I am writing in response to J.D. Reeds letter (5/1) regarding the Teamsters and the NMH nurses struggle. His comments about the Teamsters indicate that he has little knowledge of todays Teamsters union. The Teamsters union is already the largest international union in the free world with a diverse membership of 1.4 million members. Over-the-road trucking constitutes only 15% of todays Teamster membership. One of the third largest divisions of the Teamsters is the Public Services Division of which nursing is a part.
As a business representative for Teamsters Local 214 a state-wide Michigan Teamster local exclusively representing over 10,000 public sector workers in Michigan, I can attest to the fact that the Teamsters union already represents thousands of nurses and health care professional employees in this state in public health departments, community mental health agencies, county jail clinics, university health clinics, medical care facilities and hospitals. I personally represent many of them.
Nursing is not a new field to us. Weve been representing Michigan nurses for over 20 years. Mr. Reed may be surprised to learn that many of the current Teamster nurses are former so called nursing union members who left those organizations to join the Teamsters because of their more progressive representation of the health care professions.
In northern Michigan there are Teamster nurses working at North Country Community Mental Health , Grand Traverse County Health Department, Great Lakes Community Mental Health, and Grand Traverse Pavilions, to name a few. This is in addition to all the other public service professional Teamster employees working in schools, colleges and universities, libraries, law enforcement, courts, cities, counties and townships, 911 systems, and road commissions across the state and in the Petoskey area. Many of the critical public services currently provided to Emmett County residents are provided by Teamster members.
In response to Mr. Reeds comments that We support nurses not Teamsters, they are one in the same. He should also be reminded that the law gives employees the right to seek union representation of their choice, without interference. Im told that the NMH nurses did their homework before deciding to elect Teamster representation, and did so based on the Teamsters health care experience and representation record.
The NMH nurses deserve commendation for manning the picket line daily regardless of the weather, not criticism. Anyone who ever walked a picket line knows that each group elects their picket duty hours. Many of the nurses are working temporary jobs during this difficult time causing them to have less time for picket duty.
The majority of Americans, union or not, enjoy 8-hour work days, weekends, paid vacation and sick days, health insurance, and workers compensation, because of unionized workers who dared to fight and sometimes die for better working conditions. NMH Teamster nurses are doing nothing less - fighting for better health care conditions for themselves and for YOU and YOUR families. They need your support not your criticism.
Sheryl Langdon, Business Representative
Teamsters State County & Municipal Workers Local 214 Traverse City
Disc golf controversy
SHAME ON YOU, BOYNE CITY PARKS AND RECREATION AND CITY COMMISSIONERS! SHAME ON YOU for the abhorrent desecration that you have permitted to occur with the addition of disc golf to Boyne Citys Avalanche PRESERVE.
What part of the word PRESERVE didnt you understand? For decades, this area had been the last parcel of public land within city limits designated as a peaceful refuge for hikers and site seers. Now, without forethought and formal procedure this area has been declared as Avalanche Disc Golf Course.
And yes, thats exactly what it currently is. Isnt it bad enough that the citizens of Boyne City cannot look out onto our open water without it being blemished by manmade obstacles? You, the commissioners of Boyne City, had to mangle and destroy the one peaceful trail of forest, wildflowers, and greenery left in this town. Now these trails are littered with 18 six-foot metal monstrosities, picnic tables have been dragged up the hillsides, and huge metal waste receptacles are placed in areas that now need to be further intruded upon by trucks for maintenance. Not to mention the regular mowing of the meadows that will now need to occur -- not needed until YOU decided that this is what the people of Boyne City could not live without, another GOLF COURSE. Due to your lack of proper procedure and forethought, you have forever uglified and negatively altered the last parcel of beautiful hiking trails available to pedestrian visitors to our fair city.
Never mind that it is unclear who is responsible for decisions regarding the use of public and city owned lands. What does it mean when representatives of the city tell citizens that a master plan and map of these areas are under development and not available to the public? What does it mean when after concerns are presented during several meetings with the Parks and Recreation Commission, and a city official tells citizens that the baskets on the trails will be removed, and that trail users will be consulted regarding their relocation? What does it mean when the baskets come down for three weeks, then a Parks and Recreation meeting is moved and held with little advance notification to the general public, and then suddenly the baskets are back in place again?
I could have tolerated the first nine tees and baskets placed in the lower meadows areas, but the added nine holes through the interior trails should never have been allowed.
Oh, sure, you can still hike the trails. If you dont mind the interruption and distraction of ugly metal as you walk among the steep winding trails. Or the additional smell of cigarette smoke and the flung butts on the path. Or the beer cans that sit on the picnic tables. All of these have gone from being a rare occasion to a regular occurrence with this addition of this wonderful new activity, disc golf.
Oh, did I forget to mention the destructive trampling of wildflowers, mushrooms, and other natural observances as the inept throwers ricochet their discs off trees and they bounce into pristine greenery and wildlife areas? Or the added litter, including the forgotten discs of users unwilling to go into the woods when they miss their baskets? And the summer traffic hasnt even hit yet.
And how did all this come to be? Did the commission take the time to research this activity and the impact it would have on the trails and the people who regularly use them? Were studies done to determine whether or not an additional activity was even deemed necessary at Avalanche Preserve? Were safety, environmental, and site measures reviewed and assessed? Was a professional planner consulted? Did the city apply for grant monies to cover the cost of implementing and then maintaining this activity? Just how much is this disc golf course going to cost the City of Boyne City anyway? And I dont mean just in dollars.
To the people of Boyne City: Remember the words, Avalanche Preserve and Avalanche Overlook? Well, take a look at some of the wording of the advertising that is currently surrounding this scenic area. And the next time you hike the footpaths, climb those stairs, and sit on the benches to view the surrounding areas and sunset, take a peek at the metal atrocities lurking just behind you. And dont forget to duck.
Amelia Garey Ryan Boyne City
Halliburton‘s war profiteering
We were originally told - as was the U.S. Congress and everyone else - that Halliburton Corporation‘s NO BID, NO COMPETITION government contract (awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers) was as an emergency measure to put out the oil field fires in Iraq. Now it emerges that Halliburton‘s contract has some “concealed details“ that neither the Defense Department nor Halliburton have previously been forthcoming about. These details are slowing emerging under pressure of inquiry by Congressman Henry Waxman of the House Government Reform Committee.
It has now emerged that Halliburton‘s contract is a little broader than just putting out oil fires, but this contract is in fact “TO RUN THE OIL INDUSTRY IN IRAQ.“ (National Public Radio morning report: interview with U.S. Congressman Waxman, 5/7/03.) This disclosure comes after we were told repeatedly by Colin Powell and others that “the oil of Iraq is for the Iraqi people to control and use for the improvement of their own nation.“
Congressman Waxman asks correctly “Why are we running the oil industry of Iraq? And why is Halliburton, in effect the oil company for the nation of Iraq?“ These dislosures include other details, including that the contract was originally for $7,000,000,000, and included provisions that “whatever costs Halliburton incurs“ above this amount we taxpayers will pay for.
Says Congressman Waxman: “This really should be a wake up call. They (Halliburton) have overcharged the government consistently, in one case they were charging the government $85 for $14 plywood. They have even overcharged the government to the point where there was a potential criminal charge that was going to be brought against them, and they paid a settlement of $2,000,000. When you have a company that has overcharged the taxpayers, and then they are given a no-bid contract, and the contract says whatever costs they incur, we are going to pay them plus, that seems to me like a green light to overcharge. What we don‘t want to see is that the war in Iraq becomes a vehicle for rewarding companies that are close to this administration.“
Halliburton Company is the corporation which Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO, and for which he is still is a paid consultant. Halliburton has drawn attention in the past for its business deals with Libya and Iran, despite Congressional trade bans with these nations.
Jim Norgaard Petoskey