Town hall meetings on health care reform seem to be the hottest ticket in town these days for the media, activists, and constituents on all sides of the issue. Representative Tim Walz from Minnesota’s 1st congressional district held a town meeting on August 2oth in Mankato at the Mankato East High School. Concerned citizens from across the district traveled to Mankato from Worthington to take part as did I and two of my union brothers. Unfortunately for us, our 90 plus mile trip was marked by unavoidable delays in getting started and detours on Highway 60. We arrived a few minutes after the doors opened but the place quickly filled to capacity. Many of the people that came to participate left but there was still a crowd of people from both sides of the issue that stayed to show support or protest. Initially, there was anger and demands to be let into the building from the anti-reform folks but they soon realized that was not going to happen.
Teamsters Local 120 had a good contingent of people there on the outside with signs in support of reform and of course they drew the ire of the opposition. Although they were called “union thugs” and accused of unfairly loading up the auditorium they remained calm, even engaging some of the opponents in lively but peaceful discussions. I noticed other people doing the same, each side trying to convince the other that they were right. I doubt if there were any serious conversions amongst the outside crowd.
There was one tense moment before we left when a man came walking over carrying a sign that can only be described as despicable. It was met with cheers from many of the right wing crowd and boos and groans from the supporters of health care reform. Several people confronted him and it wasn’t long before one man got very angry and emotional. Fortunately the Mankato police department had several officers on the scene and one of them walked over to observe. He did not let it escalate and escorted the man away from the crowd to calm him down. We left about 15 minutes after that but I did have an opportunity to take a number of random pictures which I have put together as a video below.
If you want to do a compare and contrast about card check and the secret ballot method of organizing a union in the workplace, Workday Minnesota’s recent post, Videos about the Employee Free Choice Act, offers two informative videos produced by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service.
The first one shows a successful voluntary card check while the second is a grim reminder of how poorly the present system works.
There has been much hysteria about the Employee Free Choice Act and many in the main stream media have been too lazy to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Or, maybe they just don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.
Corporate America has amassed a huge war chest to campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act. In an effort to get the truth out about this critical legislation the AFL-CIO has established the Turn Around America Fund. Please consider a contribution today. Help bring prosperity to all of America.
Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District Congressman Tim Walz drove to the end of the world district today (a few minutes more and he would have been in South Dakota) for a listening session about the economic stimulus package recently passed the the U.S. House of Representatives. One of several throughout the 1st district over the last couple of days, the event in Luverne was well attended. Local elected officials, school administrators, business people from the private sector, ag interests, social workers, organized labor and concerned citizens were there to hear what the congressman had to say and to ask questions and share their concerns.
Congressman Walz was straightforward about the seriousness of the
Congressman Walz making a point.
economic crisis we face as a nation as well as the pros and cons of the stimulus package. He would have preferred more infrastructure spending (as do I) but also touted the fact that the transparency measures are unprecedented. The congressman and his staff received valuable input on projects from the assembled crowd and will use that information to pass on to state government officials who will eventually receive the stimulus money and be tasked with its distribution. They will also use the information gathered today in Luverne and from previous listening sessions to help shape the final look of the stimulus package. The Senate will deal with the legislation next and eventually the two legislative bodies will have to reach an agreement on the final package. Representative Walz says this will all be done by February 15 but there is still time for citizen input. A Bluestem Prairie has a summary of the plan posted here.
I continue to be impressed with the Congressman’s willingness and eagerness to constantly get out and meet with the people he represents. There may be more voters in Rochester and Mankato but he also came to Luverne because he sincerely wants to represent all the people of the 1st District.
Oh, just one more thing. My youngest of five grandchildren, at 11 months, had his first face to face meeting with a congressman. It was a proud moment.
Chicago based company, Republic Windows, shut down its operations on Friday, December 5, after giving employees just a three day notice. Workers have occupied the plant since the shutdown and plan on staying there until they see some justice. The company has said that Bank of America will not let them honor their commitments to the employees. The Chicago Tribune reports that Bank of America said in a statement that it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.
Perhaps that is what Congress should have said to B of A when they had their hand out. We are not responsible for your financial obligations!
Republic Windows also needs to come clean on when it knew it was going to have to eventually shut its doors. It is just to easy for Republic Windows and Bank of America to point the finger of blame at each other while the worker gets screwed.
Read the Chicago Tribune story, watch the video below and take action to hold Bank of America accountable by clicking on this link to send an email to the bank that got 25 Billion from us taxpaying folks so there lives wouldn’t be disturbed.
Wal-Mart has once again become the symbol of our nations over-zealous consumerism. The BlackFriday death of Jdimytai Damour is tragic and my heart goes out to his family. Many words have been written and spoken about this event. Brian Ojanpa of the Mankato Free Press writes about the event in his column, Black Friday finally claims a life.
“The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart lawyerly intoned post-stampede.
OK, then, prove it by doing this: No more whipping waiting mobs into a shark frenzy by teasing them with pulse-quickening prices on purposely rationed items.
The death of this worker was preventable. The barbaric crowd bears some responsibility for this death but the police in Long Island will find it difficult to bring criminal charges against anyone. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, has a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace and failed dismally in this case.
CNN reports that UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both has called Wal-Mart’s actions, “blatant irresponsibility”.
This incident reminded me of a song I downloaded a few years back by MC Lars called Wal-Mart Nation.