DEAR EDITOR: Which union-busting "labor consultant" employs Rick Levin on their payroll? ["White-Collar Strike," Rick Levin, Feb 17.] After reading Levin's article on the SPEEA strike at Boeing, I had the same feeling in my stomach that I get after I read the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.

What Levin fails to understand is that what is left of our standard of living is due to the fact that all kinds of workers -- from farm laborers to "white collar professionals" -- joined and organized unions, forcing companies to pay their employees enough to afford things we all deserve: a decent place to live, health care for us and our kids, a means for retirement, and most of all, respect for our work. These things were not handed over willingly. What Levin also fails to comprehend is that in a so-called market economy, employers are always looking to increase profit; wages are the largest [part of a company's] overhead, and wages are the first target [when companies want to] increase the bottom line.

If working folks do not want to lose their place to live, their health care, their retirement, and their self-respect, then they have to exercise their own power in the marketplace. That is the right to withhold their product in free association (their labor) until they can secure the price that will satisfy their needs. Naturally, these opposing principles produce things like strikes. It is pretty clear to me whose side Levin is on.

John Persak, IWW member, Seattle

RICK LEVIN RESPONDS: Obviously, it's easier for Mr. Persak to accuse me of being a corporate mole than it is for him to address the one simple point I made about the strike: Namely, that picketers might be weakening union objectives by threatening to jump ship so quickly to higher-paying companies. That "feeling" in Persak's stomach is a common ailment among many unthinking members of the modern left, and it's caused by an inability to digest a little constructive criticism without getting flatulently self-righteous. All that party-line hot air is wasted on me, John; I'm completely pro-labor, which you'd understand if you weren't so busy with your IWW Chicken Little dance.


EDITORS: Where do you get the "average" wage figures you quoted for [Boeing's] engineers and techs? I don't earn even half of what you quoted for techs, and I have been at Boeing for nine years. I have engineering and tech friends who have been there for up to 25 or 30 years, and none of them earn anywhere near those "average" figures you quoted. I don't know where Boeing gets their "average" figures they put out; there must be a few engineers and techs they keep hidden who earn millions of dollars each year to "average" it out.

Lee M. Van Natter, via e-mail


EDITORS: Very good article, though I would like to mention something that hasn't been addressed by the media. Sure, engineers and technicians at Boeing get paid, on average, $55,000 and $45,000 respectively. However, if my husband had started working for Boeing as a machinist (or other IAM worker) right out of high school, instead of going to a university to become an engineer, he could be making (with overtime) nearly $70,000 a year or more. Remember the difference in pay between a longshoreman (a blue-collar worker) and a nuclear engineer (a white-collar worker)? The color of one's collar doesn't always equate with one's pay. I'm a little tired of the media's condescension [sic] toward these hard-working white-collar workers who just want their benefits left alone and pay increases that will keep them ahead of inflation.

Also, the "luxury" of "higher mobility on the job market" isn't always what it seems. The pressure to "retire" early is becoming stronger, and coming earlier. Many companies would rather pay some kid straight out of school, than an experienced professional. Even an engineer in his or her early 40s can start to feel the crunch.

D. Louise Calibo, Arlington, WA


EDITORS: Intelligent commentary on humane behavior toward animals of any species is apparently not the forte of The Stranger's pseudo-intellectual "literary" staff. [In Other News, Josh Feit, Feb 17.] Not only did your paper not "waste time" writing about the issue, you also didn't "waste" any time educating yourselves about the issues involved with the proposed [Exotic Animals] ban. Perhaps such effort and research might have detracted unduly from some other "crucially" vapid, tiresome, and self-important commentary being crafted by your contributors.

Even for people who "don't give a rip" about animals (which appears to include the entire Stranger roster of brilliant pen-wielders, as far as I can tell), the proposed ban on exotic animal acts in city-owned and -operated venues should have been an important issue because of the PUBLIC SAFETY element involved. Blaine Doyle, a police officer who had to shoot repeatedly at (and help kill) an elephant named Janet who went berserk at a circus (from "overblown" abuse, no doubt), testified at the Seattle city council hearing on the ban that "it is not a matter of IF these animals will become dangerous, but WHEN." Of course, no one on your staff could "waste" the time involved to actually attend the hearing and find this information out.

Robert L. Papy, via e-mail


EDITORS: I was extremely disappointed [with] the blatant carelessness of the article on the circus ban by Josh Feit. Either your paper and Feit are uneducated on the issue, or you are heartless. The animals in these circuses are often severely abused, and the ban would have [prevented] much suffering. Yet your article does nothing for showing the opposing side. Instead, it ridicules it with sarcasm. Your paper is clearly not a part of true journalism.

Danielle Klenak, via e-mail


DEAR EDITOR: Apparently, whiny-ass "One Angry Jew" doesn't know that Isaac Bashevis Singer (a Nobel Prize-winner and a Jew) was the first to compare slaughterhouses to concentration camps [Letters to the Editor, "The Hamburger Holocaust? Where's Your Outrage, Seattle?" Feb 17]. Having fled the Nazis, Singer took a room above a slaughterhouse in Chicago -- the abuse he witnessed there made him go vegetarian. Yes, Jews suffered horribly and unjustly. [But] blacks, women, children, Native Americans, and -- gasp! -- ANIMALS have suffered horribly and unjustly, too, pal.

Not Sorry


DEAR EDITOR: I am extremely displeased with the second-rate journalism of [Stranger music writer] "Babs" Barbara Bitch-el er... Mitchell. Her obnoxious attitude, poor grammar, and all-around dislike for anything other than what gets her off is outright annoying. Take, for instance, her review of an artist she knows nothing about: Jill Cohn [Up & Coming, Feb 10]. As a so-called music reviewer, I think she owes it to all of us to do her job. How one can spew forth utter garbage and contempt for things she knows nothing about is a complete travesty.

Hey "Babs," have you ever stopped to think that maybe we, the public, can think for ourselves? As a business person who buys a substantial amount of advertising in The Stranger, I feel that "Babs" is undermining the quality of The Stranger. But then again, that's my opinion. I doubt for one instance [sic] that you have the audacity to publish this letter. For it seems that any viewpoints that are contrary to those of The Stranger seem to somehow never surface. One last piece of advice, "Babs": You should watch your mouth when you're out -- you never know who's behind you in line, buying drinks at the club.

J. Schmidlap


EDITORS: Granted, you probably get e-mails like this all the time, saying, "How could you give a BAD review of (fill in the blank)'s new album?" But Grant Cogswell's review of Zeke's new album, Dirty Sanchez, was below the belt [CD Review Revue, Feb 17]. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion, as well as [to] have it printed, but printing that a new album "sets a low standard" and [that] it's time to "move on" doesn't give any band -- especially one of this caliber -- enough credit.

I have seen Zeke live several times. As for your review, and the writer involved, I truly believe it was your material that "set a new low."

Kevin Brumbaugh, via e-mail