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Petition oblivion and snow in hell
by Andrew Barbano
May 17, 2008 | 594 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I don’t have enough space to even run a checklist of all the tax increase questions that may appear on this November’s ballot, but I will relay a warning I learned from an old car salesman: Confuse your buyer, lose the sale.

Regardless of merits or demerits, everyone in the petition business should look at the example of the Arizona Coalition for Cost Effective Quality Health Care. Their first mistake was that pretentious name, which foreshadowed Hillary Clinton’s catchphrases.

In the early 1980s, the folks in the land of the McCainaanites suffered a health care crisis. A blue ribbon committee of civic leaders put together a ballot question to provide basic care for everyone.

The Arizona health care establishment looked upon it as a threat to profits and so placed an additional four questions on the same ballot. All five failed.

Such may be the fate of every tax proposal this fall in the taxophobic High Desert Outback of the American Dream.

Turnabout is fair play

The gambling-industrial complex is funding a major media campaign to stifle the teachers’ union petition to raise the state tax on corporate casino gross profits. Ed Pearce at KOLO TV-8 has already debunked casino front man Chuck Muth’s TV spot as “false and misleading.”

Now comes a mailer Trojan-horsed by Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, himself a former teacher, trashing the Nevada State Education Association as (gasp!) a special interest group.

This from a guy who had “support education” embroidered on the back of his driving suit back in his motoracing days when he was also a Democrat.

In 1978, Townsend upset a favored officeholder in the primary to advance to the general election for a seat in the state senate. I managed the campaign. We expected potshots from the likes of Sierra Pacific Power and the gambling industry, but not from his fellow teachers.

The Washoe County Teachers Association issued a nasty press release trashing Townsend’s “right to call himself a colleague.” (Huh?)

Their rationale: He had not filled out the form and paid his two dollars to the state for a teaching license. He didn’t need one. He donated his services to a private school, Manogue High.

Townsend was understandably irritated when a Reno Gazette-Journal reporter had him called away from teaching a class to respond to the teachers’ union allegation that he wasn’t a teacher.

The good old day

Before Wells Fargo, even before First Interstate, there was First National Bank of Nevada. It was the biggest, most prestigious and most envied, but you knew the people there and they took a personal interest in your well-being.

Teresa Quilici Manfredi worked for the old FNB for many years. I had the pleasure of crossing paths with her a couple of times. If every bank branch — especially Wells Fargo’s — had at least one Teresa working today, life would be a lot easier for customers.

Teresa passed away last Wednesday at the age of 85. My heartfelt condolences to her brother, Bob Quilici, his lovely wife, Carolyn, their daughter, Pam Quilici Peri of Yerington (Sen. Townsend’s former Manogue student and administrative aide) and their very large family. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Therese the Little Flower Church at Kietzke and Plumb Lane in Reno.

Rest in peace, fine lady. You did good.

Once in a lifetime

When’s the last time you heard about a company encouraging its workers to join a union? I have to go back to my restaurant days when a boss I worked for back in college said, “You should always have a union.”

I’ve talked to guys who go back half a century in the labor movement and they have never seen what Save Mart Supermarkets just did.

The company has agreed to a neutrality/card check arrangement with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 711 regarding five northern Nevada stores the California-based chain recently acquired from Albertsons. Neutrality is an insufficient word. In a real rarity in this day and age, the company is encouraging its workers to join the union!

Somebody check the snowfall report for hell.

“As you know, we operate stores that are represented by unions and stores that are not,” a letter to employees stated.

“Currently, your store is not. We have always acknowledged and believed, and still do, that it is your right to choose to have union representation or none. In fact, it is the law. For reasons we will explain in this letter, we have come to the conclusion your joining Local 711 is in your best interest, and we urge you to consider doing so,” wrote Steven Junqueiro, executive vice president/merchandising and operations and Steven Beaver, vice president of operations.

“The cost of the multi-employer health and welfare plan in the new agreement with Local 711 is far more competitive than the cost of the plan you now have. ... Because of the agreement we have struck we were able to put together an attractive wage increase for next year,” the letter continued, adding that the union will be recognized as the bargaining agent for employees if a simple majority express the desire to do so by signing union authorization cards. (This is how unions are authorized in Canada, as opposed to the perverted process that has evolved under U.S. labor laws, the most repressive in the industrialized world.)

Union representatives and a Save Mart human resources executive have been meeting with workers in their break rooms. I barged in at one store and found some old friends in an amazingly congenial atmosphere. At that location, where I’ve been talking up unions for years, almost every employee joined.

“You may also ask why Save Mart is neutral when it has taken a position against being represented in the past. Our answer is that we must, and we are, constantly looking at what makes the best long-term sense for our company to survive and thrive. We believe the new contract and the new relationship it reflects with Local 711 gives us the best chance to do just that. We urge you to give thoughtful and strong consideration to what Local 711 has to say,” the executives concluded.

You may download the entire letter with the Web edition of this column at NevadaLabor.com. And watch out for snow.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 39-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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