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Letters for the Week of May 16, 2012

Readers sound off on bikes, bullying, and Jane Brunner.


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I pay a premium willingly, knowing that farmers and other goods producers are benefitting from my selection. I understand that plantations have workers, too, but will any of the premiums get passed down? Or is it a way for owners to pay essentially the same to workers, increase revenue from the label premium, and claim that the purchase of new equipment is benefitting the workers because the machinery will allow them to work faster? The "free" capital influx would be appealing to any business.

I am old enough to remember the first grape boycott "organized" by Cesar Chavez's group, not yet a union.

In a sense that was the first time the fair-trade issue surfaced, even though it had a different name. The growers wanted to maximize profits and not pay higher wages or make the workers' lives any better. Why will watering down the essential elements of the labeling requirements result in any good for the workers?

I may as well just buy coffee and bananas from the cheapest or least expensive source if it won't matter anymore.

Richard Isacoff, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Read More About Fair Trade

The statements of the small-farmer organizations, and fair-trade advocacy groups, who have publicly opposed Fair Trade USA's recent actions, may be read at a new webpage we have created around this issue:

Just scroll down to "Resources." At this page individuals and organizations may also sign on to show their support for an authentic, small-farmer-focused fair-trade movement.

Lastly, the page includes further background information on the issue, including an analysis of the situation by Rink Dickinson, co-founder and president of Equal Exchange.

Rodney North, worker-owner Equal Exchange

"The Bay Guardian Sale," Seven Days, 4/25

Brugmann's Legacy

The Bay Guardian is (was) owned by Bruce Brugmann, quasi-journalist, semi-honest, and vociferous defender of his bank account.

He made far more money suing other people than he ever did as a publisher.

Len Sellers, former journalism professor San Francisco State University

Call for Reader Submissions

Do you have a pet? Do you have a funny/sad/poignant/heroic story about said pet? Of course you do! And we want to hear all about it.

Send your story (no more than 500 words) and optional photo, along with your name and city of residence, to, or Ellen Cushing, East Bay Express, 620 3rd St., Oakland, CA 94607.

We may publish your story in our Pets issue, coming out June 6. Stories must be received by May 31.

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