Those who made
the choice later left

Editor of the Reformer:

So the great and benevolent the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has descended upon the Brattleboro Food Co-op. The membership will no longer have raises tied to performance; everyone, despite their work ethic or how much time they spend smoking on the back dock or out of their respective departments socializing will receive the same yearly bump. Trouble is, it’s a meager 2.75 percent bump. The union has dangled sugar plums of cash bonuses to urge people to ratify the recent contract, but in the end, they’ll be draining our weekly pay through dues for far much more than what they provide in return.

I, personally, get along just fine with the supervisor that I’ve worked under for 10 years. I need no third party to negotiate anything between him and me. I have never received an evaluation that paid a meager 2.75 percent annual increase. But now, I am forced to under union contract and to pay the dues that further erode my weekly paycheck.

The dirty little overlooked fact is that many (not all) of the original group of employees that enabled the deer-tick-like union to burrow deeply into our collective skin are in the wind, down the road, gone to bigger and better situations.

A year later, we need the National Labor Relations Board back for a new count with current employees, not employees either long gone or with a foot out the door with summer plans in the works. Revote. Challenge the closed shop. What are they afraid of to disallow an open shop at the Co-op where each individual has the freedom of choice to decide whether they want to be counted as part of this slick, well-funded organization? Don’t fool yourself. These aren’t the folks that "brought you the weekends off." These are the folks who work in plush offices in Massachusetts and make more money than the people on the sales floor of the Co-op will ever make under their contract guidelines. And, God forbid, you excel at your job. It doesn’t mean jack to the UFCW and it’s lackey contract negotiators.

R.J. Haskins,

Brattleboro, June 23

A call to divest

Editor of the Reformer:

The Vermont State Pension Fund, Vermont’s largest publicly managed state fund, has roughly $100 million invested in fossil fuel companies. Meanwhile, two dozen of these companies are currently being sued by Vermont for groundwater contamination. Vermonters spent countless hours organizing to ban fracking. Hundreds of millions of dollars went into cleaning up Tropical Storm Irene, extreme weather fueled by climate change. How can Vermont fix this glaring hypocrisy? We can divest.

Divestment is the opposite of investment, the removal or reallocation of funds to better align investments with an institution’s moral stance or social cause. An example would be universities divesting from companies supporting South African apartheid in the 1980s. Right now, fossil fuel divestment is gaining momentum across the country, and has been endorsed as a critical tactic to combat the power and public image of fossil fuel companies. These companies are profiting from pollution, environmental wreckage and climate change; we are complicit as long as we are invested.

To be truly progressive on the environment, Vermont should divest from fossil fuels, so we can move on to other environmental projects with a greener pension fund and a cleaner conscience.

Ruth Shafer,

Williamsville, June 23

A whiff of ‘classism’?

Editor of the Reformer:

I applaud your fine editorial of May 15th ("Seeking Higher Ground"), in which you remind your readers how many dire, scientifically-based warnings about global warming there have been over the past quarter century, and how little attention we as a society (especially Americans) have paid to them.

However, I take exception to the concluding, satiric lines: "Still there is some good news mixed in with the bad news: It could take 1,000 years to totally swamp the portions of the Earth that now sit 13 feet or lower above sea level. That means that everyone we know and love will be long dead before the consequences of our current lifestyle are totally realized. How good is that? .... Whoo, hoo. Light the charcoal grill, throw a steak on the fire, start up the ATV and the leaf blower and let’s party like it’s 1999."

Maybe I’m being too politically correct, but I detect a whiff of "classism" here, or whatever the right word for it is. I haven’t thrown a steak on the grill probably in a couple of years, and am no fan of leaf blowers or ATVs -- don’t own either one, because of the noxious noise they make and the havoc the latter can wreak on quiet, peaceful nature. But if you’re going to (legitimately) satirize the people who favor these things , why not write, "Whoo hoo, let’s eat some more wild, Alaska salmon and organic mangoes, flown in by jet from thousands of miles away for our dining pleasure. Let’s book another ecotourist, Sierra Club-type trip to Nepal, the Alps, Scotland, Antarctica ... or wherever. Let’s buy that ski or beach second home so we can drive to it 20 times a year to have fun." Those pleasures doubtless use way more carbon than a lousy leaf blower or ATV.

I know scores of people (myself included) who "love the environment," but eat what they can afford to eat, go where they want to go and spend whatever their bank accounts will allow them to indulge their pleasures, regardless of carbon costs. With the exception of a few hermits, saints and farmers, we’re all living it up (as you acknowledge elsewhere in the piece), so, please, don’t just pick on one type, leaving the rest of us off the hook.

Richard Evers,

Brattleboro, May 16

Train trip thanks

Editor of the Reformer:

Dover Elementary School Kindergarten, first and second graders would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Green Mountain Railroad, in particular to Mr. McGreggor station manager at the Bellows Falls train station, for allowing us to participate in a guided field trip of the Bellows Falls station, the Walpole Yard, and the Riverside Reload Center.

The trip was a culmination of a study the students undertook of tall tales including the famous John Henry. This trip provided students with an up-close look at railway transportation and taught them about keeping safe around trains and tracks. We sincerely appreciate all the members who welcomed us and donated their time to share their expertise about trains and their jobs within the community. Thank you to Sam and to Skinny you helped make our experience fun.

Crystal Griswold,

Dover, June 11