Dougherty's Reviews: Better Than Xanax!
Robin Dougherty needs to be replaced or educated in the art of reviewing. I realize every critic is entitled to her own subjective opinion, but when her reviews differ so drastically from every other critic in the southeast region, it gives one pause. Her reviews are long, rambling, and supremely boring. Oftentimes she appears to be in love with her own cleverness and rhetoric. Perhaps this is a direct result of having to fill a full page with one review when half a page would do! This is not a graduate thesis.

Last but not least, she needs to get her information straight before she makes comments like she did in the Stage Whispers section of the May 28 issue, referring to the upcoming Florida Stage season: "While it's always great to see new works, the schedule -- featuring plays by Michael T. Folie (The Adjustment), Steven Dietz (Rocket Man), Doug Wright (Quills), and William Mastrosimone (Tamer of Horses) -- exclusively features, um white men. Spread some of that multiculturalism around, please." Well, Tamer of Horses, if Robin had taken the time to inquire, features, um, a black couple as the leads! Get your info correct, please.

I no longer bother to read her reviews, unless I need something to put me to sleep before bed.

Becky Peterson
Boca Raton

Robin Dougherty responds: My column stated that the Florida Stage's fall schedule features work by white men exclusively; it didn't imply that the characters in the play are all white men. While, as I wrote, the theater is generally ambitious, sophisticated, and forward-looking in its selection, I can only hope that plans for improving multiculturalism at any theater ensure the inclusion of provocative works authored by people from a cross section of cultures and life experiences.

United, They Just Won't Stop Whining
The editorial comment on the cover of your May 28 issue ("United They Fall," Paul Belden) concerning Kitchens of the Oceans' plan to move their shrimp-processing plant to Jacksonville rather than let their employees join a union was subjective and hardly reflected the content of the article.

The very fact that employees of 11 years were given nothing more than the minimum 60 days' notice required by law says it all about the integrity of the owners. There is nothing "sensible" about what the company has chosen to do. It is obscene. The public speaks with outrage of the poor working conditions perpetuated in countries around the world and still we drive right by, or worse yet, patronize businesses violating the rights of American workers in our own country.

We raise our fists in anger at an owner when a sports team leaves the area. But we point our fingers in ridicule at the workers when a company leaves to avoid meeting its legal obligations to employees. How many of you have worked at the same job for almost a dozen years? If so, you are probably vested in or approaching eligibility for participation in a retirement plan. You probably get paid sick leave and vacation time. Not so for the processing-plant workers of Kitchens of the Oceans. These people are just like you and me, except that they have worked for the same place for over a decade for minimum wage, with no merit raises and no paid holidays.

Unions are the way working families get the chance to win better living standards and build better communities. Unions promote civil and human rights, provide opportunity and affirmative action, and close the gaps for women and minorities. Millions of workers could join a union tomorrow, but few will get the chance to decide their fate. Employers, who wage an ugly secret war -- a war of firings, humiliation, isolation, division, and plant closures -- block them.

It's time that Middle America remembers and appreciates the gains we all enjoy in the workplace because of unions in this country. And it's time for us to see those "invisible" people who are before our eyes every day -- the working poor. We should bolster these workers with hands outstretched in support of this most basic right to safe working conditions and fair and equal treatment.

Marilyn P. Lenard, President
Florida AFL-CIO

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