Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blues on a Saturday : Fenton Robinson Somebody Loan Me a Dime


Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, Robinson left his home at the age of 18 to move to Memphis, Tennessee where he recorded his first single "Tennessee Woman" in 1957.[2] He settled in Chicago in 1962.[2] He recorded his signature song, "Somebody Loan Me a Dime", in 1967 on the Palos label, the nationwide distribution of which was aborted by a freak snow storm hitting the Windy City. Covered by Boz Scaggs (with a searing lead guitar by then session musician Duane Allman) in 1969, the song was misattributed, resulting in legal battles. It has since become a blues standard, being "part of the repertoire of one out of every two blues artists", according to 1997's Encyclopedia of Blues.[3]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Class War in Wisconsin

Don Taylor has a great report on Wisconsin on the Talking Union blog

As I write this, we are in our fourth day of demonstrations against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill and its’ provisions to effectively eliminate public sector collective bargaining. Today, the Democrats in the senate have fled the state, leaving the Republicans one vote short of a quorum to pass the bill. The Democrats say they will not return until the anti-union provisions are off the table.

Disguised as a bill to fix a shortfall in the current budget, this bill would:

  • Abolish public sector collective bargaining on all topics except wages. There would be no more negotiating leaves of absence, health and safety, discipline for just cause, or anything else. Negotiated wage increases would be capped at CPI; in other words, no real negotiation could occur.
  • Prohibit public employers from deducting union dues via payroll deduction. This measure is one of several that demonstrate the bill’s true intent, because it represents no savings whatsoever for the taxpayer.
  • Require all unionized units to hold annual decertification elections. Again, this relates to the budget in no way whatsoever, and is the most blatant example of the ideological agenda behind this bill.
  • Impose higher employee costs for health care and pensions for state employees.
  • Institute “right to work” for public employees.
In other words, an existing unionized unit would have to collect hand dues, would be unable to collect payment from free riders, and would be prohibited from negotiating anything except wages at some level below the rate of inflation. Then, as employee discontent grows over a perception that “the union can’t do anything,” along would come the state-mandated annual decertification vote.

Blues on a Saturday: Junior Parker "Drivin' Wheel"

Junior Parker was one of the great bluesmen of the post-WWII generation.

His "Mystery Train" was covered by Elvis Presley. I first heard "Driving Wheel" covered by the Butterfield Blues Band.

Monday, February 07, 2011

World Trade Unions Mobilising for Democracy in Egypt: February 8 Action Day

Trade unions around the world will join a Day of Action for Democracy in Egypt on 8 February, following a decision by the ITUC General Council meeting in Brussels. Unions will organise demonstrations at Egyptian embassies, and continue to press their governments to demand democratic transition in Egypt and to ensure that those responsible for the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations are brought to justice.

“We will continue to push the international community to put pressure on the regime of Hosni Mubarak to respect the wishes of the Egyptian people. Our support for Egypt’s independent trade unions and the other forces for democracy is unwavering, and we are determined that there shall be no impunity for the people responsible for the killings, assaults and intimidation of innocent people,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Saturday, February 05, 2011