By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 Greendalewith 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.
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.
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