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This weekend I’ll be listening to… yourcousin’s musical selection October 16, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., US Politics.

In what is rapidly turning into a very welcome monthly (or even more frequently) contribution (column? slot?) from yourcousin, here is his selection for this weekend…and an overview of the situation on the ground on the far side of the Atlantic…

Well midterm elections are approaching fast here in the land of the free. Right wing libertarianism is on the rise and labor is taking a beating. Locally the word just came down on a one year contract that takes about $2.10 off of my check and $3.50 off of my benefits and pension. This is only a one year contract and is seen as a stop gap. Right now work is very slow. I am only one of two carptenters on my job with one apprentice (we call him the superintendent’s “son”) and six foremen. That is not including assistant superintendents, of which we have at least four and one general foreman. Seriously, it’s not the nearly that big of a job. Total there are at least four “white hats” (carpenters wear blue hardhats, bosses wear white ones) who are family inside the company. If I may be so bold as to lower the standard of commentary on CLR by saying that the situation sucks balls, and not in a good way (because I believe in let and let live, so that may be one’s “thing” so to speak. Right, because who am I to judge?).

Tea Party candidates are on the rampage. The yard signs are definitely in favor of Republicans. Not an ironclad poll, but a definite barometer. In my neighborhood the most prevelant sign is a tax increase in order to save fire houses (though most candidate signs are republican). The irony, especially considering this post is flavored in no small part by this post So I wanted to post something that emphasize social solidarity. Not big government, per se, but folks standing together for better or for worse. The Chilean mine rescue, while welcomed news is dampened somewhat by the fact that the company won’t pay the miners for the time that they were trapped underground. And while they were hard rock miners I think that most of the best songs are coal miner songs. Now don’t get me wrong no self respecting hard rock miner would go near coal, but I’m not nearly so discerning concerning my musical tastes.

I’d start this set off with a shout out to LATC, with whom I fundamentally disagree on almost everything, but who was curious for my opinion on a fire department standing by literally while a home and multiple animals burned up.

I was going to do a whole set on Peter, Paul and Mary, but since WBS is willing to allow me some leeway with the guidelines of “this weekend I’ll be listening to…” I thought I’d push it a bit further. A cursory look at my largely defunct blog will reveal the simple truth that I don’t like people. This should not be confused with what Kurt Vonnegut misguided concept of the “great Americn individual” of whom he had this to say, “The great American individual,…Thinks he’s the embodiement of liberal [probably should read Liberal] thought throughout the ages. Stands on his own two feet, by God, alone and motionless. He’d make a good lamp post if he’d weather better and didn’t have eat”. That strikes me as an accurate portrayal of the Tea Party movement today, even if I can sympathize with some of their motives. It also reminds of another song which seems to me to capture the spirit of the “great American individual”…

Not even going to go into the Bobby Bare version…

The saga in Chile brought this to mind. I was raised on the Johnny Cash version and had to go back when I got older to get this version. I was always struck by the last verse. It can easily bring a tear to my eye.

And again acknowledging that this was a hard rock mining incident I wanted to pep spirits a bit by showing for all the world to see that Johnny Cash was indeed a union man.

To try to add context to current domestic events I was tempted to tack on the old Statler brothers tune, “More that a name on a wall”, but I’ve decided against it as CLR might not be the most hospitable environ for that sort of thing. So we’ll leave it with a tune that sums up my take on my contract, the midterms, and the rescue in Chile.

Remember “John Henry was a steel driving bastard, but John Henry was a bastard just the same…”


1. LeftAtTheCross - October 16, 2010

YC, your post is a reminder that in these times where we might sometimes feel that here in this state we’re on some sort of frontline in the global battle between the working class and the wealthy, that there are places and people in this world which the frontline has moved beyond and left behind, overrun, islands in a see of reaction. We might not agree on some things YC but my heart goes out to your personal situation there, and to the working class of your country.


2. PJ - October 17, 2010

“I am only one of two carptenters on my job with one apprentice (we call him the superintendent’s “son”) and six foremen. That is not including assistant superintendents, of which we have at least four and one general foreman. Seriously, it’s not the nearly that big of a job. Total there are at least four “white hats” (carpenters wear blue hardhats, bosses wear white ones) who are family inside the company.”

Just out of curiosity and as we dont know any of the real names involved but how many of your workmates own investment houses or do they prefer to dabble in the share market?


WorldbyStorm - October 17, 2010

Is share ownership widespread amongst US construction workers?


3. yourcousin - October 17, 2010

To the best of knowledge none of us have investment propterties. I’m sure the senior superintendent on the job is involved with the stock market, but to the best of my knowledge all of us in the jobsite trailer (there’s proper office up the hill) are not. Technically the company is an employee owned profit sharing venture, but it doesn’t really mean anything to the vast majority of us as we are not superintendents and project managers (obviously).

Now I worked with two carpenters who were heavily invested the markets and one in some extra homes, but essentially they were both older guys who were bachelors and either lived in one instance a shitty little apartment and an old foreclosed house that he fixed up himself.

Are you referring to working for employee owned companies or just playing the markets in general? Of course like most unions we have our pensions and annuity in funds in the stock market, but on a personal level I would generally say no.


WorldbyStorm - October 17, 2010

That is what I would have thought.


WorldbyStorm - October 17, 2010

I should add I wondered if PJ thought you were Irish.


4. PJ Callan - October 17, 2010

Thanks for that ‘yourcousin’, its interesting to learn about the actual working conditions on your side. In an “employee owned profit sharing venture” it seems that the leading hands/foremen get a higher hourly rate (as you would expect) but how is the remaining profit distributed? And is it only distributed to those who joined the company before a certain date?
I guess you get a lump sum every quarter having paid all wages, materials, insurance premiums?

Also interesting that only two old guys who never married had extensive property and shares. In my experience of working outside Ireland amongst Australians for a few years quite a few tradesmen had two or three investment properties and even more had extensive share portfolios. In fact the subject of lunch conversation was more often share performance that union or working class affairs. And that was in an engineering factory by the way.


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