Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Bitter Strike Ends Badly for CAT Workers

CAT worker Vickey Pogliano reacts to results of the strike vote outside of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union hall in Joliet on Friday.

The rich, corporate hacks at Caterpillar Tractor are celebrating this weekend.  They have busted out another union, this time the Machinists Union at the Joliet, Illinois CAT plant.  Look at the above photo of CAT worker Vickey Pogliano.  It even makes ME cry!  Vickey and other 600 machinists in the local voted to return to work on Friday--they HAD to--they'd been without a salary since May 1st.  But Joliet CAT workers will be paying double for health care, their pensions have been frozen, and those hired before May of 2005 get no raise.  There is a $3,100 one-time signing bonus for all workers.  Big blankin' deal!

CAT CEO Douglas Oberhelman is smiling.  His company has busted out another labor union.

This is in contrast to CAT's CEO,  Douglas R. Oberhelman, who made $49,114,564 in 2011, according to Morningstar.  Six CAT "group presidents" averaged over six million dollars for the same year.  That's like winning the lottery every year!  The executives' salaries go up, the plant workers' salaries go down.

Tier I Cat workers (workers who were hired before May 1, 2005) will continue making an average of $26.35 an hour for the next six years.  There is no raise. 

So it is in the corporate run America of 2012.

What CAT is doing to its workers is criminal.  Here is a company that is getting $330,000,000 in tax breaks per year from the State of Illinois, is making money hand-over-foot, and CAT cannot pay give its workers a cost of living increase?  Shouldn't the CAT workers be sharing in the company's good fortune? 

Yes they should!

The Republicans like to talk about President Obama starting a campaign of class warfare when the president proposes raising the income taxes of those making over $250,000 per year.  But what CAT did to its Joliet machinists is the real class warfare.

Just think what Vickey Pogliano and her family will have to do.  First, Vickey will have to work longer because her pension has been frozen.  The night when she and her husband took the kids out to Pizza Hut will fall by the wayside.  Instead of having chicken every Sunday, the family will eat rice and beans.  Any hope of sending the kids to college will disappear.  They will have to find their own way to college.  The back-to-school supplies and clothes will not happen this year.

Meanwhile Doug Oberhelman's salary went up 42% this year because of CAT's record profits.  Doug and his wife Diane will have a multi-million dollar pension when he retires.  They can vacation anywhere they want in the world.   I can't believe this guy's from Woodstock.  In my next life I'm going to have a long talk with him in 1965 as I hold him by his shoe laces over the side of bridge above the Chicago & Northwestern tracks. ("Now when you grow up, you're going to be a Chuck Percy Republican, Dougie! Got that?")

The question then is how long will Americans sit by and watch this go on?  How long before you get up off your dead ass, head out into the streets, and protest what CAT and all of corporate America is doing to the middle class?

Here's hoping you get up soon.  Time's running out!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Governor Gets His Oats at Illinois State Fair

Take a look at the photograph above, fellow teachers!  This picture of Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, which was taken at the Illinois State Fair yesterday, should scare the crap out of you as the Illinois State Legislature gets ready to re-convene on August 17th to consider pension reform for Illinois teachers.

I get as paranoid looking at this photo as I did when a Crystal Lake cop car pulled up behind me in 1968.  Madigan and Quinn have been at odds over school districts footing the costs of future pension payments for active teachers.  Madigan thinks the Illinois school districts should pay the pension costs since they are giving huge end-of-career salary increases to administrators; Quinn and his new-found Republican buddies believe that property taxes would go way up if the school districts have to pay pension costs.  Quinn and Republican House Minority Leader Tom Cross want to wait and phase in a system where school districts pay teachers' pensions over a ten year period.

Now Madigan and Quinn have their arms around each other?  Yikes!  Have they made peace?  And Madigan in a White Sox cap?  I'm going to ask the wife if the Cubs will have me as a fan (like Mike Royko did in reverse!).  I want nothing to do with either of these two jokers.

All the experts are saying that nothing will happen on August 17th, but this photo tells a different story, fellow teachers.

Union members are not sitting still.  According to the Springfield State Journal Register, Governor Quinn was booed off the stage when he spoke Wednesday at the Illinois State Fair.  The union protesters followed Quinn all the way from the Democratic County Chairmen's breakfast until the governor finally bailed out and fled the fair grounds after the booing in the afternoon.

Look at the photo above, no one will shake Quinn's hand!  Don't you love the look on the farmer's face?  Classic!

Quinn was so flustered during his boo-shortened speech that he called President Obama, Osama bin Laden:  "I think everybody knows that Obama, uh, he's gone, he's dead, and the American auto industry is alive and well, thanks to our president."

Madigan also got booed, and the unions hired a plane to fly over the fair grounds with a banner that said, "Gov Quinn--unfair to workers."

Get to the phones, teachers.  Quinn and Madigan can't screw us unless they have the Republican votes in the legislature.  If you have Republican representatives and senators (like I do), call them and tell them to vote "no" on any bill that would raise property taxes.

It may be our last chance!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Taking an August Breath During Chicago's Sports Season

The Chicago baseball teams had a day off yesterday, so all sports addicts had a chance to reflect on the baseball season and what's going on with the other off-season team.

Let's take a look!

White Sox righthander Jake Peavy
Chicago White Sox:  The first place Sox have been lucky and good.  And you need that during a pennant race--look what happened in 2005!  Kevin Youkilis was a real steal from the Red Sox (Is Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine really that bad?), and Brett Myers has pitched well so far in a set-up role.  I just love starting pitcher Jake Peavy, who was maligned by the Chicago media establishment as a "waste of money" all last season when he was coming off surgery.  Just goes to show you what those idiots in the sports media know.  Peavy will top 200 innings pitched, and he'll make it hard for the Sox to let him go next year.  Here's hoping that the Sox re-sign Jake, and look to get a 2nd baseman.  Robin Ventura FINALLY benched Gordon Beckham on Wednesday against the Twins.  The problem is that back-up Orlando Hudson's batting average is worse than Beckham's.  The Sox also need a back-up catcher who can hit over a buck eighty.  Some think starting catcher A.J. Pierzynski is the best catcher in modern Sox history, and I'm not arguing with that premise--at all! (Sorry, Pudge!)

Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman.
Chicago Cubs:  Get ready for 100 losses, Cubs fans.  Any chance of a .500 season went out the door when the Cubs dumped Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Geo Soto, and Reed Johnson at the trade deadline on Tuesday.  Man, that was a house cleaning!  What's left?  Well, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, that's what!  I don't think Darwin Barney will make the down-the-line cut, and Steve Clevenger will NEVER be an everyday catcher.  Who else is there?  Vitters?  Jackson?  More minor leaguers?  Cubs GM Theo Epstein wanted to trade Matt Garza and Alphonso Soriano last Tuesday but couldn't.  Garza has a bad elbow, and Soriano supposedly  nixed a trade to the Giants.  I went to a game last year that Casey Coleman started, and I swore, never again.  Let's see if the lemmings that are Cub fans continue to fill that ballpark.  I know I won't be there.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears hype machine is in full throttle.  In fact it's worse than ever.  Even some of the national mopes point to the Bears as a playoff team and a threat to unseat Green Bay as Central Division champs.

Don't believe it!

Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi.  Will he make the whole season?
Here's why the Bears won't win and won't make the playoffs.  First, the offensive line can't protect quarterback Jay Cutler.  First round draft choice Chris Williams is a a bust, and the rest of the line (except for center Roberto Garza) is a piecemeal bunch.  Right tackle Gabe Carimi's knee is a big question mark, and there is absolutely no depth behind the starters.  How can a team that was so lousy up front last year not draft an offensive lineman?  Easy, every offensive lineman they draft is a bust.  We'll know about Carimi soon.  The Bears sure botched his surgery--wait, his two surgeries!

Second, Cutler will get hurt because the offensive line is so bad.  Back-up QB Jason Campbell will be better than Caleb Haney, but anyone's better than that guy (It makes you wonder how these coaches evaluate talent, doesn't it?).  The Bears will become more of a running team under Campbell, which will result in running back Matt Forte going down.  Michael Bush will be better than Marion Barber, but anyone is better than Barber (No, Jim, don't think of the Denver game again!  You'll have nightmares!)

Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett.  How's the lacerated liver?
Third, the receivers are definitely better in 2012, but the number two guy is still a rookie, Alshon Jeffery.  And look at the questions about Jeffery's conditioning and his heart.  I love Earl Bennett, but the Bears just admitted this week that Bennett sustained a lacerated liver in that New Orleans game last year.  Can Bennett be a no. 2 or 3 receiver?  And I'm so sick of the talk about Devin Hester being the new Johnny Morris.  Hester will be 30 this fall.  Watch for a fall off in his production.  I know, I know, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Marshall!  All I have to say is look at his track record.  Miami gave him away.  That's telling!

Defensive end or linebacker?  Bears No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin
Fourth, the defense has no depth--none, nada.  When Green Bay won its last Super Bowl, the Packers were decimated by injuries, but they  overcame those injuries with depth.  There is no depth on the Bears.  No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin is undersized for a defensive end, and Bears Coach Lovie Smith is determined to play McClellin at end, not linebacker where he seems to fit better.  Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is age 34, outside linebacker Lance Briggs will be 32 in November, and cornerback Charles Tillman is 32.  Heck, Julius Peppers will turn 33 in January.  These ages are not a bad sign alone, but when you look at the players behind these starters, there's no one home.  Safety Major Wright has been a major disappointment.  Safety Chris Conte is bordering on being a bust and hurt all the time, and defensive tackle Stephen Paea must become a factor this season.  I'm scared that this defense, if left on the field too long, won't be able to stop anybody. 

Bears assistant coach Jeremy Bates
Fifth, coaching.  The Bears players love Lovie Smith, but he continues to be the worst game coach in the NFL, and his talent evaluation is horrible.  Remember Earl Bennett being inactive for a whole year when he was healthy?  Jeremy Bates is a breath of fresh air on the coaching staff, but he's kind of a free spirit who doesn't fit into Smith's rigid tell nothing to the media mantra.  Lovie better produce because this team can't miss the playoffs again.

Unfortunately, I think the Bears will just sneak into the playoffs at 9-7 or will duplicate last year and finish 8-8. 

Hopefully, the White Sox will be entertaining us in October!