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Our Culture Inchoate: Climate and Unions #23

Updated: Oct 16, 2019


BRITTANY BOWERS (BB): Good evening, everyone, and thank you for coming back after the break. I know this appears to be a slow news day except for the Mueller talk yesterday, but we have been given official word that Congresswoman Honoria Torres of New Jersey, a democrat, will be challenging Speaker Pelosi by requesting a confidence vote on the floor tomorrow, Friday, at 1000am. This is an unusual circumstance, and one which we do not believe has any precedent in our nation’s history. The Speaker agreed to the vote and told us earlier tonight, off camera, that she is very confident that she will prevail, and has hinted that her long-standing position on “no impeachment” will change after she “takes care of Torres,” as has been reported.

The Speaker is under a lot of internal pressure after Robert Mueller implied that the president was not exonerated by his long-awaited report, contradicting both Trump and Attorney General Barr. It looks like the Nadlers and Schiffs of the democratic caucus will likely prevail, and bring along many republican votes, too.

ROB RUNTMAN (RR): Yes, it does, Brittany. What makes the vote for the speakership so interesting is the timing. Clearly the Speaker’s position in respect to a weakened president is enhanced. So why the charge for the gavel from what many call a democrat-in-name-only?

TOMMY TOBIAS (TT): Honoria Torres might take exception to that, Rob, but her views on several issues, generally against impeachment, and abortion and guns in particular, do fly in the face of left dogma.

I think Torres sees this as her only shot at it, and is forcing her peers to decide to take a stand, one way or the other. It may blow up in her face and give Speaker Pelosi a stronger hand… one that is locked into impeachment.

BB: But who is Honoria Torres? A former teacher and three term congresswoman from New Jersey, married to a Marine veteran and the daughter of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty, mother of four who still lives in the house she grew up in, with her own mother.

RR: We have a couple clips of Torres from the past…

Grainy cut from a campaign speech in September of 2016…

TORRES: As to climate, I am not a scientist. We all know that polluting indiscriminately is wrong-headed. Here is my take in layman’s terms. The climate is always changing. There is serious and compelling evidence that industrialization and man-made use of the environment is hastening tidal and temperature fluctuations above the normal trend of time, and without a concerted world-wide effort we, you and me, could be hastening our own demise and that of our planet.

Everyone can agree that responsible reuse and recycle efforts, combined with aggressive research on alternative fuels that do not harm the atmosphere, is not just a good idea but a moral imperative and mandate for action.

Here is where some debate is worthwhile. Reasonable people can disagree on how to go about this. On one hand some people advocate paying for third world improvements to infrastructure and allowing these emerging nations (in respect to the environment) be allowed uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels. The problem is the burden, largely financial, would be carried by the West, and the USA in particular. Other people think that using less coal, incentivizing renewal sources, legislating against plastic straws and Styrofoam is all we need to do. It should be somewhere between all that.

What I find curious is that the scientific community is not in agreement, and the science of it all is in their wheelhouse. We need more scientists and ecologists in politics, in order to bring more clarity to our options. Do I have a solution? No, but I am more than willing to support a reasoned, non-hysterical approach.

On a side note, I do not think we have tapped the bounty and enormity of our planet’s oceans like we should… from a source of renewable power to increased use as a food source. I think there’s much there, but again it is not my strength to speculate on the oceans’ potential, except to recognize that it’s there. END CLIP

TT: Well, that clip will not endear her to the hard left in the democratic party.

BB: Why doesn’t she just come out as a republican?

RR: She has strong union roots, for one thing. As a teacher and the daughter of a policeman, Congresswoman Torres is a democrat in her DNA, as she likes to say.

TT: We have another clip that our viewers might find interesting, from her fist campaign in 2014.

Grainy cut from a focus meeting in August 2014…

TORRES: I belong to the teachers’ union. I also worked a union job during a “free period” granted as a contract concession to account for vacation coverage. A two-tier wage system, if you will. It may not sound attractive to someone seeking consistent full-time employment, but it is an industry standard in many union job classes.

As to the teacher’s union. I am a proud and active member. The elected union leadership does a great job representing the teachers’ contracts with school boards and townships on a local, state, and national level. Much anti-union blather is because of alleged substandard performers who have broken rules, or managements’ interpretations of the rules. Understand that there are egregious examples of all kinds of situations, and although it can be emotionally charged, the accused in all these cases still needs representation… and unions defend all their members, not just the people they like, and must do so zealously, just like a private attorney would.

And this applies whether you teach kids or drive a truck.

(polite laughter from an unseen crowd)

I have had the pleasure of working as a casual driver for UPS for four summers between the birth of my daughter and the arrival of our triplets. Hard physical work, and really chaotic given that if I was lucky I ran the same route for a week, but more than half the time I ran a different route every day.

To the manager’s credit, my delivery route was usually pruned a little, and I was told to first, work safe, and second, get everything delivered. If I hit a snag or there was too much to handle, all I had to do was call for help. And sometimes it came, haha. I did learn something about human nature, too. People want to help others, to do a favor, so-to-speak. But you gotta ask. No one can read your mind.

But there were lots of pluses, even on the roughest, hottest, craziest of days. The other drivers in the area would meet me on the route, offer advice, help sort out problems and generally keep me laughing. UPSers, and teamsters, are awesome people. Although I was a casual seasonal hire and not technically in that union, the shop steward came to me on the second day there, and reiterated that I should work safe, do my best, but that if anyone tried to screw with me to let him know. I appreciated the reassurance. Actually, in the center, the terminal I worked in, everyone got along fine, without drama, with softball games, beers after work, cookouts on property every now and then, that sort of thing. Great, hard-working, and fun people. I miss them.

What’s that? Oh, the two-tier wage, yes I did mention that. I think it’s less complicated than it sounds. I was a casual hire. I worked for only seven weeks in the summer for extra cash. If I needed time off or an early day, sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn’t. The regular drivers, who made twice what I made had greater levels of accountability and sometimes twice the work in the same amount of time. They earned every nickel, let me tell you. Even with a reputation of being hard physical work and mentally taxing, the UPS driver job is in high demand. It takes years to get a permanent job in most locations, and the demand was created by teamster business agents negotiating the best possible contract for its membership. And the company thrives, too.

Yes? Oh yes, the best part of being in a union. I would say recognizing seniority. You can’t put an older employee to pasture because of a personality conflict or a less physical pace. There’s a process, there’s an agreement, there’s a contract. And face it, one of the strengths of this great nation is recognition and respect for contracts. END


TT: Very interesting clips… and very friendly, too. And a little all over the place. Clearly these are not controversial subjects…

BB: Well, our producers choose these things, and I agree, these are dated and generally pro-Torres, putting her in a positive light, without showing her more extreme views on things.

RR: People can make their own judgments, but I came away… liking her. A fresh face, with different experience coming to Washington. The first clip was running for her second term. She is more polished, more confident. The second clip was her first campaign, and shows her softer and more approachable, but nervous. She won that first election in a walk, but her hold on that seat may come down to tomorrow’s vote.

TT: And now a raccoon who can play the accordion. Did I read that right? Oh, for crying out loud!

Cut to commercial…

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