Category: Minnesota

day nine on strike

Day 8, yesterday, brought a breakthrough of sorts: the state and the unions announced they are going back to the table Thursday 10/11/01. These sessions, I hope, will lead to an end to the strike…. though neither side seems as willing to give as they are to talk. We have given far more than the state has.

Frequently asked questions about the strike.

I’m no longer canvassing—it was too much. Too exhausting.

What a day.

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.

* * *

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.

day four on strike

Day four, less wind, generally positive news. There’s still no end in sight, but we have the momentum.

third day on strike

Third day on the lines, no negotiations in sight. Morale was still good today, though there were fewer people in the probably 20-mph winds and sub-60 temps.

Tonight, I am resting.

10/02/2001 (the first palindromic full date since 12/31/1321), 5:26 am

It’s somewhat bizarre to me that I am a participant, however insignificant a part, in something that is dominating headlines in the state.

I work with very good people.

I was out on the picket lines [for 4 1/2 hours], and so were many of my co-workers. I saw perhaps one or two people cross the picket line out of 600 DNR Central Office employees.

Spirits, and public feedback, were generally quite good today. Let’s hope they stay that way.

Now I’m off to canvass.

it’s official

Well, it’s official, as reported on Minnesota Public Radio—MAPE’s executive board voted unanimously to strike. I fear this won’t be easily resolved.

the strike seems imminent

My chances of going to work as usual are not looking good.

The reality of walking off the job hasn’t really sunk in till now; I actually may not be going to work as usual on Monday. It’s strange that only now do I realize the pride I have in doing my job.

a cautionary tale

I fell on the ice today walking from the $17/mo “Blue Lot” to the DNR building. The building I fell in front of is rumored to be owned by the 3M Corporation, but may be currently for sale to the county (who plans to office cops there, I am told). The results:

  • 5 nasty cuts and one blood blister on my hands, including two on the tips of my touch-typist’s (now “ouch-typist’s”) fingers.
  • A sore shoulder, and wounded pride.
  • An hour and a half of nearly fruitless phone calling (and being forwarded, of course). I gave up in disgust when the 10th person I talked to gave me someone else’s number to call in her office. I still have a couple leads.
  • Extra driving to an after-hours clinic in St. Paul during a stressful snowstorm.
  • A tetanus shot in the already sore shoulder.
  • Most importantly, something to put in this spot on the website.

My advice, based on today’s events: Don’t slip on the ice, but if you do, make sure you’re wearing your gloves.

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