Labor Union Responds to Non-Union Labor Story

[Re: "Union HQ Built with Non-Union Labor" by Matthew Randazzo V, 7/1-15-07 TPP]:

Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association ("MEBA") is currently involved in litigation in Alameda County, Calif., against an architectural firm and a project management firm, arising out of excessive projects costs and serious delays relating to the reconstruction of a building in Oakland being refitted to replace MEBA's prior headquarters and clinic facilities in San Francisco. MEBA's Oakland facilities are now in full operation, but were delayed by at least a year due to what MEBA believes to have been negligence, breach of contract and other more serious misconduct by the professional firms it hired in connection with the project as well as some of their subcontractors. Although the case is still being investigated and litigated, MEBA is confident that it was billed at least $2,000,000 in excess of any reasonable or appropriate cost for the project.

MEBA President Ron Davis, and MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Bill Van Loo made the decision in November 2006 to terminate the original architect and project manager when the terminated firms attempted to insinuate themselves into internal MEBA governance issues; refused to provide MEBA with credible explanations for the delays and cost overruns; and unlawfully shut the job down in violation of their legal duties to MEBA. After the replacement, the project was completed quickly and cost-effectively with the assistance of a new professional consulting and project management firm and a well-respected general contractor. The original architect and project manager are also suing MEBA for fees they claim to be owed, and are now asserting, implausibly, that they were somehow acting as a general contractor on the project despite the lack of any documentation for this and their lack of a contractor's license as required by California law.

The suggestion by sources named and unnamed in your article that the termination of the architect and project manager was related to union labor issues is false. In fact, MEBA West Coast VP, Louie "Bud" Jacque, who was originally in charge of the project, reported to the MEBA membership that he had been referred to the original architect and project manager by the Alameda County Labor Council and had the approval of organized labor. The Union's investigation has suggested that this was not the case, and that the original architect and project manager were longtime friends of Mr. Jacque.

An internal investigation within MEBA is ongoing to determine how and why these events occurred. President Davis had directed all MEBA officers to preserve documents and to cooperate fully with the Union's ongoing investigation of these events as well as the investigation being conducted by the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General's Office.

Charles A. Hansen,
attorney for MEBA
Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP
Oakland, Calif.


Free Don Siegelman

I am the daughter of the former governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman. He was indicted four years ago on corrupt charges brought forth by US prosecutor Leura Canary, wife of his political opponent's campaign manager. Leura is married to Bill Canary, former partner and long-time friend of Karl Rove. There is evidence linking Karl, Bill and current governor of Alabama, Bob Riley, to my dad's case (in addition to the obvious connection with Leura Canary). Few, other than the prosecutors and conspirators, ever thought there would be a conviction. Last month, my dad was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. I write to you because I believe our current government has perverted democracy, and I desperately need your help in freeing my dad. He was convicted of bribery, when the evidence clearly states that he never pocketed a cent, and the man that "bribed" him wanted nothing in return. All of this is horribly wrong, worse than any nightmare I have ever had. My dad is not only innocent, but respectable in almost every way. He is the only politician in the state of Alabama to have served in all of the highest state offices. He was in office for more than 25 years without being accused of criminal activity. He reached a level that threatened the superiority of Republicans in the South. It is incredible to think that our government spends millions prosecuting political opponents for the mere hope of eliminating competition. I need your help in exposing this grave injustice, along with the many others committed by our current justice system. Those behind these injustices must be stopped. I am begging you, as a fellow activist for democracy, to help me free my dad by pursuing justice. For more information, please refer to donsiegelman.org.

With all my heart, I thank you.

Dana Siegelman
Long Beach Cal.


Pilgrims Needed

Regarding Andrew Korfhage's "Mariana Islands Show the Evil of Guest Worker Programs" and Jared Bernstein and Ross Eisenbrey's "Breaking the Immigration Deadlock" [8/1/07 TPP], guest worker reform is part of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). The way it should work is for guest workers to have labor unions as their bargaining agents and shop stewards to prevent the guest workers from being abused and driven into slavery by their employers. Add this provision to CIR and it should get more support. It would prevent guest workers from being used as scabs and strike breakers.

CIR is needed for the big picture in Social Security. Our baby boomers are retiring soon and need young, upwardly mobile workers to pay their pensions. It is a compact between the generations. There are about 12 million "Pilgrims" (undocumented immigrants) in the US right now, most being Mexicans impacted by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA-affected Mexican Pilgrims should get amnesty and put on the road to US citizenship. They then become the young, upwardly mobile workers whose Social Security withholdings support the pensions of our retiring baby boomers.

Joseph J. Kuciejczyk
St. Louis, Mo.


Omission in Coverage

I am renewing, but not without telling you what I think is a significant omission in your reportage: One would almost suspect a contract not to talk about 9/11. Alex Cockburn wrote a disgraceful piece assuming all of us who have studied evidence of a conspiracy are deluded and deserve scorn. He is not well-informed and accepts the official rebuttal of evidence in a most credulous way. I can't believe he has read the books. It takes a lot of time and attention, and it does seem to me that we seniors are the biggest group of believers in the "Inside Job" theory. Or maybe it is because we remember the Hitler years and are forever wary of secretive governments, even our own. Or perhaps it is because we now have time to read. I am 86, and do not accept the "conspiracy nut" epithet. When are you going to discuss this? All we want is to have hearings, as the 9/11 Commission was even seen at the time as a whitewash and time has further eroded any credibility it may once have had. It is time for courage. And time for talk!

On page 317 in his book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, David Ray Griffin writes about what he would like to say to the journalists who do not do their job. "We refuse to let our knowledge, however limited, be informed by your ignorance, however vast."

Harriett Rex Smith
Ashland, Ore.


Tired of Abuse

Although I agree with many of your writers' viewpoints, and am myself a committed humanitarian/socialist/union activist, I am at a loss to understand your editorial support of the Democratic Party. There is very little left of any sort of populist/progressive policy activities forthcoming from the current crop of Democrats now in D.C. and/or most statehouses. Your support of the Dems reminds me of the abused women I had the eye-opening experience of dealing with when I was actively working in a community-oriented group therapy organization. After hearing (time and again) the horrific stories shared by these women, it would amaze me how they would rationalize and justify their continuing support of their spouses' behavior/actions -- even after almost losing their lives. The Democratic Party is owned (and made up) by the same very rich folks that own the Republicans. These very rich folks spend most of their time watching after their interests, not mine (nor yours?). However, if you really think continued abuse is OK, then try to better explain it to me (and others like me). In the meantime, vote outside the two-party box!

Anyway, I won't be abused any more by rich folks!

Brooks J. Kelly
Washington Depot, Conn.


VA Offers Great Care

The many references to ill-treatment of "veterans" at Walter Reed hospital are a bad mark for our treatment of service men back from Iraq.

I haven't been in an army hospital for years (discharged December '44), but have been treated in VA units many times over the past 50-plus years -- five different locations -- over 20 years at Wichita VA.

I do not believe I could be getting any better care if my own mother (now deceased) were in charge of it. The entire staff -- clerks, nurses, technicians, doctors, etc., are more like family than anything else. I can't speak highly enough of them.

Pera Kirkpatrick
Wichita, Kan.


So Transparent

This morning's St. Louis Post-Dispatch (7/23/07) carried a news item on page 1A ("US must stay, says Marine's Chief) that revealed information that discerning readers could immediately recognize for what it was: another attempt by the Bush administration to convince the American people that we should remain engaged in the civil war in Iraq.

Bush having failed in his personal appeal to a skeptical nation, now is enlisting military commanders in Iraq to carry his propaganda on "stay the course" for him. This is so transparent!

The subhead said: "Terrorists want Americans to view strife as civil war." How do we know this is a fact? Have the terrorists published this in a newspaper? Ran it on Al Jazeera television? Revealed it under CIA torture? Bush and his compliant generals have lost all credibility among the people so why would we believe this latest piece of propaganda?

"Growing disaffection with the (Iraq) war is likely to result in the same kind of withdrawal that America saw at the end of the Vietnam War," Gen. James T. Conway said. We were there ten years and lost more than 50,000 dead and untold maimed! Does the general think we left too early? That we had not yet met our capacity for sacrifice? That this was another "noble war"?

We're almost halfway to the Vietnam War mark of ten years; is the general saying that we should remain in Iraq five more years -- or longer -- to satisfy his hunger for combat?

The general revealed that he sees fighting these insurgents "as crucial to our nation's interests." Here he begins meddling in the political area, not the military, where he might have some expertise. We have elected officials to make such assessments; generals are not qualified to address political issues.

Just after one paragraph in the article where he said that we are fighting "insurgents," the general says, "I truly believe that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq. Al Qaeda is in Iraq." Now where have I heard that before? A politician? Our president? We have enough professional political propagandists to make this argument; we don't need a general to parrot the party line.

Gen. Conway should stick to what he was trained for -- military tactics -- and leave propaganda to the experts.

Percy Pascoe
Cuba, Mo.


Long Recovery Needed

I am 84 years of age. Currently I am shedding tears for the future of this nation. It is being destroyed due to the last seven years of privatizing and outsourcing of our government. It is no longer a government by and for the people and is solely owned by the private and corporate interests. I will not live much longer but if we recover from the Bush-Cheney years, it will require several generations.

Lida Soper
Carlisle, Ky.


Some Good from Iraq

Thanks to Tim Shorrock for his fine reporting on corporate takeover of US intelligence. I hope to see more of his writing in TPP.

One has to search very hard to find anything good coming out of the Iraq situation, but one positive development is the many fine books, literally dozens of them, exposing the ignorance, arrogance, fraud and general malfeasance surrounding this entire fiasco. It is difficult to point to one that stands out, but I hope Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of Ameria by Cullen Murphy is widely read -- one would hope by politicians -- but by everyone who is interested in understanding the implications of current directions in which the US is moving.

Burt Newbry
Mesa Ariz.


Disgusted With $3 Gas?

It is not fair! March 2003 the United States Government invaded Iraq, under false pretenses.

Ever since the innocent Iraq people, who were guilty of nothing but living in Iraq, have been bombarded by our bombs, and the latest of our high-powered expensive artillery.

Their national resource, oil, is being stolen (the true purpose of this holocaust), so you can pay $3-plus per gallon for gas.

Do you want to trade places with them?

Ann Riehle
Monee, Ill.

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2007

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