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Freedom Riders and wage defenders
by Andrew Barbano
May 15, 2011 | 503 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The heavy political action happens in Carson City this coming week but you don’t have to spend $4 a gallon to deal yourself in. Just watch my show.

This Tuesday, the Barbwire returns to TV with a one-hour live call-in special on area cable networks. The Barbwire livewire is the same as always, 775-882-TALK (882-8255).

So far, the guest list includes Paul McKenzie of the Sparks-based Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada/AFL-CIO, and former Assemblyman Danny Thompson, D-Henderson, now leader of the Nevada State AFL-CIO.

I am casting a wide net for other panelists, especially somebody from the chamber of commerce point of view. The Gomorrah South chamber has been leading the charge to destroy organized labor, a classic case of Bush-Cheneyism: Don’t solve problems, use them to further your longstanding agenda.

In the name of “reform,” chamberites want to make the small percentage of Nevada workers who have rights as union members equal with the exposed 85 percent. That means fire-at-will for no cause at all. It would allow more Wal-Mart and casino-style abuse with employees reduced to part-time and told to go on welfare and food stamps. Health care? Try the nearest hyper-expensive emergency room when it hurts too bad for aspirin.

In addition to weakening collective bargaining and arbitration rights, big business wants to kill the Nevada prevailing wage law that requires publicly-funded construction projects to pay area-standard wages. As I have often documented, the pay scales of the skilled trades set benchmarks for all workers. The guy operating that road grader is helping your income. Wages comprise only about five percent of the cost of the average road project, but you’d never know it to hear the overlords cry poor-boy.

Any big biz heavy hitter with the guts to talk real issues, please call or e-mail me to participate in a truly fair and balanced (for a change) discussion.

Carson City and Dayton Charter cable victims can tune in digital channels 210 and 226. Barring unforeseen hangups, Reno-Sparks-Washoe viewers may tune in Charter digital 216 or high-def 80-295 (Webstreaming at NevadaLabor.com). Don’t worry if you miss it the first time around. Reruns will be scheduled both on cable and local network commercial stations. Watch NevadaLabor.com for times and dates or get on my mailing list at the address, below. You may also e-mail questions in advance.

Clinging to the ledge

On Thursday, May 19, workers will gather in front of the Legislature in Carson City to educate lawmakers, media and the general public about the positive impacts of the prevailing wage law. That ride’s worth the gasoline.

Riders on the storm

Monday at 9 p.m., KNPB TV-5 airs a documentary on the legendary freedom riders, average citizens who risked their lives as passengers on integrated buses driven into the deep south to break America’s apartheid half a century ago. A couple of them still live here: Sparks resident Erma Frischen and former Reno-Sparks NAACP President Eddie Scott, who organized Erma’s freedom rides as part of her journey to the fabled 1963 March on Washington.

Erma joined about 20 locals who slept on the floor of a black church in Selma, Ala., where a seamstress named Rosa Parks brought food to feed the travelers. (Barbwire, Jan. 14, 2007)

Cheap shot

Sparks City Manager Shaun Carey has reportedly recommended imposing on the few remaining city employees a high-deductible insurance plan which includes a  seductively named “health savings account.”

The monster was pioneered by J. Patrick Rooney, the race-baiting, union-busting head of the misleadingly-named Golden Rule Insurance Company. The scheme has been rightly termed “anti-insurance,” giving people cash incentives not to seek health care. Despite attempts to kill the cancer early, it remains popular in moonhowler conservative circles, largely because it can put Medicare into a death spiral. See the Barbwire of May 3, 1998, and several recent updates linked to the expanded web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com.

Required reading

Don’t miss the current edition of the Reno News & Review, largely written by Tribune alumni. Deidre Pike’s column about the retirement of legendary University of Nevada journalism professor (and longtime Tribune columnist) Jake Highton is soul stirring. The editorial on Nevada’s monumental governmental moral obtuseness is also well worth the read.

Evil influence

UNR student Earl Ammerman IV is circulating a petition to get on the September congressional ballot as an independent. Fair warning: As a child, the anthropology/poly-sci student was influenced by long-banned local talk radio subversives. His favorites: The Barbwire and Travus T. Hipp’s Rawhide Realities Review. He’s thus undoubtedly twisted and dangerous, so call 775-843-9099 to sign.

Don’t cop out, sign up

The annual Cops & Burgers Show ‘n’ Shine happens June 5 at the Grand Sierra. It will benefit Special Olympics Nevada. Call UAW member Gary Brown at 775-856-1459. Complete details at NevadaLabor.com.

Can’t anybody over there count?

Gary is a big classic car enthusiast, so maybe he knows somebody on the board of the troubled Hot August Nights outfit. A spokesperson recently said they look forward to celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. But 2011 is the 26th edition.

If they’re that bad with numbers, do they know that 409 didn’t start out as a cleaning solvent?

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan, first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.

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