Saturday, April 09, 2011

We are gearing up to host our SFD Bloomsday water station...

your help is needed to make this a successful year Sun May 1 7am

Broadway and Nettleton

I need someone willing to bring down a spare engine
Spokane Firefighters have sponsored the 4th water/aid station along the Bloomsday course for almost 20 years now, it is one of the few events we have to get out and support a great community event - somewhere between 40-50k participants run, jog, or walk the course. While many participants travel in from out of town the vast majority are Spokane area residents. Our sponsors Wake up call coffee and Mike's Old Fashioned donuts have returned with us this year, donating our morning treats. Spouses and kids are encouraged to come help out. T-shirts are provided and SFD members receive a 1/4 point. The event can last up to about 1pm by the time we are cleaned up and gone but there is not a specific time commitment, come on down and go when you gotta go. Please bring a snow shovel and leaf rake if you got one. Give me a call with questions.
Frater 9A

Monday, April 04, 2011

On the Anniversary of MLK's Assassination - the day after he made a speech to a public-sector union...

Remembering MLK and the rights of labor

Once upon a long time ago, a tired man faced an audience of public workers. They were on a wildcat strike, demanding the right to collectively bargain and to have the city for which they worked automatically deduct union dues from their paychecks. The city’s conservative mayor had flatly refused these demands.

“You are doing many things here in this struggle,” the tired man assured them. “You are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor.” Too often, he said, folks looked down on people like them, people who did menial or unglamorous work. But he encouraged them not to bemoan their humble state. “All labor has dignity,” he said.

On Monday, it will be 43 years since that man was shot from ambush and killed in Memphis, Tenn. Martin Luther King’s last public actions were in defense of labor and union rights.

One wonders, then, what he would say of Wisconsin.

Or Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Florida or any of the other places where, like a contagion, the move to weaken or effectively outlaw unions has spread. One wonders what he would make of a conservative governing ethos that now defines public employees — teachers, police officers, firefighters — as the enemy.

Actually, we need not wonder what King would have said, because he already said it. In the speech quoted above, he warned that if America did not use its vast wealth to ensure its people “the basic necessities of life,” America was going to hell.

The Baptist preacher in him reared up then, and his voice sang thunder. For all the nation’s achievements, he roared, for all its mighty airplanes, submarines and bridges, ‘‘It seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, ‘Even though you have done all that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and you clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security and you didn’t provide it for them.’ ”

It will come as a surprise to some that the civil rights leader was also a labor leader, but he was. He had this in common with Asa Philip Randolph, who suffered long years of privation to establish the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. And with Walter Reuther, brutally beaten when he organized sitdown strikes that helped solidify the United Automobile Workers. And with Crystal Lee Sutton, inspiration for the movie Norma Rae, who lost her job for trying to unionize a textile plant in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

These people and many others fought to win the rights now being taken away.

Granted, those rights have sometimes been abused — used to shelter the incompetent or reward the greedy.

But to whatever degree our workplaces are not filled with children working adult hours, to whatever degree an employer is required to provide a clean and safe workplace, break time, sick time or fair wages, that also reflects organized labor’s legacy.

It is instructive that this campaign to roll back that legacy is contemporaneous with a New York Times report on how General Electric earned $14.2 billion in profit last year, yet paid no U.S. taxes. Indeed, the Times says, GE netted a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

What’s it tell you that some of us are on the offensive against working people, but breathe scarcely a peep when a giant corporation somehow slips through government-provided loopholes, paying no taxes? If need is a character flaw, what, then, is greed?

In some sense, we have traveled 43 years forward to get back where we were in 1968. King would doubtless find that sobering. One is reminded of the axiom about those who will not learn from history. One is reminded of the quote about the price of freedom.

And one is reminded of a song Billy Preston sang in the summer of 1973. “Will it go round in circles?” he asked.

Apparently, it already has.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

From Mike Bacon - Firefighters, Cops Warn Republicans Anti-Union Stance Has Consequences

Firefighters, Cops Warn Republicans Anti-Union Stance Has Consequences
Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- Leaders from two unions known to support the Republican Party warned of serious repercussions for GOP candidates in the 2012 elections, saying the onslaught of anti-labor bills in state capitals has shifted their political allegiances.

“Our political principles are pretty straightforward. We’ll support those that support us,” Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told HuffPost. “We tend to stick with those who stick with us.”

“There is a distinct possibility that the pro-labor candidate in the next election will be looked at much more favorably than their overall record,” Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told HuffPost. “The vast majority of our membership will put other issues aside.”

The inclusion of police and fire unions in an Ohio bill that stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees may have been the last straw for the two conservative-leaning groups. But even in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s actions exempted them, cops and fire fighters marched shoulder to shoulder with teachers and other public workers.

Now, the public safety unions are signaling what could be a tectonic shift in the political landscape, one that could result in a level of labor solidarity missing for recent elections.

“I don’t want to say we are unhappy with Republicans but we are very unhappy with the far-right wing of the party that seems to have taken the Republican Party hostage,” said Canterbury, whose union endorsed George W. Bush and John McCain in the last three presidential elections. “We are extremely unhappy with the snowball that rolled in in Ohio and we are traditionally a very conservative organization. We’ve been bipartisan.....But with the actions that have taken place, there’s going to be tremendous reprisals taken out at the polls” by police and their families.”They feel like their public officials turned their back on them.”

The FOP political action committee gave less than $30,000 in 2010, most of it evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats. But Canterbury expects his union will spend significantly more money in 2012 elections and recall and referendum votes in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states where labor is being asked to shoulder the brunt of budget deficits.

“Nobody will get money from us who don’t openly support us,” the police union chief said.

Schaitberger, whose firefighters union wields significantly more clout, said his union would also be spending more in support of Democratic candidates. During the 2010 elections, the union gave $2.7 million in political contributions, with about 82% of its money going to Democrats and the rest to GOP candidates.

“In 2012, it going to change,” he said. “Our members are furious.... We will be putting our money where our mouth is.”

Schaitberger said GOP governors and legislators across the country were attacking union rights, even though the media has largely focused on events in Wisconsin and Ohio. “This is clearly a GOP right-wing coordinated attack on workers,” he said. “Their goal is to kill our union and cripple us in the political arena.”

He is perhaps most concerned about New Hampshire, not coincidentally host of the first presidential primary. Republicans there have a veto-proof majority in the legislature and are pushing a bill that may be “the most draconian of any of the anti-worker, anti-collective bargaining attacks,” he said.

The legislation would turn public employees who fail to reach a contract agreement into “at will workers” who could be fired at any time and would not have the right to negotiate wages, working hours and working conditions.

Schaitberger said that legislation is the kind of overreach that has galvanized his members and will have “significant blowback” at the polls.

“There has been a very significant shift when you look at the Republican attacks we see in the states,” the fire union boss said. “They are going to be in our cross hairs and our members will politically respond accordingly.”