June 2011

Letters to the Editor
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What Democracy Looks Like

The spark that was lit in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and other states continues here in Missouri, where workers are under attack by politicians who are paying back their CEO friends for their generous campaign contributions.

This unprecedented momentum and solidarity is coming from the ground up — not from any one person or organization, but from millions of workers across America. The labor movement realizes that an attack on any group of workers is an attack on all of us.

That's why working people in our state and across the nation have joined together in actions to keep our solidarity growing. Every concerned citizen is welcome to join us as we rally in support of Missouri workers' rights and those of workers in every state of this nation. We extend this invitation to all activists and supporters throughout our community to participate in this struggle for human rights and dignity for all working class citizens.

Let our revival of the labor movement continue by each of us joining in on the concerted activity being displayed across the nation and show America what real democracy looks like.

Porfirio "Pete" Raya
Local 124 member, Kansas City, Mo.

Take the Money and Run?

I have a question about the article on the Philips plant closing in Sparta, Tenn. ("Tennessee Community Challenges Plant Shutdown," February 2011)

The story stated that Philips had received more than $7 million in U.S. federal stimulus funds. Is there any federal law concerning a company that receives federal money, and then jumps ship and moves the plant to another country? If not, I think there should be. That is also our tax money being "stolen" by a company that only sees profit margins over its workers and a quality product.

And is there any state laws concerning the same issue? I'm sure this company received state and local tax abatements for new equipment and training of employees. Was any of this money recovered and put back into the local treasuries?

I myself was a victim of NAFTA in the late 1990s. The company that I worked for thought it would make more money if it moved operations to the Deep South and Mexico. In the end, quality suffered and the company was sold to another corporation.

If our government was really concerned about our deficit, maybe it should consider going after these companies that take federal money and run.

Tammy Carter
Local 983 member, Huntington, Ind.

Misleading on Nukes?

I found the nuclear safety article in the May 2011 Electrical Worker ("U.S. Nuclear Industry Continues Safety with Eye to the Future") to be misleading propaganda. This makes me wonder how many of your articles are lacking factual statements.

"With more than 19 years of experience as a reactor operator at the station, Wagner is considered something of a nuclear expert by people in the community." This is not relevant to industry safety.

"Every U.S. nuclear power plant has an in-depth seismic analysis and is designed and constructed to withstand the maximum projected earthquake that could occur in its area without any breach of safety systems." The Japanese plant was reportedly crippled by the tsunami, not the earthquake.

"The successful safety records at U.S. facilities come as no surprise to Dave Mullen." The U.S. nuclear safety record is quite poor compared to the Japanese. There are several descriptions of the training and regulations, but other countries would have similar requirements.

I haven't been this frustrated reading a piece of journalism in some time.

Dave Schepp
Local 254 member, Calgary, Alberta

[Editor's Note: The writer says that a member's 19 years of on-the-job experience is "not relevant to industry safety." We consider a member with nearly two decades in one of the most demanding, high-pressure industry jobs to have safety expertise. He also says that the tsunami — not the earthquake — set in motion the disaster at Fukushima. We agree. We report the tsunami triggering the devastation, and the earthquake aftershocks exacerbating the problem — which is in accordance with press reports following the event. To reemphasize our own safety record: No U.S. nuclear plant has faced a tsunami (though we have safeguards), but our plants have withstood tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and other events. The worst, Three Mile Island, had a profound impact on training and plant operation. Though Fukushima's disaster was not on our shores, learning from it will strengthen our fleet's ability to meet future challenges.]