Strike narrative was incomplete

I am referring to the Oct. 22 Times front-page article, "Trains back on track."

As fortunate as we are to have BART running again, there is still a lot missing from the story. Although BART workers are resolute that this was a fight for all blue-collar workers with something to lose, that narrative was lost in the disputes and the long-lasting impact may be disastrous for labor unions.

Media outlets reported the details of the offers and the counter-offers, but beyond negotiations of salaries, pensions and health-care plan, there was no sense of "why."

BART, the unions and journalists didn't frame the conflict as a power conflict between public servants and the wealthy management team. They did not highlight the inequalities, the health concerns, or the unfairness of the system. This issue goes beyond the pay, a point that, unfortunately, was not emphasized enough.

The unions are strong, but support from their community would have put more pressure on management, whereas this entire drama left the end-users with a bad taste in their mouth and the management appearing like tired, resilient parents.

Nancy Pham

Berkeley

Revitalize the post office


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Question: What do you call a Berkeley progressive who is trying to "save" the downtown post office, which is a relic from the past? Answer: A conservative.

Saving the post office is wishful thinking. Most of the services it provides are shrinking due to better alternatives, particularly online.

Great public spaces are wonderful and we have excellent parks and rose gardens, campuses and libraries, squares and ferry buildings. The best way to truly save the post office is to let it revitalize into a leaner, sustainable organization that fits the times.

Giles Goodhead

Berkeley

Support EPA for cleaner gas

I am writing to ask readers to support cleaner gasoline.

My mother has trouble breathing. Reducing air pollution from cars would improve this condition.

Let's support the Environmental Protection Agency's work to reduce sulfur and tailpipe pollution, which would help me, my mother and all of us breathe easier every day.

Mark Edgren

Berkeley

Oakland's great food program

I was thrilled to read about the work of the Kitchen of Champions program in Oakland.

Because of the hard work of chefs, Oakland residents and partnering organizations, disadvantaged community members get the chance to learn valuable culinary, restaurant, nutrition and budgeting skills while cooking meals for a soup kitchen.

As a public health student, I am always looking toward prevention and local change as ways to solve critical public health issues. I applaud Kitchen of Champions for working toward prevention on so many levels -- prevention of chronic disease, hunger, incarceration and unemployment.

I can only hope this program will be able to continue raising funds to do its great work and that others will join them in the effort.

Tanya Moss

Berkeley

GOP offers no alternative

I am referring to the Oct. 28 letter in the Times by Thomas Nelson of Danville, "Democrats are the real extremists."

Nelson either didn't know or chose to ignore some facts when he asserted the Affordable Care Act was "written by Democratic extremists."

The requirement that citizens purchase health-care insurance originated with the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation. The notion that people must insure themselves rather than pass the cost of their treatment onto taxpayers and insurance companies is based on conservative principles.

Then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney signed an almost identical plan into law in Massachusetts.

The ACA was the subject of more than two years of hearings and bipartisan meetings. The single-payer option was never considered; the "public option," as an alternative to private insurance was dropped.

Democrats received more votes in the last congressional election than Republicans. The House majority results from gerrymandering and "safe districts." Romney promised to eliminate the ACA. He lost the election. The only cries for repeal of the ACA are in the right-wing echo chamber.

Finally, there has been no cogent Republican proposal that would provide affordable health care. Unless and until the Republicans come up with a plan that will allow someone making $10 or $15 per hour to afford health care, "repeal and replace" is meaningless and hypocritical.

Linda Burrell

Berkeley

Pass law to stop shutdowns

The funding crises created by Congress have temporarily passed. We, the people, should never face these threats and coercions again.

California fixed part of a broken budgetary process by taking away any pay, or back pay, for legislators who can't or won't fund operation of the state government.

We now need an amendment to the federal Constitution to do the same kind of fix. Such an amendment would not only take away salary, but would declare an inability to fund government by any legal deadlines as an automatic statement of resignation and immediate vacating of office by all members of Congress, both houses, all parties.

New elections would be required in 45 days to refill the offices and restart the governmental process. The resigned office-holders could run again. Until the new Congress can pass the required funding measures, the old budget is in force.

There would never be another shutdown or debt-ceiling crisis. And if legislators aren't doing what they are elected to do, would we really be worse off with an empty Congress? I think not. Power to the people.

Gary L. Wilson

Berkeley