Sunday, September 16, 2007

I wish I were an ostrich...

and could just bury my head in the sand!

I've been avoiding writing a post for a couple of days now, hoping that by now our UAW contract would be settled and I could quit fearing a strike. No such luck at this point...rumors abounded all week at work and none of them were good. I remember my Dad telling me that while we got 4 pages of highlights to vote on that corporate lawyers had already vetted every detail in the "book" we won't see for 6 months while they have it printed...he said all that contract really does "is legally define how many ways they can f*** you". At the time I thought him very cynical; now at almost the age he was when I lost him, I know he wasn't...

He was meatcutter for years...I don't think his union even exists anymore!

When I hired in 29 years ago this month I believed that in return for my showing up every night and giving 100% to whatever task befell me that they would live up to their end of the bargain and provide me with the retirement and medical insurance they had promised. Others had walked picket lines and given up raises to get those benefits for us; now it seems that not only do they want to get out from under the obligations they agreed to, but they want to take money back as well. They keep referring to them as "legacy costs" etc..

How many shareholder dividends and executive bonuses did we pay for back when they were supposed to be putting money away for these costs? Had they put Roger B. Smith's "golden parachute" and the money they used to buy Ross Perot out to get him off the board when they didn't want to hear him tell them to "take care of the workers first" would that now cover this legacy? The money they used to buy EDS? The money they used to buy Hughes? The money they squandered on Fiat? (2.4 billion dollars when they bought in in 2000 and another $2 billion when they bought themselves back out last year!)

It's not like our medical is what it used to be, either! I used to have to pay the first few dollars of a prescription, and little else. Now it's all of the office visit, $10 to $15 a prescription, and any tests they don't feel like covering (including my wife's last pap smear)! Yes, I could go to an HMO and avoid some of that...I also would lose control over who I see, so I guess I shouldn't bitch about paying for the privilege of picking my own doctor off their list. That I was lucky enough to have one I trust be on it should be enough.

I know, it's still better than a lot of insurances, or none...

but somewhere along the way a promise has to mean something, someone's word has to mean something other than "until I can figure a way to get out of it"!
Just because you incorporate shouldn't make it mean less!

Beyond all of that and my little corner of it...

I heard a piece on NPR yesterday about the American Cancer Society changing the focus of it's next ad campaign. It seems that the biggest cause of cancer death is no longer cigarettes; it's a lack of access to medical care! Too many people have no insurance or not enough insurance to cover their illness.

So it's cheaper for them to die...

We claim to be a civilized nation; a caring nation; the "leader of the free world".

But don't get in the way of our profit structure!

Somehow we have to take the shareholders out of healthcare...


While I've been checking in here constantly to see if things have been settled, I've also been looking up old friends, musicians I admire, etc.. I ran across this clip and though most of you won't know Dizzy Gillespie you'll probably recognize the guy who comes in to join him. Some of you might know the host who comes in at the very end of the clip as well...



ZBTzahBTzoo said...

Serious issues, indeed; and, they hit close to home. Dad was in middle management for Chevrolet Pressed Metal until 1988. It saddens me things haven't improved. I remember when Dad died, my grandfather, also a GM man, told my mother, "Don't worry, Annie. General Motors will take care of you." They didn't. Of course it's even worse for the laborers than it is for management. It's not right. Perot was right about taking care of the workers. This should also apply to the backbone of our military, but they aren't taken care of either.

Healthcare without shareholders rates right up there with prescriptions without kickbacks for the doctors peddling 'em. :-)

I'm sure we could fix the entire world, if only we were at the helm!

robin andrea said...

Damn. I hate reading this, alan. When does the pilfering and squandering stop? I am sorry that you are in the middle of this, and I am shocked that your insurance doesn't cover Dottie's pap. That is simply an outrage. When are we going to get the country we want?

robin andrea said...

Oh, nice clip and that's Jackie Gleason, isn't it?

alan said...

Yes, a fairly young one...


I'm waiting for someone to recoginze Dizzy from the Cosby show who didn't know he had a past!

I've been retreating musically into my youth of late, lots of swing and West Coast stuff...Mulligan/Baker et al..


Dr. Deb said...

My DIL (dad-in-law) used to work delivering meat and his union sadly fell apart. Decades old, it become obsolete.

Medical care *is* deplorable in our coutnry. I think there are many whose heads are in the sand because they are "paid" to look the other way.

Sassy said...

I have a coworker who has crones disease. Even with her insurance, her copay for her meds is 700 dollars. She can't afford the copay and can't get any help because she's married and works. She's been really sick for the past week. All she needs is her meds. It really makes me angry that she can't get the help she needs. It's a medicine that she HAS to have. Some country we live in, huh?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they are really tryin to stick ya huh? Hope things work out for you. Great clip BTW. Jackie Gleason huh. I love him!

Ange (formerly Writer Mom) said...

Sorry, my friend.
Most every summer of my youth was clouded under a threat that my dad's company would have to strike. I remember showing up at a union hall while he was on his dinner break...Mom had to take him his supper, and he had to eat it while listening to all of the talks.
Everybody working was already working paycheck to paycheck. Striking was terrifying, and it came up all the time.
It surprises me his company has stayed in business all these years. He and my FIL work at the same place, and both aren't gonna miss the it when they retire.
It's kinda sad.
I worked there five summers to pay for college. They ran an excellent program for college students of employees. I got paid excellent wages so I could pay for college.
It's where I met my FIL and consequently my husband Tom, also working for college funds.
They had to do away with the program shortly after I graduated.

If we talk health care, next we discuss education.
SO many issues, all boiling down to the reality that if it doesn't make a buck for the upper sliver, there's NOBODY up there who gives a damn about the rest of us. Nobody who says, "I've got enough. I want more people to have more."

I will certainly not let this keep me from voting in the next election, though it seems like that's gonna require a lot of side research. I don't trust a debate or ad campaign any more than I trust that someone's going to take care of me in my old age.

Eleanor Roosevelt would be pissed.

How many times do we have to learn the same lesson?

Hang in there.
Thanks for cheering things up with some Dizzy.
Music also cheers me through times like these.
It's hard to stay sad long while you're dancing.

Von Krankipantzen said...

My heart goes out to you and your co-workers. What a sucky predicament. And you know it is simply not fair. When did fucking over your employees become acceptable?

pissed off patricia said...

What a mess America has become. Screwing workers, robbing them for medical expenses and allowing it all in the name of greed.

I don't know when our country lost its humanity, but it's time we worked to bring it back.

I feel for you and understand that you are helpless regarding the outcome. That's the saddest part.

Barbara said...

Don't know if I ever told you this Alan but I work for a labour union. I've been watching these talks as a strike there will mean shut downs here in this big union town. Like I always say, when the US sneezes, Canada puts on a sweater.

And yes, I am young enough to fondly remember Dizzy and his cornet.

taza said...

hey alan,

let me add my voice of support for the ridiculousness of our medical/health insurance system.

i have been without insurance for about 15 years now. i see an ob/gyn every 3-4 years, a dentist the same.

when i can save up enough money, i get my teeth cleaned or my pap smeared. and so far, so good.

hope you've seen SICKO! it made me want to move to Canada or England, just for the health coverage.


kath said...

What you are enduring is what we endured in the eighties as also happened with the airlines, but they were able to blame 911...

I am sorry that you are going through it now...

HAR said...

Alan it is so upsetting to think bout health care for the average citizen in America. We all complain but very few people go much further than that. That is one of the reasons that it will never change.
What about the health care that our veterans receive who return from Iraq and other countries? It's disgusting. Where is the public out cry? People care more about Britney Spears.

Green tea said...

My youngest son works for Coca Cola
and they went through a long mediation before they settled.
He wasn't happy with the settlement, and would love to leave there.
But he has almost 16 years in and doesn't want to give up his seniority and start over.
This administration going back to Reagan has only had one thing in mind and that is to break the Unions..
I hope things work out for you..