Letters for the week of October 27-November 2, 2004 

Kudos for our story about the TSA's crackdown on unions. An altogether different response to Chris Thompson on Oakland schools.

"Stickin' It to the G-Man," Cityside, 9/22

Flying backward
It is really frightening what is happening to labor and civil rights under this administration. If only more journalists would do such a great job of researching and doing background work on their stories, maybe the Bush administration couldn't get away with it so easily.
Samantha Draper, Sacramento

Protect the public, keep your rights
G-men and women all over the country are losing rights to free speech, to defend themselves with accusers, and in other ways. The drive to a kinder border and pay-for-performance is driving down morale and the working professionals' ability to do the job they need to do. Let's get back to protecting the public, and keeping the same rights the general public have.
Charles Showalter, president, American Federation of Government Employees, National Homeland Security Council 117, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

Kennedy si, Reagan no
An excellent article ... as usual. However, you say that federal workers got collective bargaining rights in 1980. I thought they got them in the 1960s when President Kennedy signed an executive order.
Dave Anderson, Boulder, Colorado

The right of federal employees to engage in collective bargaining was indeed first granted by President Kennedy in a January 1962 executive order. However, because it was an executive order and not a statute, it could have been revoked by a subsequent president until the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which went into effect in 1980.

"A Fan's Nose," East Side Story, 9/22

Pay for the violence
I read your article about the heckling A's fans and the Texas Ranger. I myself am not a fan of any sports that invite violence. Heckling is part of violence, but the Rangers are PROS. They get paid millions of dollars. They should pay for the violence.

As for those "immature" adults, they shouldn't play victims. For Pete's sake, if the victim has a broken nose, dizzy spells: Stay home! That's what I do. I rest up, then fight the world.
Cathy Morrell, Hayward

"Publisher for the People," Feature, 9/29

Research wants to be free
I am a hospital librarian struggling with journal subscription prices. As we are not a teaching or research institution, the basic research articles published on BioMed Central and PLoS are not as urgent to our daily clinical patient-care needs as the articles still published mainly in the "core" clinical journals of major publishers and societies. But the current situation with print subscription price increases and licensing of electronic full-text is putting the squeeze on our ability to provide even the most current "core" clinical literature to our physicians in-house.

The open-access movement is part of the very large issue of electronic publishing that affects all types of libraries, whose missions are to provide access to information, both current and archival, to their respective users. It deserves wide attention, and your article is a welcome contribution.
Shirley L. Maccabee, librarian, Mt. Diablo Medical Center, John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System, Walnut Creek

Tone down the arrogance
I am the executive director of an organization whose members are eleven nonprofit scientific societies, most of them quite small. Their collective annual budgets would fit into the PLoS annual budget with room to spare. We don't begrudge PLoS their success, but we do not care for their arrogant proselytizing for mandatory open access.

They claim that if they can do it, everyone can do it. Well, not everyone has a $9 million grant to publish two monthly journals for three years. Most small nonprofit scientific societies publish on a shoestring, barely break even, and derive all or nearly all of their revenue from library subscriptions and the journal-based memberships. They do not have George Soros' foundation backing them and subsidizing the publication charges of those authors who cannot pay. They simply waive those charges in the interest of publishing the literature. And they don't charge $1,500 per article, either. They don't have corporate sponsorship. They also don't throw fancy cocktail parties at Union Station in Washington, DC, or hire expensive lobbying firms. They don't have a staff of fund-raisers.


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