The recent vote by the Minnesota Nurses Association to authorize a second unfair labor practices strike across Allina hospitals is an exciting and hopeful show of support between co-workers, but I fear that some onlookers outside of the hospitals suspect the nurses to be selfishly pursuing unreasonable demands from their employer.
Among other issues such as safe nurse-patient ratios and protection from violent patients, an overwhelming majority (more than two-thirds) of nurses are voting to keep their existing health insurance plans. These quality plans help them and their families stay healthy, a benefit for the entire community. Accusations of “selfishness” ignore the fact that union-led organizing efforts benefit all nurses and related professionals, union or not, as they raise the quality of compensation that any company must provide to remain competitive. Common arguments like “If I don’t have it, why should they” ignore union-led successes such as the 40-hour workweek, the weekend and fair labor standards; unheard-of concepts that all started with the audacious demands of laborers and were achieved through organization. While these arguments are ironically selfish themselves, they also take the bizarre approach to equality that ends with us all fighting over scraps. Allina’s highly compensated executive team is willing to open the company coffers, millions of dollars each week, to survive an open-ended strike. Solidarity is the coin of the nurses as they and their families risk heavy financial tolls bankrolling their own fight.
The Allina nurses, through a direct democratic vote, have elected to challenge the race-to-the-bottom effort of Allina to squeeze more out of each employee. Every nurse in the region should be rallying behind their cause — and hope that their contracts are not next. They deserve the community’s strong and loud support in the weeks ahead as well, as their fight for dignity and representation at work is also ours.
John Jones, Minneapolis
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Allina wants nurses on the corporate medical insurance, thereby saving $10 million per year. Allina pays $20 million to cover a one-week strike. What am I missing here?
Mike Best, Chaska
It helps in understanding to frame this as money and power
Here’s a likely perspective after reading your good articles about Southwest light rail:
There’s a continuum from monarchy to anarchy, with one in-between stage called oligarchy, in which a few individuals or groups have inordinate sway. Add the adage from the close to 6,000 years of what I call the Abrahamic faiths — the love of money as the root of all evil. Of course, folks will deny the love factor in most situations. Yet if good things are not being done and negative things are, it can be deduced or induced after a cost-benefit analysis that the love of money is going on.
A key fact in the coverage was that light rail costs about $2 billion (one time) to install, plus maintenance, but the car/gas industry brings in about $10 billion yearly. What I call the oligarchy doesn’t want the latter threatened. (Remember Eisenhower’s Texas oilmen warning. Now we have North Dakota ones, too.) Moving away from fossil fuel as we witness climate change is positive, while losing many socioeconomic benefits and federal dollars is not. Clearly, the love of money is a factor in opposition to the line.
Also, there’s the elixir of power. Minnesota is surrounded by a sea of political red, from Wisconsin through Iowa and around through the Dakotas. Our blue state is being choked. What a prize if light rail dies, the tail of one man with a car/gas background, in only one-third of the legislative power structure in St. Paul, having wagged the dog.
Diane Steen-Hinderlie, St. Louis Park
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As the current alignment of the Southwest line continues to be obstructed, elected officials and other facilitators of the current routing are being offered a golden opportunity to push for a redesign. The damage to the Cedar Lake area and Kenilworth corridor that would be caused by the current alignment is inexcusable. There is no more nature to be had in Minneapolis, and to plan the destruction of such a treasured area is very close to malfeasance. Politicians seek to please the big-money interests, and a lot of money is at stake, but the plan is short-sighted and inexcusable. Money is not the greatest good.
James Lindbeck, Minneapolis
PREVENTING SEXUAL ASSAULT
Help is available for those who doubt their self-control
In response to Heidi Seltz’s excellent Aug. 26 counterpoint on rape prevention, I wish to add the following information:
1) Those who think they may rape (again) and are seeking help before they harm someone will want to find a copy of the groundbreaking book “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addition,” second edition, written by Patrick Carnes and published by Hazelden Information and Educational Services, now part of Hazelden Betty Ford, Center City, Minn. Call 1-800-328-9000.
2) Hazelden Betty Ford (HBF) also will refer those who believe they may need a doctor’s assessment and treatment for possible sexual addiction. Call HBF for referral to a doctor in the metro area at 651-213-4000.
3. Based in Houston is a national nonprofit called Sexual Addicts Anonymous. Similar to AA in its modus operandi, it has chapters in every state. Go to tinyurl.com/SAA-Minn for a free listing of chapters in Minnesota. There also are free listings of SAA chapters in all other states and free e-mail newsletters.
The problem of rape has not received the attention it should from the medical profession, government or media. People such as Seltz and organizations such as HBF and SAA should be recognized for their contributions toward a solution to this grievous societal problem.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
Don’t draw battle lines over risks of violence; learn about them
An Aug. 25 letter writer claims that violent video games were ruled out long ago as a risk factor for violent crime.
According to a news release from the American Psychological Association a year ago, an APA review of 31 studies showed an association between playing these games and increased aggression among children and teenagers afterward, but there was insufficient evidence whether the link extended to violent behavior or to delinquency.
The APA recommended further research on this important but difficult-to-study question.
Anecdotal evidence of a link between the games and violent behavior is documented for two of the most notorious lone-wolf killers. In interviews following the Norwegian genocide in 2011, Anders Breivik acknowledged his fascination with violent video games. In his book “Newtown: An American Tragedy,” Matthew Lysiak reported that Adam Lanza belonged to an online gaming community for Combat Arms starting in 2009. He played 4,900 matches and tallied 83,000 kills. Admittedly, both of these notorious killers had long histories of mental illness that put them at risk for violent crime.
The APA concludes that “no single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently. Rather it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior.” Is obsessive engagement with violent video games one such risk factor? Many believe it is. Can otherwise well-adjusted adults play the games safely in moderation? Many believe so, too.
John F. Hick, St. Paul