|By the time you read this post, I will moved this blog to another site. The last post with it's screwy formatting finally did it. I can't find the problem, and that's it. I've had other mysteries as well with Blogger come up over the past couple of years, but enough is enough.|
The new blog is Tom's Place. (tomsplaceblog.wordpress.com)
See you there!
- 2nd Amendment
- Ted Kennedy Hearings
- Equal Diversity
- A Politician's Job
- Thoughts on Iraq
- Appeasement Doesn't Work
- Bill of Responsibilities
- Media for Who?
- US Under Economic Attack
- Unions for Democrats? Why?
- The State of Education
- The Inconvenient Truth About Al Gore
- Transportation Energy Independence
- V-Tech Shootings
War On Terror
- Please note that all new postings will be at Tom's Place. Look forward to seeing you there!
- Oakland County, Michigan
- EE for 20+ Years, Two Patents
- UAW member
- Married twice, burned once
- One son w/Asperger's Syndrome
- Two cats
- Right Leaning Conservative
- Blogroll has been disabled. Please visit Tom's Place for up to date posts and places that I frequent.
The comments & opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of his employer, family, friends, or close associates. If you need any more weasel words, go see an attorney.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Chrysler Contract Highlights
Coming into work this morning, I heard on the radio that Chrysler's St. Louis Plant "overwhelmingly" voted down the national contract by an 81% vote while the Kenosha Wisconsin plant approved it with an 82% margin. Our voting will take place tomorrow afternoon, and it will be interesting to say the least.
I received a copy of the summary of the contract (salaried summary and hourly summary) a couple of days ago, and from what I read, I wasn't impressed. In fact, I was alarmed. Of course there are numerous items that I read that didn't strike me as being favorable to the Union Membership, and there just didn't seem to be much that the Company was giving up.
One of the items that I noticed was a change in COLA. COLA is very important to me - no one likes to see their paycheck lose it's purchasing power. The new formulation could actually reduce what I take home.
The next item I noticed is the wording of job security concerning life cycles of products. Who determines life-cycles of products? Management does. While there is a moratorium on idling or closing plants, that doesn't mean that the plants cannot be cut back to a minimal production and staffing level. While this can happen underneath the auspices of a revised business climate, and the company is certainly entitled to take these actions, what bothers me is that the Union Leadership is touting an increased job security level for its members through this agreement. Last, the summary does not state any commitments by Chrysler to the plants beyond the terms of agreement, which is true job security.
And it goes on...
I understand that one of the Union's chief negotiators is speaking out and wanting a return to the bargaining table, and a website (www.soldiersofsolidarity.com) has posted his letter to the rest of the Union leaders advocating this action. Additionally, the website has posted the following objections to the proposed contract agreement:
During our brief strike, many of us mused on the picket line what was going on at the bargaining table. After finding ourselves back at work the next day, it seemed that the strike was only for show. A comment in this article seemed to echo this sentiment:
Did the Union negotiate a good agreement? I personally don't think so. Did they negotiate in good faith to the Membership? I think they did, but I also think that they gave up too much in wages and COLA for the sake of VEBA.
Whether or not we will ratify this agreement will depend on the voting this week, or if it's back to the table. In either case, it will be interesting.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Two Years and a Day Ago...
|...Tom's Common Sense came into being by publishing the "mission statement" for what the blog was to do. By and large, I think it's lived up to that semi-bold goal. After 230-some posts, I might be slowing down a little, and contemplating moving the blog somewhere else. But regardless, I'm still going to hold true to my beliefs and thoughts. I just wish that I had more time to write and visit the blogs of others on the blogroll. But in the end, it's still about the content, isn't it? So keep reading, and keep commenting. I'll be seeing you around the Internet!|
Monday, October 15, 2007
As if we don't have enough to decide or worry about, it's always something new. So I'm faced with a decision...
What is it, you may ask?
Is it who I'm going to vote for in the primaries and general election? Will it be Queen Hillary, Breck Edwards, Baba Obama, Tepid Thompson, Grinning Guiliani, or Ramrod Romney? I'm not telling, but it won't be a Democratic candidate...
Is it going to be on an issue such as immigration reform, universal health care, Union activities, or defending my Constitutional Rights? Well, sorta, but not quite.
I'm thinking about moving this blog to another service such as Wordpress.com.
Don't get me wrong!! Blogger has been a great service for this exercise in free speech. But I'm always looking for something better, or maybe just different.
But there are some downsides. Currently, there is no way to back up your posts, so unless you keep copies of your posts somewhere, you could lose all of your work if Google/Blogger takes an unrecoverable dump without a way to restore the posts. With HaloScan, you do need a premium account to have the capability of exporting your blog's comments, so that is an option. But if you don't have posts to link the comments to, you're hosed anyway.
Another downside is that I like to write my posts offline and then upload them using Microsoft's Live Writer Beta. Even though it is made by Microsoft, it does a pretty decent job. The part about using this editor is that it will not allow me to add tags or categories to the posts that I'm writing. After submitting the post to be published, I then need to log into Blogger, access the posts editor, and then select the post just published and select the tags for that post. Just a bit cumbersome for my taste...
Last, to view all of this wonderful information from StatCounter and HaloScan requires that I log into each service separately. Yes, maybe I'm nitpicking somewhat, especially for what I'm getting for free, but I still need to see what's out there and may offer something better for the long run.
On the plus side, posting with tags & categories is handled very well by Live Writer as well as other offline editors. Posts and comments can be exported to a XML file for importation into another Wordpress blog, whether it is another one on Wordpress.com or your own private website/blog (which is a long-term goal of mine). There is even the option of importing Blogger posts and comments (not HaloScan, though) into Wordpress.com, although there are some application notes for importing HaloScan comments back into Blogger and then importing everything into Wordpress.
So it comes down to a couple of questions: Is Wordpress worth moving to? And if it is, is it worth importing this site's posts to the new one and either manually or automatically moving the comments, or just start fresh?
More importantly, is it content that you are looking for, or the presentation, and will you link to the new site? (Personally, I think it's the content that's important, but that's me...)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Chrysler Picket Line Notes
Against all my fears, we walked out of the building shortly after 11:00 this morning and headed for the picket line. Not a good feeling, I assure you.
I would much rather have been at my desk earning a living. But that's not the case.
My first taste on carrying a sign this afternoon was mixed. Yeah, there were those idiots that screamed and hollered at foreign cars as they turned in, and those that behaved like children on recess, but for the most part, things were well behaved. That could change if this lasts more than a week.
Second time around is tomorrow morning at 6:00 am. Not looking forward to it - it promises to be a cold morning with rain. Yuck...
It appears that the strike against Chrysler is over. Details are pending, but at least I'll be back at work tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Strike at Chrysler?
The UAW has notified Chrysler that unless a new contract is agreed upon by 11:00 AM Wednesday, it will call a general strike and its members will walk off their jobs. This means that I could end up on a picket line Thursday morning (yes, my steward has already given me my assignment). I'm not thrilled about this one bit - I would much rather be working than have an unpaid vacation.
The main sticking points that have been reported include health care costs for both active workers and retirees & job security. Excerpts from msnbc.msn.com:
There probably are several readers of this blog who are thinking that Union workers are overpaid, spoiled, & otherwise lazy, and probably deserve an unpaid "time-out." Considering that the media jumps all over stories of Union worker malfeasance and misdeeds, it is easy to understand that sentiment. But lets think about a couple of items for a couple of minutes.
Think of the last time you have read or seen reports of executive "golden parachutes" for managers and CEOs that drove a company on the verge of or into bankruptcy, but still get paid multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses? How about obscene salaries of company executives running companies that complain about sub-standard profits for the quarter, and the need to cut costs (usually labor)? I guarantee you hear more about those than the average Union worker screwing up.
How about the way Walmart treats its workers? I saw a program on one of the pay cable channels that showed Walmart encouraging it's workers to apply for state Medicaid programs for their healthcare. And Walmart would not have any of its hourly employees work over 32 hours a week, otherwise they could be classified as full time workers and be eligible for full-time benefit packages.
Perhaps the way I look at a Union is simplified: To negotiate on the behalf of employees fair wages and benefits, and to prevent abuses of those same employees by the company employing them. The Union is not to run the company.
I think that I can speak (or write) for the majority of Union workers is that we want a fair wage for the work that we perform. You, the reader, probably think that you are being underpaid in your current job, and could always use a little more.
But I can also understand the resentment of the Union protecting the goof-offs, thieves, and idiots that bring the reputation of the rest of the hard-working Union Membership down. I have a couple of these people in my Unit that I wouldn't trust to shine my shoes, but in many ways, it is Management's fault for a) hiring them in the first place, and b) not taking disciplinary action to either train and/or fire them. I also blame the Union for allowing such actions to occur. Personally, I would like to see the Union adopt a Guild mentality - if a person doesn't stay productive and qualified for the job, then that person should be demoted or let go, i.e., they must earn that position. If the Unions are to remain relevant in today's business economy, they will need to adapt to the needs of that economy.
A comment about the timing of this potential strike: The timing for a strike couldn't be worse. Those workers who have been laid off due to plant shutdowns to reduce inventory are still being paid up to 95% of their normal wages by Chrysler. A strike would mean that they would not get that pay, but would receive strike pay (which is significantly less). A strike would actually save Chrysler money since Chrysler would not have to pay those wages, and would hurt the UAW workers. I think our Union Leadership screwed up big time on this issue. Chrysler has a financial incentive, although small, in allowing a strike to proceed.
I can see a strike being called Wednesday, possibly lasting around a week or less. I hope that it doesn't come to that, but we'll see what happens.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Is it any wonder...
...that the public dislikes politicians, especially those in Congress?
Here's the best recent example of this:
I'm traveling this week, and the car I have has satelite radio. All the talk shows have segments highlighting the Senate Majority Leader's letter to Clear Channel Radio flaming Rush Limbaugh's use of the words "phony soldier." It doesn't matter that Rush's use is in reference to a debunked video of a person misrepresenting his service (he flunked out of basic training and didn't serve in Iraq as he claimed), it's still good for a Senate sponsored spanking.
What is so infuriating about this is that the politicians (mostly Democratic) are accusing Limbaugh of being less than Patriotic, and not supporting the troops. Excuse me?!?!? Exactly what have these various Democratic politicians been doing but calling the troops far worse names than what Limbaugh has falsely been accused of? Just look at Jack Murtha's comments for starters, and you get the idea.
While Rush can get on your nerves with some of his shameless self-promotion and ego boosts, he does bring out many points that would otherwise escape the media's attention. And this brings the ire of the Liberal politicos in this attempt to smear him and otherwise discredit his show and others like his.
Here's the point: The hypocrisy that the Liberal politicians have demonstrated is absolutely disgusting. It is no wonder that the approval rates for Congress are the lowest that have been in years, lower than the President.
Personally, I would vote each and every one of them out and start with a clean slate, and that includes a clean slate of all the Presidential candidates too. We need people, not politicians, running this country. People with common sense(!), integrity, and a selflessness that is not evident in today's government. People who are driven by a sense of public service, not power. I'm tired of the career politicians taking our tax dollars and lining their pockets or the pockets of their cronies with it. It is time to get the money and power out of politics and put the service back in. But then, I can be an idealistic you-know-what at times...
Yeah, I know, when pigs fly under their own power...
Monday, October 01, 2007
Rainy Days and Mondays (& Taxes)...
...always get me down. Considering what the Michigan legislature did Sunday night, rain on Monday is so appropriate...
Excerpts from msnbc.msn.com:
There are a number of problems that I see with this action by the Michigan government. First and foremost, the state is in a depression/recession. The unemployment rate is more than 7%, and this hike does nothing to attract businesses and people to the state. Instead, it encourages people and businesses to leave the state. Reduce the tax base, reduce the income to the state, and then what? Raise taxes again? Smooth move, morons...
The next problem is that the Legislature has been working on this new budget for over 7 months, and this is the best they could do? Why weren't cost cutting measures implemented from the last budget re-write? If the common person is expected to tighten their belt and not spend as much if they don't have the money, why can't the government? Although, to be somewhat fair, there is supposed to be large cuts in government spending, but we will see if that will be the case.
Last is the statement that "The income tax bill is written so the rate will gradually drop back to 3.9 percent between 2011 and 2015." Right...how often are taxes reduced? And by that time, most of the bozos that voted in the increase will be gone, and the tax hike would be permanent because of the same fiscal irresponsibility.
In many respects, we do not hold our politicians (government) accountable for the expenditures that they make. Indeed, how many studies and reports on waste, mismanagement, and sheer stupidity are published, but how many are actually implemented? Not many, I would presume. If they were, government (both Federal and State) would not find themselves running on deficits.
Yep, time to get rid of the Redundancy Department of Redundancy...
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Strike is Over
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
UAW Strikes GM
Yesterday morning, 73,000 UAW GM employees walked off their jobs to put pressure on the company to resolve issues concerning job security, wages, layoffs, and how much production goes overseas. Of particular interest is the initial funding of the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA), which is the trust fund for retiree health care to be administered by the Union.
In today's economy and job market, I can totally understand the concern over job security by the Union membership. Layoffs and the closing of plants are life-changing events that some people cannot recover from. And wages are always a contentious issue - there is a standard of living that many workers have gotten used to, and a reduction in those levels in an age of uncertainty is unsettling at best.
From an earlier post:
Where the Union has been stung before is two-fold: The company asks for concessions due to the company losing money for the year, and closing the plants due to non-profitability. The company then turns around and gives executives multi-million dollar bonuses. The lack of credibility on the company’s part is obvious.
This now puts pressure on GM’s negotiators to come up with a workable solution that satisfies the Unions but still provides a profitable scenario for the company. Not an easy task, especially with the volatility of the automotive sector with changing consumer tastes and foreign automakers increasing their market share while Detroit struggles.
Part of the solution (from the automaker’s viewpoint) is VEBA. Excerpts from Newsweek on msnbc.com include:
It is this last paragraph that concerns me. Medical costs continue to escalate, possibly more than what the fund is able to keep up with. If the fund gets into trouble and needs an influx of cash, where is that going to come from? And the costs for administering the fund will also need to come from somewhere, and that is also a drain on the fund.
Is VEBA really a long-term solution for health care? From the standpoint of GM, it is. Consider this statement:
Yes, I have concerns about a Union-managed retirement health-care fund. A statement from the same article by a Union retiree:
While the auto companies need to be profitable to stay in business, it cannot do so without the Union’s cooperation. And the Union membership cannot live without the auto companies staying in business. A catch-22 if there ever was one. The problem is for the company and Union to come to an agreement that benefits both for the long-term, not a quick-fix, greed-ridden short-sighted agreement. And what that will be remains to be seen, not in the short-term, but with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight.