Announced at 2:00 pm: MAPE, my union, representing 10,500 state employees, voted to strike. 84.2% of members who voted rejected the contract, 15.8% voted to accept. Read the press release and the Pioneer Press article.

What’s next? Well, there’s still a chance a strike can be averted. The union and the state will start negotiating again a week from tomorrow, probably nonstop until Sunday, September 16. The high total mentioned above gives negotiators a pretty decent position to bargain from. The MAPE Executive Board will meet that day and decide whether the state has improved its offer enough to say, “No, we won’t walk.” If the Board votes to reject, we’ll be on strike starting at 6 am on September 17th.

To compound the problem for the employer, AFSCME Council 6 (representing 19,000 state employees) also voted to strike last week. There is the possibility that over 30,000 state employees will walk off the job in 10 days.

This situation might get ugly—uglier than it already is.

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Speaking of ugly: If you subscribe to the aphorism, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” then please skip this entry.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the most self-indulgent, ill-conceived, “wink-wink, nudge-nudge,” mugging-for-the-camera, crude, pointless, plotless, excuse for a movie I’ve seen in a very long time. Perhaps ever.

Which is not to say it didn’t have a few (very few) amusing moments. I think Ben Affleck’s self-parody was pretty much right on. [spoiler, if you care:] The parody of the filming of Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season took way too long to develop, but the idea was mildly amusing. And, oh, yeah, the casting of James Vanderbeek and Jason Biggs (and their acting, actually) was particularly inspired.

What a waste of 2 hours and $4.50. My Kevin Smith tally now is: three movies that suck (Clerks, Chasing Amy [mostly for the ending], and Jay…) and two slightly good movies (Mallrats, Dogma).