The solutions to all our problems
Expanded from the Sunday, 5-23-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
5-27-2004 Comstock Chronicle
"How will labor come back? In a strike. That's not romanticism, that's a fact. It'll start with one plant. One plant. And they strike. And there'll be guys across the street at a second plant, and they see it and they think, 'Hmm, maybe we can do that.' And they do it and they win. Then somebody in Idaho does it, the same thing, independently. And then, all of a sudden you're seeing some John L. Lewis again, a leader, but he gets thrown up, he's just riding the thing..."
labor leader Ed Sadlowski, United Steelworkers of America
So many burning issues, so little space. Let's get to it.
NADER FOR VICE-PRESIDENT will solve all of John Kerry's problems. He'll have no worries about hemorraghing votes in key states by linking up with a man of legendary integrity.
Then, only two minor details will remain: how to ensure an honest count in all those states using paperless voting machines and where to find some pizzazz for Mr. Kerry.
Perhaps satirist Mark Russell said it best when referring to 1988 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen: "Michael Dukakis is sending him to Ted Turner to have him colorized."
I'll settle for as little as a few healthy Heinz ketchup stains on the gray-flannel buttoned-down man from Massachusetts.
Ralph Nader will keep Kerry honest on things like corporate welfare and exporting jobs, speaking of which...
CROWTIME: NevadaLabor.com broke the Vassar office closure story in the wee hours of May 22.
As they did when we broke the Reno garbage strike story two weeks ago, AP picked up the news.
NUMBER ONE WITH A BULLET
Mike on the road with Crackers the Corporate Crime-Fighting Chicken.
LILY TOMLIN, CALL YOUR OFFICE. Contrary to local and regional media reports, some pundit opinions and SBC corporate spin, the Communications Workers strike has taken a company-inflicted toll on telephone operations.
The evidence was put on the street Friday morning at the longtime Nevada Bell/Pacific Bell/ SBC customer service center at 1450 Vassar off Kietzke Lane in Reno which the company closed all day. It is the only public walk-in office in northwestern Nevada.
I saw my fellow CWA Local 9413 members on the picket line marching in blustery wind and scattered rainshower conditions, giving advice to a steady stream of frustrated customers.
One cab driver, whose service had been cut off, held up a cell phone and asked what he could do to pay and reconnect. CWA's picketers recommended that he go to any of several chain grocery stores which accept SBC payments, pay his bill and then call the company's customer service line.
"They'll get someone in India," stated Local 9413 President Barbara Welling when informed of the incident.
SBC should have called its commercial announcer, actor Tommy Lee Jones, to voice some new spots informing customers not to drop by during advertised business hours. (See the SBC Nevada telephone book, Reno-Sparks-Carson November 2003 issue, page 428.)
After I broke the story of the closure early Saturday, the company downplayed the importance of the long-established business office and told the Associated Press that the shutdown would remain through Monday. Remember that promise about customer service not being affected?
Sparks-based CWA Local 9413, which has statewide jurisdiction, set up pickets during all working hours in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Las Vegas, Ely, Pahrump and Winnemucca. The union limited the strike to four days over a weekend in 13 states from California to Connecticut in order to avoid customer inconvenience while demonstrating union resolve. Nonetheless, the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday reported "SBC strike straining some services." Union reports from Wisconsin say major weather-caused service outages have remained unaddressed.
For much of last week, Cable News Network's prestigious financial program "Lou Dobbs Moneyline" broadcast extended features on the work stoppage, terming it the first strike directly against corporate America's export of U.S. jobs to foreign countries. Dobbs has made something of a personal campaign to document the outsourcing activities of a huge and growing list of U.S. companies doing business here and exporting employment while often avoiding taxes on U.S. generated profits.
One e-mailer to Friday's Moneyline program praised the union for taking a stand against the work export. Another from Dallas exhorted viewers to join strikers on their picket lines.
TRUST, BUT VERIFY. That's a lesson the Communications Workers have learned after backing and thus ensuring passage of SBC's pet legislation for the past two legislative sessions, only to be taken to a strike today. With the public financing of the proposed Sparks baseball stadium getting closer, local officials, corporate welfare watchers and baseball nuts (including me) need to keep in mind that the enabling legislation allows for a Double-A baseball team as well as a "one step below the major leagues" Triple-A team.
Here's section 6 of the law introduced as Senate Bill 497 of the 2003 regular legislative session: "'Minor league baseball stadium project' means a baseball stadium which can be used for the home games of an AA or AAA minor league professional baseball team and for other purposes, including structures, buildings and other improvements and equipment therefor, parking facilities, and all other appurtenances necessary, useful or desirable for a minor league baseball stadium, including, without limitation, all types of property therefor."
OILOGOPOLY UPDATE. The libertarian conservative Cato Institute has surprisingly endorsed tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in order to cut gasoline prices. While it will only mean a few cents at the pump, a spokesman last week told NPR business news that it would drop the wholesale price of crude by 60 percent for several months. Public Citizen, which Mr. Nader founded, recently debunked the idea that gas prices are actually low when adjusted for inflation. Their study notes that the huge technological efficiencies brought online over the past several decades in producing gasoline have somehow never made it into the retail price. For more, go the Barbwire Oilogopoly Archive.
CABLE CAPERS. Tune in to SNCAT/Charter Cable Channel 13 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for this month's meeting of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, which I chair. I'll have news about some interesting new competition for cable which is popping up around the country. Keep an eye on DecidingFactors.tv for rerun times
Be well. Raise hell.
 Geoghegan, Thomas; "Which Side Are You On?"; Plume Books/New American Library/Penguin, 1992; p. 248.
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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