Dick Meister

Stop mistreating working women!

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Dick Meister, formerly labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half century. Contact him through his website www.dickmeister.com

Although the global recession has had a serious impact on working men and women alike, two new reports make clear that women in the United States and throughout the world have suffered most because of long-standing discrimination. Read more »

True believers

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The best season of the year is finally here. Baseball season. Sure, it's only a game - but it’s a game that can be very serious business to the young people who play it.

I once was one of them, playing in the 1940s and 1950s on some of the many semi-professional teams that once were common in San Francisco, as in many other cities, as well as on teams in the Mendocino County, Southwestern Oregon and Western Canadian Leagues. Read more »

Si Se Puede: The legacy of Cesar Chavez

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(Scroll down for a personal note from Dick Meister)

March 31st is a special day in eleven states, including California, and in dozens of cities and counties nationwide-- and should be. It's Cesar Chavez Day, honoring the late founder of the United Farm Workers union on the 83rd anniversary of his birth.

Certainly there are few people in any field more deserving of such an honor, certainly no one I've met in more than 50 years of labor reporting.

I first met Cesar Chavez when I was reporting on labor for the SF Chronicle.  It was a hot summer night in 1965 in the little San Joaquin Valley town of Delano, California. Chavez, shining black hair trailing across his smooth brown forehead, wearing a red plaid shirt that had become almost a uniform, sat behind a makeshift desk topped with bright red Formica, deadly serious but quick to smile. Read more »

A good, stubborn Irishman

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He was one of the last of the old-line labor leaders who once had great influence in many cities. He was Irish-Catholic, of course, a resident of the city's principal working class district, and from one of the blue-collar trades.

 His name was Joseph Michael O'Sullivan. He had been president of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council and for four decades head of its main carpenters union local.
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Harry Bridges: Working class hero

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He died 20 years ago this month, but I can still see him, a tall, wiry, gray-haired, hawk-nosed man. I can hear him.

I see him pacing restlessly back and forth behind the podium at union meetings, nervously twirling a gavel, puffing incessantly on a cigarette. I hear him calling on members, white, black, Asian, Latino, in the broad accent of his native Australia, actually encouraging debate and dissent.Read more »

Let the Eagle Fly!

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The long and dramatic struggle for basic labor and civil rights by the California farmworkers led by Cesar Chavez is wonderfully told in an exceptional new musical, "Let the Eagle Fly," that's now playing a limited engagement in San Jose, the city where Chavez began the organizing career that brought him worldwide acclaim.Read more »

Safe at last?

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.

It’s called musculoskeletal disorder or MSD, the most common of the serious injuries suffered by U.S. workers. But because corporate employers fear that greater public awareness would force them to spend more on job safety, MSD has remained one of the least understood of injuries.

The latest government figures show that more than 60 percent of the million or more on-the-job injuries reported annually are MSD-related. Some of the victims are permanently disabled, and many more have to take time off from work while their injuries heal. Read more »

Obits for sale

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.

Like most daily newspapers these days, the San Francisco Chronicle is hustling to increase declining profit margins.  But let me offer some advice to my former employer: Quit gouging grieving readers as part of your profit chasing. I mean those who pay the Chronicle for running their loved ones’ death notices on the paper’s obituary pages.

Sure, the paper’s not making anywhere near as much as it once did from other classified ads, but don’t try to make up for it by outrageously exploiting the saddened friends and families of the recently deceased.

The basic price for death notices is $16 per printed line per day – $112 per column inch (about seven lines of type).  Those 1x1½ inch photos that sit atop many obits cost about $135 more. If you also want the obit on the Chronicle’s website, that will be another $25, please. And if you want the obit to run for a longer period, for say a week, that can get quite pricey – as much as  $784 per inch. Read more »

State by state, unions matter

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Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for a half-century. Contact him through his website, www.dickmeister.com, which includes more than 250 of his recent columns.

Union members invariably have better pay and benefits than non-union workers. But, as a new study shows, the number of workers who’ve joined unions varies widely from state to state.

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A union that made black history

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The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was a pioneering union that led the battle from the l930s to l950s against racial discrimination that laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement of the l960s. 

Few of the groups that we should honor during Black History Month are more deserving than the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a pioneering union that played a key role in the winning of equal rights by African Americans. The union, the first to be founded by African Americans, was involved as much in political as in economic activity, joining with the NAACP to serve as the major political vehicle of African Americans from the late 1930s through the 1950s. It led the drives in those years against racial discrimination in employment, housing, education and other areas that laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

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