Monthly Archives: January 2014

Grow a Pair

  Being interested in labor issues I was interested to read a recent worker’s view of his workplace. He said, “…I would say morale is a 2 on a scale of 10. Yes, there is a tuition reimbursement program, but anyone I’ve ever known to inquire about it has been denied or never replied to. There is no doubt about it; favoritism is played 100% of times. There is no OT distribution policy. If you’re liked, you’re asked if you want extra hours, most times, granted to a guy with less seniority than a guy who didn’t even get a chance to pick up OT. Sunday premium–half of the hourly workforce receives it, those on an 8 hour schedule, half don’t. Why??? Should it be ALL or NONE? Communication=ZERO. Employee Handbook=Worthless. There may as well not even be one, because under every paragraphed statement or policy it notes *subject to HR discretion.” So if we like you, you’ll be fine–if we don’t, your job is at risk. 100% of the problems I’ve seen are the result of BS policies, or the lack thereof. Compensation=Excellent. Health Care=Good, Retirement= Good, Advancement=favoritism. Fair Job Bidding=non existent. 2tier wages=Yes.” and “If you call off 3x in 1 yr, you are at a “last chance agreement.” If you have to leave work for any reason, family emergency, even in the death of a spouse, child or parent you get attendance demerits. This is unfortunately true. It has happened. How would you like to get a phone call at work that your father has died, then immediately leave work, and be penalized for leaving? True Story. How would you feel if an employee with 6 mos. seniority gets time and a half on Sunday, but a guy with 17 yrs does not? How would you feel if the guy working right next you, doing the same job you’re doing, is making $7 more per hour than you?…”

  Is that a workplace you’d want to work in? I really can’t imagine anyone wanting to work in such a place. Yet, the other day 367 workers decided they didn’t a problem with that type of environment. They did have 148 of their fellow workers say that such things happening in their workplace needed changed. I’m addressing the workers at Youngstown’s Vallourec Star who turned down having union representation by the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE). The above comments about all of the unjust issues at Vallourec were posted by a commenter called, FalconFighter at Vindy.com. He posted his comment in a response to a Youngstown Vindicator story about the then upcoming union vote at Vallourc. In an article in the Youngstown Business Journal after the vote, shift maintenance employee Christopher Gallagher called Vallourec a “great company to work for,” and felt it was incumbent upon him to help discourage union membership. To discourage voting for the UE over a week ago he placed “Vote No” signs he himself purchased around the grounds at Vallourec. Gallagher sent lots of comments to Vindy.com attacking fellow workers who wanted a union. FalconFighter addressed  Gallagher in a comment at Vindy.com. He said, “Unlike CHRISTOPHER GALLAGHER, who must live in a fantasy world, I do not paint a beautiful beach-like atmosphere…”

 The problem with every workplace is that it has workers like Gallagher that brown nose the boss. I’d like to say that I wish every job site had more workers like FalconFighter, but I can’t. You see the irony is that even though he pointed out the problems at Vallourec he said in a comment that he would be voting against unionizing. He had hopes that the new president of Vallourec would make things better. For many like him hope is easier than actually taking action like joining a union to make things better.

  The guys that tried to bring in a union and make Vallourec a better place to work are my heroes in this story. I’m talking about employees Bill Allen, Chuck Lepowsy, and Dave Lorenzi who were brave enough to have their names in print in support of a union. Allen, an 18-year employee said, “If something happens at work, the employees represent themselves with as many as five managers in the room. It makes it difficult for the employee to protect his or her job.” Lorenzi said “One of the first things Vallourec did when it took over the plant was to freeze pensions for current employees and eliminate them for new employees. Employees also have had to pay higher insurance premiums and now work in a two-tier pay system.” Chuck Lepowsky a 15-month lab technician volunteered hundreds of hours in the effort to unionize. Chuck said “All I can say is its kind of coincidental how enormously the bonuses have increased.” The January bonus was the largest workers have received in more than a year equaling $10.50 per hour for every hour worked in January. It was estimated that Vallourec spent as much as $1,500 a day to pitch informational meetings to employees in an effort to discourage them from voting in favor of a union.

  In a letter a published by the Warren Tribune Vallourec crane operator James Dunlap said “Unions today are all about politics, promoting liberal public policies and electing big-government liberals to public office.” Only days after that on WKBN talk radio I heard an identical response from a retired crane man. It was daily caller Austintown Bob who was a crane operator at Youngstown Sheet & Tube’s Brier Hill Works (which is now Vallourec).  Bob called to thank his union the USWA for saving his pension, benefits and helping him be able to live well in retirement. He then went on to say Vallourec should vote against a union because unions back politicians who are democrats. Unions look over the candidates to see who is going to best represent workers and suggest their members vote for these candidates. When it comes down to it that is never GOP candidates. I think the job of operating a crane so high up in the air has killed the brain cells of Dunlap and Bob.

  I’ve met tons of these single issue working-class men and women who vote for republicans and against their own economic interests. They and people who vote against unionizing are a big part of why the middle-class has lost so much ground. I’d don’t think I can say anything to sad sack gutless workers like FalconFighter better than what Vindy.com commenter HSG posted to him. HSG: “Well FalconFighter, sounds like you’re just a tad conflicted. You claim to be happily employed, yet complain about favoritism, lack of communication, the tuition reimbursement program being a come-on, etc. Union representation would give you a say. It’s called airing grievances. Don’t believe those who say the company is going to leave or worst, go belly up. Grow a pair or at least a spine, vote FOR the union.”

36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union

Anne Feeney: “War on the Workers”

“We Do the Work”

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” – Jay Gould, nineteenth century railroad executive

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Stinky Racists and MLK Day

   To celebrate Martin Luther King Day I’m going to do a rerun of a post from a few years ago. I updated only a few sentences in the story. It is a true story and I think gives a small glimpse at the prejudice we encounter daily all around us.

  I was picking up a couple of staple type items in Kmart when I spotted this white couple in their early thirties. I should say I smelled them before I actually saw them. When someone stinks that bad I can only describe it as an odor so foul you can actually see stink whiffs coming off them. It’s as if the whiffs were drawn into a comic strip to emphasize the stench the artist was trying to convey. It wasn’t that they looked poor but more lazy or Grunge Rock grimy. I imagine for about $4.00 I could have cleaned them up. I believe that’s about the going rate to operate a self-wash stall at the car wash. I try to be frugal as I am poor so I wouldn’t spend the extra $2.00 for the dryer and wax spray, as I believe they could air dry.

  I looked in their cart to hopefully see if they had bought any soap, deodorant or shampoo but alas no. This Kmart was the one in Niles, Ohio so I note it is a Super K. I say that because the Super K’s have groceries. I was thinking if they went back in the produce section they could buy a head of garlic pretty cheap. I was thinking even if they hung a couple of garlic cloves under their armpits it would be a step in the right direction. This couple’s offensive odor isn’t even what makes me take keyboard to internet highway. It’s what I heard them say to another couple who was shopping. That was a couple that split up with the men heading in one direction and the women in the other. These were folks of Asian descent in their fifties or sixties. The men were neatly attired in suits and the ladies in dresses. The two men walked past the putrid white couple and were talking in a foreign language. Stink man turned toward them and said, “Yer in Ameriker furiner speakee Amerikeen.”

  The Asian men glanced at Mr. Stinky but then walked on. I spun to stare at Mr. and Mrs. Stinky. They had already walked down the aisle pretty fast and I was out of range of yelling at them. I wanted to chase them down but with my knee that needs replaced I knew I couldn’t speed limp that fast. That and the fact that having two college loans to help my kids pay off makes me worry about my safety much more than when I was a single guy. Anymore you have to consider that everyone could be armed and dangerous. We just had a man shot dead for texting in a theater. The shooter was a retired cop who had taught gun safety classes. That case just shows you that anyone can turn into a crazy killer when they have a gun. Truth is people who don’t spend money on soap and deodorant probably spend it on guns. I do remember seeing Reynolds Wrap foil in the gross couples cart so I imagine they were going home to make foil hats.

  As I was heading to my car I saw the Asian couples putting bags in the trunk of a Lincoln with Ohio plates. They were all talking back and forth in English. English that I note was far better than Mr. Stinky’s “Amerikeen” English. The Asians had one up on Stinker as they were bilingual and Stinky wasn’t even monolingual.

 Sadly, I am reminded that America has a history of racism and it doesn’t appear to be anywhere near ending. On the other hand America also has a history of social justice groups and individuals who have stood up for equality and inclusion, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. On Martin Luther King Day we celebrate not only MLK but all those who’ve fought to make our country a true melting pot. That gumbo of so many cultures is the active ingredients needed to disinfect the air of the stench of the Mr. Stinky’s of our country. Happy Martin Luther King Day!

The Staple Singers: “If You’re Ready”   

“Long Walk to D.C.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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More Local Media B.S.

  I want to follow-up on my last post. The Warren Tribune Chronicle also has their newspaper online. At that site if you are a subscriber and register you can comment online to editorials and letters to the editor that were published in the Warren Tribune. Last Sunday (the only day the Warren Tribune publishes their Letter to the Editor section) a writer was celebrating over the fact that the Warren Tribune had eliminated their online comment section. I went online to look and found the writer was correct. I have sent the Warren Tribune quite a few letters to their Letters to the Editor section. Many contained facts opposing some of the editorials the editor had written as well as some of the letters readers had written. I can tell you that many of my letters (especially when criticizing right-wing views) didn’t get published. I can say at least when I commented online the comments ended up posted online. Why the “Trib” would shut down free speech as they have done online really is strange. I say that given the basic free speech concept of a newspaper. Just as sad is a letter writer to the newspaper celebrating the fact free speech in any form was lost.

  Let me get to free speech over at WKBN talk radio in Youngstown. Over the Christmas holiday Youngstown’s ex-mayor McKelvey filled in for a few of WKBN’s regular radio hosts. McKelvey always has the same boring show when filling in. The show consists of the mayor bragging about being politically incorrect. I don’t believe there is actually such a thing as “political correctness”. I think that in my day we called it using common sense, respect and manners before you spoke. In that day if you just blurted out angry, mean-spirited B.S. you were called an ignorant loud mouth lout. That being said I stand by McKelvey and anyone being able to spew their B.S. Don’t hide behind a meaningless phrase like “politically incorrect” and think you are some outlaw rebel fighting against word oppression. The truth is that you are ignorant loud mouth louts.

  While on WKBN Mayor McKelvey was rallying up support for the Youngstown private prison run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Youngstown’s CCA has to submit a competitive proposal by Aug. 15 if it wants to continue to house the federally convicted and sentenced undocumented immigrants they houses on Hubbard Road. McKelvey was warning about the lost jobs if CCA is closed in Youngstown. When McKelvey was mayor Youngstown’s CCA was suppose to house minimum security prisoners from the Washington DC area. CCA instead lied and housed 1,700 of the nation’s most dangerous maximum security criminals. Within one year, 20 prisoners were stabbed, two were murdered and six escaped. After that more stringent rules from the state made the Youngstown facility unprofitable for CCA so they left the Youngstown area.

  At the time of the prison break a report found a total of 47 violations in the prison. Youngstown mayor George McKelvey at that time told reporters, “I would never have allowed CCA to build a prison here.” He was shifting the blame to Pat Ungaro who had been mayor before him and initiated the deal to bring CCA to Youngstown. Now ex-Mayor McKelevy wants to keep CCA in our area. We need the jobs but is CCA a good corporation worth keeping? We have a moral obligation to put away those who’ve committed crimes and been sentenced. Is that moral obligation something we are willing to turn over to a company that puts their profit before morals and public safety? Do we want those in our community to get jobs at private prisons where they are poorly trained just to save costs? Those saved costs put prison guards lives in jeopardy. A study by George Washington University found private prisons have a 50 percent higher rate of inmate-on-staff assault and a 66 percent higher rate of inmate-on-inmate assault. The troubling numbers were attributed to lower standards at private prisons that are trying to keep costs low.

  The prison in Conneaut, Ohio was sold to CCA last year by Gov. John Kasich. It was part of a privatization push in Ohio’s 2012-13 budget. Quite a few people in Kasich’s administration have previous connections to CCA. I have yet to find a creditable study that shows it is cheaper for taxpayers to go with private prisons. A state audit found the Conneaut prison is only meeting 66.7 percent of the state’s standards under CCA. The report, found a total of 47 violations. These private prison jobs (much like fracking jobs and the dangers that industry may well pose to our area) makes me say there is more to consider that just saying, jobs, jobs jobs. While McKelvey thinks he knows best I still remember that as a Democratic mayor he made national news by supporting GW Bush for president in 2000.That was eight years of terrible times this nations is still trying to recover from.

“States Should Run Screaming From the CCA”

“8 Statistics Showing the Problems With Private Prisons”

  I was listening to WKBN’s radio talk show host Dan Rivers one day last week. He was resorting to the lowest pathetic form of President Obama hating one can do. That is actually complaining President Obama takes too many vacation days. A caller pointed out that Rivers had no complaints when President GW Bush took far more days that President Obama has at the same point. Rivers and his engineer (and right-wing lackey) Viking Jim yelled that is a lie. They then yelled over the caller that they could look it up. The caller responded, “Do that.” It’s obvious that Rivers and Jim did look it up and found they were wrong as they never brought it up again the rest of the show. Comparing first terms President Obama had 131 days off and President GW Bush had 543 days off. President Clinton who Rivers and the GOP hated with a passion had 76 days off. President Reagan who Rivers and the GOP worship as the true God of gods had 510 days off. Dan and Jim you are just pathetic liars.

  Speaking of pathetic liars, WSOMs radio show at 600 on your AM dial “Tracey and Friends” has moved from noon to 9:00 am weekdays. Tune in and call them every time they lie. That means you will be on the line solidly from 9:00 to noon every day.

“Let’s Active: “Every Word Means No”

Waters Part”

“All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news.” ~ George Orwell

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Dragons, Trolls and Zombies Oh My!

  I suppose in 2014 I could try to be more understanding of those with political views that are opposite of mine. Then again one can’t make nice with dragons who want to burn down your house and eat your children. Soulless zombies don’t care what you believe in as they are virgin to cerebellum loaf so they don’t want to debate you. They want to destroy you and yours and move on to their next victim. If you want to play peacenik they will mock you as a singer of “Kumbaya” as they devour you. My message for 2014 is awaken knighted dragon slayers and killers of the living dead. In 2014 it’s time for those of you that value family above all to fight back. It’s time to fight back by warning others about the evil dragons, trolls and zombies in your community.

  Let me start with the local lowly trolls in the media who wish to make brainless zombies of us all. Warren Tribune Chronicle editor Frank Robinson is a good place to start. The “Trib” is a corporate owned newspaper and Frank’s job is to serve his corporate dragon masters. He does that by trashing the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) the EPA (Environmental Protest Agency) and any agency that wants to protect the public from contaminated food, filthy air or putrid water. Franks claims that these protections are not needed and just cost consumers money. Why would Frank want those things that could injure and kill our children? It is because Frank’s master dragons need rotten food, polluted air and swampy putrid water to thrive. Frank will continue to write editorials to defend the wants and needs of his corporate dragon masters. He will also fill his editorial pages with syndicated columnists who spread vile and toxic hatred. Black columnists Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell both write columns attacking their own race. They will do this because they have sold their souls for money to right-wing think tank dragons. Columnist Michele Malkin’s columns contain so much venom against President Obama and democrats that her column should come with an antidote. The corporate dragons want to spread their hate-filled agenda to every media outlet in America no matter how small the circulation or audience.

  That brings me to local talk radio programs. Every area of the country is saturated by syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh. As a general rule if I want information or need something answered I don’t ask a drug addled lunatic. I certainly wouldn’t waste my time getting info from a drugged out crackhead gas-bag like Rush. Perhaps Rush decided to take his name literally. I imagine that years of being a lying toadie propagandist for corporate dragon masters could lead one to using a piñata of drugs. We also have local talk radio right-wing trolls like WKBN’s teabagging host Dan Rivers. When Dan isn’t on the air bashing President Obama he can be found at Tea Party events bashing immigrants. If only we could get in the way back machine and stop River’s ancestors from coming to the U.S.A. what a better local community we could have.

  Over at WSOM we have local brainless zombies “Tracey and Friends.” Tracey is a local conservative African-American woman who was rewarded with a position by the GOP on the elections board. She earned that by trashing President Obama and calling her race a bunch of lazy, ignorant fools who vote for democrats. Tracey, Jeff (also a conservative African-American) and other “Friends” like Sticks (a white dude who sounds like a lady) love to lie, spread half-truths and rewrite history. All of the “Friends” will point out that Lincoln was a republican and that “Dixiecrats” were democrats. They will not move from the “R” and “D'” talk and discuss facts. One fact is that these conservative “Friends” won’t mention is that it was liberals white and black who fought for civil rights against conservative southern whites.

  Just the other day Sticks said, “President Obama only taught one subject on constitutional law the whole time he taught at college.” Actually at the University of Chicago President Obama taught three courses, the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law, a voting rights class tracing the evolution of election law and also a class on racism and law. That was just the first of the many lies and misinformation that are broadcast daily on “Tracey and Friends.” Sticks and Jeff claimed our next president needs to be a republican who was a governor. They then commented that Wisconsin’s Gov. Walker would be a great president as he’s done great things in his state. Did they think their listeners were dumb enough to believe that? When Walker ran for governor in 2010, he vowed to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. He instead has lost 79,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Since he took office, his state has gone from 11th to 44th in job creation. They are projected to soon reach 49th in job creation. Wages in Wisconsin also declined at twice the national level. If the “Friends” think a loser like Gov. Walker is a success story I guess they really are brainless zombies.

  Another black republican I want to mention is Brenda Mack former president of the Ohio Black Republicans Association. Like WSOM’s Jeff she is from Canfield. Which makes me wonder if minorities feel they have to register as republicans if they live in Canfield. Ms. Mack has been picked to be the running mate to Ted Stevenot who is a Tea Party activist running in the GOP primary against Gov. Kasich. Stevenot was co-founder of an insurance company in the Cincinnati area. Mack was a Youngstown area businesswoman and owned a janitorial company named, “We Clean It” Krystal Klean. She filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2002 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2008. In the 2008 filling she listed $104,000 in debts to 62 creditors and assets of $1,200. She owed $5,975 in unpaid wages to seven employees in the company’s last year of operation. She has also been found guilty of passing bad checks and fined. I know the Tea Party hates taxes but I think it’s crazy they want a candidate for lieutenant governor like Mack who has nearly $60,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.

  Last month, Democratic state Sen. Eric H. Kearney (who is black) quit gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald’s ticket after revelations that Sen. Kearney had $1 million in unpaid state and federal taxes and penalties tied to him and his Cincinnati publishing company. I understand that political parties want minorities on their tickets. I am sure there are plenty of minority candidates that would make great public servants. Minority candidates don’t bear any extra vetting than do white candidates. I do believe that anyone (regardless of race) who owns a business does need extra scrutiny. With lobbyists, corporate welfare and bankruptcy laws now being at the heart of “business in America” we need to think twice when voting for candidates with a business background. On the other hand, republicans think unscrupulousness, union busting, profits before people businessmen are the perfect politicians to elect.

  Sharpen your swords good knights there will be no shortage of dragons, trolls and zombies to slay in 2014!

R.I.P. Phil Everly

The Everly Brothers: “Take a Message to Mary”

“Bowling Green”

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit”

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