Public Shaming of Juries; Why Card-Check Matters; the True Meaning of Christmas …

by on December 9, 2008

Re: Marissa Litmann’s “An Exercise in Public Humiliation”:

This is a daily shame on San Francisco. I’d like to know who the judge was in Marissa’s story, so I can be sure to vote against her if there’s a chance. The hypocrisy and embedded racism of this town I have known all my life here, from when I was a Chinatown kid, through when I was on Channel 5, and now in government. I’ve been through two voir dires by a judge and attorneys, one civil, one criminal. It wasn’t as bad as Marissa Littman reports, but it wasn’t prideful either.

Christopher Chow
San Francisco

Dear Randy:

I’m really glad to see your “Why Union Organizing Often Fails” in today’s BeyondChron. There are lots and lots of stories about how the National Labor Relations Act has been twisted away from its purpose to encourage and protect workers forming unions toward much of it being essentially a management tool to thwart union organizing.

The appointments to the National Labor Relations Board over the past 30 years have been mainly pro-management partisans, all-too-willing to rule that, for example, lead nurses are “management” (and therefore ineligible for the collective bargaining unit), and 80-hour-a-week hospital interns are really “students,” i.e., without collective bargaining rights.

One major problem is the delays to successful labor organizing drives and NLRB-conducted elections caused by spurious management appeals to the NLRB. A sympathetic NLRB board agent, with 25 years experience conducting union elections, once walked me through the process.

A union wins an election — even overwhelmingly. Management files an appeal, based on some technicality, perhaps a disputed translation of a non-essential word or phrase in the foreign language ballot, perhaps something more peripheral. There is an investigation, and a ruling, and a ruling by the higher NLRB, and then another appeal, investigation, ruling. At a minimum, it is relatively easy for a savy anti-union law firm to hold up the results of even and overwhelming union-voting majority for three years, and longer delays are common. Once case I’ve heard of took 11 years.

In the meantime, the employer has all kinds of weapons to blunt the union presence at the worksite. Key activists can be promoted out of the unit, or have their hours or even worksite changed to discourage them. They can be pressured to leave. And the penalty for such retaliation — if the union is so lucky to be able to prove it? The employer has to post the NLRB ruling with a notice that “it won’t happen again.” At best, the messed-with employee can win, after years of legal fighting, reinstatement and back wages, sometimes minus what he or she has earned, OR SHOULD HAVE EARNED, in the meantime.

The message is clear — if you don’t want your job terminated or screwed with, don’t be active in the union.

There are times when the union finally wins recognition after all the management appeals, there are no members of the original bargaining unit left. For the workers that stood up against management threats and pressures, it is a case of justice delayed / justice denied.

And this is just a portion of what’s wrong with current NLRB election rules. The whole question of access to the bargaining unit, forced management meetings, bribes, use of spies and informants, threats of INS reprisals — all these add up to a mockery of the notion that the employers want “democratic rights” for their workers.

For many years, only South Africa among the industrialized democracies of the world had the most regressive, restrictive-to-unions labor laws. Now the U.S. Stands alone — at the bottom.

The employer/Chamber of Commerce campaign to discredit card check and the other reforms in the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) began months ago. We have a lot of catch-up to do to win the campaign so employees can, if they wish, form a union — and have the union recognized in a reasonable amount of time, and bargained fairly with by the employer.

To quote the old labor song “Which Side Are You On?”:

“Don’t listen to the bosses,
Don’t listen to their lies,
Workers don’t have a chance
Unless we organize.”

Thanks again for your defense of organizing.

Tim Reagan
SEIU Local 1021
San Francisco

Dear Editor,

Well, it is time once again for my annual message about the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is celebrated at the date, December 25th, when the pre-Gregorian, Julian calendar celebrated the date of the Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year. Because of imperfections in the Julian calendar, the actual Winter Solstice has drifted to December 21st or 22nd. It varies slightly.

The Winter Solstice has been celebrated by peoples all over the world for at least 6,000 years that archeologists know about. It is only natural that people, living close to nature, would observe a time when the nights stopped getting longer, the days shorter, and the whole process began to reverse itself. “Praise the Gods,” they might have shouted. “We will, again this year, not continue to sink into everlasting darkness. The sun is re-born. We can plant and harvest again. Hallelujah.”

The ancient Egyptian mother goddess, Isis gave birth to her son Horus on this date. Many other gods throughout ancient history also were born on this date, such as Dionysus, Apollo, Mithra, Attis, Osiris, Krishna, and innumerable others.

The probably equally mythical son of god, Jesus, the child born of a virgin mother and the Jewish god Yahweh, was also born on this day; although the Jewish people deny it.
This was finally proclaimed as “true” by the young Catholic Church in 354 CE by Bishop Liberius of Rome.

The Puritans forbad the celebration of Christmas in the 16th and 17th centuries because of its pagan origins. The Worldwide Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses both do not celebrate Christmas due to their quite correct research which clearly indicates its pagan origins in the Winter Solstice celebrations.

But I say, “What the heck; celebrate away.” Have a big feast (Brumalia) as the Romans did when they celebrated Saturnalia (honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture). Exchange gifts and celebrate the rebirth of the sun—the “Dies Natalis Invicti Solis”—the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” I just wanted you to know what you are actually celebrating.


Don Havis

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