Union efforts gain benefits for workersAs one...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Union efforts gain benefits for workers

As one who works full-time representing the interests of working men and women in the Baltimore metropolitan area, I would like to express my appreciation for The Sun's coverage of labor issues. This new focus is certainly timely in light of the labor movement's renewed efforts to protect and improve the conditions of America's working class.

The most important duty of any unionist is organizing non-union workers. Every piece written about union issues inevitably cites the declining numbers of private sector union membership. I often speculate on the reasons for this. There are several: complacency in the labor movement, weak labor laws and Big Business' all-out effort to thwart union campaigns.

However, I have concluded that the most important factor hurting the labor movement today is its own success. Over the years, numerous labor initiatives have become law. These laws protect all workers, union and non-union alike. Unfortunately, only the union members paid the bills for the work involved in passing these laws.

Also, non-union companies have responded to labor's efforts by increasing the wages and benefits of their workers -- just enough to avoid a union campaign. Again, the resources of the union worker acts to help the non-union.

The effect of labor's success is that non-union workers feel they don't need a union. Some may that the best way for labor to regain its former power would be for the Republican Congress to achieve 100 percent success, destroying the legislated workplace protections and allowing non-union employers to do what they want . . . cut wages, eliminate benefits and job security.

Perhaps then the non-union workers would realize the benefits that they reap from organized labor's efforts.

Fortunately, there's no chance that labor will cease its efforts in fighting for the good and welfare of the working class.

If 15 percent of the work force must carry the load for the rest, so be it. Those non-union workers who read this must ask themselves one question: Whose side are you on? Join us. Carry your share.

Keith Biddle Baltimore

The writer is business agent for Teamsters Union Local 355.

Gaza responsible for its own fate

Doug Struck's March 25 article, "Palestinians in Gaza living under siege," appeared to be an appeal for special sympathy for what he described as a "desperate people." He quoted Palestinians as saying that "a blockade imposed on 800,000 residents of the Gaza Strip is unjust. A father should not be punished for what his son does. All should not be punished for the violence of a few."

However, in light of the recent surge of terrorism attacks against Jewish civilians, Israelis have become a desperate people too.

I think Israelis know now that they cannot keep making concessions and rewarding their so-called peace partners if they are still bent on saying one thing and doing another. Let those who support and encourage Hamas take the responsibility for providing food, jobs, medical care and shelter for their own people instead of Israel and the United States having to foot the bill.

Yasser Arafat, Saudi Arabian leaders and others have billions nested away in Swiss banks. Shouldn't they take some responsibility for their own people?

As long as the Arab leaders continue to fill their people's heads with hatred and continue to fill their coffers with weapons to destroy the very people who have tried to make peace with them and help them, Israel has no other choice but to protect its own right to survival and not continue to take risks for a false peace under the present circumstances.

Barbara Ann Bloom Owings Mills

Poe also attended West Point

In your March 30 article, "Bird for the ages," which concerned the name "Ravens" for the new Baltimore football team you discussed Edgar Allan Poe and his use of that bird's traditional association with fate as a metaphor in his poem "The Raven." You mentioned that Poe attended the University of Virginia, but failed to mention that he also attended West Point.

When John Allan, Poe's foster father, learned of Poe's chronic gambling at the University of Virginia, he cut off Poe's money. Poe joined the Army. In order to complete his education and reconcile himself with his foster father, Poe entered West Point on July 1, 1830.

By this time, at the age of 21, he had published two volumes of poetry. After his foster father married for a second time in October 1830 and subsequently disowned him, Poe made up his mind to get dismissed from "this god-forsaken place."

Ironically the famous superintendent at West Point, Sylvanus Thayer, recognized Poe's talent and helped him publish yet another volume of poetry.

Since Poe needed money for an advance to a publisher, Thayer recommended that Poe get subscriptions from his fellow cadets by implying that the poems make fun of the staff. Poe eventually collected enough money for the advance and dedicated the book to his fellow cadets.

In spite of support from Thayer, Poe realized that he was miserable at West Point and unsuitable for the academy. By challenging the cadet system in every way possible, he was finally dismissed in March 1831.

D. Randall Beirne Baltimore

The writer is a 1948 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Sunday car sales opposed by dealers

Two Sun editorials, one on March 12 and another on March 27, addressed the proposal to change the law in Howard County to allow new and used car dealers to sell motor vehicles on Sunday.

Both editorials seem to conclude that auto dealers are opposing this legislation. The members of the Maryland New Car and Truck Dealers Association do not oppose CarMax coming to Howard County or Maryland. They do oppose the relaxation of the ban against selling motor vehicles on Sundays, as they have done for the past 20 years.

Joseph P. Carroll Annapolis The writer represents the Maryland New Car and Truck Dealers Association.

Brown column was inappropriate

Sandy Grady's negative critique of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown following Mr. Brown's death (April 5, "The Harlem hotel boy who loved money, power") struck me as appallingly bitter.

Mr. Grady's lengthy diatribe focused relentlessly on Mr. Brown's so-called grubbing for money and power and lowered Mr. Brown's obvious political talents to "a deal-maker's itch."

And while the crash of Mr. Brown's plane did indeed leave "an unfinished life," to Grady it was only because Mr. Brown "now has no chance to fight his legal shadows of troubled finances."

While it was not exactly humor, it certainly was not with a solemn tone that Mr. Grady concluded his commentary on the "irony" of Mr. Brown's death on a Croatian mountainside as he was reaching for prizes of money and power.

I'm not saying that a strictly rose-colored view should be presented. But, in the face of tragedy such as any unexpected death, when a few words of honor are to be expected, such exceedingly contemptuous commentary leaves an extremely bad taste in one's mouth, not for Mr. Brown but for this kind of mean-spirited discourse.

Jaye Dansicker Sparks

The woman behind F. L. Wright's genius

I am disappointed reading Charlyne Varkony's feature story, "Exhibiting the master's works here" (March 31), that Frank Lloyd Wright's wife, Olga Ivanovna Lazovich, was not mentioned.

Olga was Frank Lloyd Wright's third and last wife. She died at Taliesen West, their winter estate in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1985.

On her death, a small notice appeared in local newspapers: "O. Wright, age 87, widow of pioneering architect." She was given credit as the co-founder of the Taliesen Foundation, an experiment in education where the students learned architecture through building.

Olga, a woman of many talents, was a Montenegrin-born aristocrat. Her enormous influence on the life and work of her famous husband in the 35 years they were married (he died in 1959, at age 92), were never fully credited.

Olga was the daughter of Chief Justice Ivan Lazovich of the Montenegrin Supreme Court and the granddaughter of Vojivoda Marko Miljanov, the greatest hero of his time, credited with defeating the Turks during the Russo-Ottoman war of the 1870s. Olgivanna drew upon a long family tradition of personal strength and courage.

She came to America in 1924 and met Frank the same year. At the time, he was divorcing his second wife. Olga finished her divorce from her first husband with whom she had a daughter, Svetlana.

Pending Wright's divorce, she was hired as a housekeeper. Shortly later, the two married. She soon gave birth to their only child, Iovanna.

Olga studied philosophy for four years in Paris under a Russian mystic, Georgi Gurjieff, who taught her sculpture, music and a host of philosophical subjects, hard work and rigid discipline, which she shared with her husband.

Wright expanded her philosophical ideals into architecture. He wanted his buildings to grow naturally from their sites in harmony with nature. Without a doubt, Olga Ivanovna Lazovich Lloyd Wright was a major influence on Frank's tumultuous career.

The unique elements she brought to her marriage -- her proud Montenegrin heritage, her fine education in philosophy and her dedication to ideals, were the very talents which nurtured the creative genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. Her contribution is unquestionably central to the resurgence of Frank Lloyd Wright's career.

The show at Evergreen House in Baltimore from April 12 to 18 ought to be shared by Olgivanna as well.

Frank Novak Baltimore

Clinton critic sounded envious

The April 7 article by Gregory D. Foster, "Blemished presidency," seems to me a vicious attack on President Clinton by an envious "out of the loop" former student in the high school they both attended. How much good "character" does a character assassin such as Mr. Foster have? It doesn't require a psychologist such as myself to infer the basis for his hostility.

Julian C. Stanley Baltimore

Hispanic community views misrepresented

The Hispanic community of Baltimore has been seriously misrepresented by The Sun in the March 31 article "Hispanic businesses racked by differences" by Joe Mathews.

For the past 17 years, I have worked to increase opportunities for Hispanics in Baltimore City.

I was not responsible for organizing any fund-raising events for Mary Pat Clarke during her mayoral bid in 1995. I did not sell tickets nor did I attend the event referred to in your article. The event was organized by the owner of Jose's Caribbean Lounge, Jose Flores.

On the contrary, I sold tickets for and attended Mayor Kurt Schmoke's fund-raiser held at Lista's Restaurant. According to Jose Luaces, president of the Hispanic Business Association and the organizer of the fund-raiser, I sold the greatest number of tickets for this event.

This article described, in the most simplistic terms, a situation and climate which exists within the Hispanic community of Baltimore City.

It does not examine, with any sense of historical perspective, the conflicts within this diverse group. Classification as "Latino" or "Hispanic" does not indicate that all Hispanics think alike, support the same political parties and candidates, or agree on the best way to achieve economic parity within the city. Their opportunity for economic growth should not be tied to an economic development agenda which is politically motivated.

As citizens and taxpayers, we expect the mayor's Hispanic liaison to assist all of the Hispanic business owners of this fragile and depressed area. The economic development of "Spanish Town" should not be placed on hold for any reason.

The mayor's office should spend more time promoting bridge-building and less in dictating the terms for participation in economic development of Baltimore's Hispanic community.

Jose Ruiz Baltimore

Pub Date: 4/13/96

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