- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Janitors at university may want to see union decertified

The article "Janitors protest," which has the subhead "University denies low-wage claim" (Business, June 21), incorrectly portrays administrators at the Catholic University of America as being confused by the attempts of Service Employees International Union Local 82 to take over labor representation of the university's 130 custodial and maintenance employees without a vote by the affected workers. Catholic University has adhered consistently to a clear and simple policy: It is the right of the employees alone to determine whether they wish to have a union represent them and, if so, which union. The university is willing, unconditionally, to abide by the results of any election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

By their own actions, the university's employees have provided strong evidence that they do not wish to be represented by Local 82. More than 80 of those employees requested that the university cease withholding union dues. They did this after they had been transferred unilaterally to Local 82 from the Fireman and Oilers Conference Local 14, which had represented them for four decades, not before the transfer occurred, as the article suggests.

A substantial number of the affected employees have petitioned NLRB to decertify the union. This issue can be resolved fairly and expeditiously by having NLRB conduct a secret-ballot election in which the university's custodial and maintenance workers vote whether or not they wish to decertify the union. This election has been delayed by Local 82's filing of unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB against the university for refusing to bargain with it. Local 82 has the option to waive the blocking provision of these complaints and thereby enable the election process to go forward. Instead of waiving the blocking charge, Local 82 has filed additional complaints against Catholic University that will further delay any vote.

Local 82 has yet to explain why it objects to a fair and free vote conducted by the NLRB a federal agency and a neutral party that would resolve this issue and respect the will of the university's custodial and maintenance employees.

VICTOR NAKAS

Executive director of public affairs

Catholic University of America

Washington

Web site will help you feed the hungry

In his June 20 letter, "Former senator has vast experience feeding children," former Rep. James W. Symington promoted a proposal by former Sen. George McGovern for the U.S. government to provide lunch to the world's schoolchildren.

Mr. Symington recalled that in the 1960s, Mr. McGovern was instrumental in providing millions of tons of U.S. surplus commodities across the globe in the Food for Peace program.

Mr. Symington and Mr. McGovern may be interested in and may perhaps even want to encourage individuals to use the Web site www.thehungersite.com to make a daily free contribution of food to the world's hungry. This international Web site started June 1, 1999, with little publicity. In 12 months, it has contributed 8,645 metric tons of food to the world's hungry. The food is distributed by the U.N. World Food Program.

All the Internet user has to do to help feed the world's hungry is go to the Web site and click the donation button.

JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

Feminists love to blame men, not women

One of the conundrums of the feminist movement is that the phrase "equal responsibilities" is oddly absent from any discussion of "equal rights."

Exhibit A is Maggie Gallagher's column on actress Jodie Foster and writer David Levinson, who chose, with separate partners, to have children who will have no fathers ("In the new kind of family way," Commentary, June 10). In her column, Miss Gallagher takes aim at Mr. Levinson. Echoing the feminist attempt to denigrate and demean fatherhood, Miss Gallagher coins a new epithet the "undad."

But why doesn't Miss Gallagher express equal outrage over Miss Foster's actions? After all, she concocted the plan to conceive a child who is fatherless by design. Miss Foster made famous the expression, "And baby makes two." Her adoring gaze graced the cover of People magazine while she was pregnant.

Rather than reflexively blaming the man, shouldn't we be holding both partners equally responsible for the decline in the traditional two-parent family?

EDWARD E. BARTLETT

Rockville

Oppression of Christians continues in India

We commend the Hindu woman who poured boiling oil on militant Hindu fundamentalists who were attacking her tenant, a Catholic priest ("Hindu woman protects Christian priest," World, June 25). This is an act of religious tolerance, which is very rare in India these days.

Last week, a bipartisan group of 21 members of the U.S. Congress wrote to President Clinton asking him to declare India a terrorist state because of its oppression of Christians and religious minorities. They took note of the pattern of violence against Christians that has been going on since Christmas 1998.

Last month, four Christian missionaries who were distributing Bibles and religious pamphlets were beaten severely by militant Hindu fundamentalists. The beating was so severe that one of the victims may lose his arms and legs. In April, Hindu fundamentalists affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a pro-fascist organization that is the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), attacked a Christian group and burned biblical literature. In March, a Sikh family saved a group of nuns whose convent had come under attack from Hindu fundamentalists. On Easter, a group of nuns who were going to Easter services were run down by Hindu fundamentalists on motor scooters.

Churches have been burned, prayer halls and Christian schools have been destroyed, nuns have been raped, and priests have been murdered by the militant Hindu nationalists advocating "Hindutva," a Hindu culture, society and nation. Hindu fundamentalists chanting "Victory to Hannuman," a Hindu god, burned missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, ages 8 and 10, to death while they slept in their Jeep. The Indian government, led by the Hindu nationalist BJP, has not taken action to punish the persons responsible for any of these atrocities.

Christians are the primary targets of the militant Hindu nationalists, but they are not the only ones who are suffering. In March, 35 Sikhs were murdered in the village of Chithi Singhpora in Kashmir. India promptly blamed Kashmiri "militants" and killed five Kashmiris, claiming that they were responsible. However, two independent investigations have established clearly that the Indian government's counterinsurgency forces carried out this massacre. India has since admitted that the five Kashmiris the government killed were innocent.

The Sikhs who were murdered in Chithi Singhpora join more than 250,000 Sikhs who have been murdered by the Indian government, according to "The Politics of Genocide," by Inderjit Singh Jaijee. In addition, the Indian government has killed more than 200,000 Christians in Nagaland, more than 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims and tens of thousands of Assamese, Manipuris, Tamils, Dalits (the dark-skinned "untouchables," the aboriginal people of South Asia) and others. Tens of thousands of Sikhs are rotting in Indian jails as political prisoners without charge or trial.

This is nothing less than a campaign of terror designed to wipe out minority peoples and nations from the Indian subcontinent and achieve hegemony in South Asia. The United States should declare India a terrorist state because of these ongoing atrocities. It also should cut off American aid and trade to India and openly declare its support for self-determination for the minority peoples and nations of South Asia through an internationally supervised plebiscite on the question of independence. If India wants to be seen as a democratic nation and a major world power, it will stop its reign of terror against its minorities and allow them to exercise their democratic rights. Until then, America must hold India's feet to the fire.

GURMIT SINGH AULAKH

President

Council of Khalistan

Washington

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