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I’M LABORING OVER UNIONS

Note: On holidays, and other occasions as they strike us, we will divert from our normal rhyme and post opinion pieces.  Think of it as our two cents.

Monday, September 5th

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York.  For those of you who have never heard of it, 146 women either died in the fire or jumped to their deaths because they had no means of escape when the fire started.  You see, the managers had locked all of the stairwells and exits so the women were trapped in their workroom.  This incident, appalling even in the day of railroad barons and cigar-smoking tycoons, helped spawn the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, or ILGWU, as it is known.  If ever a situation warranted a union, this was it.

In 1932 my father graduated from high school and, because of the Depression, felt grateful to land his dream job – working for a newspaper.  The price of admission?  Joining the International Typographical Union.  He did so reluctantly, as he was not a big believer in unions, but a job was a job in those days and he could ill afford to turn it down.  Over the next 40 years, even when he was a newspaper owner and thus considered “management”, he paid his ITU dues.   When he decided to retire in the early 70’s he contacted the ITU to claim his retirement pension, only to be told that the pension funds had been “poorly invested”.  It didn’t take a genius to interpret their actions – the ITU had stolen my dad’s pension.   After all his years of contributions, his monthly annuity was a meager $75.

Fortunately, beginning in the mid-70’s federal and state employment laws began to emerge to protect workers.  Regulations were passed regarding everything from the minimum wage and pension reform to gender and race discrimination and equal access for those with disabilities.  The EEOC developed into a powerful and influential government agency. To some extent, labor unions were at the heart of getting these baseline entitlements passed and as a result, the workplace became a much fairer, albeit legal, environment.

At the same time, most American companies were defining their culture and values which invariably covered how employees were to be viewed and treated within the organization.  Were there still some rogue managers who treated people poorly?  Absolutely.  But now there were clear-cut procedures for employees to follow within their own company to seek resolution.  For those companies that practiced unfair or abusive treatment, employees could seek assistance in another venue – the American justice system.  And the EEOC assured protection from any sort of retaliation for doing just that.

So what is the role of unions today?  To gain better wage and benefit packages?  If so, one might say that they have overshot their target.  Companies with unionized workers state that union contracts have caused the price of products to skyrocket and have resulted in them becoming uncompetitive.  Auto manufacturers, once the bread and butter of the U.S. economy, cite that the union compensation packages result in an increased cost of $1500 per car.  In many of our traditional industries, we are seeing massive layoffs due to the complete closure of manufacturing plants and an increase in the number of companies moving jobs offshore.

If their role is to provide job security, they haven’t been terribly effective.  The fact of the matter is they can do nothing to stop corporations from moving factories and call centers to other countries.  This is partially due to a U.S. tax code that effectively rewards companies to move jobs offshore.  And partly we are now in a world where we have to compete with other countries that target some of our time-honored manufacturing bases.  That is globalization, whether we like it or not.  For those of us who have been stuck in a circular conversation with someone working in a call center in India, I acknowledge that it isn’t always a pleasant reality.  But it IS reality.

In the final analysis, unions have failed to recognize that the U.S. economy has changed and the skills needed for today’s workplace along with it.  The jobs that have been shipped overseas are most likely not coming back.  There ARE jobs available in the U.S., but they require a different skill set than in the past.  Are unions ready, willing and able to re-train their members so they can better assimilate into this new work environment?  Or have unions outlived their usefulness?

Finally, for those of you old enough to remember, the ILGWU used to have a catchy commercial on TV requesting us to “look for the union label”.  If you’ve never seen that label, it’s because all of our clothes are now made offshore.

If you’d like a personalized poem or tribute, visit our website at:www.redposey.com

IT’S THE WEEKEND!

Just as a reminder, we post our news Monday through Friday. On the weekends we take time off from the pressure-packed world of news blogging to watch football.

Look for our first “holiday” post on Monday titled, “I’m Laboring over Unions”. This will be the first in a series of opinion pieces (rather than poems) that we will post on holidays and at other times as the mood or topic strike us.

Have a great weekend!

Obama’s Pre-game Speech

Friday, September 2, 2011

Obama set his speech to Congress, next Wednesday was the date,

But Boehner said, that is the day of the GOP debate.

So he moved the speech to Thursday, but the time won’t be the same,

‘Cause he knows he can’t compete with the Saints and Packers’ game.

Chrysler’s on an up-tick, so Motor Trend reports;

Their sales are beating GM, Ford and the imports?

They’re selling trucks and minivans , cars in their bigger class;

How quickly we don’t care again about the price of gas.

When it comes to franchise owners, LA seems to come up short,

From Georgia Frontiere to that blow hard, Frank McCourt.

If a Dodgers sale goes through, it could give us all angina,

As the gloves and shoes, now payroll, will all be made in China.

JayLo and Mark Anthony – it looks like that gig’s over.

It seems that little Marky boy is quite the Latin rover.

Mark found a nice hotel room, but who did he check in with?

It’s hard to say because she signed in as a ‘Mrs. Smith’.

If you’d like a personalized poem or tribute, visit our website at:

www.redposey.com

 

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE

September 1, 2011

Obama’s going to unveil a plan before an anxious nation,

We’re waiting to hear what will inspire brand new job creation.

Millions have no work, lost their income and their homes,

When those who should be unemployed, sit under the Capital Dome.

AT&T, the giant telecom, wants a merger with T-Mobile,

But Justice doesn’t want them taking their dropped call problem global.

The company said that it’s concerned about its loss of speed,

But based on our experience, it’s really due to greed.

The champion Boston Bruins lost their center for the season,

They say his two concussions are the overwhelming reason.

Marc Savard seems to be complying, acting bold and brave,

We think he should be joyous – think of all the teeth he’ll save.

When we look at the new roster for “Dancing with the Stars”,

We think someone’s lost their mind, or been in way too many bars.

Chaz, Chynna, David, Ricki? Dr. Drew could be their mentor,

Is this a dancing program or a sequined rehab center?

For a personalized poem or tribute, please visit our website:

www.redposey.com

Dick Time

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

With Rice and Powell firmly under the bus

Chaney’s new book has caused quite a fuss.

If you read In My Time I think you would find

That it should have been called, In My Own Mind.

The car-sharing Zipcar is making a deal

With Ford and their Focus, the high-tech mobile.

If it works it will help college kids get around,

If not, they’ll be caught with their zipper down.

When Hurricanes are mentioned, you think of Irene,

But the Hurricanes of Miami, though not as obscene,

Have put college football in water that’s hot;

We think that the Cheetah should be their mascot.

Movies this summer they say were a snooze;

With Conan and Aliens, that isn’t big news.

Kids must have been facebooking or tweeting for fun;

Even Captain America couldn’t hit a home run.

For a personalized poem or tribute, please visit our website:

www.redposey.com

Money Whoas

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Pentagon rented containers to use briefly in Iraq,

Never dreaming 10 years later they still would not be back.

So now the final late fee charge is darn close to $1B,

The generals would all be fired if they pulled that as civilians.

Americans, it seems, are cutting back on debt,

Tired of stress and strain that causes them to fret.

We’re cutting up the cards, giving credit lines the freeze,

That will teach those bankers to charge outrageous fees.

Michael Vick has a new contract to QB another year,

The Eagles will pay $100M in hopes he’ll cause the fans to cheer.

He says that as a person he has grown – improved his traits,

Maybe we should let the dogs be the ones to evaluate.

Mel Gibson’s in two courts this week and won’t have many laughs,

His gal pal will get millions to compensate for all his gaffes.

Meanwhile his ex-wife will be receiving  her financial part,

Putting the final stake in the wallet of “Braveheart”.

For a personalized poem or tribute visit our website at:

www.redposey.com

Little is Big

Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene’s wiped out bridges and road in her wake;

Caused death and destruction and lots of heartache.

The lesson that’s learned on this wet Monday morn

Is that there is no fury, like a woman who’s scorned.

The story of short sales and banks is confusing

The banks have to win while the homeowner’s losing.

They made the bad loans, but their actions are numbing;

As they won’t lift a hand ‘til the payments stop coming.

  –

This week fans of tennis all will be rushing

To take in the Open at the meadows in Flushing.

But the game’s in decline for U.S. women and men,

There’s only one player in both ranking’s top ten.

What a joy to see baseball played like a game;

No contracts, no hold outs, no unions to blame.

The joy of just playing, the tears and the smiles;

The Little League game beats ‘the bigs’ by a mile.

For a personalized poem or tribute visit our website at:

www.redposey.com

Good Night – Irene!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Irene is gaining potency and power,

The whole East Coast is bracing for what she might devour.

The Outer Banks may take the brunt, the worst in many years,

Now everyone’s evacuating with everything held dear.

 –

Warren Buffet bought BofA stock, preferred shares, of course,

Some say he’s saved the struggling bank, riding in on his white horse.

But there’s a reason he’s the Oracle, smarter than most civilians,

In the first day his investment paid off $1.45 Billion!

 –

Danica Patrick has decided to leave Indy cars behind,

And race the NASCAR circuit, the Nationwide is on her mind.

But she won’t be bringing her Go Daddy style to a Sprint Cup pit,

First she needs to learn new skills: how to chew and how to spit.

 –

The VMA’s will be on Sunday, wonder if we’ll see Madonna?

We could always catch a flick, “Our Idiot Brother” or “Colombiana”.

Or we could catch Glen Campbell’s concert, but we’ll need lots of Kleenex,

For when he sings, one last time, “By the Time I Get To Phoenix”.

For a personalized poem/tribute for you or a friend visit our website: www.redposey.com

Core of Apple Leaves

Thursday, August 25, 2011

iGuess that we suspected it, Steve Jobs has said good-bye.

iWonder if at Apple there was even one dry eye.

iMac, iPod, iPad, iTouch, he changed the way we play,

iKnow for all the industry, it’s truly one sad day.

What is the panacea for that fickle Dow-Jones ticker;

Going short or going long or just going for some liquor?

Will gold go past two thousand, or will it stay beneath?

If it hits that magic number we’ll probably sell our teeth.

Cam Newton, out of Auburn, was drafted number one,

And hopes to show the NFL how he can pass and run.

He studies hard the play book to gain that QB knowledge,

And is making just a little more than he was paid in college.

In the Shadow of My Father, a new movie being shot

Is about John Gotti and his son; a family mafia plot.

Travolta and Pacino and Lohan they will use,

In hopes of making one great film that no one can refuse.

Mother Nature is Not Happy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The east coast was surprised by a 5.8 earthquake,

Causing buildings to sway a bit and nervous knees to shake.

Now Hurricane Irene is bearing down as a Cat 3,

Evacuations have begun to avoid the wind and sea.

U.S. financial firms are making a big play,

Moving into  Hong Kong, where they’re seeking big pay days.

But in another part of Asia, Japan has been downgraded,

The once-robust economy now seems vulnerable and faded.

While there continues a review of college programs and their warts,

We pay homage to Tennessee’s  heroine of women’s sports.

Pat Summitt now battles Alzheimer’s and we all wish her well,

Her ethics and her conduct should inspire and compel.

Lightening burned the home of Richard Branson to the ground,

His Necker Island retreat has been a place of some renown.

Kate Winslet was there, saved Richard’s mom and didn’t panic,

Do you think she learned life-saving skills while filming “The Titanic”?