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November 19, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-11-19

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OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, November 19, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wasserman

Vol. XCII, No.61

420 Mynaord St.
Ann Arbor, Mt 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

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by 507.
0os Angeles Times Syndicate

IT IS BOTH surprising and refreshing
to see President Reagan propose a
substantial plan to end the ever-
increasing U.S. and Soviet Union arms
build-up in Europe.
Yesterday, in his most significant
move toward cutting back U.S.
militarization in Europe, Reagan
proposed cancelling U.S. deployment
of medium-range nuclear missiles and
pulling back troops in western Europe
if the Soviets will agree to dismantle
600 missiles they have aimed at
European targets.
This move shows that, perhaps, the
Reagan administration is attempting
to commit itself to a peaceful
resolution- of U.S.-Soviet difficulties,
rather than a vigorous arms race.
True, Reagan's speech may indeed
be a ploy to shift the nation's interests
to foreign policy, thus directing atten-
tion away from the embarrassment
David Stockman and Richard Allen
have caused in recent weeks. And,
even more possibly, the president's
speech was simply a propaganda move
to garner waning western European
support and, ultimately increase an-

tagonism with the Soviet Union.
At this time, however, it is im-
possible to judge what the president's
true motives are. Nonetheless, it is
very encouraging to hear such a call
for an end to nuclear deployment from
a previously hawkish administration.
The dangers of nuclear war in
Europe cannot be underestimated.
Reagan's statement last "week that
possibly, through the use of tactical
nuclear weapons, a war in Europe
would not lead to an all-out nuclear
war is downright frightening. Despite
what the president has heretofore
maintained, most evidence shows that
such a war would be disastrous. A
recent study by the International In-
stitute for Strategic Studies in London,
for instance, claims that it would be
impossible for such a war to be con-
tained to the continent.
President Reagan's announcement
is a significant move for the ad-
ministration. We hope, however, that it
is not empty propoganda and that the
president has a true commitment to
cutting back increased militarization
in Europe.

A

Rea gan and job' safety

Johnny Bettis would like Ronald Reagan to
have the experience, just once, of doing a
day's work while wearing a full-face rubber
mask withfilters. "Let him try it. That might
change his mind."
Among workers who use them, respirators
rank in popularity somewhere below poison
ivy.
HOWEVER, THE president's economic
advisers are enthusiastic about respirators as
"cost-effective substitutes for mechanical
ventilation.. They want to revise Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA),
rules to make respirators an acceptable,
permanent solution to airborne toxins on the
job.
Unions, however, feel that this would sim-
ply transfer the burden of maintaining a safe
and healthful workplace from employer to
employee and they have vowed to fight the
plan. -
For the 95 members of Oil, Chemical, and
Atomic Workers Local 3-974, of which Bettis is
president, the fight already has begun. Since
April 30, they have been on strike for im-
proved health and safety conditions at the
TNS Corp. in Jonesboro, Tenn. Among the
disputed issues is a management
requirement that workers wear respirators
for eight hours a day to avoid radioactive and
chemical exposures. ,
THE PLANT melts down depleted uranium
and machines it into heavy metal
"penetrators," or armor-piercing bullets, for
the U.S. military.
Though the work is hard, with adequate
controls it need not be hazardous. But at TNS,
the ventilation system is substandard even by
management's estimate, and a black haze of
uranium dust envelops much-of the plant.
Shortly before workers walked out, the
Tennessee division of OSHA found uranium
concentrations 13 times over the legal limit.
Inhaled in sufficient quantities, the dust can
lead to kidney failure. And the tinier particles
settle deep in the lungs, where they emit high-
energy alpha radiation-a confirmed cancer
threat.
TWO YEARS ago, the workers elected the
OCAW to represent them, and by late 1980, the
union was pressing for a plantwide cleanup.
Instead, TNS instituted the mandatory

By James Crawford
respirator rule for workers in dusty produc-
tion areas.
Employees agreed, but found that the
masks interfered with communication and
many routine tasks. Also, wearing them for
extended periods never was pleasant, with in-
plant temperatures reaching as high as 117,
degrees F.
Even if employees do wear them,there is
growing evidence that respirators do not per-
form as advertised. In a recent study by the
National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, one highly rated model malfun-
ctioned under the stresses of actual work.
Ominously, this was the first time NIOSH had
tested any respirator outside the lab.
FOR AT LEAST 11 of the TNS workers
who have been tested, urine counts were
above limits where permanent kidney
damage may occur, according to Nuclear
Regulatory Commission guidelines. Some
were 15 to 20 times over permissible levels. As
a result, several workers had to be taken off
their regular jobs and moved to non-
production areas.
By early April, negotiations for a new con-.
tract were under way. The union proposed
that TNS pay an independent firm to study the
plant and make recommendations for
engineering controls, so, that respirators
could be phased out. Management refused.
Meanwhile, concerns were growing about
radioactive contamination, whichlmonitoring
records show was being tracked throughout
the plant and probably taken home on
workers' clothing.
IN HIS FINAL monthly walk-around,
Bettis brought more than 90 hazards to
management's attention and warned that not
addressing them would ensure a strike. TNS
countered with an economic proposal: a 25
percent wage increase over one year, an ad-
ditional paid holiday, and various benefit im-
provements.
But the workers saw health and safety, not
money, as the issue. The strike was on.
Edward Smith, a spokesman for TNS's
parent company, Aerojet Ordnance (itself a
subsidiary of General Tire), disagreed. The
strike's overriding issue, he argued, is "the

union's desire to gain more control within the
company over methods of operation."
HE SAID THAT TNS is working hard to
solve "the very complex airborne dust
problem," but that "we're not going to spend
hundreds of thousands of dollars on this idea
one week and that idea a month from now."
Smith had "no idea" when new ventilation
might be installed, but maintained that
respirators were adequate protection if
properly used. Workers' high urine levels
were "probably spiked intentionally" or a
result of failure "to adhere to the procedures
and policies with regard to sanitation prior to
giving the sample." OCAW health and safety
officials refuted this charge by pointing to the
number and consistency of abnormal urine
levels over many months.
"Obviously, the enforcement of the law is
very weak," said Steve Wodka, Washington
representative of the OCAW. "That's why
we're having to pursue this through collective
bargaining."
The union has criticized regulatory agen-°
cies for having what it believes is undue
patience with violators of their own rules. The
Division of Radiological Health has cited TNS
repeatedly over the past two years. But _it*
issues no\ fines, and its only san-
ction-removal of a company's license to
handle radioactive materials-rarely is in-
voked.
The Reagan administration wants to tran-
sfer even more enforcement authority to such
state agencies. Thpt, combined with a,
relaxation of federal OSHA rules, promises to
leave labor and management increasingly on
their - own in resolving health and safety
problems.
The result may be an increasing number of
strikes like the one in Jonesboro. "This plant
is just a microcosm," predicted Wodka, "of
what could occur right across the country if
that rule is changedtand employers can strap
people into respirators for the rest of their
working lives. People will rebel. That's what
happened here."
Crawford wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.'W

Protecting the wilderness

INTERIOR Secretary James Watt is
finally getting some real sniping
from Congress on his plans to expand
the development of federally-owned
wilderness areas.
Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr. (R-N.M.)
has introduced a resolution in the
House Interior Committee that would,
in effect, keep Watt from allowing
mining or drilling in these regions.
It's a significant move, not. only
because Lujan is a Republican, but
because the Interior Committee ac-
tually has the power to take decisive
action on the federal leasing of wilder-
ness areas. By law, either the House
Interior Committee or the Senate
Energy Committee can unilaterally
forbid the development of federal
wilderness areas.
Already this year, the Interior
Department has issued leases, for
development of oil and mineral
deposits in several western wilderness
areas, including the 40,000-acre
Capitan Wilderness in Lujan's district.

There's some reason to suspect that
Lujan's initiative will succeed. Earlier
in the year, the Interior Committee
was able to keep the government from
allowing mineral exploitation in the
Bob Marshall Wilderness area in Mon-
tana. Although the pro-development
Mountain States Legal Foundation
(which, incidentally, was once headed
by Watt) has sued to have the commit-
tee's action declared unconstitutional,
the refusal of the committee to accept
the government's program is an en-
couraging sign of resistance.
The federal government has been en-
trusted with the preservation of-not
the exploitation of-the nation's
wilderness areas. While the areas con-
tain some potentially valuable resour-
ces, the preserves are unique and
should not be destroyed through
development.
Lujan's proposal is in keeping with
the best spirit of the federal wilderness
area program and deserves the com-
mittee's support.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Daily editorial on Israel superficial

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To the Daily:
In a recent editorial entitled "A
Denial of Freedoms (Nov. 11,
1981), The Michigan Daily
provided its readers with a
misleading view of, Israeli
policies toward the Palestinians.
Using the tools of careless
editorialists-rhetoric and
exaggeration-the Daily chose to
pontificate about problems in the
Middle East rather than to
propose constructive solutions.
Rather than simply criticizing
Israeli policy, the Daily decided
instead to question the legitimacy

of Israel as a democratic state
based upon a few unfortunate but
isolated incidents on the West
Bank. - R
Objectionable 'actions by a
nation do not in themselves make
it undemocratic, as the Daily in-
fers. Such logic implies that the
United States is no longer a
democratic country because
some of its foreign policies are
undesirable. Does the Daily
believe this?
Israel is indisputably the only
democratic state in the Middle
East. Dozens of political parties

CPI change justified

seek political office and all
Israeli citizens-including Arabs
and Jews-have the right to vote.
Policies on the West Bank, even
if the Daily deems them ex-
cessive, do not change these
characteristics of the Israeli
political system.
Whether the Daily likes it or
not, the West Bank is a disputed
territory considered to be a war
zone by all parties in the Arab-
Israeli conflict. From its ivory
tower on Maynard Street, the
Daily chose to ignore this fact
believing that protests on the
West Bank cannot be much dif-
ferent than a rally on the Diag.
Many of the protesters, who so
touched the humanitarian anten-
nae of the Daily editorial board,
are advocates of the Palestine
Liberation Organization, a group
whose purpose is to destroy the
State of Israel. Failure to under-
stand the sensitivity of Israelis to
the issue of survival and the
reality of the threats they face is
to miss a crucial factor when
judging Israeli policies.
Instead of blowing a few
isolated incidents out of propor-
tion, the Daily should have
engaged in a more perceptive
analysis of Israel's overall policy
toward the Palestinians.
However undesirable the Israeli

be brought about if represep-O
tatives of the Palestinians and
the relevant Arab states are
willing to negotiate with Israel.
To think, as the Daily does, that
Israel can unilaterally grant self-
rule to the Palestinians is to show
ignorance of the history of the
Arab-Israeli conflict and
traditional procedures of conflict-
resolution. The Egyptians and a
few Palestinians knocked off ty
the PLO for the moderate views,
are the only Arabs to date willing
to resolve the Palestinian
problem through negotiation.
I too am troubled by some of
Israel's actions on the West bank.
But I believe there are more con-
structive ways to criticize than
painting the popular but
misleading picture of leviathan
Israel oppressing the Palestinian
Arabs.
\ By doing so, the Daily has sunk
to the moral level of those who
prefer to perpetuate this myth as
a propaganda device against
Israel rather than to settle the
root problems of the Arab-
Israeli conflict.
If the Daily dislikes some of
Israel's policies and believes
Israel should be more forth-
coming in resolving the
Palestinian problem, why does it
not just say so? By succumbing tom

To the Daily:
I am writing in response to
"Whittling away at the American
Dream," (Daily, Nov. 15) written
by Frank Viviano for the Pacific
News Service.
In his article Mr. Viviano tells
his readers about the Reagan
administration's step to no
longer include the cost of buying
a home in the calculation of the
monthly Consumer Price Index.
He then erroneously concludes
that this administration's policy
is to create "a new division of
American Society along property
lines." He then goes on to state

increases. The administration's
point that the proportion of the
CPI which is accounted to
housing should be decreased, sin-
ce it will give a better indication
of the cost of living, sounds valid
to me.
So where does Mr. Viviano get
his insight to the administration's
attempt "of repudiating the
egalitarian materialism of the
American dream?"
President Reagan is not out to
keep any Americans or non-
Americans from buying a home!
He just wants to make the CPI a
more accurate measure of the

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