Friday, May 7, 2010

"A Swarm of Bees in May is Worth a Load of Hay"

Or so says an old rhyme from England, anyway.

We're one week into May, and we've had thunderstorms, wind, bright sun, and temps in the 80s. Every day it's something different.

I had a migraine yesterday that has had me down most of the day today, but I'm slowly starting to feel a bit better. Thought I'd best make a post while I feel up to it, and while I'm thinking about it.

On Tuesday, April 27, a federal mediator met with the union and the company. We think maybe the mayor of the city called him in, but we don't know for sure; actually it could have been the company's shareholders who did so. The union didn't, and the company says it didn't. The negotiating team met with them for almost two full days and got everything worked out. The workers voted on the new contract this past Sunday, and it was ratified, 400+ for and 85 against.

The clause that was the main cause of contention was taken out. This was a clause that would have allowed the company to make changes to or do away with the medical benefits offered in the contract with no warning and without waiting for the contract to expire. This is what they had done to the non-union employees a couple of years ago. This was the cause of the strike. Several times union officials or striking employees were given an opportunity to speak to the media, and whenever they did and brought up this clause, it was cut out, so that to anyone who didn't know better it looked like the workers were just being difficult and that the company was offering a good deal. This was very frustrating to us, so much so that I was about to compose a fiery letter to all the media outlets, when we got word that the federal mediator was getting involved.

The strikers got even more than they wanted. They ended up with better benefits than the company was offering in the first negotiations. They had to take a bit less on the ratification bonus, but it was worth it.

The company played some stupid tricks, though, and tried to get away with something illegal. The second week into the strike they sent out letters calling back some of the union employees that they had laid off last year. One or more of them had the sense to take their letters to the union, and the union's lawyer investigated and then informed the company that it was illegal for them to do that. I had a feeling they would try to replace the striking work force with ones they'd laid off. This new group they have running the company really has no idea what it's doing. I expect to see some highly-placed heads roll after this.

Now for the fun part! Even though technically they went back to work this week, most of the employees have had to be sent home for lack of work. They apparently weren't able to keep up with things with just their small skeleton crew of supervisors and the 28 who crossed the picket line, so they aren't set up to full production yet. It will probably be the middle of next week or the week after before Thomas' department is in full swing. He only worked 4 hours this week. Of course, since he had registered with the unemployment office back in January when they were losing work because of the weather, and because he's been going online and keeping his record up-to-date, he should be able to claim the week. In the meantime, we're hanging in there, and we have our insurance back.

Days like today (or should I say, weeks like this week) I realize that I may have to remind myself of all that I should be thankful for. Yesterday was the day for Thankful Thursday, but I'm doing it today.

Things I'm thankful for:

A healthy family. I am aware of several individuals who are either dealing with serious illness themselves or have a member of their family who is seriously ill.

No flooding, tornadoes, or earthquakes have affected my family. And that is saying a lot when you look around the country, and around the world. My brother-in-law in Nashville was not affected by the recent flooding, and my sister-in-law in Nashville was only slightly affected.

A full freezer and a full pantry. I can cook healthy and tasty meals for my family. There are children in my area going to bed hungry, and parents who are worried about choosing between buying groceries or paying utility bills.

Having health insurance. There is nothing like that feeling of security when you know that you'll be getting your maintenance meds on time with little personal expense, and that a necessary trip to a doctor or dentist is just a co-pay away.

Being able to get outside in beautiful weather and play in my garden. We have done a lot of yard work lately, changed some of my flower beds, and got Eler Beth's fire pit ready for the year. It gives me a lot of joy to be able to arrange my plants and enjoy their blooms and fragrances.

Having unnecessary "necessities". I hope I don't ever take for granted things like my air conditioning, being able to wash and dry my clothes here at home, keeping up with friends and family via the internet, watching movies here at home with the family, staying in touch with my kids by cell phone, having running vehicles, and having a massive library at my fingertips.

I guess that's enough thankfuls for now.

I hope everyone else is safe and happy out there!