Category Archive 'Unions'
13 Dec 2019

Left Bedfellows Quarrel Over Zapata Painting

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Fabián Cháirez, La Revolución, 2014, currently under exhibition at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.

Members of a Mexican Labor Union recently took violent exception to the artistic appropriation of Revolutionary Leader Emiliano Zapata by an LGBTQ+ painter.

Hyperallergenic could only clutch its pearls and collapse fainting.

A protest by representatives of farmworker unions at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City escalated into a violent confrontation with LGBTQ+ activists on Tuesday, December 10, around noon. The protests were sparked by a painting of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata by artist Fabián Cháirez, on view in the exhibition Emiliano. Zapata Después de Zapata.

“La Revolución” (2014), which depicts a nude Zapata donning a pink hat and high heels suggestively straddling a horse, was condemned by members of the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores Agrícolas (UNTA) and other similar agricultural groups for its characterization of the revolutionary. The clashes around Cháirez’s painting come at a tumultuous time for the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL), the larger institution that oversees the museum, which was closed by unionized workers protesting alleged lack of payments on Wednesday morning. The museum remains closed to the public as of this afternoon.

According to El Universal, Álvaro López Ríos, a representative of UNTA, led a storming of the museum around noon on Tuesday to demand that the painting be removed from view and destroyed. Protesters blocked the entrance and chanted “Burn it, burn it!”; they later hurled homophobic insults and other slurs at members of LGBTQ+ communities who had approached the scene in counter-protest. One of them was journalist and activist Antonio Bertran, whom López Ríos hit with a water bottle. A harrowing video shows another young man being violently kicked and beaten by protesters outside the museum.

Hyperallergic spoke to Luis Vargas Santiago, curator of the exhibition Emiliano. Zapata Después de Zapata, which hosts the contested painting. Organized in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Zapata’s death, the show includes 141 works that trace the life of images of the leader. “La Revolución” is included in a section titled “Contemporary Revolutions,” which focuses on representations of Zapata created in the last 50 years. Many of the works in that grouping, says Vargas, speak to cultural developments in the 1980s and ’90s in Mexico, when many artists began to create unconventional, and often deliberately feminine, representations of male historical figures. “Cháirez’s painting proposes that other representations of heroes are possible, ones that depart from virile, hegemonic masculinity. There can be revolution in other kinds of bodies,” says Vargas.

Cháirez’s representation in particular has incensed those who prefer to remember only a conventionally masculine image of Zapata, widely known as a principal figure of the Mexican Revolution, an early and important advocate for peasant rights in Mexico, and the namesake of the Zapatista movement. To farmworkers and ordinary Mexicans alike, he remains a beloved symbol of empowerment for poor and historically marginalized communities. …

“What this polemic reveals is that Mexico is still filled with homophobic machos. Because what bothered people was not an image of a Zapata ‘mandilón,’ a barbaric Zapata, or even the cannibalistic Zapata that appears in revolutionary cartoons,” reflects Vargas, describing other works in the show. “What bothered people was an effeminate Zapata.”

Vargas recounts that many of the members of agricultural unions who protested on Tuesday claimed ownersship of Zapata’s image. They were invited into the museum to view the entire exhibition, which also includes traditional images of the leader, but they refused.

RTWT

03 Aug 2017

What Ruined New Orleans?

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The statue of Robert E. Lee recently comes down in New Orleans.

How did New Orleans move from being “the Queen City of the South” to a decaying minority slum ruled by crooked pols whose chief priority is taking down Confederate Monuments? A long-term resident explains on Quora:

New Orleans was still the Queen City Of The South until around 1970, but the seeds for its fall from grace came about in the mid 1960s when the unions that worked the port refused to allow for the creation of a modern containerized port foolishly thinking that they would lose their jobs, but they forgot to understand the nature of future business and eventually they lost all of their jobs.

The immediate result was that formally small ports like Gulfport and Houston suddenly modernized and containerized and became giant ports, while New Orleans’ port became smaller and smaller and today is extinct and has been replaced by the Port Of Louisiana, which is far away from the filth and poverty of New Orleans.

Additionally, as the city developed a larger and larger dependent population and its educational system decayed, it reflected these changes with a terrible lowering of the quality of leadership that increased the cost of doing business, while leadership concentrated on keeping its dependent population satisfied with shiny trinkets and other diversions.

So, one by one, large employers either went out of business or got smaller and smaller and the economy became less diversified until today there is only tourism and no other diversification.

Continental Can, sugar, cotton, iron and steel, American Standard, trade with South America, aircraft manufacture, boat manufacture, etc, etc, etc, are all gone and have not been replaced with any other industry. City taxes in New Orleans went up from 3% to today’s almost 10%. The productive fled!

The same politicians who helped to destroy the economy are still in office and the city is currently loosing population and becoming more and more poor and now is #1 in the nation with percentage of people in poverty.

Since the percentage of those in poverty continues to increase and the same politicians are kept in office by the poverty vote, it becomes an endless cycle of increasing taxes and fees on the productive, who have left en mass to surrounding areas like Metairie and the North Shore towns of Covington and Mandeville and Slidell, where diversification of their economies is strong and education is first rate and the people live better lives than the remnant population of New Orleans.

The trend to lower the quality of New Orleans continues, as drugs and crime is beginning to affect the one trick pony of the remaining economy, tourism, that still sputters along. Unfortunately, once the number of injured and murdered tourists becomes unbearable, even that small flicker of life will kill what is left of New Orleans, when that industry folds.

And, that is why the Queen City Of The South has degenerated into the cesspool of poverty and ignorance and bad governance of today. It is a very sad tale.

San Francisco’s story is actually similar. Just like in New Orleans, the Longshoreman’s Union chased the port traffic out of town. Over time, normal productive middle-class residents were gradually displaced and out-voted by the homosexuals, minorities, rich liberal elites, and student Bohemians.

17 Nov 2012

Let Us Sit Upon the Ground and Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of US Businesses

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Rush Limbaugh:
“Okay, folks, so where are we today? I can sum it up for you very simply. Al-Qaeda is alive; Twinkies are dead.”

16 Nov 2012

Hostess is Shrugging

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HuffPo:

Friday could very well go down in history as the death knell for an 82-year-old Chicago-born American classic snack cake: The Twinkie.

Hostess Brands, Texas-based maker of Twinkies and a number of other snack foods, announced Friday that, on the heels of a nationwide worker strike, it will be going out of business, closing its production plants and laying off the vast majority of its 18,500 employees nationwide. As for the Twinkie brand? It will be going up for sale.

Three of the company’s plants — including one in St. Louis — closed earlier this week as workers went on strike in response to wage cuts and new limitations in worker participation in pension plans. Now, 1,415 workers at the company’s three Illinois bakeries — in Schiller Park, Hodgkins and Peoria — are losing their jobs, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

20 Aug 2012

Feather-Farriering in Detroit

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Michigan Capitol Confidential notes the existence of an obviously unnecessary Detroit city job which only continues to exist on the basis of union power.

Despite having no horses, the water and sewerage department for the city of Detroit employs a horseshoer.

Yet even with a department so bloated that it has a horseshoer and no horses, the local union president said it is “not possible” to eliminate positions.

Union rules have turned the department into a government jobs program, some critics say.

The horseshoer’s job description is “to shoe horses and to do general blacksmith work … and to perform related work as required.” The description was last updated in 1967.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has a large debt, rising water prices and inefficient services — using almost twice the number of employees per gallon as other cities like Chicago. …

John Riehl, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 207, which represents many of the DWSD employees, told the Detroit Free Press that the department needs more workers.

“They don’t have enough people as it is right now,” Riehl said. “They are just dreaming to think they can operate that plant with less.”

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

14 Sep 2011

Don’t Look Back

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Fish

14 May 2011

Obama Administration Blocks Boeing Move to South Carolina

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Hat tip to Theo.

05 Jan 2011

Why Not Just Abolish the NYC Sanitation Department?

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Criminal investigations have been opened by both the US Attorney and the Brooklyn District Attorney Offices in connection with reports from Sanitation Department employees that snow removal following the recent blizzard was intentionally delayed by a union job action.

The snitches “didn’t want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation,” [City Councilman Dan] Halloran said. “They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file.”

New York’s Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process – and pad overtime checks – which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

They said crews normally would have been more aggressive in com bating a fierce, fast-moving blizzard like the one that barreled in on Sunday and blew out the next morning.

The workers said the work slowdown was the result of growing hostility between the mayor and the workers responsible for clearing the snow.

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Union tactics, in this case, cost more than concessions from city government. There were human casualties in the form of New Yorkers denied access to emergency services because the New York Sanitation Department deliberately declined to do its job.

A 75-year-old Queens mother woke up Monday unable to breathe and alerted her daughter, who tried to call 911. She could not get through for 50 minutes. A neighbor administered CPR but EMS was unable to arrive for another 45 minutes—and they still had to walk to her house.

Talking to reporters yesterday the daughter said: “Mayor Bloomberg you can’t bring my mother back. And that’s all I really want. I’ve been with her for 41 years. I miss her, she’s my life. The snow will melt, but this will never fade from my memory ever.”

A 63-year-old man in Bay Ridge died of a heart attack Monday morning after it took paramedics three-and-a-half hours to arrive. “They made him die. They could have saved him,” the victim’s brother-in-law told the Journal. “They worked at him, but it was too late. He was already blue.” And to add to the pain, it took another 28 hours for a city medical examiner to pick up the body, which had been resting in a bag on a bed.

Another woman in Sunset Park spent more than 24 hours waiting for help removing her late-father’s body. She told the News, “this is New York City, and I’m a New Yorker, and this is not the first storm we’ve ever had. Somebody dropped the ball … big-time.”

Hands down the most upsetting story so far is that of a 22-year-old pregnant woman in Crown Heights. As she started contractions the woman began walking from her home to Interfaith Medical Center on Monday morning but couldn’t make it. She stopped in a building lobby at 97 Brooklyn Avenue and 911 was called at 8:30 a.m.. Because the birth seemed a bit off she was listed as nonemergency status. But by 4:30 p.m. she had started crowning and 911 was called again. Around 5:20 p.m. police arrived (by foot since driving was impossible) and found the woman attempting to leave and walk to the hospital again. She was brought back inside and the baby was delivered—but it wasn’t breathing and despite the efforts of police and neighbors the baby was lost.

It was later reported that:

[A] three-month-old infant—who was left brain dead when EMS couldn’t get to his door in time because of snow drifts two days after the storm—succumbed to his injuries yesterday.

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Some of us would contend that union officials ought to be prosecuted for negligent homicide and extortion but, at the very least, the City of New York should fire everyone belonging to the union and pass legislation prohibiting union membership for employees of city government.

Tom Smith agrees with me.

If the argument is, some functions are too critical to public safety to put in private hands, then that is an argument against allowing them to be unionized. If unionized, then the state no longer has a monopoly on the power exercised by that arm, which is the whole idea of putting it in the public sphere. So if you can’t have private police forces running around, let’s say, then it makes no sense to have the monopolized force of the state colonized or even dominated by a union with interests frequently opposed to those of the public. ….

Unions have held up states and cities for trillions of dollars in obligations that can’t be paid off. Throw in the costs of an utterly failed public school system in many cities and you get an idea of the scope of folly of government by unions.

When the police went out on strike in Boston in 1919, Governor Coolidge sent in the State Guard to keep order, and the police commissioner fired and replaced the entire force. Governor Coolidge won national admiration for breaking the Boston Police Strike and went on to win the Republic nomination and the presidency.

29 Dec 2010

Union Extortion at New York Art Venues

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Stagehands on strike against Broadway theaters, 2007

James Ahearn, writing from New Jersey, notices the union racketeering at New York City performance centers that has been going on essentially forever.

My wife and I have season tickets for events at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. At intermissions, we sometimes watch absently as three or four men in gray suits emerge from the wings to move a piano into place or bring out extra music stands and chairs.

What they do is essential but unremarkable. Turns out that it is remarkably well-paid, however. Would you believe $422,599 a year? Plus $107,445 in benefits and deferred compensation?

That is what a fellow named Dennis O’Connell makes at Carnegie Hall. He is the props manager, the highest-paid stagehand.

Four other guys, two of them carpenters, two electricians, are paid somewhat lesser amounts, ranging down to $327,257, plus $76,459 in benefits and deferred compensation, for the junior member of the team, John Goodson, an electrician.

The New York Times broke this story last week. The reporter, Daniel J. Wakin, got it from a publicly available document, Carnegie Hall’s tax return for the 2007-08 season.

The hall was legally obliged to disclose the pay of the chief executive, Clive Gillinson, and the names and pay of the next five highest-paid employees. All five were stagehands.

Gillinson, who doubles as artistic director, was paid $946,581, nearly twice as much as O’Connell, the props manager, but not out of line for top arts executives in Manhattan.

The Carnegie stagehands’ pay was something else again, but not, as it turns out, unique. At Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the average stagehand salary and benefits package is $290,000 a year.

To repeat, that is the average compensation of all the workers who move musicians’ chairs into place and hang lights, not the pay of the top five.

Across the plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, a spokesman said stagehands rarely broke into the top-five category. But a couple of years ago, one did. The props master, James Blumenfeld, got $334,000 at that time, including some vacation back pay.

How to account for all this munificence? The power of a union, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. “Power,” as in the capacity and willingness to close most Broadway theaters for 19 days two years ago when agreement on a new contract could not be reached.

Wakin reported that this power was palpable in the nervousness of theater administrators and performers who were asked to comment on the salary figures.

Kelly Hall-Tompkins, for one, said, “The last thing I want to do is upset the people at Carnegie Hall. I’d like to have a lifelong relationship with them.” She is a violinist who recently presented a recital in Weill Hall, one of the smaller performance spaces in the building.

She said she begrudged the stagehands nothing: “Musicians should be so lucky to have a strong union like that.” Uh-huh.

Isn’t it wonderful for Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center donors and ticket buyers to be able to reflect that their contributions to the arts in Manhattan allow a handful of blue-collar union goons to take home salaries higher than many of the actual performers?

22 Oct 2010

Stagehand Fired For Wearing the Name Bush

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Another case of liberal excess occurred at USC.


USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)

15 Aug 2010

The End of Retirement

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Megan McArdle argues that the era of unionized public sector pension benefits keeping retirees living on full salary for decades is over. Demographics giveth and demographics taketh away.

It was nice that a combination of rising life expectancy and broader pension coverage allowed a large segment of American workers to take what amounted to a multi-decade vacation. (Though this was never quite as widespread as people now “remember”). But this was never going to be sustainable. Retirement experts typically say that retirees should shoot for 75-90% of their working income in retirement (the theory being that some expenses fall, but other expenses rise, and you don’t need to save for retirement when you’re already retired).

That’s fine when the ratio of workers to retirees is 1:12, as it was within the Social Security system in the early years. But by the time you get to 5:1, it starts to pinch–assuming everyone has the same income, each worker has to toss at least 15% of their own income into the pot to support the retirees. Once you get to 2:1–which is where we’re rapidly headed–33% of your income is going to support someone in retirement. Woe betide you if you also have kids.

It’s important to note that this is true no matter how retirement is funded. Whether you collect a dividend check, get a corporate pension, or live off your social security, your retirement is funded by real claims on the output of people in the workforce. Private pensions have a couple of advantages: the investments that fund them actually help make the economy more productive, unlike transfer payments; and they aren’t necessarily indexed to inflation, so over time, as incomes grow, it becomes easier to support the older retirees. But they don’t eliminate the problem; they merely mitigate it.

Mathematically, society simply cannot have a high and growing dependency ratio–at least, not if the retirees expect to be supported in the style to which they have become accustomed. (I take it that this is what is meant by “a decent living and a stable retirement”). We can warehouse people in spartan old folks homes (or treat them like kids and move them into the spare bedroom), in which case they can enjoy a lengthy retirement. Or they can retire for less time, and live more lavishly. But there is no conceivable system that is going to allow the vast majority of the population to spend a full third of their adult life in retirement, at anything like the same standard of living they had when they were working.

19 May 2010

California Government Employee Pensions Based on Projected 28,000,000 Dow

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How did California go broke? In the Wall Street Journal, David Crane how democrat giveaways to unionized state employees created an early retirement leisure class whose maintenance was soon consuming the bulk of the Golden State’s budget.

In 1999 then California Governor Gray Davis signed into law a bill that represented the largest issuance of non-voter-approved debt in the state’s history. The bill SB 400 granted billions of dollars in retroactive pension boosts to state employees, allowing retirements as young as age 50 with lifetime pensions of up to 90% of final year salaries. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System sold the pension boost to the state legislature by promising that “no increase over current employer contributions is needed for these benefit improvements” and that Calpers would “remain fully funded.” They also claimed that enhanced pensions would not cost taxpayers “a dime” because investment bets would cover the expense.

What Calpers failed to disclose, however, was that (1) the state budget was on the hook for shortfalls should actual investment returns fall short of assumed investment returns, (2) those assumed investment returns implicitly projected the Dow Jones would reach roughly 25,000 by 2009 and 28,000,000 by 2099, unrealistic to say the least (3) shortfalls could turn out to be hundreds of billions of dollars, (4) Calpers’s own employees would benefit from the pension increases and (5) members of Calpers’s board had received contributions from the public employee unions who would benefit from the legislation. Had such a flagrant case of non-disclosure occurred in the private sector, even a sleepy SEC and US Attorney would have noticed.

Eleven years later, things haven’t turned out as Calpers promised. While state employees have been big winners from the bet, the state budget has been, and will continue to be, a huge loser. Far from being “fully funded” as promised, Calpers has already required $15 billion more from the state budget than projected in 1999 and $3.5 billion is budgeted for this year, a figure that is more than five times the expense projected by the state legislature in its SB 400 analysis.

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