The Kids Are Alright

Upon a recent visit to my favorite Thai restaurant, I noticed that it was packed and buzzing with mostly young people flashing their credit cards.

It didn't look like these were Tiger fans, so I asked a young lady what was going on and she told me it was the U.S. Social Forum, which prompted me to read the article ("Radical listening," June 23), which I already had under my arm at the time.

Had it not been for that, I might have totally ignored what was going on downtown, but the article and participants were incredibly incisive and enjoyable.

It's a relief to see the spirit of activism alive and well in a way that explains the issues, objectives and events associated with advancing the cause — especially here in town. —Cliff Coleman, longtime Detroit broadcaster

Border skirmish

I was pleased to see your recent coverage of the U.S. Social Forum. Now that the activists and organizers have cleared out of the city, I hope that we can retain some of the messages that we learned while attending the forum. 

At the forum, I was struck by the struggles of many immigrants who work in our restaurants, our fields, and our homes. I was also upset to learn that Rep. Kim Melzer (Clinton Township) and colleagues have introduced H.B. 6256 into the Michigan Legislature.

This legislation copycats Arizona's recent anti-immigrant legislation. With Michigan's economy in the state that it is, we cannot afford to let this bill pass. Recent analysis of census data by the Fiscal Policy Institute shows that the presence of immigrants drives economic growth, a fact that we can see in the thriving, hardworking immigrant community in southwest Detroit.

It is time that we in Michigan take the message of the Social Forum to heart — that another Detroit is possible — and support all workers in Michigan regardless of immigration status. We need to stop H.B. 6256 and introduce measures that protect our immigrant communities. Doing so is not simply moral — it is also economically beneficial. —Alix Gould-Werth, Ann Arbor

More perfect union

I read with interest Jack Lessenberry's article, "A future for the UAW?" (June 23). There is no doubt in my mind that, in general, unions are necessary, as much as businesses and Republicans hate them, for that's the only way a common man can extricate himself from corporate exploitation in terms of low wages, unsafe working conditions and worker abuse. The UAW, however, has become too successful for its own good, pricing the domestic autoworkers out of the market. Even UAW has acknowledged that, not openly, but implicitly, through their recent wage concessions. In light of the global overcapacity in the automotive field, the UAW does not have the clout once it had. But it is still a strong brand and should diversify itself in areas where there is little or no global competition and wages are depressed or close to minimum-wage level. I can imagine the UAW representing waitresses, retail workers, hotel and motel employees, resort workers, farm workers, health care workers and government employees. I don't subscribe to the view that increased wages always escalate the cost of goods and services. As long as wage increases are moderate, the economy can handle it because there is always some fat that can be pared. We all know how grossly overpaid are the people in the top management and how the independent contractors and consultants fleece the corporations. —Pradeep Srivastava, Detroit

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