It's the Labor Day Weekend Edition of Sunday Morning Coffee. Your time to sit back and check in with the crazy world of politics, religion and some gossip tossed in to delight you. My name is Michael Libbie and I get to write this stuff just to keep my sanity. Let's go!
For me it used to be an extra day off. Take in an end of summer sale or maybe one more day at the beach. That's changed over the years to a celebration of workers and unions. Some ask me, "How can you be pro-union when you are a business person. Don't business people hate unions?" The quick answer is, "Not the smart business people.". When business plays fair and when business has rules everybody wins. But when they don't, everybody loses. This nation was never more prosperous than when unions were strong.
In the 1950s, when the U.S. economy was growing faster than 3 percent a year, more than a third of all working Americans belonged to a union. Unions gave them enough bargaining clout to get wages that allowed them to buy what the economy was capable of producing.
But as of today less than 7 percent of American workers in the private sector are unionized, the lowest rate of unionization in almost a century.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in their January report told us the result: Americans are poorer today than at any time in the past 50 years. Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers came in at $763 while earnings for union workers is at $970.
This shouldn't be so hard but the elite have convinced you that "Right to Work" is a good thing. It's not and the nation is suffering. How is that working for ya? Happy Labor Day...
The Clown Car is Speeding!
Kim Davis, the Bible Thumping County Clerk from Kentucky is in jail...exactly where she belongs. Meanwhile the clown car full of GOP hopefuls is speeding to her defense and Rev. (Gov.) Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is driving. Last week he told the snake handlers who watch Fox News, "This is the criminalization of Christianity." And went on to say, "Who’s next? Are pastors next? Florists? Caterers? Who else goes to jail before this is over?”
Gov. Huckabee doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of being the GOP nominee but he knows how to fire up the base. Meanwhile Gov. Jindal (R-LA) and others in the lower tier also piled on.
Here is the reality this County Clerk is an elected government official who now says her allegiance to Jesus trumps the law with respect to doing her...elected job. Which brings to mind this question, "How in the heck did you people in 'whatever county' Kentucky elect this person? Never mind...it's Kentucky. Meanwhile GOP front-runner Donald Trump said, "Hey, we got laws. I may not like 'em but we got laws."
Bernie Sanders & the Picket Line
Meanwhile Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined union workers on a picket line in Cedar Rapids last week. Workers at the Penford Products Plant are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union Local 100G, are on the job without a contract but are threatening to strike if a deal is not reached with the new owner, Ingredion Inc. which is an out-of-state company. You can talk the talk...but when you talk and walk it makes an impression. Sanders has a long history of marching with aggrieved workers throughout his career in politics, which includes stints in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and as mayor of Burlington, Vt.
Speaking of Unions
Some things are heating up in the Des Moines Fire Department. This summer members of the union that represent the department took a no-confidence vote against Chief John TeKippe. Of the 257 members eligible to vote 8 voted that they were confident in the leadership of Chief TeKippe, 20 chose not to vote and 221 voted they have "No Confidence" that TeKippe can lead the department. The firefighters have launched a public campaign to inform the citizens of Des Moines because, as they say, "city officials have failed to act".
I caught wind of these troubles months ago when several firefighters told me they were upset that a "parking lot" seemed more important to the Chief than adding more firefighters to an already stretched force. Here is the web-site for Save Des Moines Fire Department. Interesting stuff...you can go...but come back, OK?
Back on Politics Iowa Style
I know some of you are following the polling numbers in the race to the White House. One thing you need to keep in mind. The polling data today is much more shaky than it was some 10 years ago. Back in the day pollsters contacted likely voters by calling their "land-line" telephone. Today an increasing number of young and minority voters have abandoned land-lines in favor of cell phones and they are harder to track.
With that caveat out of the way the most recent numbers are very interesting. Sen. Sanders (I-VT) is leading Sec. Hillary Clinton by nine points in New Hampshire and is closing the gap in Iowa. In June Clinton had a 24 point lead but Sanders has shaved that to an 11 point lead for the Secretary. Vice President Joe Biden, who is not in the race, polls well in Iowa at 20 percent just 7 points below Sanders. Iowans, including me, love Joe. This is starting to get fun.
Meanwhile, here in Iowa, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson lead the rest of the GOP pack by double digits. Trump at 29 percent and Carson at 22 percent. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is the next in line at just 6 percent of likely GOP caucus goers. Sort of says, Republicans don't trust "government types". Which, as you all know, is a very familiar line among them.
This evening hundreds of dinners, all dressed in white, will converge at Cowles Commons in downtown Des Moines for the annual FlashDine - Dinner in White event which was brought to our community by my friend Rachel Formaro and team. Everybody takes their own tables, food, chairs, centerpieces, wine...and BAM FlashDine! You going?
School Board Voting
Hey, heads up! Tuesday is voting day for School Board Elections! The turnout is always abysmal so that is why YOU need to go and vote. If you do not know who has the best interests of the teachers and students in mind take a moment and visit the ISEA Voter Guide site. Just plug in your address and you'll have some names in front of you. You have been asked now, go...VOTE on Tuesday!
I tried to find them, just to take the photo for Labor Day. I have several campaign medals that belonged to my Grandfather z"l. He was a union organizer for the Congress of Industrial Organizations CIO back in the 30's and 40's before the merger with the American Federation of Labor to become the AFL-CIO. Those where the days when people, like my grandfather, got their heads beat in by hired "company goons" who were intent on doing the bidding for their corporate masters. Those same "corporate masters" are alive and well today and while they no longer use billy-clubs they still get you to believe that "right to work" is good for you and America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tomorrow is Labor Day and I will proudly be marching with the unions and the Polk County Democrats in the Annual Labor Day Parade that rolls from the Capitol to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Which, if you think about it is a bit odd because outside of Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) I can't think of a crowd more anti-union than the Iowa Fair Board. But hey, it's a nice walk...and we'll have candy.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful Sunday and Labor Day...and...thank the Unions that you have a last holiday of Summer 2015.