What a day. There was a huge rally at the Capitol (well, okay, 200 people or so, but quite a few considering [a] we left the picket lines fully staffed and [2] it was held at really short notice). It was great—we sang anti-Jesse Ventura songs and the Star-Spangled Banner, did some clever and appropriate chants (“I’ve got a heart; I’ve got a spine; I won’t cross my picket line,” for example), and expressed our desire for respect and a fair contract. That’s all we want.

When all this is said and done, I think the Ventura administration (if you can call it that) is going to be who looks bad. Of course, we’re not going to work, but then again, we’re not getting paid either.

Canvassing has been hard. I’m cutting back on that and my strike duties (not so much my strike duties) and hopefully should have a new freelance project next week.

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Dane Smith wrote this for the Star Tribune:

Ventura and former Gov. Arne Carlson have fought hard and with some success in recent years for cabinet pay increases, arguing that executives with similar responsibilities in the private sector are paid far more, and that it’s increasingly hard to attract top-flight talent.

Gee, substitute “state employee” for “cabinet” and “professionals” for “executives” and it makes you wonder why the state isn’t offering us more. What is the substantive difference? Why does that argument apply to executives and not professionals? Okay, there are a lot of people out there without jobs, but I would imagine that as state employee salaries and benefits are eroded, fewer and fewer of those “top-flight” professionals will apply for state jobs. Why do they want that?

My thought is that those fiscally conservative factions that exist in the administration and the legislature actually want mediocre employees in state jobs. Their next step would then be to claim, “State employees are inefficient and unskilled. Let’s shrink state government and let private companies do the work.” The two problems with that argument would be that (a) private companies have the goal of making money, not serving the public, especially compared to those of us who actually choose to work for the state; therefore, why not just fairly pay those employees who actually have something vested in doing a good job (rather than an expensive, time-consuming, bloated job—I know what it’s like to have to maximize billable hours) and (b) they would have, of course, intentionally created the situation in the first place. Cheap.

I think I am being a bit one-sided here. I mean, hell, I’d almost take what they’re offering right now to avoid the struggle of not getting a steady paycheck. In a way, though, that’s the easy way out—the course of action that would probably benefit me most in the long and the short run is working for myself and doing as much freelance work as possible.