Getting down & dirty with Jesus on Palm Sunday
Expanded from the 4-8-2001 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
I like Jesus of Nazareth. He knew how to sell something. Even philosophies and religions require marketing. Jesus set the world standard for rabble rousers, social malcontents and hellraisers for the next two millenia.
He ticked off the power structure by pointing out hypocrisy. The influential Pharisee sect kept the letter but not the spirit of Jewish law. To get around a prohibition against venturing far on the Sabbath, some Pharisees merely purchased a square inch of land at strategic points around town so that they were always close to "home."
Historical scholars make a case that the world's first union carpenter was assassinated as much for his creation of political unrest against Rome as much as for ticking off the Judaean establishment. The locals were looking for a military messiah and this guy seemed to fill the bill, notwithstanding his irritating habit of reminding them that armed revolution was not his thing.
Never underestimate the power of ideas. The Judaeo-Roman power structure certainly did not and hung the offender from a cross. Somewhere in the process, I've got a hunch Jesus told his tormentors pretty much what Obi-Wan Kenobi told Lord Darth Vader: kill me and I become more powerful than you can ever imagine.
Fully aware that Palm Sunday's parade grand marshall can easily become Good Friday's Grateful Dead, herewith a non-violent call to arms to the less exalted among us.
DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN Washoe Med nurses picket during a one-day strike on 6-23-2001. The issues were the same as during a 1990 organizing drive and remain today: Understaffing which erodes patient care so that the conglomerate may profit and proliferate on the backs of health care consumers and taxpayers.
GET DOWN WITH THE HEALERS. The bandidos at Washoe Medical Center recently sponsored a career day to convince high schoolers to undertake slave labor for the greater glory of the great octopus on Mill Street. The kids got free skiing and hospital tours. They apparently didn't get to talk with overstressed frontline nurses who are targets of management persecution.
In 1989, concerned for the lives of infants, overworked pediatric intensive care nurses started talking about organizing a union. Fearing the power of an idea, Washoe Med pulled out all the stops and promised the sun, moon and stars.
Fast-forward a few years and nurses were still so worried about understaffing hurting patient care that they started calling unions again. Washoe Med and St. Mary's immediately imported hoardes of $250 per hour union busters to educate staff about the horrors of working together to speak in unity.
In 1999, Washoe Med nurses voted to organize under the umbrella of the Operating Engineers, the same union representing City of Sparks employees. The Washoe Med pirate ship has engaged in a couple of years of bad faith bargaining, culminating with a press release sent out after 5:00 p.m. last Friday.
Under the guise of announcing pay increases, management served notice of unilateral and probably illegal imposition of a contract already rejected by its own nurses. In order to keep from hiring full-timers who might be (gasp) union sympathizers, Washoe Med has spent more than $1 million over the past nine months flying in out of state nurses from an expensive temp service. They've also developed relationships with professional strikebreakers in case the nurses get too uppity.
As I noted last year, the nurses must strike. Otherwise, patients will continue to be jeopardized by short-staffing, corner-cutting and penny pinching by a beast which has metastasized into one of the largest, most profitable businesses in Nevada. Other area hospitals have plenty of capacity to fill in.
PUTTING DOWN CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Carson City, under threat of turf invasion by the Washoe Med machine, is considering the sale of Tahoe-Carson Hospital to a private, non-profit corporation, but first must determine a price.
The capital city's mayor and supervisors should read the 1995 Washoe County Grand Jury report criticizing the privatization of Washoe Med. They will find that a facility worth as much as $120 million in 1985 dollars was hijacked by the current ownership for $3 million. Rather than cut health care costs to the community as promised, Washoe Med management embarked on ambitious empire-building.
Beware the friend who kisses you on the cheek in the garden of olives.
GET DOWN WITH THE TEACHERS. Like the besieged nurses, Nevada teachers must embark on an aggressive new approach to knock some sense into Gov. Dudley Do-Right and his mounties down at the legislature. Washoe Med's nurses should develop a strategy whereby the current nurses cannot be replaced or locked out by strikebreakers.
Teachers likewise should strike without technically striking. Spring is contract renewal time. Every teacher in the state should now serve notice about non-renewal for the next school year. Gomorrah South, already at least a couple thousand short, will collapse and that will get Dudley's attention. Sometimes, you gotta get mad. Tell 'em Jesus sent you.
GET DOWN WITH THE MONEY CHANGERS. Jesus got mad at the money changers and kicked their butts out of Solomon's Temple. The usurers went on to found Las Vegas.
Their descendants are now screaming like stuck pigs about Sally Denton and Roger Morris, authors of "The Money and the Power The making of Las Vegas and its hold on America." I'm going to get my copy signed by Denton and Morris this Wednesday beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Sundance Books at Fourth and Keystone in Reno.How ticked off is Gomorrah South? Last Sunday, the Las Vegas Sun printed a page and a half trashing the book.
GET DOWN ON THE SIERRA PACIFIC POWER STRUCTURE. The Nevada Utility Reform Alliance meets again this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), 1101 Riverside Drive in Reno. (For more information, see the Barbwire Energy Crisis War Room.)
PLAN, along with the Gail Bishop Chapter of the National Council of Senior Citizens and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) will co-sponsor a town hall forum on the nursing crisis at the Reno Elks Club at 10:00 a.m. on April 21.
Be well. Raise hell.
Editor's Note 9-21-2007: Many of the news links on this site are from Nevada dailies. In late 2006, the Reno Gannett-Journal began nuking much of its archive. If you encounter any broken links at left, and I am sure you will, I encourage you to contact them and send me a copy. On the one hand, they want to build their web traffic in order to increase the price of ads. On the other hand, they are killing that very traffic. Far be it from me to reconcile the Dilbert-style motivations of an outfit for which a 38 percent net profit is not enough. If you can explain it, please enlighten me. (Before you e-mail me, please read this bulletin. Thank you. AB)
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Andrew Barbano is a 32-year Nevadan, a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com . Barbwire by Barbano hasoriginated in the Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988 .
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