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THE FALLACIOUS AND
reactionary article on city unions by John Cloud (“United They Fall,” 11/24) really deserves a more thorough criticism than I can give. But I can provide some perspective from the nurses at D.C. General which took a hit.
First you write as if working people, especially blue- and pink-collar workers, don’t deserve salaries greater than minimum wage, health benefits, vacations, or pensions. Obviously, lawyers, capitalists, stock traders, entertainers, and CEOs are much more worthy than us, since you didn’t criticize that class for getting richer while we get poorer.
You lump all city employees together, writing that we make an average of $38,500. But your article implies that it is the union members who are making this “killing.” The high pay you claim goes to the nonunionized managers. Most of the nurses at D.C. General Hospital, and all of the AFSCME members make far less. In fact, D.C. General Hospital nurses are the lowest paid (and probably the hardest working) nurses in the region. An inexperienced nurse fresh out of school will make more in some private hospitals than a five-year critical-care RN like me.
I see many older blue-collar AFSCME members at D.C. General Hospital work sometimes several hours a day extra unpaid just to get the job done, because we are all having to do the work of those that were cut. There is nothing pleasant about your proposition that their limited pensions, health insurance, and jobs are unnecessary. By the way, D.C. General Hospital is solvent, which is not the case of several major private hospitals in
You criticize my D.C. Nurses Association and the AFSCME union of greediness for initially opposing the creation of a Public Benefits Corporation to run D.C. General Hospital. It is not greedy for us to protect pensions that people have invested years of their lives into, life insurance, health insurance, and seniority rights. These are rights that all people should have. The original plans for the Public Benefits Corporation would have razed public health, and turned me into a temp nurse. It is the city unions along with community activists that have fought the hardest to ensure that uninsured citizens have access to quality
You are reactionary because you champion the trends that slash workers’ rights and public serv-
ices. You imply that we are legitimate sacrifices for the economic elites who get tax breaks and pile their profits on the real gravy train. Unions are the only organization that working people have created to defend our lives.
For the many City Paper readers who have no job security, lousy pay, no organization to defend your rights as an employee, who have to keep your mouth shut when your stupid boss makes another idiotic decision, unsatisfactory health insurance, if any—then it is not in your interest to defend your defenselessness. Don’t mourn, organize a union!