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Thursday, March 3, 2011 12:48 am

Letters to the Editor 03/03/11


Protestors rally on the steps of the Statehouse in Madison, Wis.

Corporate interests are attacking labor unions. They are using “divide and conquer” tactics on working Americans understandably outraged by the current economic situation. Wisconsin’s showdown is just the beginning of the end for union labor. We should fear this, and here’s why.

The late 19th century was a boom time for industries, but for workers a time of seven-day work weeks, sweatshop labor and horrific mine accidents. Then, as now, corporate interests vigorously fought unionization. Business interests used propaganda to subdue worker interest in unionizing. Pro-union workers were tarred as criminal. Corporate interests tried to prevent the passage of laws meant to improve workplace conditions. Does this sound familiar, Wisconsin?

 We are the beneficiaries of union activism of the early 1900s. If you like working no more than eight hours a day (as opposed to 12 or 20), if you are earning a living wage, if your workplace is safe and humane, you can thank three generations of union pressure on business and government.

 Rather than trying to drag down union workers to the non-union level, we should be agitating for big businesses to rehire those they “downsized,” and give them fair wages and benefits.

 Heather Dell, assistant professor of Women and Gender Studies at UIS, said recently, “It’s critically important that the labor community gathers together to reaffirm their commitment for every worker in the U.S. and globally, to earn a living wage.” We must take her words to heart.

Catherine Wells

One of the biggest ongoing stories in the national news today is the attempt of Wisconsin’s new governor to destroy collective bargaining rights for the state’s public service workers. Last Saturday an estimated 100,000 citizens rallied outside the State Capitol in Madison to protest this radical proposal. At the same time, supporters of Wisconsin’s workers held solidarity rallies in the remaining 49 state capitals, including Springfield, where some 500 gathered at Second and Capitol.

Upon opening Sunday’s State Journal-Register, I was shocked to discover that not a word or picture was reported of Springfield’s involvement in this crucial national story. I immediately consulted my Internet and found stories of the rallies all over the place,including pictures of the rally here. Then, last night, I saw a picture of the Springfield rally on the “Daily Show,” of all places!

From all of this national coverage, one can only conclude that the SJ-R intentionally ignored the story. The SJ-R has never been known as a “union friendly” newspaper, but is it asking too much that they be “union neutral” and just report significant news?

Mike Townsend
Retired UIS teacher

I can’t help but think that if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would surely work to liberate animals.

In The Speaking Oak, author Frederick C. Inglehart tells the story of young Abe and his pet pig. “When the time came to slaughter the pig, Abe tried to kidnap him, but he couldn’t stave off the inevitable. The next morning I ... saw the red place on the ground where the throat had been cut ... to this day ... my heart goes back to that pet pig.”

 PETA’s investigations of pig factory farms have revealed sadistic beatings and skinning pigs alive. Pigs are as friendly, social and sensitive as dogs, but on pig farms even those who are crippled and trying to hide are jabbed and beaten with iron bars (visit PETA.org). 

Please take an honest look at how your everyday food choices can affect millions of loving beings whose only crime is that they were born different than us. In the 21st century we’re slowly trying to solve our issues regarding sexism, classism and racism. Let’s not forget speciesism.

 As Abraham Lincoln stated, “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.”

Amy Skylark Elizabeth
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Norfolk, Va.

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