Thursday, December 29, 2005

Labor Icon dies at 87, you likely heard nothing about it.

I certainly didn't, and I pay attention to this kind of stuff.

Clinton Jencks was the figure portrayed in the amazing Salt of the Earth, a film about striking latino miners. It's well worth your dough to track this down.

Jackie, Oh.

Read this Washington Post story on Jack Abramoff.

Corruption, anyone?

I had no idea that Jackie, Oh had done work on behalf of the apartheid government in South Africa and murderous dictator Jonas Savimbi. Wowza. That's a scorecard from hell.

In other news, the Department of Homeland Security is apparently horribly mismanged and open for corruption as well.

I certainly feel safer, I don't know about you.

My First Contract

I said earlier that I'd post more of the details about the contract I'd settled earlier in December. Let me first say I'm tremendously proud of my hard work, and I wouldn't have been able to do any of it--absolutely none of it--without the leadership of the local. They're hardworking folks trying to right a lot of wrongs, but more about that later.

The skinny on the contract goes like this: Four years, 11.5% in salary increases over that time, a two year ban on subcontracting, increased sick days and an early retirement incentive.

Of these, the things I'm most proud of are the ban on subcontracting and the increased sick days. Here's why: school districts all across this great state are hiring private companies to come into schools and perform jobs that our union members currently perform. They often save the districts money by paying dirt wages with no benefits. This is obviously bad.

I was speaking to a friend about this ban on privatization and he said "isn't this kinda what unions do?" I said yeah, but without a specific clause in your contract the employer can get away with it. The union can still fight like hell, but management has the right to engage in this kind of activity unless otherwise prohibited.

On the sick days, we got a doubling of their extended sick leave (the kind you use if you're out for a while) and kept a clause in their contract regarding how that leave can be used. That was a pretty major victory.

The thing I took away from all of this was the vicious shellacing we as a bargaining team took from a heated minority of the union's members. They were upset because the rules about distribution of overtime details were re-rigged to be very slightly more redistributionist. To be blunt, they wanted it all, and anything less was viewed as one person put it, as our 'punking.'

Apparently for insisting on some measure of equity of opportunity for all the union's members we got punked. I never saw Ashton Kutcher at the bargaining table, but I suppose he could have been hiding behind the superintendent's desk.

It was an ugly display all around.

The thing about this round of bargaining is that we were only able to get accomplished what we could because of the relationships we had been able to build with the employer. That sounds at once obvious and strange. Obvious because, well duh. Strange because isn't bargaining supposed to be a bunch of screaming and yelling and people hitting the table with their shoes?

I dunno. There are whole philosophies where people get in touch with their inner wet noodle and bargain accordingly and some people wouldn't bargain without screaming. I didn't know any better so I approached it thusly: I know what managment wants so I'll ask for what we need from that perspective.

I'd say that largely it worked. Also, it didn't help that the previous union's leadership was hated by management, as they were largley perceived as a bunch 0f self-interestd yobs.

The new team was able to build a level of trust and credibility that frankly, had never existed at the table for this group before. The funny thing is that slightly under half of their own membership doesn't know a good deal when they see one.

But I bet they take the raises and benefits regardless.

Transit Strike Settlement

Jonathan Tasini has the rundown, and he chalks it up as a bad deal overall because of the increased cost in health care. I say differently. To my mind, the key issue wasn't health care, but the idea that new workers would have different benefits and pension rights than more senior workers. The TWU might have had a rough go of it by increasing costs in health care, but to accept a tiered wage and benefit package would have been long-term suicide. To that end, I'd say it was a success.

Tasini also points out the attempt on the part of the mayor (who was labor backed by the way--great job guys!) to pit the striking workers agains NYC commuters--other workers. I'd take his analysis one step further by pointing out that it failed generally. People in NYC probably didn't enjoy the trevails of a transit strike, but according to Survey USA more than half supported the union over management.

In the transit strike, whose side are you on...the union? Or Management?


So there you have it. By and large, people expressed solidarity for workers whose struggle for economic justice made their own lives a living hell. Sometimes, although rarely, humanity does not disappoint.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A good book right now.

Is Hardcore Zen, by Brad Warner. Warner was a bassist in a band you've never heard of in Ohio in the mid-80's. A hardcore band. Hence the name. And it is in fact a Zen book, which I'm enjoying immensely. It's very much not a scholarly work, if it were intended for a punk audience (or an audience with a punk-philosophical bent), then it's succeeded. I will note only that it's the only Zen book I've seen with a toilet on it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top trends in groupthink

Andy Kohut of the Pew Center has the rundown on the top 10 (it is the end of the year, after all) public perception trends, plus five that weren't.

It's worth a moment of your time.

The headline says it all, man.

In other news, I'm hoping to get richer, better-looking, and more powerful as practitioner of the dark arts.

All of which is true as far it goes, except for that part about the dark arts.

Hey Wal-Mart, I really think you suck.

I may have pretty subtle about it before, but now I'm going to just come right out and say it, and let the chips fall where they may.

I think Wal-Mart is a bad employer.

And I'm not alone

Bush: Trying to Milk This War Thing for All It's Worth

According to Howie Kurtz, the Generalissimo has been leaning on the nation's top paper editors to gussy up their coverage of his perfect (we just don't know it yet because of our fool desires to question authority) administration.

Tom Tomorrow often laments the difficulty of satirizing people that are themselves beyond satire. As someone who loves both satire and reality, I'd have to agree.

Death strikes again

Vincent Schiavelli, I never knew your name, but recognized your face easily from Lord of Illusions, Batman Returns, Ghost, and the People vs. Larry Flynt.

This headline from the Chicago Tribune says it all: Vincent Schiavelli, 57; Actor Was Known for Creepy, Eccentric Roles.

Better than: Weird lookin' guy passed on. No one cares.


Was good to me. Good times, with Mamainallmyears in town, along with the warm and charitable parents of Dr. Mrsinallmyyears.

How about you?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I'm speechless

The following was posted on the Against me! website:
- Against Me! has signed to Sire Records. Expect a new album in 2007! For real.
Wowza. Dirty punks of the world will unite in their opposition to that one. Sire records, huh?

And the hits just keep on comin'.

William Arkin over at Early Warning has the real scoop on the domestic spying fiasco and claims (and see if you can believe this) that the Pentagon is actually breaking the law, knows they're breaking the law, and fully intends to keep breaking the law.

At least they're consistent.

At times like these, I remember some words of wisdom from George Carlin.

To wit, "I never believe a word that the government says. Nothing."

Would the star (yeah, you heard me) of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure steer you wrong?

Perish the thought.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

On Feingold

So far, the Democratic field for President in '08 looks poor. Piss poor, as my pop would put it.

Of the field, I like Feingold the most. He has pretty much been in the President's rectal area over the recent FISAgate scandal d'jour. He's the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act. He's leading the (so-far successfull) fight to stall its reauthorization.

He pissed off a lot of people (myself included) with his vote to confirm John Ashcroft as Attorney General, but he was claiming a principle* as his basis for doing so, and I can't for the life of me figure out why the hell else anyone would vote to confirm Ashcrack.

So, it's good on you Russ. I'd much prefer to see you be our standard-bearer than Hillary Clinton.

*the principle in play was that Feingold thought the Prez should be able to nominate whomever for the AG slot. Weak, but there you are.

Your Honor

This was a truly admirable thing to do.

If you're one of the justices involved in the FISA court system and you perceive grave wrongs happening, to resign in protest is a honorable action to take.

I'd sure as hell like to get an interview with this cat, though.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

She's Crafty

But this isn't just my style.

I do have to say though, that it's good for women to help get over the stigma attached to menstruation, and to that end, maybe, somehow this helps.

It is pretty funny.

I wonder where the organic tampon art is?

via feministing.

Cegelis v. Duckworth

I hadn't seen this Dick Simpson editorial from a few weeks ago. Essentially, it lays out the case why the national Democrats should jump in on Christine's side. I'd be thrilled to death if they did, but I would absolutely settle from them staying out altogether.

Meanwhile, Archpundit is excoriating Cegelis supporters for implying that Duckworth is a tool of Rahm Emannuel's, to which I can only respond that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, the chances are good that it's not a cat.

A little birdie told me that a call was received by a Cegelis supporter from a Virginia location. The caller on the other end wanted to know if the individual in question could spell Cegelis' name, if she knew she was running for congress, etc. The implication was pretty clear, even to a novice like me. Someone found this individual's name connected to the Cegelis campaign, and is polling Cegelis supporters to feel for the depth of their support. Someone like a campaign adviser based in Virginia.

I for one do not appreciate efforts by the DCCC to undermine an effective grassroots network in favor of top-down political machinations. Let's call it what it is.

This has precious little to do with Tammy Duckworth and everything to do with the DCCC. My wife, who is not a nerd like I am on this stuff nailed it.

"Why would they blow a ton of money in a primary race when they could save the money for the general election?"

Indeed. I can only assume it's because something about Christine vexes the shit out of the national Democrats. The word is that Dick Durbin is in on the game too, that it's not just Rahm and his 'folks' from Chicago. I can't imagine that the senior Democratic Senator from Illinois didn't know anything about this before it went down, and he never came out in favor of Christine this go-round.

Bad Faith Bargaining

Here was something I hadn't been paying much attention to. Apparently the House and Senate negotiations over some atrocity or another had concluded, and after they were done contorting whatever provisions had been brought to the Conference Committee (these are the assholes who get together to negotiate the differences between House and Senate versions of bills) the House just went and inserted a bunch of extra shit.

If I pulled this at the bargaining table, I'd have unfair labor practice charges filed against me by the district and I'd be fired by my employer.

And they'd be right to do so.

Kevin Drum calls it the Potemkin legislature, but I'd just call it more undisguised criminality. The veneer is gone and the bloom is off the rose. It is what is.

In other news, the Senate is about pull some other snaky shit, inserting an ANWAR provision into the defense spending bill.

Now, they wouldn't be doing that just to prepare their ads for the next election cycle when they can say Democrats care more about the spotted owl than our troops would they?

Would they?

No, I'm sure that's beneath them. Ahem.

Hey, who's that standing over my shoulder?

So, it looks like Generalissimo Bushe has authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without a court order. Clearly, it only happens for terrorism related reasons. I mean, the President said so.

Now if the President wants a court order to eavesdrop on you, all he has to do is file a petition before a secret court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). He can even do it up to three days after he's eavesdropped on you. It's perfectly legal.

But he decided to just throw the law away and do things his way. The Bush way. The illegal way.

And he's apparently been (shock, gasp, yawn) lying about it.
Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.
Got that? A year ago he told us all he was using the legal and proper channels to do his duty in the fight against Eurasia (I mean terrorism). That turns out not to be true. You should read the rest of the thing to get a real sense of his genius as a leader. In that same meeting he let fly with this pearl of wisdom:
But a roving wiretap means -- it was primarily used for drug lords. A guy, a pretty intelligence drug lord would have a phone, and in old days they could just get a tap on that phone. So guess what he'd do? He'd get him another phone, particularly with the advent of the cell phones.
Wow. He'd get him another phone. He ought to be impeached just for that. Man, would it be possible to have the leader of the free world not butcher his native tongue. Would it be possible?

Now back to the original offense. What the President did is patently illegal. He authorized an intelligence agency to spy on American citizens without a court order, in direct contradiction of a post-Watergate law prohibiting such action. He set himself up above the law. King-like.

Yesterday in a press conference to control the damage on the issue, the Generalissimo made the claim that congress knew and had approved of what he was doing. The punchline--the only Democrat in a position to know or say anything wrote a letter to Cheney protesting this decision.

That makes lie #2.

The Generalissimo also stated that the purported reason for all this law-breakin' was that he felt the need, the need, the need for speed (all honor to Anthony Michael Hall's Goose). Except that as earlier noted, he can get a warrant up to 72 hours. There are even immediate appeals processes set up all the way to the Supremos.

So make that lie #3.

I was listening to Ed Schultz on WCPT yesterday afternoon, and he posed a simple question: Did George Bush use the NSA to spy on the Kerry campaign? John Aravosis of Americablog asks whether or not he spied on journalists (another question; if he did, would they care or would they just roll over again?) .

Now, the fact that we're having to ask these questions says far more about where we are as a nation than anything else. We simply don't know the answers to these questions, and we can't count on the House of Reprehensibles to do an investigation.

We can't count on the President to tell the truth, and we can't count on the media to do its job, considering the New York Times sat on the story for a year, even up through last year's election.

Think folks would have wanted to know this little tidbit before casting their vote?

So where are the checks and balances that make this such a great country?

Anyone? Anyone?

Stop my beating heart.

George W. Bush made selective use of some facts.

Holy crap.


This just in: War on Christmas is to reality what Nick is to Jessica

That is, there is no relationship.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (formerly known as Commies United for the Overthrow of Everything We Hold Dear) has done some, er, research on the anecdotes that add up to the coming of the Anti-Christ. I mean, the War on Christmas.

And you'll never guess what, but it turns out that most of it based on something less than the full truth.

Like "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Like "We know right where the weapons are."

That kind of less than full disclosure of the truth.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

That's it Saint Nick! It's go time!

This is the second year in a row where the defenders of Christmas have strapped on their godly armor to do battle with heathen scum.

I don't really have anything to add to the clamor except to say that it's mindbogglingly stupid to think that Christian religious holidays are on their way out.

Especially if the basis for this assertion is that some American institutions don't force all their employees to make the sign of the cross and wish everyone they encounter a joyous celebration of the birth of Christ. Or if in some locations they don't refer to the decorated tree as the birth of Christ tree.

Look folks, you can celebrate Christmas to your heart's content. Celebrate on. No one is stopping you. You are not suffering religious persection because every time you turn around your religious faith isn't being reinforced by the state and corporate America.

This is religious persecution.

This, not so much.

And this is nothing to speak of the self-appointed defense ministers of the birth of our lord.

And when Bill O'Reilly threatens to bring 'horror' to the opponents of Christmas, I wonder if he means this kind of horror?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Just, wow.

I dunno what to say. I mean, really when you think about

via feministing.

Smile and wave to the camera!

In my most feverish and egotistical of moments, I've always wondered if I had a 'file'. This was once an episode on Law & Order: SVU. Richard Belzer's character finally gets a peek at his file and is disappointed that the government wasn't all that afraid of his revolutionary fervor.

I don't know though. Maybe I do have a file. The DOD got caught peeping on lawful anti-war protesters. Secret laws, domestic surveillance, it just gives you that warm and cozy feeling don't it?

...and I love how the Quakers are listed as a threat in the report.

Who are threatened by Quakers?


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Way to go Cegelis folks!

The Cegelis Campaign just filed over 3800 signatures for her candidacy to run for congress.

This amid the recent furor over Tammy Duckworth's erm, candidacy. The line is that the DCCC didn't like, or respect, or think that Christine's a 'winnable' candidate, or whatever.

Because we all know how often that argument has worked out.

But today, I think that Christine and the gang can hold our heads high, knowing we've done a great job. Nothing's perfect, but this is a solid start to the primary season.

And I still don't know who the hell Rahm Emanuel thinks he is.

Tookie vs. Cory in a Death Row Death Match

Who generates more sympathy?

A former Crip leader who changed his life of crime into an object lesson in road-to-Damascus style transformation?

Or the victim of a poorly executed police search on his home who fired on an officer of the law (whom he assumed was a burglar)?

Man, these are the kinds of questions that must vex the actual liberal elite.

Who to support?

My vote goes to Cory Maye. I suppose that a case could be made however that if even the most violent and vile of offenders don't have rights then none of us really do. It just seem a poor choice to raise awareness of the inherent racism and unjustness of a system that exacts the ultimate penalty on people with varying degrees of an ability to defend their lives.

Big news

I have just settled my first contract. I'm exceedingly happy with the job my local and I were able to do. In a few months, we were able to establish a level of credibility with the employer I haven't been able to in any of my other locals--yet.

By the end of the settlement, everyone left feeling not that they'd pulled one over on the other side. Everyone left feeling as though each party got a great deal, something they could be really proud of. I got a lot of praise from the other side, but more importantly my leaders got more.

It only took seven months.

Later on (after the contract is ratified) I'll post some details about some of the provisions of which I'm especially proud.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The F-Word

Not that one.

The other one.

Secret laws. Really. That's what it's come down to?

Saints preserve us.

Atrios is right. It really is Kafka's world, , we're just living in it. I would have never thought it would come to this.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I promised myself I wouldn't do this, but...

This is what's known as a bleg. A blog beg.

Dear reader, if you're so inclined, why not stroll over to the Since Sliced Bread contest site, sign up for an email alert allowing you to vote in their contest (more here) and vote for my idea?

C'mon. Do it. Who's more deserving of $100 K than me?


That's a nice climate change treaty you got there. Be a shame if somethin' happened to it.

Look, I don't like Bill Clinton either. And not for the usual reason. NAFTA, welfare reform, the stagnant wages that marked most of his presidency, his penchant for rushing to the center to govern--I think that's the taint that marked his legacy.

But look, for George Bush to pretend that he might sign the Kyoto Accords is just ludicrous. He's not, and everyone knows it. Dogs know it. Cats know it.

For him to pretend he was going to sign (really he was--he's been busy) but since the Climate Convention is going to have Bill Clinton speak--then no way Jose!

Bill Clinton? Give his well-known views on the role of industry in climate change! To the very people who are trying to implement a treaty to limit such change? Zounds!

I'll just say it. George Bush is psychotically obsessed with the public's perception of his governing. Any threat to that perception will not be tolerated.

It's a pity he doesn't take that passion for perfection to actual governing.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christine, who loves ya baby?

This morning I went to the Metra Lombard stop to gather signatures for Christine's candidacy for congress. It snowed five inches last night and it's a balmy 18 degrees or so now.

Smell that? That's the smell of road salt, spilled coffee, plus democracy. I love that smell. It smells like victory.

I'm a workin' man, dagnabbit.

The Onion on mechanization and the fate of the working class hero.

My favorite part:

No mere machine can replace the embittered alienation of the flesh-and-blood worker. Sure, machines may be able to gut whitefish in the blink of an eye. But would they be able, as I am, to despise and bemoan their miserable lot? To seethe with the unbearable knowledge that this will be their sole livelihood until the day they die? To identify with the glassy, sightless eye of every fish as their sharp blades spill the innards out?

Whether it's scaling each cod and struggling to suppress the repulsion and loathing within, or de-boning each haddock while fighting the impulse to drop the knife and walk out of the factory as far as your legs can take you, such sentiments could never be reproduced in mechanical form. Those special qualities can only come from one source: exhausted men and women forced to feed and clothe their children on a pauper's wages.
Indeed. That kind of working-class sentimentality can only be borne of working-class self-loathing and frustration. Can ya dig it?

Via Confined Space.

In other Onion News, an area man is proud of the job he hates. It's a like a theme with those folks I guess.
I know there are more interesting, higher-paying careers, but we can't always do what we like, now, can we?" Festge said. "Nor should we. There's too much selfishness out there. People should work hard and shut up. That's how the world works. I'm the real deal. And at the end of a long, horrible day of backbreaking manual labor, that makes me feel pretty good."

Festge added that after punching out on Friday, he plans to get shitfaced.

Indeed, Mr. Festge, indeed.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What up, Dr. R?

Isn't Dr. Mrsinallmyyears the best colleague ever?

Also, bonus pic of Dr. Mrsinallmyyears in front of one of the many franchises of Eckerd's.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Feliz Navidad! And Feliz Fitzmas!

Pics below of Casa De Las Inallmyyears and our seasonal decorations.

You'll notice that this tree (while beautiful) leands decidedly to the right. Which begs the question: how did it end up in my house? Wouldn't you think our tree would be left leaning?

I guess it's all in your perspective.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Now there's a cat I can get behind!

I'm glad someone has the intestinal fortitude to take on Hillary Clinton.

I've not liked her for a long time. I don't know why so many well-intentioned, smart, and decent people support her. I'm not going to run her down like the right wing does, but it just seems that most of her stances are carefully calculated to appeal to everyone without really meaning anything.

And she used to sit on the board of Wal-Mart, which is reason enough to say 'Nein!' to her candidacy for (currently) senate, or later President.

The fact that Jonathan Tasini is the one who's standing up to the Hillary juggernaut is all the reason more to cheer. Jonathan's blog is one of the most thoughtful, well-sourced, and well-written labor blogs out there.

Longtime readers (so basically, me) of Inallmyyears will know that his postings frequently find their way here. His coverage this summer of the split within the AFL-CIO was the best anywhere.

So good on you, Jonathan. You'll make a fine candidate. If I lived in New York, I'd work my ass for him.

Neil Bush is to good ideas what gonorrhea is to urinary tract health

I'm sorry for the harsh language, but this is one of the most terrible ideas I have ever heard of. I've heard of a lot of bad ideas. I've come up with my fair share.

This is just stupid.

Bellsouth, you are an extremely messed up company

This is beyond screwed up. The city of New Orleans was apparently going to have free wireless set up in the hope that it would attract new technology types back to resettle the city. Lots of cities are pushing this right now, Philadelphia among them. Sometimes I hear chatter that Chicago might go the same route. It's a good idea, extending internet access to as many as possible.

Bellsouth caught wind of this unfortunate attempt to bring technology to an underserved community and withdrew its offer to host rebuilding efforts in one of its buildings. Not that they'd put community development behind corporate profits in terms of importance.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

CWA--Kicking ass and taking names.

I had no idea that the Communications Workers of America had such a prolific year organizing. 11,000 in one company is a damn good haul, and they should be very proud of the job they've done. They have organized more than half of all elligible employees at Cingular under their four national master contracts. That's a big deal--the telecommunications industry is obviously going better places than the manufacturing industry.

So good on you, CWA.

In other news, 5,000 janitors joined up with the Service Employees International Union this week. In Houston, of all places.

What do CWA and SEIU's victories have in common?

Card check. A simple process, whereby the employer agrees to remain neutral and recognize the union if a majority of employees sign union cards. This bypasses the traditional union election route, which is typically fraught with heavy-handed tactics by management. Under card check rules, employees simply sign the card to vote. That's it. A simple majority prevails, and usually the cards are 'certified' by an outside arbitrator.

Things are quiet...too quiet.

Things have been indeed quiet around here recently, which is why I haven't posted much as of late. Yesterday I went down to Springfield (or suckfield as their teenagers must surely refer to it) to take part in a training extravaganza for our union members. It went really well, and I had over 90 people signed up for the course I was offering. Of those, 60 or showed, which is pretty good. Did I mention that last week I went to go see Walk the Line, and you should too? You should. It's good. I also saw Chicken Little. It too, was quiet good.

In other news, this guy is a creep, this guy pled guilty to taking bribes, and this guy said something untrue.

Bidness as usual.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Too strange for words.

Junkyard Prophet, coming to a school autitorium near you. At your expense. The Nuge has competition.