Dick Meister

Meister: A Halloween invasion from Mars

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Guardian columnist Dick Meister is a longtime Bay Area journalist.

"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 the crisp Halloween eve of Oct. 30, 1938.

"Isn't ... there ... anyone?"

There wasn't. Listeners heard only the slapping sounds of the Hudson River.

Many of New York's residents were dead. The others had fled in panic from
"five great machines," as tall as the tallest of the city's skyscrapers,
that the radio announcer at CQ, New York, had described in the last words he
would ever utter. The metallic monsters had crossed the Hudson "like a man
wading a brook," destroying all who stood in their way.

"Our army is wiped out, artillery, air force -- everything wiped out,"
gasped the radio announcer.

It was the War of the Worlds, Mars versus Earth, and the Martians were
winning with horrifying ease. Their giant machines had landed in the New
Jersey village of Grovers Mill, and soon they would be coming to your town,
too ... and yours ... and yours. Nothing could stop them. Read more »

Meister: The Legislature shows Congress how

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Guardian columnist Dick Meister has covered labor and political affairs for more than a half-century as a reporter, editor, author and commentator. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which contains several hundred of his columns.

Forget for a moment what's happened ­­ or not happened  ­- in Congress. Concentrate instead on what's meanwhile gone on in the State Legislature, much of it for the benefit of California's working people.

 The State AFL-CIO cites, for instance, the Legislature's passage this year of more than a dozen decidedly worker-friendly bills sponsored by the labor
federation and strongly backed by the federation's Democratic Party allies in Sacramento.

The most important of the bills will raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour by January of 2016. Other key laws: Read more »

Dick Meister: Still dreaming of justice

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Dick Meister is a San Francisco-based columnist who 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.

Think back to Aug. 28, 1963.  More than a quarter-million labor and civil rights activists led by Martin Luther King Jr. march onto the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to demand good jobs at decent wages and strict enforcement and expansion of the laws guaranteeing meaningful civil and economic rights to all Americans.

The demands, spelled out in Dr. King's famous "I have a Dream" speech that day,  will be forcefully raised once again by  a fiftieth  anniversary March from the Lincoln Memorial  to the King Memorial  on the  Mall  this August 24.

The 2013 march has been called for very good reason: The need for greatly strengthened labor and civil rights is at least as urgent today as it was in 1963. Read more »

Dick Meister: We've suffered a great loss

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She's gone, Gerry, the love of my life, my dearly beloved wife for 57 years. It's difficult at this time of deep mourning for me to think of Gerry except in the context of our long and extremely happy life together and great devotion to each other, difficult to think of Gerry as anything but a loving partner who shared my life for so long.

We met briefly while I was playing semi-professional baseball in Gerry's hometown of Coquille on the Oregon coast in 1952, and again a few years later during a party at Stanford, where we were both students. I was introduced to her as someone who actually knew of Coquille.

Within two years, we were married. That came shortly after a lunch date at Tommy's Joynt on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. We were earnestly discussing the merits of Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (remember him?} and savoring our beer and pastrami on rye when it suddenly popped into my head, and I blurted it out : "I think we ought to get married." Gerry paused for just a moment. "Yes," she said, "I think we should."

Read more »

Dick Meister: Honor a legendary organizer

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, is co-author of A Long Time Coming: The Struggle to Unionize America's Farm Workers (Macmillan)

There's still time, if you hurry, to join a nationwide campaign  to posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to legendary organizer Fred Ross. For more than a half-century he was among the most influential, skilled, dedicated and successful of the community organizers who have done so much for the underdogs of American society.

Most people have never heard of Fred Ross, which is exactly how he wanted it. He saw his job as training others to assume leadership and the public recognition that accompanies it.  And train them he did, hundreds of them, including farm worker leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, who were previously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chavez and Huerta were typical Ross trainees ­­ poor, inexperienced members of an oppressed minority who were inspired to mobilize others like them to stand up to their oppressors.

"Fred did such a good job of explaining how poor people could build power I could taste it," Chavez recalled.

Read more »

Dick Meister: Martin Luther King Jr. -- a working class hero

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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, dickmeister.com.

 

While celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, let's remember that extending and guaranteeing the rights of working people was one of Dr. King's major concerns.

 You'll recall that King was in fact assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for striking sanitation workers who were demanding that the city of Memphis, Tennessee, formally recognize their union.

King had been with the 1300 African-American strikers from the very beginning of their 65-day struggle. He had come to Memphis to support them despite threats that he might indeed be killed if he did. Read more »

Dick Meister: Your first World Series is always the best

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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.

Whoopie! Our valiant Giants are in the World Series again, for the fifth time since they moved to the city from New York in 1958. Pretty exciting, but it can't possibly be more exciting than the first SF Giants series in 1962. Read more »

Eat your veggies and join a union

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Mom and the AFL-CIO have an intriguing new message for America's working people: "Eat Your Veggies  – and Join a Union."

Many moms know, of course, that unionized workers are paid better than their non-union counterparts, have better benefits, better working conditions and stronger voices in what goes on at their workplaces, as well as in off-the-job political activities. Read more »

Meister: Walker won in Wisconsin, but so did labor

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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.

Yes, labor lost its attempt to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, one of the most virulent labor opponents anywhere.  But as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, the heated election campaign was "not the end of the story, but just the beginning."

The campaign, triggered by Walker all but eliminating the collective bargaining rights of most of Wisconsin's 380,000 public employees, showed that labor is quite capable of mounting major drives against anti-labor politicians, a lesson that won't be lost on unions or their opponents.

Read more »

Dick Meister: A decent living for all?

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsoom, 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.

Finally there's some good news for the millions of Americans who must to live on pay at or close to the legal minimum wage. Eight states are raising their minimum wage on January First, in line with state laws requiring the minimum to keep pace with inflation.

The raises to come are modest by any measurement. But any increase must be welcomed as desperately needed and hopefully as a major start toward increasing the minimum wage everywhere to a level that will provide a decent living to all working Americans, many of them living in poverty or near-poverty. Read more »