December 19, 2007

Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) employees will get the opportunity to vote on whether they want to join a union.

The MCPL Board of Trustees voted 5-2 Wednesday to approve a resolution under which 30 percent of eligible employees can request that a vote be taken. A majority of those casting ballots would be needed for the union to form.

Board members Randy Paul, Fred Risinger, Penny Austin, John Walsh and Janice Stockton voted in favor. Board President Stephen Moberly and Linda Hunt voted against.

December 5, 2007

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”
- Che Guevara


Question: When is it going to stop? Answer: When you want it to stop. I hate to be so negative during the holiday season, but when are people going to get angry enough to put an end to the ridiculous state of affairs we live in today?

Is it that difficult to shut off the television, stop worshipping professional athletes and get involved? We hear it everyday – people complaining, people whining and people crying, yet they have never make any attempt to change the problem. What will it take for people to become frustrated enough that they demand and act for change?

November 7, 2007

It has been only a few months since Indiana University outsourced a portion of its motor pool and the entirety of its bookstore operation. In just a short time, serious problems have cropped up all across the Bloomington campus due to this outsourcing, problems IU was warned about.

The biggest problem is that bursar billing of textbooks is no more. This was a vitally important benefit for low-income students. A third of IU-Bloomington students and a higher percentage on other campuses were eligible for it. Barnes and Noble, which took over the bookstore operation on July 1, was not prepared to do bursar billing. As a result, many students were surprised to find they had to choose between paying for books and paying for the necessities of life.

Another problem: departments all across campus have discovered they no longer have the internal billing options for ordering textbooks they used to have. As a result, more time and energy are being devoted to ordering, which has left less time for departments to pursue more important parts of their academic mission. This extra burden placed on the departments is a prime example of the hidden costs that come with outsourcing of services.

October 24, 2007

Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) Board members heard their commitment to employee rights and open government challenged at a contentious meeting on Oct. 17. Questions came from inside and outside the board and the library.

Board member, VITAL volunteer and employee advocate Randy Paul assailed his fellow board members for drafting a unionization proposal that would have required 75 percent of union-eligible employees to cast votes before a library union could be formed.

“If we were to hold that same standard for the election we’re about to have for mayor and city council, there would be no city government,” he said. “We wouldn’t have a president. We wouldn’t have a Congress. We wouldn’t have a Supreme Court.”

With backing from union leaders and others, Paul said the 75-percent threshold was an example of the board’s prejudice against the union.

August 1, 2007

As of this fall, IU students will face many changes, ranging from new courses to another incoming freshman class. But there is another modification in store for students, faculty and staff this September - Barnes & Noble is running all campus bookstores.

The decision to privatize bookstores on all seven IU-administered campuses was made last May by university President Adam Herbert, despite concerns voiced by Mayor Mark Kruzan, along with members of the Monroe County Council and the Bloomington City Council.

Many IU employees and community members also worry about the outsourcing of bookstore services. Concerns range from possible increased prices, a lack of job stability for bookstore staffers and the overall trend toward outsourcing nonacademic services provided by the school.

July 18, 2007

The Fourth of July celebration in Bloomington once again focused on a parade that celebrated our country’s independence. In addition to the fire trucks, politicians and music, this year’s parade included an entry called “Bloomington Labor Unions and Working Families,” which marched in solidarity under one banner.

For the first time in recent memory, working people in Bloomington had representation for a holiday created by the struggles of artisans and craftsmen seeking freedom from the autocratic rule of the English upper class.

The revolution came on the heels of, and through the support of, working people tired of being pushed around by ruling elites and their soldier patsies.

June 20, 2007

It was about the time that Monroe County Public Library (MCPL) officials started calling patrons "customers" that the leaders of the fledgling unionization movement there started to worry. The simple notion causes Stephanie Holman to intellectually rebel.

“This is a nonprofit library, a public library, which has a unique purpose, with a unique philosophy of service,” the children’s librarian at the Ellettsville branch said. “A lot of us who went to library school here at IU are strongly grounded in a nonprofit, service-oriented model.”

And the rapid imposition the past few years of a business-model approach to library management, she said, has caused “people who are couched in that philosophy ... to strain.”

MCPL technology trainer Phil Eskew is one of many examples.

"There's a customer service committee at the library," he said. "... They're not customers, they're patrons."

June 6, 2007

Immigration reform has made its way into the political debate once again as Congress debates new adjustments to visas and worker amnesty. And employers with farm workers, hotel employees, construction workers and engineers have problems with some aspect of the bill because it doesn't satisfy their particular selfish needs.

According to the agricultural industry, the proposed McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill would allow immigrant workers easy routes to leave their current employment and seek higher-paying jobs elsewhere, for example, in construction.

The result, they say, would be a labor shortage and higher consumer prices.

May 9, 2007

We assume government is there to protect and serve the community. It's easy to do because we take for granted some of the protective services it provides.

Government restaurant inspectors protect us from food contamination at local restaurants. They provide us with monthly reports on the cleanliness of the facilities they visit.

And the state mandates drivers pass a test to ensure they are not hazards to the driving public.

But what about your safety at home or where you shop or conduct business transactions? In particular, what about the safety issues prevalent in electrical work for residential and commercial customers?

March 28, 2007

The Iraq war continues to decimate the lives of thousands of innocent people. Working-class and low-income people try to find a life without fear of imminent death and destruction awaiting them around the corner. These aren’t just American soldiers, but the Iraqi civilians who are trying to put back their lives since the war started four years ago.

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