April 05, 2020

Compassion lacking

Dr. Erik Steele’s columns are invariably interesting and insightful, and his latest (Oct. 10) on “what’s worth killing for?” is no exception. His experiences as a physician – and as a spouse and father – certainly make his compassion toward the less fortunate compelling to read.

Yet, Dr. Steele is also a top administrator at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, and when first named to his current post wrote that he could not state his huge new salary because of sensitivity toward his fellow handsomely paid executives.

Maybe I missed something, but I don’t recall any compassion in his columns extended toward the roughly 800 nonprofessional employees – from cafeteria and laundry workers to unit secretaries – who are trying to unionize. Surely employees who are underpaid and-or overworked suffer, as do their loved ones, even if that suffering does not necessarily lead to death.

Likewise, I would be interested in Dr. Steele’s opinion of the recent decision by the Bush- dominated National Labor Relations Board to broaden the definition of supervisors and in turn to limit the bargaining rights of private-sector nurses.

How easy for Dr. Steele to care deeply about people far away but, at least in his column, to ignore the plight of so many in his own back yard. To be sure, he is hardly alone.

For example, those on the University of Maine campus who rightly protest working and living conditions overseas rarely if ever say a word about the classified employees who faithfully serve them – even when questionable labor conditions are made public through letters to the editor and other communications.

Maybe the good Dr. Steele should finally pontificate on matters about which he actually has the power to try to improve – if, that is, he genuinely cares.

Howard Segal


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