Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday follies...

I've been home almost an hour; showered and read some news and visited a few of you. I promised Dottie I would vacuum before I went to bed, as she did Sam's and Costco after she got off work tonight; when I called at 9:30 she had just finished putting things away and hadn't eaten, showered or laundered her uniform yet.

We have the grandkids tonight, and I knew she would do it so I said I would...

We ate from the freezer for the most part through the strike; the next thing on our agenda was the turkey we had put away and that was when I got called back, so she's cooking it Saturday while they are here and Bill is coming for dinner as well.

Hopefully despite getting home at 4AM I'll get enough sleep to be able to enjoy some time with them!

May the weekend be kind to you all!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday's worse...

("Stormy Monday" playing in my mind...)

"They call it Stormy Monday...
but Tuesday's just as bad...(repeat once)

Wednesday's worse...
and Thursday's oh so sad!

Dottie worked the weekend, but got Monday off for the holiday and Tuesday for her normal day off. We got up early and made the 10AM show of "Indiana Jones" for $5 each; we both would have sat through it again, immediately!

I finished watching the F-1 race from Monaco off tape from Sunday while she did some odds and ends, then she held a flashlight for me while I replaced the light switch in our ceiling fan. I started doing laundry and moving some things in preparation for putting my treadmill together, then Bill called and asked if Laura could borrow a suitcase. (She has an internship this summer that ties into her accounting degree.)By the time we ran that out to Lawrence and got home it was supper time, so we ate and watched "The Contract" with John Cusak and Morgan Freeman. Something she had found on Netflix that I had never heard of; good movie!

While we were in Lawrence Laura asked me to look at the little "point and shoot" Nikon we had given them two Christmases ago; it had a "lens error" and you could hear the motor run but it wouldn't extend or retract, even with a gentle nudge. We had bought an extended warranty on it, and so today Dottie made phone calls and ended up with store credit for what we paid, so we went and picked up a newer one and another warranty. Not in time for Laura to take it on her trip, but at least Bill can take it when he joins her.

By then it was time for me to go to work; I left at 4:30 and got home at 3:55AM...

Only 3 more weeks...I just keep telling myself that...

Now it's just past 5 and my eyes are starting to cross...goodnight all!

May rest of the week be kind!


Saturday, May 24, 2008

I've always loved this song...

and though this isn't the definitive version, they tell a story I've read for years about the person who did record it...Louis Armstrong.

The story I read was that the police took Louis to jail, finally releasing him at the insistence of the owner of the club who had booked him. Then of course, they also wanted autographs and wanted to attend the concert as well...

Guess some things don't change as much as you'd think they might!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Things started a bit slowly last night...

as they tried to find enough people to make the line run. It took a half hour for it to start, then another hour for it to run steady.

By lunchtime (9:30pm) it was like we never left...

Mercifully, instead of the full 10 they sent us home at 9 hours. I got home just before 3 to find Dottie asleep on the couch.

Always before the company had said it didn't make sense to fire the ovens and do all the things it takes to make the plant run for less than two days. They must really want Malibus!

I saw our "General Foreman" and told him I had put him and our superintendent down for job references along with our "Department Head". He was shocked that I was already actively looking...

Dottie is off today and Tuesday; I'm off the 3 days inbetween. Since her employer doesn't believe in direct deposit, she just left to pick up her paycheck and attend the payday meeting (unpaid).

So my weekend will consist of more of those things I haven't gotten done, and hopefully watching Danica win Indy come Sunday morning (if all the rain that's blowing through here these last few days doesn't screw things up)!

May your weekends be kind and wonderful!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We have a tentative agreement!

I was in the shower last night when our local news came on at 9 announcing it, with Dottie relaying it to me; a few minutes later my cell rang with the same news. This morning I went to the Union Hall to hear about it and read the highlights; "Division 1" which is all of us who work on the line lost nothing, keeping exactly the same provisions that were in our last local agreement. Skilled Trades lost a slight bit, but not nearly as much as was planned by management.

They aren't calling it a "signing bonus" but are saying we will get a payment for having brought the Malibu on-line and winning so many awards with it.

So, if it is ratified (and I assume it will be) I return to work tomorrow night; we are assuming they will hit us with 10 hours off the bat, even though those last few are actually part of the holiday (anything over 8 hours).

I spoke to the Shop Chairman and he said he hasn't heard anything about them invoking the dreaded "emergency clause" of the contract (7 day weeks, 12 hours a day), so hopefully I can slip out the door before they get around to that!

For the first time in 30 years I've actually been going to bed before midnight and getting up between 8 and 9 most days; now I get to flip my hours back the other way for another month.

This afternoon a doctor's appointment to get back on my blood pressure medicine; then home to cook dinner for Dottie one last time before our hours diverge again.

At least we got to keep our holiday for the weekend!

May the rest of each of your weeks be kind!



Update: 7:00PM Wednesday- We have a contract; 88% of Skilled Trades voted "yes" (they're the Division 2 I mentioned above); 85% of Division 1 approved (that's the assembly workers). We return to work tomorrow at 6AM for days and 5PM for me.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They're still talking...

and we're still walking.

There were over a thousand of us at the rally yesterday. We also had members of the Teamsters, all of the local contruction trades, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, along with the leadership of the UAW at Ford.

Only one TV station could be bothered to send a crew. We have one who sent a crew to the finale of American Idol because a kid from here is one of the two, but they didn't send one across town for us.

Makes you think!

Having had wicked headaches off and on for several weeks now, I dug out the last of my blood pressure medicine from before my weight loss and started taking it again. We have a cuff at home since Dottie had her incident, and mine wasn't super high, but consistent, so I started back where I left off and will be calling for an appointment in a few minutes.

Other than that I'm making more phone calls to creditors, catching up laundry, and trying not to think a lot about what's going on (or not). A lot of us were speculating last week that we wouldn't be back until after they could get out of paying us for Memorial Day; it's beginning to look like that was a given!

Not much else to say, just thought I should update...


Monday, May 19, 2008

The birthday party for Dillon and his friend (son of Noel's best girlfriend) Andrew went very well. We were at the park at 9 and stayed until almost 4; the kids played and had a great time.

My sister's husband is into geocaching, and there was a chache at the park, only 400 feet from the shelter we were at, so the grandkids and some of the rest of us walked up there with him. They think it's very cool to find these things that someone else left.

While I was there a friend from work called and said "we may have an agreement" and that if so they wanted to present it on Sunday so we could return to work today. She said she would call if she heard anything more. I never got that 2nd call.

This morning I read that they talked all weekend and until 11:30 last night; still nothing. So there is a rally in front of the plant today at noon, and I'm going to go. I'm not normally one for crowds, but perhaps the more of us they see out there and the news media see someone will decide they need to step up...

Thank you for all the kind words and encouragement!

May the week be kind!


Friday, May 16, 2008

6 hours on the picket line...

yesterday afternoon. SPF50 on my head and face before I left, though they said it would be mostly cloudy; it wasn't. Also wore a closed ball cap...

I was at the gate they usually ship our cars out through; several of the teamsters drivers stopped to speak to us as they came and went. There are only a couple of them that didn't get laid off, and they are gathering that if we aren't back by Monday they will be as well.

So, in a bit, I'll be on the phone again...Sears is due...

Tonight Bill is coming to mow; before he gets here I'm going to clear all the elm seeds from the gutters and trim some. Dinner will be grilled chicken breasts with Italian marinade. I started mesquite chips soaking last night; I haven't decided between rice or potatoes for a side dish yet.

Dillon turned 9 yesterday; his party is tomorrow along with his friend Andrew's at the same park we had the family party at a few weeks ago. Logistics dictates only one small present there because there will be so many people, so he'll get the rest tomorrow evening at John and Noel's house.

You would think that with all this downtime I'd be getting more done, but I'm actually just now starting to wake up and feel like doing something as we come up on the 2 week mark. My batteries must have been awfully low!

Thank you all so very much for the kind words and the encouragement through all this! Lois hit my nail right on its head the other day when she said that "One thing so many of us online types seem to have in common is, we lack in self worth." I've had that deficiency most of my life, and though I try to fight it, it's one of my larger demons. It has been trying to get the best of me since this strike began. Part of that I'm sure is being so very tired after the year of 10 hour days; part the uncertainty not only of turning life in a new direction, but having things thrown to the wind just beforehand.

At any rate, you all are the best friends someone could ever dream of!

May the weekend be kind!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

No news...

I've been up about a half hour and don't find anything new about "us" tomorrow I'll get to walk picket again.

I spent my afternoon on the telephone with Citi, who were kind enough to let me slide a month, and Chase, who took a lot longer. They want to close my account for 9-12 months, cut my payment by 60%, and drop their interest rate from 29% to 8% while they do; I'll know tomorrow if it's been approved or not (my fingers are crossed on that one. Had we realized they had raised the interest rate on it that high before we restarted a clean account, we'd have done something else; we took that one out of the drawer for a vacation, and when we came back were shocked to find their rate had doubled since we last used it).

My next round of calls will be the two vehicle payments and the mortgage company...

Meanwhile, I'm going to go make myself a coffee and get some breakfast and take my truck to the dealer for the free oil change it's due for. If I can catch the guy I bought it and the Malibu from I'm going to see what I can find out about getting some work driving for them, though I don't hold out a lot of hope. Only being able to work 2 days a week without losing my strike pay, and knowing I may have to go back to work at a minutes notice probably isn't going to make finding something easy, but by next week I'm going to have to do something!

While all of this plays out in my life, my eye (my ear?) is still on what's going on in this world...Burma, China, old carrier the Kittyhawk being sent home for mothballs or the scrapper...

I heard a radio piece as the debate over cutting the gas tax for the summer began; it may have been on "Marketplace". The commentator's question was "When did it become a crime to pay taxes"? I can't quote it but the gist was what is wrong with paying for that pavement you drive on each day, the sewer that carries your waste away and it's treatment? When did it become a crime to pay for a bridge that carries you, the food you eat, and brings your gasoline to you? When did it become wrong to pay for the education of the children that will be making the decisions for this nation when you can't?

As I related this to Bill the other day, that last line really struck me! Through the years I've heard people argue that they didn't have children, why should they pay for mine to go to school? I've heard arguments for and against free college for anyone who graduates high school with a "C" average.

How can anyone want not only the future of our country, but their own future shackled by the education of those who will be making the decisions for all of us in 20, 40 or 60 years?

Then it struck me- who would benefit most from an electorate that was easily led by mass media...whose world view is shaped by prime time TV? By Grand Theft Auto?

Those same people who are making 1200 times the national average...the same ones who truly profit from the tax cuts...that same 2% who own 98%...

I know, I'm getting old and cynical...

May the rest of the week be kind!



Late addition: I ended up applying for a job while I was at the shop with my truck; the service manager seemed very interested in hiring me as well, not only for when I retire, but possibly even now until the strike ends! Perhaps an act, but my fingers are crossed. I'm feeling a little less "on the abyss" than I did these last few days!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday morning blues...

Up "reasonably" early for me, and checked e-mail then started writing down "availables" and due dates. After I go pick up my glasses and run a couple of errands I get to come home and start making phone calls. The union told us to call before we pay each bill and explain that we are UAW and on strike and see who will let us slide and who won't...

They did have a sign up when I picketed the other day that said if you get a job and gross more than $199 you forfeit your strike pay. So I guess next week if this is still going on I check into doing a couple of days a week somewhere.

Bill had taken my "click" torque wrench with him last week after we swapped off his winter treads so he could retorque his lugs; he brought it back yesterday, so I didn't pull Dottie's brake pads until yesterday afternoon (I still have the old beam ones, but leaning down next to the car trying to read that scale with my glasses while putting 100ft/lbs. on it isn't easy anymore!). The dealer had told me the front brake pads were down to 3 mils (1/8" nominally). I had bought a new set to have them ready to go in ($34). When I pulled the ones on it they still have 1/2 their life left; more like 3/8" than 1/8" wonder they looked a bit uncomfortable when I said I would take care of them myself!

Always ask to see the parts! Even if you don't know what they are, it will cut down on a lot of "the bullshit"!

I didn't turn my cell on 'til almost noon when Dottie was supposed to call, and found a text message about a picket rally at 11AM today; when I turned on the noon news they were interviewing our union president. Feeling a bit guilty now, but that's my lot in life anyway!

So, as I wander off to try and accomplish something with my day, I wish you all a happy Monday; may the week be kind!


Friday, May 09, 2008

Life is wreaking havoc...

with my sleeping hours! I actually had them fairly close to Dottie's, then had to let them slip back to my working schedule for the midnight picket shift. I got home at 7AM yesterday, slept 'til a bit after 2, then "drug" around the rest of the afternoon and evening. By 10 I was falling asleep as we tried to watch "5th Grader", and went to bed, sleeping 12 hours.

As far as glasses for me go, in my youth my vision was 20/10 and stayed that way into my 30's. It slowly was tapering off to 20/15, and Dottie was growing very disgusted with getting new glasses corrected to 20/20 and having me read road signs yards before she could. But I was noticing that I couldn't read the numbers on beam torque wrenches anymore as I put a transmission pan back on working under a car, etc.. I cheated and used a yellow crayon or chalk mark, but when I went in to have a piece of steel removed from an eye, I asked about it and was told to get a pair of reading glasses for now and in 5 years or so I'd need bifocals.

My first 2 sets were clear above, but slowly as I hit 50 my distance vision settled to a bit below 20/20; I can still pass the driver's license exam without them and the vision test for my material license at work, but know the day is coming.

So this set will be the first glasses I've had with a distance correction in them. We'll see how it works out!

Picket duty was better than I had feared; I ended up with a "captain" that was someone I had stocked for and knew fairly well, and she and I talked away most of the 6 hours. The rain stopped before our shift, and though it got a bit cool towards sunrise, it could have been worse. Our next shift is next Thursday afternoon, noon to six. Sunscreen for my old bald head!

Today I have to go back to the union hall and sign up to draw strike pay, then run the shopping errands as we are finally having John's birthday dinner tomorrow night. His request was steak, fried mushrooms, mashed potatoes and brown gravy. It's supposed to rain tomorrow; as long as it's not pouring when I need to get the grill out things will be fine. I finally tried the new smoker box I found at Lowe's last week and it worked well, so I'll start some chips soaking this afternoon when I get back from buying the mushrooms.

So, off to the shower and then out and about!

May your weekends be wonderful!


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

They're talking again...

and tonight I get to walk a picket line for the first time; of course I drew the midnight to 6AM shift, lol!

No matter what happens, even if I never set foot in the door again, I draw my first retirement check on July 1st; I made sure I got everything done, signed and mailed before this "came to a head". Hopefully they settle this week and I'll go back and things will be fine; if we're out too long we'll be cooking the books even more than usual, but somehow we'll get by!

Dottie snapped the nose piece on her glasses Monday morning and tried to superglue it; had she not gotten it all over the lens in the process things would have been fine, but there isn't much way to clean that stuff off a plastic lens. She was off today, so we found a new eye doctor and ordered her a new set for the first time in 4years and one for me for the first time in 8 as my eye care and dental will expire the end of the month if we don't go back to work. I didn't want to get mine, but she said if I'm going job hunting it would probably make life much easier...I couldn't argue as my old ones were very "off".

The next line of storms is flirting with moving through, so I'm about to shut down and wander off to bed. I had flipped my hours to "dayish" but then having picket duty tomorrow night I stayed up more like I usually do so I'll have my wits about me tomorrow night.

At least the rain is supposed to be gone by then!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!


Monday, May 05, 2008

Strike 2!

But since we're not talking about baseball, we're out!

Rather than explain it all, a link.

For weeks now I've watched people that were entitled to move to another job be stonewalled by excuse after excuse; people who have seniority and needed or wanted to go to dayshift being held on nights while temps and transfers filled the openings on the opposite shift. A friend, a single mother who has to leave her 3 year old at the sitter overnight because we are working 'til 3:30 AM building Malibus, spends her part of the morning and afternoon with him before dropping him back at the sitters. She was told by him in the middle of a Sunday afternoon the other week that he wanted to go home the sitters! Yet she can't go days with 10 years seniority while someone off the street comes in on dayshift...

We've given up benefits, we've given up language in our local agreements (like the "hardship" language that would have guaranteed my friend a slot on days) these last 2 contracts; we've given up absentee protections, we've given up holidays and raises and bonuses. We are not trying to gain anything in this local agreement, only trying to keep what we have!

So, for the 2nd time in my 30 years, and the 2nd time in 6 months, we are on strike. The last was only a couple of days last fall to get our National Agreement; I've never worked this long without a local agreement, ever. Somehow knowing that it's the right thing to do regardless of the consequences makes it easier. Our seniority is the last thing we have; if management can disregard it and place us wherever they like for however long they like then we have no protection at all! I've done too many jobs through the years that I should have bid off of, paying the consequences with carpal tunnel and screwed up rotaters, bad knees, etc.. There are jobs that you get "too old" (more accurately too "used up") to do; not having the right to move when you need to will actually cost them more than they will save through the course of a contract!

Let's hope they pull their heads out of "the sand" and see the light soon!


Saturday, May 03, 2008

The lights are on...

finally, after about 38 hours without.

Since we had so much rain along with the storms, we got up every hour to hour and a half and used a battery operated sump pump to pump six 5 gallon buckets and carry them outside so the basement didn't flood. Finally at 3 yesterday afternoon when we didn't have lights, knowing I couldn't leave Dottie to do that with her replacement hip and knee (though I'm sure she could, she shouldn't) I called and told GM I would be late; went and bought a generator, dropped a cord to the sump pump, one to the fridge, one to the freezer and one to the living room for lights or whatever.

The float on the real sump pump was somehow damaged during all of this, so this morning I stayed up until Lowe's opened, bought a new one and installed it, then waited until it cycled one time on it's own. At 10:45AM I went to bed...

I'm tired! Going to eat now, and probably fall asleep!

May the rest of your weekends be kind!


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Snuck in a vacation day...

as I had some things to do that couldn't be done without it. Dottie's Malibu needed to visit the dealer, meaning she needed to take my truck to work, meaning I'd have had to ask someone for a ride and though I could have, owing someone a ride when I won't be there anymore didn't seem fair!

Apparently they had a bad run of steering "racks"; ours was replaced at 32,000 under warranty; 8,000 miles later the 2nd one was "clunking" as well.

When we bought it I had them add the remote start option, as the base model didn't come with it in '06; they had some problems with a module when they did it and kept us in a loaner for two days back then. Since then it had developed an occasional "no crank" when you hit the key; no click, nothing. Release it and turn it again and it was fine for the next 20 or 40 times.

They found a burnt terminal at the switch in the column and replaced it, along with "loading an update" to the electronic control module.

The little covers on the vanity mirrors in the visor had quit latching, so they ordered replacements for those as well. I dropped the car at 9 and caught a ride home on their "shuttle"; they called me at noon with the details, along with telling me the front brake pads were getting a little worn.(I told them thank you, I was replacing them this weekend, along with changing the oil and rotating the tires. They might not have been happy about that!)

Since I had only had about 3 hours of sleep, I ate and then dozed off then until 5 when Dottie slipped out of work early so we could pay the $50 deductible on our warranty and go pick up her car with it's $800 worth of work done.

Before she jumped in the shower we called Bill to wish him a "Happiest 30th Birthday" and found out Laura was taking him to dinner at a restaurant they love just west of her, so when he found out I was home he asked if they could come by!

So not only did I get to play slacker for a day; not only did I get to not spend the day in the driveway and then wonder if I had the car close enough to aligned to drive it to someone to do it right; but I got to see my son on his 30th as well!

Being home in the evenings is looking better all the time!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you!