July 29, 2005

Congratulations to the workers at Quebecor World

It's the truth...unions are what made the middle class strong in this country, and the decline of the middle class can be directly linked to the decline of union membership in this country.

And even if you have never been a union member, you stand on their shoulders everytime you get overtime pay, have a weekend off or get a paid vacation. Do you get health care from your employer? When you are looking for a job, don't you at least look for one with "benefits?" Thank the unions. With less and less govenrment protection of workers, we need unions now more than ever.


Teamsters to represent Fernley Quebecor plant employees

Last Friday evening at the Fernley Senior Center, pressmen, production workers, technicians and other employees of Quebecor World in Fernley waited nervously as an election count was underway to determine whether a union would represent them as a bargaining unit on employee contracts.

A total of 207 employees were eligible to vote and 113 voted in favor of union representation while 52 employees voted against. A total of 42 employees didn’t vote and that number was included as a vote against the union and thus the election count was close with 113 in favor and 94 against.

Outside the Senior Center, some employees were overcome with emotion once they heard the vote and they cried and hugged each other, while others whooped it up knowing the Graphics Communication Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters would be representing them.

The effort to organize union representation for Quebecor employees took two-years and union supporters indicated it was a challenging journey as some supporters lost friends over the issue. Further, supporters also charged they were targets of harassment and intimidated by company management.

[...]

Mark Rupert, who initiated the unionization drive, celebrated quietly and said, “It’s 1776 reborn. It took two years and it feels like a new baby has been born.”

“I can’t even describe it,” said Lynn Vasquez, who works in materials. “It’s been my life for the last two years. It means everything.” She indicated she is hoping for better working conditions.

Last Friday, Quebecor officials gave no comments to the Leader-Courier following the vote.

Now, according to Rupert, a survey will be distributed among employees to determine what they want the union to bargain for and then a priority list will be initiated.
Then in about two weeks a bargaining team along with union officials will meet Quebecor officials to begin negotiating for a labor contract.

“We want dignity, respect and better health care,” said Rupert.

Paul Dumine, a pressman, said he supported union representation after he was diagnosed with cancer and experienced the company’s health care plan. Now he and his family are homeless and living wherever they can find a place, he said.

[...]

Kathey Hurley is hoping for better working conditions as she charged there have been times when she was not allowed any break and even had to eat her lunch on the presses.

Last October the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Quebecor World, Fernley, and at plaints in Corinth, Miss., and Covington, Tenn. concerning allegations of union busting.

At the Fernley plant, employees charged Quebecor management threatened employees who are supporters of the union would be arrested. Further employees charged Quebecore prohibited union material from being distributed and conducted illegal surveillances.

In January the NLRB, in a settlement, found Quebecor violated federal labor laws. A part of the settlement agreement indicated that Quebecor would “not tell employees that they should look for work elsewhere because of support for or activity on behalf of the Union.”

Also, the agreement said, Quebecor would “not create the impression of surveillance and/or interrogate employees regarding rumored Union activity.” Further, it says federal laws give employees the right to “form, join or assist a union and federal law gives employees the right to choose representatives to bargain on their behalf.”

Best of luck to you as you embark on collective bargaining. Here's to health care and decent working conditions!

July 16, 2005

More growth for Fernley

If it seems to you like houses are springing up in Fernley like mushrooms after a rain, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Town fathers gave the thumbs-up to a huge development that is being proposed south of Fernley in the Fernley Hills area.

[...]

The Council also approved the BC Ranch tentative subdivision map to divide the project into 2,178 single-family parcels, 1,010 multi-family units, 39.68-acre commercial site, 11.74-acre school site and 180.91 acres of open space.

[...]

The build-out of the project is estimated at 15-20 years; and according to the BC Design Standards Manual, it will include a “mix of single family residential villages, multi-family housing sites, commercial properties, an elementary school site and open spaces.”
The manual further indicated, “A total of 13 individual single family residential villages with varying lot sizes are planned within the BC Ranch community.
“A full build-out, approximately 2,174 single-family dwelling units, are anticipated. Individual villages will be sold to various builders who may reconfigure lots during final design to accommodate specific product type.”
BC Ranch also has three areas that will be designated multi-family residential.
The manual reads, “These areas are designated for a maximum density of 20 units per acre.
“At full build-out, approximately 1,010 multi-family units are anticipated.”
Oy.

July 13, 2005

False sense of security?

Last night I was out having dinner in a local establishment and happened to see KOLO-TV run a piece on the Lyon County Sheriff's Department which had spent the day fingerprinting children. I am sure you have seen such programs before. Parents, concerned over recent news reports of abducted children, line up in malls and outside grocery stores to have their children fingerprinted. Said fingerprint card is handed over to said parent. Said parent tucks card away for safe keeping, and then heaves a sigh of relief, believing her child is safe from harm.

Frankly, I don't really have any objection to these programs per se. I mean, they can't hurt, right? But what do they do to actually protect our children? And I'm curious to know, how much LCSD money is going toward this project which will do nothing, I repeat, nothing, to protect our kids from abduction? Seriously, what does this do but give some parents a false sense of security?

And is abduction really the biggest threat to our kids? Is that what keeps most of us up at night? I don't know about you, but I worry about the high cost of health care and the ability to provide for my family. I worry about the lack of after school care programs that give our kids a safe place to go. I worry about the meth lab that got raided other side of town and the scourge that meth use has become in rural counties all over the country. I worry more about a ballooning federal deficit that has forced cuts in programs that help our kids. I worry about the lack of good paying jobs. I worry that my daughter will be among the first generation of Americans that didn't have a better standard of living than the generation that came before her.

It's a start!!

The Lyon County Central Committee beat out the Fernley Republican Women in this year's 4th of July parade in Fernley.

It was hot, but not too, and we had enough candy (70 lbs!!) to get us to the end of the parade without having to tear our entry entry apart for something to give to the kids at the end of the parade route who notoriously get the short end of the stick as far as candy volume.

Many thanks to Robert G. for loaning his trailer, Rita for providing her truck, and the efforts of Maria, Nathaniel, Rita, Brad, Leigh and Carissa who all helped to decorate our entry and walk (Brad) and ride (the rest of us) the parade route and toss candy to the kids.

And many, many thanks to those Fernley folks who expressed support, both at the parade and at the park afterwards.

And most of all, thank you to all the veterans and current active duty, reserves and National Guard who put their lives on the line for us.