Following All of This?

ACORN Community Organizing Ideas and Issues Labor Organizing Personal Writings

New Orleans     Happy 4th of July!  Rained in New Orleans off and on all day, and believe it or not, that’s a good thing. 

Daughter pulled out in one of the ACORN Mobile Action Centers (a dodge step van!) for Columbus with convention materials.  Son is leaving on Wednesday morning in the 2nd team with the 2nd MAC van with computers and more supplies.  Calls and emails all day today indicated that the team of convention prep people is already hard at work in Columbus, Ohio under Carolyn Carr and Steve Kest’s able direction, preparing for the biennial ACORN National Convention this weekend at Ohio State.  I get there tomorrow.

Until then I want to make sure that you are following some of these items that can all too easily slip by all of us:

* Jesse’s New Job: Jesse Jackson is now officially a union leader!  He accepted a job, announced on Monday in the Times, as the co-national manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.  These are paid positions.  The Guild has been on the ropes recently because of its tenuous position as an unrecognized association without collective bargaining with the tracks and owners, since the 1100 riding members of the Guild are seen as independent subcontractors.  The Times   reporter seems to miss that this is a false issue anyway, since racing and race tracks are actually exempt from coverage under the National Labor Relations Act and have been for over 60 years.  This is another example of how outdated the Act is, since it sees a multi-billion dollar industry like it was little more than a bunch of county fairs with pony rides.  Insurance seems to be the big issue, since the Guild has been providing risk insurance in this dangerous profession and in a recent case could not pay the claim, sending its membership in disarray.  Jesse was not worried about his lack of background in racing, since “I know the principles of organizing,” he said.  Jackson was also quick to point out that denying the jocks were employees was, “…just a scheme to deny them the rights of collective bargaining.”  Some other jocks and owners were carping that Jackson would bring them controversy, but in a world of gaming, fast bets and bucks, and the occasional doping scandal, it’s all about pressure and Rev. Jackson may have finally found an area where he can clearly argue for a new standard with some moral resolve.

* Stiffing Poor Nations in Global Trade: After 5 years of bargaining it seems that the negotiations in the Doha rounds designed to reach a global trade agreement that would benefit both poor countries and rich ones, especially around $300 B worth of import restrictions and farm subsidies in rich countries.  In a classic bargaining pose, Peter Mendelson, the EU’s trade commissioner reportedly said to Susan Schwab, the US’s trade commissioner, offered to capitulate on all outstanding issues, if he could get a signal from Schwab that this would actually produce an agreement.  Though such a ploy is almost always rhetorical in bargaining, Schwab did not rise to the bait in no small part because Karl Rove’s Republican Party is not yet willing to totally desert its base in the farmlands by lowering the farm subsidies further, even if it means giving businesses access to more markets.  Businesses like international banks are desperately trying to position to enter markets more aggressively in Brazil and India, but are blocked there still without a deal.  My wager:  no one will blink here.  It’s just poor countries after all?

* UAW President on DaimlerChrysler Board:    Preparing for bargaining with the automakers, Ron Gettelfinger, president of the UAW, had himself nominated for the UAW seat on the company’s German based board.  Observers indicate that the German courts will not object.

* No, duh!: Here’s a guy whose business one would have to suspect.  Peter Shankman, a New York based founder of AirTroductions, which is described as a service that helps passengers choose seatmates (heck, these days I feel lucky to get a seat period!), reported that a $20 dollar bill will get you to the head of line in a hotel in New Orleans according to the Times:  “Last month, standing at the end of a long check-out line at the W Hotel in New Orleans, he caught a bellman’s eye, proffered a $20 tip and magically was ushered to the front of another line.  ‘You can’t make the tip the focus,’ Mr. Shankman said.  ‘You have to say something like, ‘Dude, I’m in a jam.  I can make it worth your while.'”  What Shankman seems not to realize is that for $20 to a bellman in New Orleans at the W, he could have gotten to the front of the line, gotten his shoes shined, and had better than half a chance at dating the desk clerk, if he’d been interested, while enjoying wireless in the lobby the entire time!  Where do we find guys like this?  Oh, wait, New York wasn’t it?!?

July 4, 2006

Reverend Jesse Jackson recently takes a position as the co-national manager of the Jockey’s Guild.