Labor as Scapegoat After four years of the-sky ‘ s-thelimit military spending in America, one might expect the defense industries to be the least likely site for battles over wage concessions. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Fort Worth might have thought so, too. But when General Dynamics proposed doing away with the workers’ yearly general wage increase the union members found themselves quickly out on strike. General Dynamics wanted to replace the yearly wage increase with an end-of-the-year bonus program. That would have cost the average Machinist $2,500 a year, according to the union. General Dynamics employs about 16,500 workers in Fort Worth, where the F-16 fighter jet is produced. Production continued after the 6,500 striking machinists walked out Nov 4. Pat Whiteman, a five-year veteran at General Dynamics who went on strike, says union contracts, in the aerospace industry have been weaker in the last few years. He suspects General Dynamics is trying to get in on that trend. “GD is making profits right now,” he said. “There’s no reason they can’t pay us what they should be paying us.” General Dynamics is “coming off a $286 million profit last year,” according to Jim Conley of the 1AM. Conley says the GD machinists are about 85 cents an hour behind other workers in the industry, “We’re intent on catching up with some of the competitors,” he said. Pat Ziska, of the union’s Washington D.C. office. says at least two top military spokesmen have tried to “scapegoat labor” for cost overruns and excessive military spending. Air Force Secretary Verne Orr said last year military contractors must hold down costs and “accept work stoppages if that’s what it takes.” Ziska said Hans Driesneck, an Air Force procurement officer, also sent down a memo urging contractors to cut labor wages. But Ziska pointed to a recent Air Force study that showed that some military contractors have been charging the government as much as 20 times the labor costs the companies have actually paid the workers. For example, the study showed Pratt & Whitney charging the government $195 an hour, when the company’s costs couldn’t have come to more than $35 an hour. The study was presented Oct. 10 before the Joint Economic Committee’s finance subcommittee. According to The New York Times, the study found such inflated labor charges in six of the country’s top military contractors. One of the companies named was General Dynamics. D. D. 111WININIMMINI1W ri Angry mothers and other “interested citizens” presented their arguments before the Texas State Board of Educaadoption of $55.4 million worth of textbooks designed for use by Texas public schoolchildren. Science texts, specifically those used in high school biology courses, came under direct fire from concerned mothers, creationists and other interest groups. Public interest groups, such as People for the American Way, argued that, while the books under consideration by the SBE were “adequate,” they were in no way ideal material for teaching biological fundamentals such as ;Darwin’s theory of evolution. Michael Hudson, Texas coordinator for People -for the American Way, warned board members that the “watered-down, badly out-of-date” biology texts might be detrimental to the student. Carolyn Galloway, a Dallas mother, charged that one of the text’s “graphic charts” of female and male anatomy “breaks down the natural barriers that exist between boys and girls.” Clova Wood of Garland said she took offense at another textbook’s anatomical illustrations and how these “explicit pictures are taught in mixed company.” “This is not sex education it’s more of a how-to,” Wood proclaimed. The majority of the citizens called to testify not only objected to drawings or photos of the human anatomy but to “perverted, humanistic, anti-moral” content, such as the inclusion of abortion in a section discussing birth control. No children were present during the hearing when Mel Gabler of Longview, a figure at these and past textbook hearings, called the theory of evolution, “a fairy tale for grown ups . . . pseudoscience, not actual science.” Reaganomics 1/’ Among the bills vetoed by the President the week before the election was one that would have continued federal funding for community clinics that serve poor people. Texas has 22 such clinics, three in the Valley. Dr. David Smith, the medical director at the Brownsville Community Health Clinic, says the bill was “an extremely popular bill” in Congress that would have provided four years of funding for his clinic. His clinic will keep federal funds at least until next October due to a continuing resolution, but Reagan’s veto means the bill will have to start all over again in the House the next session. The Reagan administration would like to see community health centers be more “selfsufficient” and to see more of the responsibility shifted to the states. But if that happenns, “we may not be able to survive,” Smith says, because there is nothing in place in the state to replace the federal funds. The Brownsville clinic fought a battle in October to keep federal “Jobs Bill” monies given through the state Bureau of Maternal and Child Health Services money that had run out at the end of October. Smith says they have been able to secure about $80,000 for the coming year. The money goes to defray the cost of births for indigent women. Reagan’s recent veto was blasted by state Rep. Rene Oliveira. “He [Reagan] came down here a month ago and told us man does not live by bread alone, and then he does this. It’s absolutely incredible. It shocks me. Valley Interfaith also criticized the veto, saying it would have “a disastrous effect on the indigent of the Rio Grande Valley.” Smith says the problems are big enough in the Valley without constantly having to worry about funding. Many of the illnesses he sees in his clinic are similar to diseases found in South and Central America. “I’m not from around here,” he says. “I almost can’t believe what Fm dealing with here as medical director.” Let It Be vf There was little lamentation among national Democrats over certain losses in Texas. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Tony Coelho, congressman from California, said eight of the 14 or 15 congressional THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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