Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Feel And I Feel When

Photo: Bob Hosh. Lilies at Longwood Gardens.

Every morning, I get up in the dark, pad upstairs accompanied by at least two feline companions and turn on the TV at a deafening volume. I row for a while while Mike and Darlene shout the headlines. We painted the attic a whispering yellow-green that reminds one of spring's earliest shoots, so sometimes I forget to turn on the lights. The cats love the attic, which is wide and long, reasonably clean and mostly used as a guest room. Thing is: it doesn't have a floor. It has 90 year old subfloor boards that mostly don't meet and 100 year old wool rug that came to America with Pete's grandfather. I'm allergic to the rug and to doing yoga where there's no flat surface, so we're making a floor. We shopped for weeks. Home Depot had the pressboard at a good price and was running a special on carpet installation.
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

"This is the demise of a civilization," said Marcus. "This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it." [...]

"This bill may be one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life," he said, explaining that he could have been on "a 350-foot boat out in the Mediterranean," but felt it was more important to engage on this fight. "It is incredible to me that anybody could have the chutzpah to try and pass this bill in this election year, especially when we have an economy that is a disaster, a total absolute disaster."

East Brunswick Lumber delivered the boards on Monday. Pete sawed the 8'x4' boards in half. You haven't lived until you've seen a 5' woman carry a 4'x4' panel up three flights of stairs. Good thing I exercise! In the meantime, I wrote Home Depot's customer service, to tell the troubled retailer I was cozying up to new hardware and lumber suppliers. They responded:
Thank you for contacting The Home Depot Customer Care in this matter.

Our founder and former CEO was obviously using hyperbole to make a point about a specific piece of legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act, and we will be sure to pass your comments along to him.

As it relates to EFCA, like most other retailers - including our main competitors - we think it's a bad bill that takes away American workers' right to a secret ballot, which is the most basic element of any democracy.

We look forward to your continued patronage and assisting you with all of your home improvement needs.

I was born at night, but not last night.
The bill does not, in fact, remove workers' rights to a secret ballot. It removes management's ability to harass card signers. Thus, you are perpetrating a falsehood. If you know that, you're lying. If you do not know that, you've been misled.

Further, if you're an American worker, and you side with management, you are working against your own and my interests. I'm union, as are many of the tradesmen and tradeswomen who shop your stores. Or did. I've made large purchases at Home Depot every week for almost a year, and as of last week, I've begun making them elsewhere. Can you, at a time when Home Depot's financial pitfalls are common knowledge, freely alienate your customer base?

If you can, you deserve the failure ahead. This is a very serious business. People have died for the right to unionize and your boss' hyperbole trivializes their sacrifice. Feel free to pass that on.

To paraphrase the ads: We can do it - without their help.

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