I am responding to Michael de Yoanna's April 28 article titled "Worked to death." It is sad that someone had to die on the job before something was publicized about the disregard for workers' rights. My heart goes out to the family and close friends of Mr. Dwight Moyer.
I was shocked to see that the local president of the local AFL-CIO is a native of Colorado Springs. I had always assumed that Colorado Springs is a union-hating city. Workers' rights have been a low priority here.
I am most definitely in support of unions, and I am learning that any type of worker has a right to seek union representation, provided you are not a supervisor (as defined by the NLRB) or a government employee.
As a former union member, I believe that union workplaces don't constitute a perfect world, but it does give you someone who will look out for your safety on the job and does otherwise protect your on-the-job rights that you would not have in a nonunion facility.
P.S. I write this letter as a tribute to the late Dwight Moyer, who was featured in the story. May his family and friends heal from their grief. They have my deepest sympathy.
-- Ed Billings
Ever since Marx and Engels created the caricature of all industry as a demon through their magnum opus Das Kapital, it has been so easy to maintain that stereotype and reap the propaganda benefits. It's true that some companies could care less about their employees' welfare, but the fact is that most of them make serious efforts to make the workplace as safe as possible. Some do it because they have to, and some do it because it's the right thing to do.
I was a safety supervisor and consultant for almost 20 years, and I know that the causes of dangerous workplaces are many. However, I found that the most serious handicap is the recalcitrance of the guys who do the work. They rely on dumb luck and their reflexes to keep themselves whole and resist most efforts to present the idea that accidents are truly preventable.
"I've been working like this for 20 years and I've never had an accident" is the constant refrain. Statistics and safety lectures seldom overcome that cast of mind. The fact is that working men are the same the whole world over, and I say that having done safety in Mexico, Yemen, Oman, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and in the United States from Arizona to Alaska.
Company managements' attitudes were often the stumbling block, but more often the men themselves kept the workplace unsafe by their universal fatalism.
All that is to say that pointing the finger at management is a canard of yellow journalism. The fact is that real safety depends on the changing of attitudes of everyone in the workplace and that ain't easy. After almost 100 years of organized safety programs, the statistics have not changed much since the 1930s.
-- Jon R. Horton
Time is money
I was surprised at how accurate the article "Worked to death" was. I've spent 34 years in the masonry industry in Colorado Springs and have worked for most of the contractors, some better than others.
Construction is and always has been about time and money. Substance abuse in the industry is high, including methamphetamine use. Most small contractors can't afford to drug test, and if they added the cost of testing to their bids they would never get a job.
Your appraisal of the immigrant labor issue was an accurate one. Don't forget this country was built by cheap immigrant labor. There has to be an underclass who looks at hard dirty work, with no benefits or job security, as a step up from where they came from. Otherwise employers would be forced to offer clean, safe workplaces, health care benefits, pension plans -- and gosh, that would cost too much.
-- Name withheld by request
Dead from the neck up
New York-based "journalist" Dan Frosch describes accusations that Roger Barnett turned his dogs loose on some illegal border crossers and then turns his ignorance loose on Indy readers. In last week's issue, Frosch describes the Minuteman Project as "the now infamous 'Minutemen' -- the vigilante border protection group who last month fanned out across this expansive southern Arizona county in armed patrols, vowing to secure the border if the federal authorities couldn't."
As anyone not dead from the neck up knows, the only "infamy" created by these volunteers has been to observe and report illegal crossing. They have broken no laws, taken no laws into their hands.
If Frosch would climb up out of his spider hole of disinformation, he might learn what the rest of the general public knows: that the Minuteman Project has far more in common with whistleblowers than vigilantes. And news flash to city-dweller Frosch: Carrying a gun in rugged terrain where snakes and other wildlife abound is only prudent.
-- Doug Bell
San Diego, Calif.
Establish Earth creds
I enjoyed your April 21 story about evangelists for planet Earth, but I didn't get the nuts and bolts of their program. I hope they are speaking out loud and clear against the wars of our current Caesar and his empire. There would seem to be solid Christian precedent for dissent, right back to numero uno. War is at least as destructive to creation as surgery. Any Christians not brave enough to go toe-to-toe with George II on this issue are giving us half a loaf. Public excommunication for all those sinners who worship the devil in the form of depleted uranium, mass murder and torture -- that's how you can establish your earth-loving credentials.
-- Slim Wolfe
Villa Grove, Colo.
Above all this
I have witnessed the incredible volume of letters condemning Pastor Ted Haggard for his Monday morning quarterbacking on the tragic murder suicide. He is condemned for daring to claim that mistakes were made and how can we fix it. As a religious figure, he should be above all this and simply be present to the husband and father of the victims. Pastor Ted should not discuss issues that are not his area of expertise. That is what a real pastor should do. If the Rev. Jesse Jackson and/or the Rev. Al Sharpton had asked the same questions Pastor Ted had asked (and they have on other issues, in other towns), the very people condemning Pastor Ted would be on the Jackson-Sharpton bandwagon and demanding answers for this tragedy and demanding justice.
-- Fr. Bill Carmody
Respect Life Director Diocese of Colorado
Through the cracks
The past week, television news has been full of stories about the tragedy of a midlife woman who killed her teen sons, then took her own life. She was suffering from a mental illness that left her in fiscal crisis, or could it have been the fiscal crisis that exacerbated her mental state?
Perhaps, like many of us, she heard that she will get some assistance tomorrow whilst the utilities, landlord and pharmacist wanted their money yesterday; made some mistakes; was turned away because her profile wasn't quite right to get help from our social agencies; heard someone promise work and income only to discover it was not forthcoming.
Perhaps, like for many of us, there were opportunities for people to lend a helping hand, but they turned her away in the end.
Pastor Ted Haggard of multimillion-dollar New Life Church, with his trademark grin, appeared on one of those news bits about this tragedy. He factually explained her circumstances; that she was a member of his church. He said nothing about how he and the 12,000 members of his church reached down deep into their pockets for a bit of quarter to help this woman through her crisis. He said nothing about how this tragedy could be a reminder to never let another human slip through the cracks.
This woman is not the first who felt no alternative but to resign from life because the burdens were too great; that she was alone and no one cared. Neither will she be the last.
We of faith -- Christian, Pagan, Spiritualist, Jewish or whatever -- have a chance to make this tragedy a lesson to accept that "social issues" and "personal troubles" are one in the same; that our benevolence can literally mean the difference between life and death for some people.
-- The Rev. Bob E. Dierking
EagleVisionQuest Life Ministries
What wicked neglect
The nincompoops and windbags who head up these mega-churches are like hogs to the trough when it comes to publicity, and the Rev. Ted Haggard, who blamed Memorial Hospital for letting Julie Rifkin out too early, is no exception. He knows yet ignores the New Testament's call and command to be the church, which is to say that we are to extend to one another what God has extended to us in Christ.
Christians must live in proximity to each other so as to nurture, develop and watch over each other in times of strength and weakness. The Rifkin family's blood is not on Memorial's hands; it's on Haggard's. For him to say otherwise is like a father who abandons his family, then blames the mother when the children go astray. What wicked neglect and subterfuge.
-- John Morton
Chartering the waters
Dan Wilcock's recent article "Schoolyard brawl" (News, April 14) mentioned "the possibility of converting public schools into private charter schools." For the record, "private charter school" is an oxymoron. Charter schools are free, public schools of choice.
Charter schools cannot charge tuition; charter schools are nonreligious; charter schools cannot discriminate against students; and charter schools cannot require admission screening tests.
I speak from experience, as my husband and I have been working feverishly (without pay) for the past 11 months so that we can open a charter school this fall. We are asked questions on these topics all the time, so I understand there are misconceptions out there.
Our school may not be what all parents prefer, but there are plenty of folks in our fine city who embrace the opportunity to have one more choice out there that might fit better with their individual child.
-- Lisa Miller
Colorado Springs Charter Academy
Pulling the trigger
It still appears that the Republican leadership is planning to pull the trigger on their plan to change the rules of the Senate and end the right of the minority to filibuster judicial appointments. This is an attempt to seize absolute power and to stack the judicial branch with far-right extremists.
All Americans, regardless of party, should be terrified of the so-called "nuclear option." Many Republicans have even come out against ending the filibuster, including John McCain and former Senate Leader Bob Dole. The American tradition of selecting moderate judges protects all of us. Not allowing the minority to have input on nominations will lead to abuse and one-party domination.
The judicial branch is a separate and equal part of the federal government. Its independence assures the nation of its freedoms. It will only continue to be independent by selecting judges that will protect both the majority view and the minority view. The filibuster has served the country well and must remain an option to keep the country from going too far right or left.
-- Rolf Jacobson
I don't even care if all of President Bush's court nominees actually get an "up" vote ... but let's stop the politicking and just vote! Whatever the outcome, then the "loser" should cowboy up and get over it!!!
-- Scott Reistad