Showing posts with label labor unions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label labor unions. Show all posts

Monday, August 26, 2013

Calling Jim McKay

Put a tea-party lovin', gun-totin' Republican hack in the mayor's office one minute, find yourself in the bizarro world the next.

Wait, that was last month. The embarrassment du jour would be Omaha budgetary politics right out of the Black September playbook -- the municipal policymaking version of Munich 1972. All we needed on the news tonight -- and there's still a bit of time as I type this -- is an undead Jim McKay at the anchor desk and a military operation gone horribly bad at Eppley Airfield.

First, the setup: Omaha's former mayor, Jim Suttle, negotiates a new contract with the firefighters union aimed at ending the practice of pension-spiking, where you can work a bunch of overtime, get your salary as high as you can, and then retire with astronomical benefits pegged to that astronomical salary. That's the quick-and-dirty version, granted, but that's basically it.

The practice was fast sinking the city's pension fund, and it had to stop before the city quite literally ended up bankrupt -- and relatively soon, at that.

So, Suttle -- defeated by then-councilwoman Jean Stothert in this spring's mayoral election -- pretty much put an end to that, as had been done when the police contract came up for renewal previously. But the city council, with Stothert leading the charge, rejected that deal as too costly.

Then the council, with Stothert again leading the charge, strips Suttle of his contract-negotiating authority and reserves that job for itself. And then the council, again with Stothert in a leadership role, negotiates a new deal that Suttle warns really will bust the budget before signing the ratified deal in a total "I give up" moment.

Fast forward to this summer and the start of the budget process. The city is facing a sizable deficit -- mainly due to big projected overruns in the fire department budget. The fire chief, Mike McDonnell, says it's due to costs locked in by the new labor contract but Stothert, in effect, says it's because McDonnell is a twit and, furthermore, I'm going to cut the crap out of your budget, lay off all the new recruits and take an ambulance and some rigs out of service . . . and, by the way, why haven't you quit yet?

OH . . . this may have had something to do with Her Honor's attitude toward the chief and the fired, er, fire department:
McDonnell has sought a roughly $94 million budget, which he said was necessary to avoid cuts. That included a $150,000 to pay University of Nebraska Medical Center consultants who supervise the department's emergency medical service. Those consultants replaced Stothert's husband, Dr. Joe Stothert after he was dismissed by McDonnell and Mayor Jim Suttle's administration.
HERE'S some more of how the Omaha World-Herald is reporting the story tonight:
An exit package brokered Monday between Mayor Jean Stothert's administration and the embattled fire chief carries considerable financial implications.

The agreement protects current department staff from layoffs through next July 1 and gives McDonnell a full pension, more than a year before he qualifies for it.

The agreement also keeps all existing fire equipment in service through next July 1, with the exception of a medic unit based in South Omaha. .

McDonnell said the deal means Stothert needs to add about $2 million to the Fire Department budget. The mayor, however, said no additional funds were needed. Stothert said she expected the department budget to pass Tuesday.

McDonnell will receive a $10,900 monthly pension. He said that is about $900 more than he qualifies for with his 23 years and 10 months of service.

“These changes are in the best interest of the City of Omaha and will move the Fire Department ahead in a positive manner,” Stothert said in a statement.

Said McDonnell: “It was an honor to serve the city.”

McDonnell's departure comes as the City Council prepares to vote Tuesday on Stothert's proposed 2014 budget.

The exit agreement, signed by Stothert and McDonnell, must be codified into a legally binding contract by Friday or else it is void.

The chief gets credit for 25 years of service and a retirement ceremony. The city will pay his share of his pension contribution through October 2014.

The agreement includes a “joint non-disparagement” clause until next July 1.

The city will maintain three of its four assistant chief positions through 2014. A fourth chief will retire this October.

McDonnell held a small press conference just before 7 p.m. Monday at headquarters in front of a city fire engine. He had already packed his city-issued SUV with personal effects and memorabilia.

He will be placed on paid administrative leave for the immediate future.

Stothert has made it clear since her mayoral campaign that she wanted McDonnell out.

Efforts to negotiate his future have been discussed intermittently for several weeks.

The two have been at odds over the mayor's proposed $90.6 million Fire Department budget, which could have forced layoffs, demotions and pulling firetrucks and ambulances from service. 
AND HERE'S the kicker: Stothert is refusing to apply for federal grant money specifically made available to fire departments for maintaining present staffing or even increasing it to better meet National Fire Protection Association standards.

Refusing to apply. Refusing to even try to avoid layoffs, unless. . . .

Hardball negotiating is one thing. Holding firefighters hostage to get the chief to retire is the stuff of political terrorism. Obviously, Omaha's new mayor has been taking pointers from congressional Republicans.

The only difference between Abu Packin' and Palestinian terrorists from back in the day is in the degree of her actions, not the principle behind them. It's just a matter of firing a hostage an hour until you meet my demands instead of killing an Israeli an hour until you meet my demands.

What matters to Stothert isn't the firefighters -- or public safety. What matters to Stothert isn't even balancing the budget in a sensible way. What matters to this doctrinaire GOP hack is ideology, sucking up to her right flank . . . and revenge.

How very Black September of her. Right down to this expertly placed shiv in the back, as reported by KETV television:
McDonnell said in order to fund those positions, the City Council would have to add $2 million to the fire department's budget, but the mayor's office said the budget will go before the council Tuesday at the proposed $90.6 million.

The mayor expects the new chief to achieve both the saving and the job protection within the proposed budget.
WOW. Stothert even worked in some Republican magical mathematics. Is there anything our pistol packin' mama can't do?

Except for running a city in an adult, competent manner, I mean.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The political Twinkie

Apparently, labor unions are the source and summit of everything that is bad in this country.

In recognition of that, you're supposed to celebrate the resurrection of Twinkies -- which now will be produced in bakeries as free of labor unions as the little sponge cakes are of any nutritional value -- by waddling to your local grocer, purchasing a pack of empty calories and applying them directly to your ass.

After all,  according to one learned commenter on ForAmerica's Facebook page, "unions are destroying this country, remember Jimmy Huffa and organized crime, the mob runs unions." (Sic -- a great big sic. -- R21)

If you ask me,  what's destroying this country is us. Whacked-out, pissed-off, greedy-ass, political-nutjob us. We're pathological. Our angry zeal so consumes us that we've just f***ing politicized the Twinkie.

And . . . wait. Jimmy Huffa?

Do they have bourbon-filled Twinkies?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Andy Taylor is dead, and I'm feeling nervous

It's becoming an annual event, and it needs an official name.

How about the (Fill-in the blank) Annual Omaha Police Excessive-Force Festival. Below is a bit of the World-Herald article on the latest in what's become a long line of incidents where local cops seemed hellbent on escalating a minor deal into a WWE smackdown.

Oh. . . . Seven words: Twelve cop cars for a parking dispute.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer on Friday temporarily reassigned an officer involved in the arrest of three men whose relatives allege the use of excessive force by police.

Schmaderer, who also ordered an internal investigation, and other police officials watched a video of the arrest posted on YouTube, according to a police statement issued Friday.

The video shows officers near 33rd and Seward Streets just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Officers were there to investigate a parking complaint. The incident quickly escalated, with about a dozen police vehicles responding. It ended with the arrest of three brothers.

Police and a family member gave different accounts of what happened.

Officers said they were impounding vehicles with expired license plates when Octavious Johnson, 28, pulled up at a high rate of speed in front of the officers.

Johnson was “argumentative and aggressive'' and had to be wrestled to the ground by an officer to be arrested, according to a police report.

The video shows another officer assisted in subduing and handcuffing Johnson. Later, it appears that one officer strikes Johnson three times.

Officers also can be heard on the video yelling at a second man on the sidewalk.
After that man — Juaquez Johnson, Octavious's 23-year-old brother — went inside a nearby house, several officers raced after him. Officers came back outside with him and the third brother, Demetrius Johnson, 22.

The police report indicates the officers who initially responded were Matthew Worm, Dyea Rowland and Bradley Canterbury, though the specific role each played was not clear. None was placed on administrative leave. One of the officers was reassigned until the investigation concludes, a police spokeswoman said. She declined to identify the officer.

Sharon Johnson, the men's aunt, told The World-Herald that Juaquez Johnson had been filming the incident as it unfolded and was told by police to stop. He ran inside the house to get away from them, and they followed to get the video, she said.

Juaquez Johnson didn't post the video on YouTube. The video posted there was shot by a neighbor from an upstairs window across the street.

Sharon Johnson, 45, who uses a wheelchair, said as one officer ran onto the front porch he knocked into her. She said the wheelchair fell backward, and she hit her head.

“My legs were up in the air, and my head hit the ground,” Johnson said. She said the family planned to file a formal complaint with the Police Department.
OF COURSE, we don't know exactly what happened here. And, of course the local police union wants everybody to hold their horses . . . and withhold judgment.

"The most responsible course of action at this point is patience," was the word from the Omaha Police Officers Association. "Let the investigation run its course." This came at the end of a blog post pointing out that incriminating videos sometimes mislead.

Obviously, we also know the video looks bad for the cops. And, if you watch the whole thing, what one big-mouthed cop says might be more incriminating than what we actually see: "Why were you hiding behind your frickin' mom? Why were you hiding behind your frickin' mom? Why did I have to jump over a frickin' old lady to get to you?"

This kind of thing, unfortunately, has become a regular deal for Omaha cops.

We know that the Omaha police have in the past been awfully quick to beat the hell out of -- or shoot -- people first and then ask questions later. Search for the names Vivian Strong or Marvin Ammons. North Omaha burned after a cop shot Strong, a 14-year-old girl, in 1969. It got kind of dicey nearly 30 years later after police shot Ammons for, as it turned out, having a cell phone in  his hand.

We also know that Omaha police officers have been fired -- or worse -- on a more-or-less regular basis for excessive force or after allegations of criminal activity. And we know that the police union only is satisfied with "letting the investigation run its course" if the chief finds that the officers in question were as pure as the driven snow.

INVESTIGATIONS that run their course and result in an officer's sacking for cause are "politically motivated" and the union will move heaven and earth to overturn them. So pardon my skepticism, and pardon my belief that there's more than a even chance that what looked bad on video was as bad -- or worse -- in person.

A lack of public trust in a police force -- no matter how justified or unjustified it might be -- comes from somewhere. I suggest that Omaha police look within themselves and consider just why that might be.

Friday, November 23, 2012

People of Walmart do that thing they do

Look at this.

It must be Black Friday, and this must be the People of Walmart.
Yet Walmart management has a problem with its employees who demand a living wage, decent treatment and decent benefits to deal with the kind of mindless, consumerist barbarism the retail giant encourages every Black Friday. No, the retail giant hasn't cornered the market for this kind of mob mayhem, but there's a reason why you see so much of it at Walmart and other stores aspiring to Walmartishness.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., bloody well knows every single thing about its clientele, and management knows everything there is to know about the "downmarket" they target. Plenty of people at corporate know their sociology in addition to their retailing.

And management damned well knows what's likely to happen at "X" number of random locations on Black Friday, and I'd also wager it knows which "doorbusters"  are most likely to provoke the kind of mayhem you see here . . . and where.

NEVERTHELESS, the Bosses of Walmart are perfectly happy to send the Associates of Walmart into the violent maw of the People of Walmart, who were set off by the Marketing Strategy of Walmart . . . and pay them the Crappy Wages of Walmart for the dubious privilege. 
Oh but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free. . . .

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

T e s ate of lab r to ay

Labor Day -- that 24-hour period every year when we say kind words over the bloated corpse of organized labor in America -- is over.

Now it's back to reality for the Nebras A S Ate Education Ass Ciation and other similarly discombobulated labor unions. As they say, "reality bites." In fact, it even may have consumed education's rear end.

You know what else they say: "First they came for the teachers, but I wasn't a teacher. . . ." Well, I say we're all teachers now!

Ye who labor in America, stay strong! The ass you save may be your own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Just between you and me, 'Mr. Koch' . . . .

Punking a governor like Wisconsin's Scott Walker -- not to mention exposing his real agenda -- is about as good as it gets.

Maybe not as good as punking Fidel Castro (definitely not "one of us" in the Walkerian continuum of "us" and "not us."), but pretty dang good.

From the Chicago Tribune:

On a prank call that quickly spread across the Internet, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was duped into discussing his strategy to cripple public employee unions, promising never to give in and joking that he would use a baseball bat in his office to go after political opponents.

Walker believed the caller was a conservative billionaire named David Koch, but it was actually a liberal blogger.

The two talked for at least 20 minutes a conversation in which the governor described several potential ways to pressure Democrats to return to the Statehouse and revealed that his supporters had considered secretly planting people in pro-union protest crowds to stir up trouble.

The call also revealed Walker's cozy relationship with two billionaire brothers who have poured millions of dollars into conservative political causes, including Walker's campaign last year.

Walker compared his stand to that taken by President Ronald Reagan when he fired the nation's air-traffic controllers during a labor dispute in 1981.

"That was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and led to the fall of the Soviets," Walker said on the recording.

The audio was posted on the Buffalo Beast, a Web site in New York, and quickly went viral.

Editor Ian Murphy told The Associated Press he carried out the prank to show how candidly Walker would speak with Koch even though, according to Democrats, he refuses to return their calls.

AT ONE POINT during his conversation with Not Koch, the cheesehead-in-chief was sounding quite the revolutionary, in an aristocratic, send-in-the-Pinkerton-agents-to-bust-some-union-heads Andrew Carnegie kind of way:

On the call, Walker said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country and he had spoken with the governors of Ohio and Nevada. The man pretending to be Koch seemed to agree, telling Walker, "You're the first domino."

"Yep, this is our moment," Walker responded.

YEP, it's your moment, all right, governor. A great big "OOPS!" moment.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Your Daily '80s: When pinkos advertised

Back in 1981, television viewers would, from time to time, see these ads for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

Thirty years ago -- shockingly -- this sort of thing was perfectly respectable. Unenlightened as we were, we didn't once think we were being indoctrinated by leftist union goons.

Worse, if one came from a blue-collar background, chances were that the Old Man belonged to one of these socialist-front outfits. I know, it's shocking.
Lots of people smoked then, too.

Now, thanks to tea-party edjumacashun outreach and Mr. Glenn Beck and Mr. Rush Limbaugh, we know socialists when we see 'em, and we take appropriate action.

And you won't see these commercials on the tube anymore. In fact, you won't see the ILGWU
anymore, either.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More politics today

To be scrupulously fair, it ain't just the teabaggers behaving very badly.

Above, in a St. Louis incident quickly picked up by Fox News Channel a year ago and capitalized on by tea partiers as an example of Barack Obama's "goon squads," we are shown an incident that put the "thugs" in the term "union thugs."

And, a year later, that Missouri "town hall beatdown" is being dragged out as an example that the mainstream media is playing up the Rand Paul incident while ignoring liberal violence. Guess who's saying "Well . . . they do it, too!"

You get three guesses. The first two don't count.

WHILE I'M at it, here's another video of what seems to be an SEIU organizer attacking a supporter of a rival union at a California hospital last February:

WHY IS IT the more everyone bleats about "tolerance," the more intolerance we get of . . . well, everything.

Somehow, someway Americans will learn to live up to what we like to tell foreigners about the United States, or we are going to make Bosnia in the mid-'90s look like a walk in the park.