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Rebels, heroes and mavericks are made, not born
by Andrew Barbano
Dec 11, 2010 | 721 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most political pundits missed the message of the last three general elections: People are really, really, really freakin’ mad!

Republicans benefited this last go-round because they were the only protest vote available. (Before anyone accuses me of partisanship, yes, I know that current conditions would never have gotten this bad without substantial cooperation from those of the Donkeykong persuasion for the past 30 years.)

It makes me wonder whatever happened to guts, muscles and other choice bodily parts that serve as metaphors for courage. Sen. Joe Neal, D-North Las Vegas, is long retired and no one has emerged to take his place to call ‘em like you see ‘em.

Until now.

Enter willowy Assembly member Peggy Pierce, D-Gomorrah South. The cancer survivor just spoke the unspeakable in announcing that she will introduce a bill to tax the likes of Wal-Mart and other big businesses that exploit Nevada and take their profits out of the state or country.

“The governor-elect has called for shared sacrifice,” Pierce said.

“The middle class has already stepped up and is paying a higher sales tax. Seniors, people with disabilities and children have already endured four rounds of cuts to vital services and education. State workers have deferred merit increases and taken forced unpaid furlough days. Shared sacrifice is a good idea. It is time for big business to share in the sacrifice,” she added.

Nice to hear a Democrat talking like a Democrat and not a lukewarm Republican. I think Chuck Fisher would like her.

Remembering the little union that could

Chuck is one of the dwindling Fearless 40 Reno Hilton security guards who made tortillas out of a corporate behemoth.

“True heroes and heroines emerge when ordinary men and women rise above themselves to do something extraordinary. The greater the self-sacrifice, the greater the heroism,” I wrote 11 years ago today.

“The wishy-washy rarely rise to such heights because they are unwilling to risk the high cost. The greatest are those who have shown the wherewithal to pay the price of heroism. This truly rich few spread the wealth by becoming walking textbooks on how to live ...

“The fearless 40 took on the biggest, baddest casino company in the world and won at the polls, on the streets and in the courts. They took a casino strike to the sidewalks of Reno (the 1996 Hot August Strike at Hot August Nights) and scored a victory, something which had not happened here in a generation or more.

“By so doing, they serve as a shining example to all who get stepped on by the boss every day. They demonstrate that there is a way to prevail against the odds. It’s called solidarity. True friendship. Taking a stand and staying there, regardless of the cost ... They won an election to form a union, went on strike when Hilton stonewalled on a contract, won the strike and a contract (then prevailed in court).

“Hilton was ordered to pay more than $3 million in back wages and benefits. The victory comes too late for Tom Stubblefield, who recently died of cancer at about age 40. He was the sole support of his family. I hope Hilton will finally do the right thing, obey the law and send the first check to his widow.

“Most of the union members want their old jobs back, complete with union representation. Having largely been illegally blackballed by casinos in Sparks and Reno, some have not worked a day in three years. Several have lost homes and marriages. One suffered a series of strokes,” I wrote on Dec. 12, 1999.

Chuck Fisher endured with his brothers and sisters and finally won. He was recently discharged from a hospital and is recovering at Hearthstone of Northern Nevada. He’d like to hear from his old friends. The address is 1950 Baring Blvd., Sparks, NV 89434. You may e-mail messages to me and I’ll get them to his family. Tell him the Barbwire remembers.

Remembering mom

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently remembered departed Democratic stalwart Velma Bishop via the congressional record. You may read his stirring tribute to Mrs. Bishop with the web edition of this column at The local chapter of the Nevada Alliance for Retired Americans is named in honor of Velma’s late husband, Gail, a longtime member of Operating Engineers Local 3/AFL-CIO.

Mom, too

Local super-activist Dolores Feemster is recovering at home after surgery. Give her a call to wish her well.

New on the firing line

The association representing Nevada state workers has a new leader.  Just in time for the cruel and unusual punishment of the 2011 legislative session, Vishnu Subramaniam has been named chief of staff for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4041/AFL-CIO.

“This legislative cycle will tell us what Nevada as a state stands for and what its citizens care about,” Subramaniam stated in a news release.

“I believe that this anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric will fade as Nevadans commit to improving the state’s social safety net, infrastructure and education.”

Got a hunch he’ll be talking to Peggy Pierce.

Back from the ashes department

Support the return of community radio and television to Sparks-Reno-Washoe. See Barbwire.TV for more information, to join the club and contribute via the web. It’s important.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 42-year Nevadan and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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