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labor Readers Response

Portside Labor Readers Comments on, Without Tenure; International Support Enables Victory of Egyptian Union; Ruling Says McDonald's Is Liable for Workers; Article Interview With Cleo Silvers (When the Union's the Enemy: An Interview with Cleo Silvers)


RE: Without Tenure

Does anyone doubt in this era of large government and business institutions with power, intent to have political control as well as economic influence, that freedom and democracy are vulnerable? Increasingly schools and universities that were supposed to be educational communities are now subject to government and corporate influence. The essence of a university or any other educational institution is the ability of scholars to speak the truth as they understand it, to do research without interference, to teach what they know as a result of their research and to do all of these things in an atmosphere of open and free discussion. Today they are increasingly impinged upon by administrative rules, by the pressure to gain research grants or contracts, by copyright and patent rules. In this context tenure is more necessary than ever. It protects the honest from the unscrupulous and power-hungry!

L. MacDowell

RE: Without Tenure

The term tenure has developed a mystical meaning. It is neither more nor less than the application of the Fourteenth Amendment to a particular employment - teaching. It is conflated with teacher unionism -- which it long antedates. It parallels, often copies word for word, the language in the typical private sector union contract which protects an employee, after a trial period during which his/her skill and ability has been tested and evaluated as adequate, from being fired or otherwise disciplined without "just cause." (That trial period in the typical job is a matter of months. In the teaching profession it is a matter of years.)

Teacher unionism -- public sector unionism -- is a relatively recent phenomenon arising during and after WWII, the war against fascism and for democracy. But tebure existed when I was a school kid (well nigh four score years ago). It was part of Civil Service. And, what was Civil Service? An attempt to civilize government by freeing public employees from being hired and fired based not on merit but on political patronage.

The process of protecting tenure replicates the process developed over recent centuries when notions such as right to legal counsel (a union rep), an impartial judge or jury (an arbitrator) began to be employed to the employment relationship . Where the boss had been the royal ruler having life and death power (hire and fire) over subjects (employees), now there arose unions.

The demonizing of tenure is part and parcel of the attack on workers, their rights and standard of living.

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Martin Morand

RE:  International Support Enables Victory of Egyptian Union

So good to see this.  Empowering.  Thank you.

Libby Frank Philadelphia

Re: Ruling Says McDonald's Is Liable for Workers

Franchises have been a front through which large companies can behave irresponsibly, so this is a good and realistic decision. It is too bad small retailers are lining up with a company like McDonald's rather than realizing that as wages rise and people have more disposable income, that situation is good for small businesses. McDonald's labor conditions have been scandalous, especially for a company that makes huge profits. Good for the NLRB!

L. MacDowell

Re: Article Interview With Cleo Silvers

Dear Editors,

I thought Andrew Elrod's interview with Sista Silvers was excellent because she framed the responses within a historical context reflecting experiences thru the lens of gender and as an African American female whose political involvement as a community organizer , revolutionary activist and union organizer offered a content based -non dogmatic  analysis of the events and historical period covered. On the other hand the heading or the title of the interview was misleading and undermined the entire intent of the interview. In my opinion the title of the interview bears serious questions directed to the editor because I cannot see the intent other than to question that there exist some anti- union biases here to offer the impression or frame Cleo's voice for what is was not. Who is the enemy?

Rosemari Mealy