Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Short Takes

Iran nuclear talks extended.

California imposes strict water use restrictions.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) indicted on corruption charges.

Atlanta educators found guilty in test cheating scandal.

McDonald’s raising pay for employees at corporate-owned restaurants.

R.I.P. Cynthia Lennon, first wife of John Lennon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Short Takes

Defense Secretary Carter made his first trip to Afghanistan.

President Obama wants to shield seniors from retirement plan grifters.

Dock workers on the West Coast have a tentative agreement to settle their strike.

The endless winter continues in the South and Northeast.

Never too late: 94-year-old charged with serving at Auschwitz.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Short Takes

Egypt strikes back at ISIS in Libya.

Danish officials say they have arrested two people in connection with an attack at a freedom-of-speech event over the weekend.

A train carrying crude oil derailed in West Virginia; several hundred people evacuated.

The government is intervening in the labor dispute that has slowed shipping at West Coast ports.

Now it’s ice — The Southeast and Northeast brace for more bad weather.

6.8 earthquake hits northern Japan.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

More Socialism

What is this country coming to?

On Thursday, President Obama is going to call for the passage of the Healthy Families Act, a bill that would require most employers to give workers paid sick leave.

The legislation calls for businesses with 15 or more employees to let them accrue up to seven paid sick days a year to care for themselves or a family member who falls ill. On a call with press, adviser Valerie Jarrett said the White House estimates that it would give 43 million workers access to leave who don’t already have it. The leave could also be used by victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to recover or seek assistance. Obama will also urge states and local governments to pass sick leave laws of their own.

The president will also sign a memorandum that will ensure federal employees get at least six weeks of paid sick leave for the arrival of a new child and propose that Congress pass legislation to give them six weeks of paid administrative leave.

The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t have a national requirement that workers get access to paid sick leave. The lack of a law leaves nearly 40 percent of Americans without access to leave. But progress has been made at the state and local level: three states — California, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — and 16 cities have passed paid sick leave legislation, covering millions of workers.

It’ll never happen.  The Republican-controlled Congress, which has more days off than the Amish tech support team, will never pass anything that would give the average worker any kind of break, especially if it’s for domestic violence.  I’ve got five bucks that says one of the GOP geniuses will tell us that if you get sick or beat up, that’s your own fault, so why should your employer suffer?  It’s just more Kenyan secret gay Muslim socialism.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

VW Backfire

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was very proud of his role in getting the workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga to narrowly vote against joining the UAW by warning that if they did, it could mean fewer jobs and perhaps plant closings.

He may be right, but not in the way he intended.

Volkswagen’s top labor representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block further investments by the German carmaker in the southern United States if its workers there are not unionized.

Workers at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last Friday voted against representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW), rejecting efforts by VW representatives to set up a German-style works council at the plant.

German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined “co-determination” principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth.

Chattanooga is VW’s only factory in the U.S. and one of the company’s few in the world without a works council.

“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council.

“If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.

The 20-member panel – evenly split between labor and management – has to approve any decision on closing plants or building new ones.

Nice going, Senator.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Short Takes

VW workers in Tennessee reject UAW.

Syrian peace talks deadlocked.

President Obama talks water distribution, climate change in drought-stricken California.

Pot of gold — U.S. issues guidelines for banks handling accounts for marijuana sales.

Jurors deliberate for fourth day in Florida trial over loud music.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day

Having grown up in a union town that was near a large city that relied on union labor, I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the people who most hate unions are folks who think that it is unconscionable that workers should have the same rights as the managers and the owners of the company. How dare they demand a living wage and safe working conditions. Who do they think they are?

Yeah, yeah; in every large group there are bad apples and examples of bad faith and extremism. Welcome to the human race. The Republicans hold the unions up as the boogeyman of the Western world and label them as thugs… and give tax breaks to the corporations because they know that if they don’t, the corporations will kneecap them. Not literally; they’ll just stop giving them money, which, in corporate circles, is thuggery. The people who whine about “class warfare” always turn out to be the ones who are winning the war.

Perhaps one of the reasons that union membership is down is that unions have accomplished a lot of what they set out to do 100 years ago. Factories are safer, working hours are reasonable, wages are better than the minimum, and pensions provide some security. The unions have learned, however awkwardly, to accept that they have been successful, but they also know that if some people had their way in the world, they would turn back to clock to 1911, put children to work, take away the healthcare, and demand more production. After all, it works for the Chinese, and look how they’re doing.

By the way, not all union workers are Democrats; they certainly weren’t were I grew up. A lot of them are hardcore Republicans or conservatives — including police officers — who don’t care about the politics; they just want to be treated fairly. And a lot of people who are not union members are working under union contracts; in most places there is no requirement to join a union to benefit from their efforts. So while actual union membership may be down to 15%, the number of people who are part of the union is far greater. That includes public sector jobs as well as private. So the next time someone feels the urge to union-bash, be sure you’re not peeing in your own campfire.

Full disclosure: I am a dues-paying member of a union of sorts; I belong to the Dramatists Guild. It provides services for writers and lyricists and makes sure that when our works are produced, we have a fair contract and get paid our royalties. The joke among us is that we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.

In honor of the holiday, I’m taking the rest of the day off.  See you tomorrow.

12 Beach and Ocean

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Short Takes

Prescott, Arizona, mourns the 19 firefighters killed in wildfire.

Egypt — Morsi faces possibility of military coup.

Edward Snowden wants asylum in Russia.

Then-Archbishop Dolan tried to keep funds from sex abuse victims.

Bay area transit strike makes for a tough commute.

The Tigers’ slump continues as they lost to the Blue Jays 8-3.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Short Takes

Yet another shooting in public — this time in Oregon — leaves three dead.

North Korea launched another rocket.

U.S. will recognize Syrian rebels.

Michigan passes right-to-work.

Cliff Report — President Obama and Speaker Boehner trade offers but no progress reported.

Hugo Chavez is recovering from cancer surgery.

R.I.P. Ravi Shankar, 92, virtuoso of the sitar.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In The Thick Of It

President Obama went to Michigan yesterday to visit a truck plant.  And somehow the state’s imminent vote on right-to-work came up.

President Obama railed against right-to-work laws Republicans are currently trying to pass in Michigan, arguing that they constitute a “race to the bottom,” during a speech in Redford, Michigan Monday.

Right-to-work laws are “giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama said in his speech at the Daimler Detroit Diesel Plant.

“What we shouldn’t be doing is try to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions,” he said, arguing for the need for high-skilled, well-payed workers. “We don’t want a race to the bottom. We want a race to the top.”

Michigan Democrats are promising “chaos” if the bill passes.  And it will.  As for the chaos, there are a lot of lawyers in Michigan and Washington who are about to make a lot of money, and this will play a very big part in the election in 2014 when Gov. Snyder is up for re-election.

Short Takes

A U.N. panel says Cuba’s jailing of Alan Gross was “arbitrary.”

A U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in the rescue of the American aid worker kidnapped by the Taliban.

Poll — 60% of Americans support raising taxes on incomes over $250,000.

The Michigan legislature will vote today on right-to-work.

Highway deaths in U.S. hit a 62-year low.

Gas prices fall 10 cents in three weeks.

The Strauss-Kahn case has been settled out of court.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Railroading Right-To-Work

Laura Conaway at The Maddow Blog has a good summary of the rush by the Michigan legislature to pass right-to-work in the state where the modern labor movement was born.

Right to Work legislation has moved through so quickly that one Republican lawmaker voter against it because, he said, “We literally weren’t given the legislation to read until minutes before voting.” From experience with Right to Work in other states, conservatives and liberals agree that the rule is catastrophic for unions, with significant cuts in membership, and lower wages and benefits.

What’s all the more interesting is that up until about twenty minutes ago, Gov. Rick Snyder had no interest in passing right-to-work and he was bragging about how well the state was doing in terms of the economic recovery (i.e. GM and Chrysler’s rebound).  Now all of a sudden the economy is on the edge of going under unless this law passes.

If, as the Republicans are always telling us, the labor union movement is dying and has no power left to wield, why do they suddenly need this kind of legislation in the first place?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Short Takes

Secretary of State Clinton is in Israel to try to broker a truce in Gaza.

Eurocrisis — Leaders fail to agree on aid to Greece.

Mediation talks between Hostess and their labor union fail.

A 13-year-old girl was fatally shot on a school bus in Homestead, Florida; 15-year-old boy charged.

San Francisco approves a ban on public nudity.

Church of England votes against women bishops.

R.I.P. Warren Rudman, former senator from New Hampshire.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Short Takes

Gaza: Attacks continue as diplomats try for peace.

President Obama makes historic visit to Burma.

Feds crack down on shady mortgage ads.

Indianapolis house explosion seen as homicide.

The Twinkie may yet survive: bankruptcy court orders mediation between labor and management at Hostess.

South Florida home sales and prices were up in October.

Miami-Dade teachers and staff approve new contract.