rest of the year off and relax. (Heaven knows, it ‰ must be tiring being so bitter, mean-spirited and defeatist.) In the meantime, we Democrats, of which I am proud to be one, will spend our time trying to save the country from W.

—Christopher Barnes
Studio City

GARAGE BANDS AND THEIR DADS

In “The Kids Aren’t Alright” [September 19–25], Jay Babcock talks about punk as if it were out of one’s reach and so below the radar. Cool. I guess it was, but only to keep out the scared and uninformed conformed like Babcock. He lived in Upland? Then he lived 18 minutes away from Toxic Shock, which, located in Pomona, was the best punk rock record distributor in all of the United States. They carried everything from early releases by Dischord Records to costume punk like the Sex Pistols. The store was open until 1988. By then, punk was available everywhere — or at least at Rhino Records in Claremont.

—Josh Dugan
Los Angeles

 

Thank you, Jay Babcock, for another insightful article. There’s another component that I’d like to add. I may have turned Dan on to Delta and Chicago Blues (Robert Johnson, Son House, Muddy Waters, etc.), but Dan turned me on to Hound Dog Taylor, Cedell Davis and Junior Kimbrough. My life has been greatly enhanced by Dan’s reciprocation. I consider myself one pretty lucky father.

—Chuck Auerbach
Los Angeles

XXXL

Jay Babcock’s [September 26–October 2] Live in L.A. reference to the size of the fans of the Allman Brothers Band was hurtful and unnecessary. I don’t believe weight has anything to do with one’s ability to appreciate beautiful music. And Warren Haynes is proof enough that extra weight does not impede the creation of beautiful music, either.

—Angela Christofides
Brooklyn

CORRECTION

A passage was mistakenly omitted from Randy Tveidt’s letter to the editor [“A Break From Politics,” September 19–25]. Tveidt’s description of Boze Hadleigh’s two books should have read as follows: “While one of his two new books, Holy Matrimony, is fun and inclusive of all love relationships, as writer Dawn Dumpert points out, Celebrity Lies! is entertaining and informative, with the valuable message of looking beyond media babble, stereotypes and now-acceptable hyperbole — be it about celebrities, love, lifestyle, politics or pop culture — and learning to question and to think for oneself.”

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