Letters – August 29, 2009

General strike of 1934

Thank you for the article on the strike of 1934 ("Display honors San Francisco General Strike anniversary").

I was born and raised in San Francisco and Harry Bridges was a guest in my family home many times while I was growing up. Both my parents were very involved in the strike.

My mother was a nurse at San Francisco County hospital and was on the front lines down at the docks working the aid station, helping those who were beaten bloody by the cops and the union-busters.

Out of this strike came so many things that we now take for granted including the California Nurses Association, which my mother and Harry Bridges helped found.

It was a very violent and bloody period but no one gave up until all the demands were met. The workers said "Enough! We demand a living wage and the right to a safe working environment."

My father met his best friend while organizing the strike. His name was Charlie Cannon, he was one of the first African American landscapers. Charlie's family came from the deep South and he grew up in extreme poverty. My father's family were Irish immigrants and he also grew up in terrible poverty, in the slums of San Francisco.

Nob Hill mansions were home to some of the richest Americans and the rest of the city had pockets of immigrants from all over the world, who were dirt poor with very little hope of ever climbing out of poverty. So many of these men found work on the docks for terrible wages and even worse working conditions.

My father and Charlie spent many years organizing the docks, the slots, slaughterhouses and even the fisherman from North Beach.

My mother worked with the nurses who made poverty wages, worked long hours, six and a half days a week with no benefits. The half day was so they could go to church on Sunday morning or Wednesday night.

The nurses worked for the city and county of San Francisco and were promised benefits including health care after 90 days. On their 89th day they would be called in the office and laid off; this would go on for years.

My uncles worked for Southern Pacific railroad as engineers. They were the ones who had to move the goods from the docks to the rest of the country. They were warned by the SP not to take sides in the strike or they would lose their jobs. My uncles chose to stand up for the workers.

When I was young Herbert Philbrick was an FBI agent on TV always looking for the "Communists." I found it hard to understand why the public was so afraid of communists as my father, Charlie Cannon and the other men and women who met weekly in our house were all about jobs, and people's rights.

The older I got, the more I understood what actually happened in 1934 and how much danger my parents placed themselves in to help bring about the right for workers to organize and to determine their own future. Both my parents were heroes for the roles they played in the General Strike in San Francisco in 1934.

 

Sheila Malone

Waterville ME

 

 

Netroots

Tony Pecinovsky's article "Netroots movement essential to pass Employee Free Choice" was really great - thank you.

 

Kate Thomas

New Media, SEIU

Via e-mail

 

 

National rallying symbol

I have made and put up symbols in my yard to show my support to ALL my neighbors for health care reform.

I would like to see my "Gauze For A Cause" on every health care supporter's tree.

I support the public option and think it is a must-have for America.

I hold the block watch meetings for my neighborhood at my house and will be having one on Sept. 3, where if asked I will let them know my opinion.

Many Americas remember the yellow ribbon campaign that showed the American spirit during the Iran hostage crisis.

Simple white ribbons could be used to focus America and its politicians on health care reform.

 

Al DiPiazza

Phoenix AZ

 

Town hall majority

On Aug. 19, Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I., held a town hall meeting at 6 PM to discuss health care. Although the Warwick City Hall is only a 15-minute drive from my home, it took me almost one hour to arrive. At 5:30 the doors were closed and a crowd of several hundred milled around outside. Later I was told that people waited in line as early as 11 a.m. to gain entrance. I guess they did not have to work that day and thus those inside were very vocal in their disdain for the plan. I joined the outside group for an hour. Although the local media portrayed the attendees as overwhelmingly opposing reform, I found just the opposite with the crowd in front of City Hall. I would estimate that 2/3 supported the president's plan in this very Democratic state. Many young people representing "Health Care for America" politely carried signs supporting reform in contrast to the minority (mainly well dressed and older) who screamed and waved signs portraying Obama as Hitler or stating that his plan would give free care for "illegals." Our only major newspaper, the Providence Journal, included more photos of those in opposition in spite of the fact that they were outnumbered by supporters of the plan.

 

Norma LaSalle

Exeter RI

 

 

Calls to my senators!

Yesterday, I called both of my senators here in West Virginia (Sens. Byrd & Rockefeller) and asked one simple question. "Do you support the public option?" According to an aide in Sen. Byrd's office, he has not made a commitment yet to support the public option. I let her know that people in our state really needed the public option, that I had been a long-time supporter of Senator Byrd. I came away from that conversation with a lot of bad feelings.

Also called Sen. Rockefeller's office and was advised that he does support the public option.

I did not call Congressman Shelley Moore Capito. She is a Republican. You know what they are - those who kiss the corporate ass.

Lots of protests going on down here. Have been a lot of fistfights, too!

Just know that we are doing everything we can down here to get the public option included.

 

Ed Cook

Via e-mail

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