Messages from Peter and
Paul on the longest day
from the 6-20-99 Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune
Regular readers know that I'm now the governor
of Nevada. Ma Bell said so.
A few weeks back (Barbwire,
May 2, 1999), a lady from a southern state dialed information
for the number of the governor's office. The phone company gave
Ma Bell recently struck again. I'm now the
A man from Oregon named Peter called me to subscribe.
"Which paper?" said I. Peter did not
know. He had asked information for the number of "the paper"
and they gave him Gov. Barbano.
Not even Jesse Ventura controls both state government
and major media.
Word is spreading. I just got a paper-mail letter
from Great Britain.
"I am a croupier and union rep for the British
Transport and General Workers' Union in a London casino,"
wrote a gentleman named Paul.
"We are currently in the midst of an organizing
campaign among casino workers," he wrote.
The Londoner found my name in the Las Vegas Sun
and wants help because "gaming workers have been traditionally
difficult to unionize." (Sound familiar?)
The Englander, too, somehow located the new seat
of power in Nevada and never once mentioned Steve Wynn.
Which brings me to a gentleman from Sparks named
"Thank you for the great quote you attribute
to W. Somerset Maugham in your piece printed in the May
30 Tribune, to wit: "If a nation values anything more
than freedom, it will lose its freedom and the irony of it is
that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose
"I trust that you accept Maugham's truism
regarding the preservation of freedom," Thomas writes, "yet
I understand you to be a strong supporter of forced union
membership. Can you see the hypocrisy? It seems to me that a
supporter of true freedom will support anyone's right to freely
join or not join a union," Thomas asserts.
Actually, Thomas, I'm every bit as fair as you.
When it comes to respect for people's labor, I'm absolutely compulsive.
That's how I was raised.
I think people should be free to join unions if
they want. I likewise don't believe that union members should
be forced to pay for representational services for non-members.
But under the 1947 federal Taft-Hartley Act, states can pass
laws which compel unions to provide services to free-riders who
also get the same pay and benefits negotiated by unions for their
The act was passed over Pres. Truman's veto by
the Newt Gingrich congress of its day and has had the desired
effect. Union ranks have been thinned by more than half. Generous
campaign contributions have been returned millions of times over.
Encouraged by a corporate-controlled government, the U.S. now
routinely exports good-paying manufacturing jobs to fourth-world
We taxpayers are now building a superhighway from
Mexico to Canada to better facilitate the import of cheap products.
The road had to be jogged through Mississippi
at a humongous extra cost, but that's the price of the support
of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.
Crooks from foreign lands marvel that influence
here can be bought so cheaply. Until recently in Indonesia, if
you didn't make now-defrocked Pres. Suharto a partner and hire
his relatives, you didn't do business.
Our production of jobs for foreign lands echoes
the fact that the American worker's voice has largely been silenced.
About 30 years ago, unions represented about one in three workers,
an all-time high. Now, only about one of every six belongs to
We will close the century with a greater disparity
between rich and poor than when we began. For a brief, shining
moment, we labored under laws which spread the wealth and gave
us the strongest economy the world has ever seen. We peaked in
Now, we have just a short time left to either
stop the reverse Robin Hood act or the shooting will escalate
from Chiapas, Mexico, to the likes of Oklahoma City.
A few years ago, a wiser man than me said "free
societies and free trade unions go together. Societies that lack
the kind of organizing that will really get up on its hind legs
and fight about freedom is missing something. In a healthy workplace,
it is very important that there be some checks and balances,"
the wise man said.
Some flaming commie? Nope. Former Secretary of
State George Shultz, a four-time cabinet member under GOP presidents
Nixon and Reagan. In the workplace, restraints on power are needed,
Shultz told The New York Times, and "as a society, we have
a great stake in freedom and a lot of that is anchored somehow,
historically," in the labor movement.
I thus won't patronize Hilton
till they rehire their illegally fired security guards.
I picketed the Victorian
Square Syufy Theater in 1997 and marched with postal workers
last June 9.
I'll join construction workers outside Baldini's
Casino in Sparks on Friday afternoons. I support Washoe
Med and St.
Mary's nurses banding together to fight for enough staff
to properly care for their patients.
Fairness and freedom will compel me to stand with
Citifare bus drivers should they strike
The regional transportation walkout can happen
as early as midnight Monday, the Summer Solstice - fittingly,
the longest day of the year.
Do yourself a favor, Thomas. Take a bus out to
the Reno Rodeo this afternoon and ask 20 people exactly this:
if you had a choice between a union job and a non-union job,
which would you take?
I already know what almost all of them will tell
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.
Since 1988 Barbwire by Barbano has originated
in the Daily Sparks, Nev., Tribune, where an earlier version
of this column appeared on 6/20/99.