Bruce Blog

Dick Meister: A free choice for U.S. workers

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom,  has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Now that the electioneering and political posturing is done with, it's time for President Obama and congressional Democrats to finally deliver on their promises to enact the long delayed Employee Free Choice Act that's at the very top of organized labor's political agenda.

EFCA, as it's sometimes called, has been stalled in Congress for three years. It would give U.S. workers the unfettered right to unionization that would raise their economic and political status considerably.  But that would come at the expense of employers, who have been able to block a large majority of workers from exercising the union rights that labor law has long promised workers.

EFCA would in essence strengthen the 78-year-old National Labor Relations Act – the NLRA – to make it easier for workers to form and join unions.  Which is the clearly stated purpose of the NLRA. Read more »

Calvin Trillin: Republican soul searching

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We're searching our souls and wondering why

We got beat so badly our rivals are gloating.

It's obvious now where our campaign went wrong:

We should have prevented more people from voting.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline Poet:The Nation (12/3/2012)

Breaking news: How to watch today's Nebraska vs. Minnesota game

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And so the former Jean Dibble and I, graduates of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, will soon be heading for the Final Final sports bar in San Francisco to watch today's Nebraska football  game against Minnesota at Lincoln, starting at 12:30 p.m.

As attentive readers of the almost famous Bruce blog know, Jean and I were perplexed a few games back to find that we couldn't watch the Idaho State game on national television and we were desperately trying to figure out how to watch the game. The answer, courtesy of Richard Boyce, an addicted Nebraska (and Iowa)  football fan, was to go to the Final Final bar, at 2990 Baker St., near the Presidio.

The bar has been owned for 35 years by Arnie Prien, a Nebraska native from Lyons and a 1984 NU graduate who loyally runs all Nebraska games on his big screen. He has 11 other screens for other games and will put up customers' choices.   Just ask. Final Final got its nifty name from the days when it was the final stop for the soldiers at the Presidio coming back to the barracks from a night on the town. The local Nebraska ex-pats and fans gather every Saturday at the bar to watch the games and enjoy the free pop corn, inexpensive beer, and unique NU  camaraderie. Read more »

Dick Meister: Labor's big day

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED/TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Now that the election dust has settled, it's clear that organized labor was a big winner locally, statewide and nationally.

In San Francisco, more than half the winning candidates for local office had labor backing, as did all local candidates for state office and all but two of the winning city propositions.

Labor did as well statewide, with voters soundly rejecting State Prop 32 that would have greatly diminished unions' political strength.  Defeating the proposition was by far labor's most important election goal. Read more »

Scoop: There is no place like Nebraska!

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And so my grandson, Nicholas Perez, a mechanical engineering freshman at the Umiversity of Nebraska at Lincoln, sent me an email pumping the importance of the Nebraska vs. Penn State game today (Saturday) at Lincoln.  Nebraska, he reported, was now being touted as a potential Rose Bowl candidate and needed to beat Penn State.

This was indeed big news, back where the Cornhusker football team rules the state. I emailed him back and pointed out that the last time Nebraska went to the Rose Bowl was in 1941.Read more »

Dick Meister: We all need a higher minimum wage

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By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED/TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com.

Election's over, the good guy won, so what now for working people? Labor's wish list for our re-elected president and the new Congress is long, but certainly the most basic item is raising the pay of our poorest workers by raising the minimum wage.

 About four million workers have been living in poverty or near-poverty at the current minimum of $7.25 an hour – $15,000 a year at most before taxes and other deductions. And that's assuming the workers manage to find full time, year-round jobs.

There's been no lack of congressional bills to raise the minimum since it was last raised in 2007, the latest introduced this year by two Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California.  Their bill would increase the rate to $9.80 an hour by 2014, index the rate to rise automatically with any rise in the cost of living after that, and set the rate for tipped workers at 70 percent of the minimum. Read more »

Miami First Amendment attorney: election suppression is "unbelievably awful"

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Thomas R. Julin, one of the top First Amendment attorneys in the country, emailed me this afternoon about the election suppression situation in Miami. Julin, an attorney with the firm of Hunton & Williams in Miami, reported that "the election situation here has been just unbelievably awful."Read more »

Extra! Extra! Gov. Rick Scott welcomes you to the State of Florida on election suppression day

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And so, thanks to Republican Governor Rick Scott and his Republican allies, the lines of voters were once again impossibly long at Florida voting places and many voters started chanting dramatically on national television, "Let us vote, let us vote, let us vote." It was a chant that rang throughout many battleground states where Republicans had the power to reduce early voting and implement other policies designed to keep the lines long and to make it as difficult as possible for prospective Democrats to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Read more »

Halloween 1951: Fast times in Rock Rapids, Iowa

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The tale of what really happened on Halloween Eve in 1951 in Rock Rapids, Iowa.  (Reprinted by popular demand.)

As I was preparing to update my annual Halloween blog, I checked Tuesday’s San Francisco Chronicle to see what the action looked like for Halloween on Wednesday.

The Giants had just swept the World Series and Kevin Fagan’s front page story caught the spirit of  Wednesday’s parade and celebration, “We’re No. 1, let’s party, Celebration likely to bring a million to downtown SF.”  There was no mention of Halloween in his story and the only reference to mischief on Halloween was a dire warning from Police Chief Gregg Suhr.  “If you’re coming (to San Francisco) to do mischief, don’t come.” Read more »

Dick Meister: A Halloween invasion from Mars!

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By Dick Meister

Dick Meister is a longtime San Francisco-based journalist and writer. Contact him through his website,  www.dickmeister.com

“2X2L calling CQ … 2X2L calling CQ, New York…. Isn’t there anyone on the air?  Isn’t there anyone on the air?  Isn’t there anyone?

Millions of Americans – panic-stricken, many of them – waited anxiously for a response to the message, delivered over the CBS radio network in slow flat, mournful tones on a crisp Halloween eve. It was Oct. 30, 1938.

“Isn’t … there … anyone?”

There wasn’t. Listeners heard only the slapping sounds of the Hudson River. Read more »