Updated 12-20-2006 and 1-30-2015
I do the following with heavy heart. I must rightly criticize and demean the professional reputations of people I have long known and respected. I will do them the personal courtesy of anonymity.
Last week, a magnificent seven traveled here to seven-come-eleven land. You should know their names: Barbara Ingalls, Randy Karpinen, Dennis Nazelli, Dia Pearce, John Peralta, Mike Zielinski and Ann Marie Znamer.
They represent their fellow victims of two greedy newspaper chains: Gannett, owners of the Reno Gazette-Journal and USA Today, and Knight-Ridder, which publishes the Miami Herald. Our recent visitors wander the land telling tales of corporate welfare at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. (Read "The Chain Gang" by Richard McCord at your local library.)
Motown newspaper workers stand locked out of the two publications where most jobs are now held by illegal strikebreakers. Some of those replacements are my former Tribune colleagues.
The Detroit Seven tell ugly stories of the corporate campaign to ruin their careers. Strikebreakers wave dollar bills or paychecks as they travel through picket lines. Some wear t-shirts emblazoned with "International Brotherhood of Replacement Workers" or "I'm not a scab, I'm a scar, and scars are permanent."
In 1974, when Teamster John Peralta first went to work collating printed inserts, he made $7.00 an hour. The chain gang recently offered him the opportunity to return to his old job for two days a week at $8.00 per hour, half his pre-strike pay rate.
The Detroit strike was long-planned. It began with governmental corruption. Ed Meese, Ronald Reagan's attorney general, overruled an administrative law judge and his own anti-trust division and authorized a Motown newspaper monopoly.
In the robber-baron 1980s, Gannett and Knight-Ridder had become notorious for going easy on Meese when the embattled Reagan crony stood up to his scalp in corruption. Meese left office the day after giving the chain gang everything it wanted.
The Detroiters who came here last week have logged tens of thousands of miles speaking out against the monopolists, but they traveled to northern Nevada on a different mission. Depending on their trades, Motown workers are members of either the Teamsters or the Newspaper Guild (part of my union, the Communications Workers of America). The Teamsters have a longrunning battle with Overnight truck lines, a particularly brutal employer owned by Union Pacific Railroad.
Union Pacific is the pusher of a porous plan to pump hazardous (nuclear and otherwise) cargoes through our downtown areas. Their recent merger with Southern Pacific means a doubling of rail traffic through the hearts of Reno and Sparks. The railroad's safety record rivals that of the Exxon Valdez.
The corporate solution to this problem has been a full-blown PR campaign orchestrated by, among others, former Reno Evening Gazette city editor John Bromley, now a U.P. flak based in Omaha, Neb.
Last Wednesday evening, the Detroit Seven showed up at a U.P.-sponsored propagandafest at the Northern Nevada Railroad Museum in Carson City. (Another is scheduled at John Ascuaga's Nugget this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. To attend, call 1-800-9RENO-UP.)
For trying to bring out the truth, our visitors were vilified. One woman, a developer, said any worker aspiring to make over $40,000 a year is guilty of rape and pillage against employers.
The capital city cold shoulder was not the crusaders' first shabby welcome. The Detroiters had earlier made an appointment with an editorial page editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal. They told him upfront that they wanted to talk railroad, not Motown. When they arrived, another editor was sent out to inform them of the editorial writer's sudden non-availability. Where the Detroiters were concerned, everyone was apparently on strike, right down to the paper boy.
Underscoring the snub, (follow the bouncing ball) the editor meeting with them to tell them no one could meet with them concluded by announcing her own unavailability to meet with them. Franz Kafka, call your office.
The paper's attitude changed overnight from openness to stonewalling. Why? Try this: two members of Union Pacific's board of directors also sit on Gannett's board. One of them, former Reagan transportation secretary Drew Lewis, orchestrated the destruction of the air traffic controllers union in 1981.
One nuclear trainwreck in Reno could destroy the most profitable paper in the entire Gannett chain. I know of no one in Nevada on Union Pacific's side. To anyone else, the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend. At the Gannett-Journal, that aphorism apparently doesn't apply to anyone desiring decent pay. Diogenes from Detroit was thus dissed on the corporate doorstep.
I have not named those who swallowed their ethics. Everybody serves somebody. Sometimes, you serve up your colleagues.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a Reno-based syndicated columnist and 29-year Nevadan, is editor of U-News.
Barbwire by Barbano has appeared in the Sparks Tribune since 1988 and parts of this column were originally published 9/14/97.
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Copyright © 1982-2015 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 46-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee. He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail email@example.com.
Barbwire by Barbano moved to Nevada's Daily Sparks Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in them parts ever since.
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Copyright © 1997, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2015 Andrew Barbano
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