The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that Al Franken is indeed the winner. Read the opinion here.  Governor Pawlenty needs to do his job now and sign the election certificate. The sooner he does that the sooner he can get back to running for president.

I have updated my side bar to reflect Senator Al Franken’s new status.

Peace & solidarity,




The Marshall Independent is reporting that former Minnesota House minority leader Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall will formally announce his bid for governor on July 7.  His plans include a campaign tour throughout the state, starting with the Twin Cities and with visits to Duluth, Rochester and Mankato.

Oh, by the way, he also mentions that voters have until Tuesday to take advantage of the campaign political refund program that his best bud, Governor Pawlenty, has decided to eliminate. I wonder how that is working out for you Marty?

Peace & solidarity,


Today at approximately 10:00 A.M. a portion of the JBS Swift plant was evacuated due to an ammonia leak. The Worthington Daily Globe was on the scene and covers the story in 40 JBS employees treated after ammonia leak.  Daily Globe photographer Brian Korthals was able to take a few pictures from the roof of  a vehicle just outside the JBS property (we watched you from the cafeteria windows).

I was one of the many evacuees who hastily left the building and fortunately was not affected by ammonia. The group of employees I was with were at the back of the property for about 35 minutes when we were told we could reenter the building through the front and proceed to the facilities cafeteria which was unaffected by the leak.  I was then able to get a better idea of what was going on because I had a good view of all the emergency vehicles that were gathered outside the front of the building. My thoughts were with the brothers and sisters who were being transported to the hospital. I hoped that they would all be ok and according to published reports most were treated and released with only a few admitted for further observation. The leak was contained and after the affected areas were cleared of the ammonia we returned to work.

UFCW Local 1161 officials were on the scene and will be actively involved in the ensuing investigation of the cause of the leak and the effectiveness of the evacuation. I have my own observations and thoughts which I will share with the Local 1161 and JBS Swift.

Ammonia leaks are serious.

They can be deadly.

Once the cause of this leak is accurately determined, it is extremely important that preventative measures be taken to prevent its recurrence. A critical look at evacuation procedures is also necessary to determine if the evacuation could have been done better. Hopefully the end result will be a safer workplace.  Of course, I am sure MNOSHA will have a role in the investigation. The state OSHA officials investigated an ammonia leak at this plant in January of 2008 which resulted in the JBS Swift receiving a citation and a nominal fine. I wrote about that incident in a previous post, JBS Swift workers evacuated. Workers were evacuated and hospitalized during that incident also and the cause of the leak was determined to be a faulty valve.

I have been involved in several evacuations over the years and once got a shot of ammonia.  My eyes, nose, throat and lungs were immediately in distress and I couldn’t get fresh air fast enough. I turned out ok (well, some may say my brain was affected). It is something I will never forget. I do not live in fear of an ammonia leak but I am acutely aware of its deadly potential. I hope I never experience another one.

Peace & solidarity,


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.



Peace & solidarity,


After a day of  zipping around the packing house on my forklift, moving pork to its intended destination, I like to come home and relax and then see what Ollie Ox has to say at A Bluestem Prairie. Today I was a little shocked and saddened to read that Bluestem Prairie will be on hiatus until June 1. In a short post Sally Jo Sorensen announced:


“After posting at this blog for 2 years, 8 months, we’re feeling the need to spruce up the joint. Bluestem will be shuttered after today until June 1, when the blog will return as a venue for nonfiction essays…”

I and many others across the 1st District will miss her vigilant updates on  Congressman Tim Walz and her extensive recaps of the political news in the district. Sally also has kept an eye on the MSM and was not hesitant to remind them to get the facts straight.

This fall I had the privilege to meet the one and only Ollie OX at the annual Turkey Day celebration in Worthington and was honored to be her ‘union goon’ for the day. Although the vultures were circling overhead, we did manage to have some good discussion about blogging and politics.

We look forward to reading her new stuff on June 1 and hope she still has time for birding and gardening.

Cheap Trick says it all…

Peace & solidarity,


March 1st marked the end of one journey and the beginning of another for a remarkable little girl by the name of Amber. She is now part of our family as my youngest daughter and her husband were named permanent legal guardians by the court effective March 1st. This has been a long process but has been worth the wait.

Amber was born a little over 5 years ago to parents who unfortunately were substance abusers. At the age of 3 months she fell ill with meningitis and as a result is severely disabled with numerous chronic health conditions. Her grandmother JoAnne, a friend of ours, realized that her son and his wife could not properly care for Amber so she quit her  job in Minnesota to move to Louisiana. It wasn’t long and she had Amber in her custody and was loving and caring for her and working hard to get her the necessary medical care .

In September of 2005 Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast and as a result, JoAnne and Amber had to evacuate. They were unable to return to their home and after being shuffled around ended up in a shelter for hurricane victims where JoAnne connected with some medical personnel from the Mayo Clinic. They were able to look after the medical needs of Amber and strongly suggested that she leave Louisiana and go back home to Minnesota. Arrangements were made to have a friend fly down and the two of them packed up JoAnne’s car and headed north.

Amber and JoAnne got settled into Luverne with the help of friends and JoAnne began the task of seeking proper medical care for her granddaughter. The Mayo Clinic was accessible, with the help of her contacts made in Louisiana, and Amber was able to get a proper evaluation of her medical needs. They were able to establish a routine and JoAnne went back to work. Amber was enrolled in Children’s Care Hospital and School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she could receive therapy during the day.

My daughter, Alicia, was working at Children’s Care while working on her nursing degree so it seemed only natural that JoAnne would ask her to care for Amber when she was working and Amber was not in school. Alicia and her fiance David, learned  how to care for Amber but also bonded and grew to love her during this time.

In October of 2006 tragedy struck again. Amber’s father had decided to get on a bus and come to Minnesota to visit his child and mother. He never made it. He was found dead on the bus in Kansas City. JoAnne was devastated. Her son had his faults but she still loved him. She buried her son in Louisiana and returned to continue with her life.

That life would be tragically cut short. On April 4, 2007, less than 6 months after laying her son to rest, JoAnne, at the age of 55, had unexpected massive fatal stroke. We were all shocked and saddened. Amber had lost a caring grandmother who probably saved her life and we all lost a dear friend. After the funeral attention immediately turned to Amber. Who would care for her? Who had the legal right to care for her? Those questions would take almost two years to be answered.

Amber was placed at Children’s Care until a temporary foster home could be found. My daughter and her husband, without hesitation, decided that they wanted her in their home. JoAnne had spoken highly of them to her family so they were in agreement that Amber would do well with Alicia and David. Once all the legalities were taken care of Amber was placed in their home. I had my concerns that they were taking on more than they could handle but when I thought about it, I knew the bond and love between them was strong. I knew my daughter had the medical knowledge and experience. I also knew that her background prepared her to be an advocate for what was in Amber’s best interest.

Permanent placement was still an issue. Amber’s mother had already lost  custody of her and another sibling so that was not an option. It looked like David and Alicia would get permanent custody of Amber. But things are never as easy as they look. Amber’s maternal grandmother decided that she might want to have custody of the child. Thus, the long legal process began. There were many hearings, delays, more hearings, home studies, depositions, etc. The local Rock County Family Services agency was totally involved in the process. As advocates for Amber, they were in agreement that she should stay with my daughter and her husband. A guardian ad litem was appointed by the court and I must say that he worked tirelessly to keep Amber here. Rock County’s interest was of course represented by the county attorney and Amber’s mother had an attorney appointed for her. The testimony of the medical team that had knowledge of Amber’s condition was very important. They were all in agreement that because of Amber’s fragile health a move would not be in her best interest.

A two day trial was finally scheduled for January of this year and we all anxiously awaited the day. The parental rights of Amber’s mother were to be terminated which would allow the court to then decide custody. We were confident that all the evidence, testimony, and depositions would make the decision easy but always aware that the biological family has an edge. On day one of the trial there was another delay. Alicia and David waited anxiously. After several hours it was apparent what was going on. Amber’s mother had decided unexpectedly to voluntarily agree to allow the court to appoint David and Alicia as permanent legal guardians. This action by her was a surprise but I believe it was  an act of love for her child. She knew that she could not provide the necessary care.

We are all elated of course that Amber will stay as part of our family. She has touched all of our lives. Her dog, Rose, watches her like a hawk. Logan, the newest member of David and Alicia’s family converses with her in their own special way. We have all  learned a lot about the court system, family services, disabilities and being advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves. Amber’s medical condition is very precarious at times but Alicia and David are able to recognize when she is in distress and take appropriate action. We do not know how long she will be with us so we treasure every day that she teaches us about life.






Peace & solidarity,


Minnesota’s 6th congressional district Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has garnered a lot of attention this last week for comments she made to talk show host Chris Baker of radio station KLTK.  Needless to say, her remarks were totally off the wall and were devoid of facts. OllieOx at  Bluestem Prairie notes that NPR’s  Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me featured her, “we are running out of rich people”, comment on their latest broadcast. Minnesota Independent has an interesting piece  as well as the MN Progressive Project, and of course Dump Michelle Bachmann has all the coverage.

If you would like to weigh in on her latest comments please take the poll below.

Comments are welcome.