Not OK for BART workers to strike

Collective bargaining by public employee unions has different implications than collective bargaining by private employee unions. The nature of public services give them a monopoly.

A New York judge held "nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the state can dictate conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety and security of the citizen."

In regard to the recent BART strike, our legislators should take the words "safety" and "security" seriously. It may be time to pass a law that disallows strikes by public servants. Even President Roosevelt, who was a big friend of private sector unions, drew the line when it came to government workers, saying, "A strike of public employees manifests nothing more than an intent to prevent or obstruct the operation of government."

Anyone that participates in shutting down public transportation should be fired. It stands to reason that some of the reported 2 million unemployed Californians will be glad to take the jobs.

Jacqueline Cloidt

Orinda

A doctorate in hysteria?

I am surprised the Times published the recent letter by Dr. Iris St. John on secondhand smoke. Her hysteria can only serve to further inflame the truly ignorant.

Her infantile analogy likens being poisoned to death by auto exhaust with the same fate from secondhand smoke. This being the case, then I hope that the good doctor avoids congested Walnut Creek, covered parking garages, commute traffic and her own garage.

Will she have a problem? Probably not. Why? Because of dilution of the auto exhaust; we all assume that we are on the safe part of the (diluted) dose/response curve.

There are articles on secondhand smoke dilution on the Internet. There are also studies of the impact of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers. Most importantly, there are rigorous scientific critiques of many of these studies. Cause-and-effect statistical studies are difficult to design and run for many reasons, and "quickie" conclusions from this type are always suspect. Probably the best and most reliable is a 2003 study done in the U.K. sample of around 120,000 volunteers was tracked for 39 years; no definitive correlation between secondhand smoke and sickness/mortality data was found.

For definitive answers, definitive studies need to be done, such as the one with "smoking beagles" that, many years ago, undermined opposition to the thesis that heavy smoking caused lung cancer. So far, I haven't found a comparable study for secondhand smoke. Perhaps Dr. St. John can help me out here?

Christopher James Panton,

Ph.D. (chemistry)

(nonsmoker)

Walnut Creek