Victory for students, peace

At last, after two years, a victory for Chapter 119 Veterans for Peace (Tampa Bay, Fla.). Vets and their friends will be “permitted” to sit at a table inside Pinellas County schools and advise students of career choices that do not require enlistment in the military. A really great day!

Jesse Kern
St. Petersburg FL
Jesse Kern is a Korean War veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace.

OSHA should do its job

This is excerpted from a letter to the editor of The Meadville Tribune on its recent story, “Runaway wrecking ball injures three,” involving Kebert Construction.

As my brother, Gary Puleio, was killed at Meadville Redi-Mix Concrete on Aug. 15, 2001, I am painfully familiar with workplace injuries and fatalities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently found three serious violations in its investigation of July’s “runaway wrecking ball” incident at Allegheny College and is proposing total fines of $7,500 for Kebert Construction. While OSHA regulations propose a mandatory penalty of up to $7,000 for each serious violation, the penalties may be adjusted downward “based on the employer’s good faith, history of previous violations, the gravity of the alleged violation, and the size of the business.”

Corporations routinely “negotiate” with OSHA to downgrade fines through a process called “abatement.” Aggrieved families of dead workers have no such access to OSHA.

In the past 20 years, 170,000 workplace fatalities occurred but only about 1,700 were considered by OSHA to be due to the “willful” violation of safety laws. Without a “willful” designation it is difficult for prosecutors to make a case that an employer was criminally liable and civil suits pursued by families are not likely to succeed.

It is a misdemeanor to kill a worker by willfully violating safety laws. The maximum sentence is six months in jail.

OSHA fines are not issued as punishment and no amount of money can ever compensate for the loss of life. However the issuance of trivial fines and citations results in no accountability, nor any acknowledgment of responsibility on the part of the offending company.

Donna Puleio Spadaro, MD
Franklin PA

Nursing home reform

“Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley probably thought coming home meant family picnics with sweet corn, instead of scores of constituents outside his home office windows, July 18, protesting his recent vote to continue funding for the Iraq war,” wrote Denise Winebrenner Edwards in National Clips (PWW 7/28-8/3).

Grassley also gives much lip service to nursing home reform to stop abuse/neglect. He speaks forcefully while allowing the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services give the nursing home industry a free ride on penalties.

I tried to find out if there is a union entity that is trying to unionize nursing home workers in Houston. Maybe you can give me a referral.

Sam Perlin
Houston TX

Denise Winebrenner Edwards responds: I urge you to contact the Houston labor federation and attend Labor Day festivities. At, there is a section titled “Working America” where you could join a union by city and state. You might check that out as well.

On guns and gangs

Pepe Lozano’s centerpiece story on guns and gangs (PWW 8/11-17) is very timely. Maybe we need a massive Rebuild America program to improve our infrastructure (Minneapolis bridges?). That would put a lot of our young people to work on constructive projects.

I am not sure if guns are the problem. Many areas of our country have guns without this senseless violence. I think there is a deeper problem of a general breakdown in values and a disrespect for life. All one has to do is watch TV or films to see a culture that glorifies this lifestyle.

Jim Gallo
Detroit MI

Save the Internet

I recently found an article in The Nation on how the corporate world wants to totally destroy the freedom of the Internet. I sincerely hope PWW reprints it and everyone who reads my short letter tries to save the Internet from the capitalist corporate greed. The destruction of the free use of the Internet is a very, very real possibility. With the destruction of the Internet, the freedom of PWW and Political Affairs to post their articles online would be lost, resulting in the articles not being accessible to anyone.

Gary De Santis
Trenton NJ

Re-tool the industrial revolution

Re: Bill Mackovich’s “Mining black gold, and profits, from northern sands” (PWW 8/25-31): Coal, gas, oil and atomic energy are destroying the planet’s livability. The last 44 years of an ecological green revolution has brought into being the high-tech tools to put in place wind, tidal and solar power. This is a non-pollution solution. End pollution wars, not endless wars for more pollution. Pollution is the deepest war as it alone portends the total destruction of the planet’s livability.

Via e-mail