Regarding Eric Dexheimer's "Prints Charming" in the June 22 issue:
Oh, boy, this is a real shocker: Denver's "alternative" newspaper covers a labor story and somehow the "labor" story gets lost in a sea of biographical crap about the boss. Eighty--count 'em--eighty-plus paragraphs detailing Barry Hirschfeld's rise to the top of the corporate shit heap. There he stands knee-deep in his own press clippings alongside other recent Colorado progressives and future recipients of the Robert Reich Labor/Management Cooperation Prize: the Coors clan and the Monfort boys. The plight of the hundred or so striking workers, however, is reduced to a few sentences at the end of this great American success story. The failure to understand a labor dispute is expected from most local journalists, but eighty paragraphs on Hirschfeld? Please. Let me sum up his life story in a few brief words: Barry (college golfer and fun boy) inherits a big business and now seeks to test the depth (length?) of his manhood by screwing the people that built the business. This is so extraordinarily moving that I'm having trouble wiping the tears from my eyes as I type this.
So what of the strikers? Most of these employees worked (I mean really worked) at the press for fifteen or more years. These are real people with real families and real dreams and no real desire to look for government handouts. Yet here their story is reduced to this somewhat inaccurate photo caption: "Former workers still man the picket line, but Barry Hirschfeld broke the strike the day after it began." The writer fails to mention that the early replacement workers were supervisors and salespeople. Product quality was no longer a concern the day the company forced the workers out.
Don't believe for a moment that Barry Hirschfeld is a uniquely focused, bottom-line, unemotional guy. This forced strike is an old story about power and incompetent management. That management is now demanding elimination of the union security clause (a clause that has everything to do with the union local remaining viable and nothing to do with company finances) shows without a doubt that Hirschfeld is out to destroy people, not forge a new worker-management alliance. My, how unique, how unemotional, how bottom-line.
Shame on Westword for wasting so much space detailing this man's rise from nothingness to nothing more. Who cares about Barry Hirschfeld? As an alternative, perhaps you should talk with some real folks. The ones who built A.B. Hirschfeld Press have plenty of time to talk now. Pay a little respect.
I worked for over thirty years for Hirschfeld and found them to be kindly and understanding, even after I joined the Teamsters' union. All three Hirschfelds represented the best of employers. I knew them through nerve-racking negotiations with several union groups for all those years--and I know few people even cared what they were going through.
Now it is Barry's company, and his turn to call the shots. And the shoe is on the other foot since the number of press operators has decreased so much and many union members are not needed. I believe in the union, but if they had taken time to think since the typo department was computerized, perhaps they would not be out of their jobs for so long.
I wish the unions luck and good sense, but I also wish Barry all the best things because as an employer he was tops with me.
Ruth Van Hecke
Situation Norm: All Fouled Up
I just finished reading Ward Harkavy's "Out of the Norm" in the June 15 issue of Westword. Given the nonexistent standards for journalistic integrity in Denver, I have come to accept bias in both the printed and electronic media as a given. I no longer expect fair, objective reporting in stories, nor do I even expect reporters to get to the bottom line of any issue or story they happen to be covering.
But Ward Harkavy has set a new standard for irresponsible, slanted, manipulative, vengeful, one-sided journalism, even for Westword. He has sunk to depths that a nuclear submarine could not reach in attempting to assassinate the character of Dr. Norm Resnick and the people who listen to his radio show.
For the better part of a year I have had the privilege of knowing Dr. Resnick and interacting with him both on a professional and personal basis. I am the owner of Paladin Arms in Boulder, and I am a frequent guest and advertiser on his show.
Mr. Harkavy's narrow focus in his story was on Dr. Resnick's past academic career, the fact that Norm Resnick is Jewish and the insinuation that the subject matter of his shows and the mentality of his listeners is somewhere between lunatic fringe and Adolf Hitler. The fact of the matter is that Norm Resnick is an incredibly courageous man who is willing to brave shunning from the Jewish community and hatred from the fringes of the Christian Patriot movement to tell the truth about what is happening in this country. Sure, some of Dr. Resnick's audience are radical and maybe a little crazy, but couldn't the same thing be said about the people who read Westword, or any publication for that matter?