The awful truth, sick hospitals, Dear Abby and
Expanded from the 4-11-99 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
The dung beetle ethics of
the Gannett newspaper chain gang have long been known to readers of this
column. Despite my prime-time confrontation with Reno Gazette-Journal editor
Ward Bushee last year, the evil empire still refuses to publish its conflict
of interest involving Union Pacific Railroad - those wonderful folks who
got your taxes raised on April Fool's Day to pay for their downtown Reno
Two UP execs sit on the
Gannett board, including former Reagan transportation secretary Drew Lewis,
the man who drew up the merger resulting in the track travesty. The Reno
paper just doesn't think its readers need to know, Bushee told me on Reno's
His publication's boosterism
of the glitter gulch gash increased after he moved away. When the damned
ditch finally fills with water and other unspeakables, Reno may finally be
competitive with the Sparks Marina - but don't eat anything you catch between
Harolds Club and the Eldorado.
If you caught Janine Simonoski's
report in the Tribune last week, you are now aware of the censorship of both
union news and advertising perpetrated by the Reno paper. The grievances
of Washoe Med and St. Mary's hospital personnel are apparently not worth
printing, even if the union pays for it.
In today's Tribune,
you will find an ad from Operating Engineers
Local 3, the same union which has represented Sparks city employees
for years. The Gannett-Journal refused to run it, demanding to see a
list of workers who approached the union. Care to venture a guess as
to who might quickly get copies?
This constitutes classic
union busting - identify, intimidate, castigate, humiliate, eliminate. Gannett
brings a lot of brutal experience to hospital management's side. The Reno
paper muscled out its union printers over a decade ago.
The Gannett-owned Detroit
News has illegally locked out its longtime union workers for several
years. When some of them came here to protest Union Pacific and Gannett
activities, RGJ editors broke an appointment to meet with them. The
Tribune and the Reno News & Review printed the story. (See the Barbwire
of 9-14-97, "The Gannett-Journal
Railroad Job"; also 1-4-98, "The
Reno Gannett-Journal: Corporate Pinocchio". )
Washoe Med was benevolent
before corrupt pols gave the county hospital away in 1985. By 1989, pediatric
nurses were publicly complaining about staff cutbacks endangering babies.
Workers started meeting with two unions.
In 1995, I printed a series
delving into the Washoe County Grand Jury report on the depredations of hospital
privatization, bloated salaries for top executives and the sick specter of
a hospital committing health code violations.
Last week, St. Mary's published
an unholy letter filled with hateful lies about the Operating Engineers in
particular and unions in general. Back when saintly Sister Seraphine and
her fellow angels ran the place, you didn't see that kind of corporate
Sister Seraphine practiced
what Pope John Paul II preaches: "Catholic social teaching...hold(s) that
unions are...indeed a mouthpiece for the struggle for social justice, for
the just rights of working people...their union remains a constructive factor
of social order and solidarity and it is impossible to ignore."
His Holiness comes from
Poland, birthplace of Solidarity, Lech Walesa's trade union which brought
down Soviet Communism.
UNHEALTHY. About 600 Nevadans stand to lose their jobs as Gov. Kenny ("no
new taxes unless casinos want them") Guinn fast-tracks legislation to privatize
(like Washoe Med) the state workers compensation system. On top of earlier
cuts, health care for those injured on the job has been reduced 38 percent
since 1993. Employer premium payments have plummeted 44 percent.
LAUGH IT OFF. Comic relief
comes just in time tonight as Michael
Moore hits U.S. TV with "The Awful Truth."
"We have spent the last
year working on this series and, in a way, we can't believe we are actually
going to get this stuff on the air. You don't know how many people we had
to pay off to make this happen!" Mahatma Moore e-mailed last week.
The show will run on the
Bravo cable channel Sundays at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., PDT. It premiered
in England and also airs in Ireland and Canada.
"Kosovo, you ain't got time
to watch no TV show. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY!" says the Emmy-winning producer
of "TV Nation" and writer/director of "Roger & Me," the movie about the
dark side of General Motors.
Moore will harangue with hilarity, but the joke's on us. You have to
subscribe to TCI digital cable to get it. The bandidos giveth and taketh
"On this week's show, we
go to Ken Starr's home with our 'portable witch hunt,'" Moore says, "and
we stick it to an HMO like we've all wanted to stick it to them but just
haven't had the right stick to do the job."
Which brings me to the
sickest schtick of the week.
ET TU, ABBY? The hallowed
Abigail Van Buren last Thursday advised "Lineman's Worried Wife" not to complain
about his employer forcing him to work while sick (shades of the Reno Hilton
under Ferenç Szony).
"Unless (he) is being singled
out and treated differently than his peers, or the company is violating an
established policy, there is nothing to be done except consider finding a
job with a different company or a different line of work," Abby said.
Aaargh. The endangered worker
can also open the Yellow Pages to "labor organizations."
He sure won't find out who
to call in the Reno Gazette-Journal, publishers of Dear Abby.
Be well. Raise hell.
Barbano is a member of CWA Local
9413. He is a 30-year Nevadan, editor of U-News
and head of Casinos
Out of Politics (COP). In 1998 he served as gubernatorial campaign
manager for State Senator Joe Neal,
D-North Las Vegas. Barbwire by Barbano has originated
in the Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune, since 1988.