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Union Busters and Men's Bare Butts

By Gregory Flannery · November 23rd, 2005 · Porkopolis
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  Brian Rothenberg, speaking at U.C., describes G.O.P.
Matt Borgerding

Brian Rothenberg, speaking at U.C., describes G.O.P. "bad apples."



Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, last week expanded Job Tracker to Cincinnati. Job Tracker is an online database that provides easy access to information on corporate behavior. With the database, workers can find out which companies in their communities export jobs as well as examine employers' track records on health and safety and workers' rights.

Job Tracker (www.workingamerica.org/jobtracker) has information on more than 60,000 employers' job exporting practices, violations cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and violations cited by the National Labor Relations Board. The database also provides information on the salary of a company's CEO.

Searching the database for 45202, the downtown Zip code, provides information for 21 companies within a 100-mile radius that have exported jobs, 112 that have had health and safety violations and 12 that have violated workers' right to organize for collective bargaining.

"You can't get this range of information anywhere else, even though so many corporate employers are failing our communities," says Edwinna Davis, president of Local 4401 of the Communications Workers of America.

Working America, established for people who don't have a union on the job, started two years ago and already has more than 1 million members.

Progressives aren't the only ones monitoring the social and political implications of corporate behavior. Right-wing nut groups do it, too. The American Family Association (AFA), which last year launched a boycott of Procter & Gamble for supporting equality for gays and lesbians, is targeting the Walgreens drug store chain this year.

The company earned AFA's wrath by contributing $100,000 to the 2006 Gay Games. In an effort to shock its conservative members, AFA's Web site includes photographs of two men showing their bare butts at events associated with last year's Gay Games -- proof, it argues, that Walgreens is indirectly supporting some very naughty behavior.

Hope for the Buckeye State
The Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) has endorsed Ohio Senate Bill 74, which would allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The bill, in committee since February, would regulate the use of marijuana by requiring a physician to conduct an assessment and provide a statement verifying that a patient would benefit from marijuana therapy (see "Toking the Cure," issue of March 2-8).

"The WONPR, along with our coalition members, represent a total membership in excess of 2.5 million women nationwide," said Jean Marlowe, executive director of the organization. "We believe in drug policies based on compassion, human and civil rights and common sense. We are honored to endorse the humanitarian efforts of the Ohio Legislature to protect their citizens from misguided and cruel government policies where the health and well-being of our citizens are at stake."

In the 1930s the WONPR was instrumental in the movement to dismantle alcohol prohibition. The organization recently re-formed "to return dignity to school children, responsibility to families and credibility to law enforcement" by ending the war on drugs.

The Ohio Democratic Party brought its Bad Apples Tour to the UC Law School last week. The statewide bus tour aimed to highlight the ethical and legal scandals of the Ohio Republican Party, starting with Gov. Bob Taft, who was convicted earlier this year of violating state campaign finance laws, and including his former aide, Brian Hicks, who was convicted for violating state ethics laws by failing to report gifts from Tom Noe, the central figure in the Coingate scandal that defrauded the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who saw two of his aides convicted while he was serving as state treasurer, was also in the barrel of rotten apples.

"The culture of corruption in Columbus is not a bad apple. It has faces," said Brian Rothenberg, communication director of the Ohio Democratic Party. "Brian Hicks is a real convicted person. Bob Taft is a real convicted person. Joe Deters and his convicted associates are real people. We are waiting to see when the GOP identifies bad apples and does something about them."

Give Back Cincinnati, a volunteer group comprised of young professionals, recently collected 20,000 pounds of food and clothing for the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Donations were down slightly from last year, probably owing to donations made earlier to the relief efforts after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to Chad Schenk, spokesman for the group.

This week Give Back Cincinnati plans to host a Thanksgiving dinner at the Verdin Bell Event Center in Over-the-Rhine for 120 needy people. Founded in 2001, Give Back Cincinnati has grown from 60 volunteers to more than 2,300. To learn more about the group, visit www.givebackcincinnati.org.



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