Archive for the ‘Commentary by G. Namie’ Category


Russell Brand’s eloquent tribute to Robin Williams

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

It may surprise those of you who have never read a Russell Brand essay on the wrongness of austerity or the ills of contemporary society to realize the comedic man has depth and insight. And so I expected his tribute to Robin Williams to be equally brilliant. Here is the full essay.

I chose the excerpt below to capture Brand’s point about our very human fragility that gets bulldozed by our “man up” compassionless society.

What platitudes then can we fling along with the listless, insufficient wreaths at the stillness that was once so animated and wired, the silence where the laughter was? That fame and accolades are no defence against mental illness and addiction? That we live in a world that has become so negligent of human values that our brightest lights are extinguishing themselves? That we must be more vigilant, more aware, more grateful, more mindful? That we can’t tarnish this tiny slice of awareness that we share on this sphere amidst the infinite blackness with conflict and hate?

That we must reach inward and outward to the light that is inside all of us? That all around us people are suffering behind masks less interesting than the one Robin Williams wore? Do you have time to tune in to Fox News, to cement your angry views to calcify the certain misery?

What I might do is watch Mrs Doubtfire. Or Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting and I might be nice to people, mindful today how fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire.

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Got a Minute? Prototypical Target

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

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Colbert’s take on Manhattan inequality — separate building entrance for the “poor”

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

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Rare twist: Employees loyal to ousted CEO protest and boycott

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

A grocery store chain, DeMoulas Market Basket, started in 1916 in Lowell, Massachusetts by two Greek immigrants is at the center of a rare remarkable demonstration of employee and customer loyalty.

The original Market Basket founders sold their store to two sons, brothers Mike and George, in 1954. When George died, a blood feud began, claiming (and a 1994 court agreeing) that Mike had cheated George and his family out of $500 million. George’s son, Arthur S. Demoulas, still became Boston’s 8th wealthiest person.

Arthur T. Demoulas, Mike’s son and the cousin of Arthur S., was named CEO in 2008 by the Market Basket Board of Directors controlled by Arthur S. (History from the Demoulas corporate website. More history from a Boston Globe video.)

The the all male board, led by Arthur S. attempted to fire Arthur T. in 2013, and eventually did fire him on June 23, 2014. Two other executives were fired and six quit.

As CEO, Arthur T. was committed to the firm’s 25,000 employees like few American CEOs. Said the Boston Globe about him:

It’s easy to see why the employees love Arthur T., who has been generous to them to a degree that drives his relatives crazy. One of the acts that drew their ire was replacing $46 million that their profit-sharing plan lost in the market during the 2008 financial meltdown. Arthur T. thought it was money the employees were entitled to. His cousins argued, not unreasonably, that investments sometimes go sour.

The Market Basket melodrama exploded outside the board room when loyal employees and customers took to the streets to protest and to gather signatures on petitions to re-instate Arthur T.

Here’s the account from WMUR-TV:

(more…)

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Got a Minute? Workplace Bullying Kills!

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

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Stupid state lawmakers deliberately distort science

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

“Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.”
Mark Twain

I’m starting to sound like my father and can’t believe I question nearly every day “what is this world coming to?” Near the top of my “it’s all going to hell” list is America’s turning its back on science — unabashedly, proudly, defiantly — through legislation.

In the UK, the BBC has banned from their airwaves crackpot guests preaching that climate change is not real. The change is to bolster scientific integrity. Staff will receive training in science and scientific conferences will be attended by staff to stay abreast of developments.

Deniers get equivalence here in the US. One denier with one believer (proxy by Bill Nye, the “Science Guy”). Viewers ignorant of the facts could conclude that climate change is not really something to be concerned about. The fallacy of this false equivalence was never more clear than this demonstration by comedian John Oliver on his HBO show This Week Tonight.

And recently the British government extended its public school ban on teaching pseudoscience, creationism, to cover “academies” and “free schools,” the equivalent of charter schools in the States. The government recognizes the religious bases of the founders of such schools. Thus creationism promotes religion and has no business in the teaching of science.

America is headed in the other direction, driving headfirst into ignorance. Creationists and advocates for “intelligent design” in the US seem to be gaining clout. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) 2014 legislative scorecard identified states that are attempting to make their children science illiterates.

(more…)

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Got a Minute? For Employers

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

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Men are Subjected to Workplace Bullying too

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Here is a great video from Sue O’Donnell RN, MN, PhD, University of New Brunswick. The strong illustrations of men being bullied at work is supported by WBI research. According to the 2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey males comprise 40% of bullied targets.

Men Workplace Bullying from Nick Wilson Videography on Vimeo.

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Healthy Workplace Bill legislation: A 2014 perspective on distorted amendments

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The Healthy Workplace Campaign is WBI’s effort to enact anti-bullying legislation for the American workplace state by state. The model bill is called the Healthy Workplace Bill (HWB).


Features of the HWB

• Suffolk University Law Professor David C. Yamada, text author, used federal Title VII Civil Rights laws as basis

• Defines severe abusive conduct — does not use term workplace bullying

• Provides legal redress for anyone subjected to abusive conduct, whether or not the person is a member of a protected status group

• Requires that abusive conduct result in either demonstrable health or economic harm to plaintiff

• Plaintiffs who file lawsuits make public formerly hidden, confidential employer processes that hide and deny bullying

• Prohibits retaliation against any participant in procedures involved in dealing with the abusive conduct complaint

• Requires plaintiffs to hire private attorneys, no fiscal impact on state government

• Provides incentives (affirmative defenses) for employers who implement genuine corrective procedures

• Preserves managerial prerogative to discipline and terminate employees

• Does not interfere with state workers’ compensation laws or union CBAs

We named the HWB in 2002. All other uses of the name HWB are unauthorized by us. California first introduced the HWB in 2003. It has been carried in over half of states and two territories since. The Workplace Bullying Institute trains and provides support to a national network of volunteer Sate Coordinators who lobby their respective state legislators to sponsor the HWB. You can track its status at the HWB website.

Botched Amendments & Unanticipated Consequences

As authors of the HWB, we naturally want the full and original version of the bill enacted into law. And we realize compromises will be made during the process. It is “sausage making,” after all. We just wish all bill sponsors would refuse to allow major revisions that change the spirit of the bill from protecting abused workers to something else. Since the HWB was first introduced, different amendments have been proposed or made.

Often the well-intended sponsor, a pro-worker advocate, agrees to compromise adopting the belief that the law can be built in steps. Let’s get this version passed now and it will be revisited in the coming years and supplemented with the other desired provisions.

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Punishment too light for employer-caused death & toxifying river systems

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

In this space we regularly call for greater employer accountability and the enactment of laws that make that accountability more likely than is currently done voluntarily. Our domain is the non-physical safety threat. U.S. workers are supposedly to be made safe from threats to their physical safety.

OSHA, a “regulatory” agency responsible for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S. seems to have trouble accomplishing its mission. “OSHA’s mission is to assure safe and healthful workplaces by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Wondering if by assistance, OSHA means delivering “waivers” to destructive employers who poison and take lives.

For example, the following two stories of injustice based on token punishment will curdle your blood.

Story 1.

A CSC Sugar plant in Fairless Hills, PA provides sugar for Snapple and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The plant is staffed and managed entirely by temp workers. According to ProPublica statistics, temporary workers are most at risk for safety hazards at worksites in states where data exist.

In February 2013, Peruvian New Jersey resident Janio Salinas was unclogging the machine from below. He was buried alive and asphyxiated. Coworkers found him after they returned from lunch. The onsite temp manager had complained about this potential hazard to a higher level manager until a safety platform was installed. However, the big boss instructed the temp manager to remove that platform because it had slowed the flow of sugar, had slowed down “production.” That big boss lied about his order to investigators, claiming ignorance about the platform (picture on the left). His costly decision was made 13 days before Salinas was buried. Turns out the only cost was Salinas’ life.

Next came the OSHA investigation. OSHA initially fined CSC $25,855 but after CSC installed a safety guard and started using a new procedure to break up sugar clumps, the fine was reduced to $18,098 (for good behavior???). Jean Kulp, director of OSHA’s Allentown, PA, office, told Univision that her agency doesn’t have the ability to shut down businesses, has limited criminal enforcement provisions, and found the CSC had not been “willfully in violation,” which would have triggered bigger fines despite a record of repeated violations.

$18,098 for a man’s life!

Kulp’s ultimate insult to the Salinas’ surviving family: CSC had not in her judgement shown “total disregard” for its workers.

Thanks to Daily Kos for the tip to the tale.

(more…)

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