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JIM HIGHTOWER A Nod to Labor T.G.I.L.D.Thank God It’s Labor Day! Not a bad Monday: hit the pool, fire up the old grill, do a few 12-ounce elbow bends to stay limber and just kick back. Where’d this come from? One thing’s for sure, Labor Day was not a gift from appreciative bossesthey almost choked on their cigars and whiskey at the very idea of a day off to celebrate the principle that it’s workers who create America’s wealth. From the start, Labor Day was a bottomup holiday, our only national celebration to be put on the calendar by the working class. It started when feisty Matt McGuire of the Carpenters Union and dauntless William McCabe of the Typographers called for a massive march to show the strength of laboring people in New York City, September 5, 1882. Defying bosses and risking their jobs and personal safety, thousands of workers of every trade left work that Tuesday and marched with banners, bands and bravado right up Fifth Avenue. It was not a parade, but a call to arms, the beginning of labor’s fight for an eight-hour day at fair pay. The demonstration was so successful that the idea of a national Labor Day to symbolize labor’s worth became a goal, filially achieved in 1894. So what do working people want this Labor Day? What they’ve always wanted: “We want more school houses and less jails; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge.” That’s from labor leader Samuel Gompers in 1893. With today’s rampant downsizings and runaway corporations; with middle-income jobs shrinking to part-time, temporary, low-pay, no-benefit work; with incomes rising for the few and falling for the many; with working families getting neither respect nor reward for their daily grind, it’s time for America’s working class to consider Labor Day again not as a holiday, but as a call to arms. Family Leave Lurch A company big shot rushed up to an em ployee and shouted, “I’ll have your job for this!” The worker looked him in the eye Jim Hightower, a former Observer editor and Texas agriculture commissioner, does daily radio commentary and a weekend call-in talk show on the ABC Radio Network. and said, “Great, you deserve it.” It’s interesting that those on the top floorwho are so quick to make sure they have high pay, fat pensions, long vacations and plenty of other perks and privileges are just as quick to try to short-change employees on benefits. Finally, a year ago, working stiffs got a long-overdue break when the Family Leave Act became law. It’s a bit of common fairness that says if you need a little time to cope with one of those family situations that crop up for all of uslike a terminally ill parent, or maybe a new baby needing your attentionyou can take up to three months of unpaid leave, without getting canned. Not a lot to ask. Our European competitors have long provided a full year’s leave for employees, with pay. But a new survey shows that America’s big bosses are balking like a bunch of old plow mules. As one cranky supervisor told a blue-collar guy who requested family leave: “Yeah? In my lifetime. Just try it!” Those that do try it can be sorry. A Shell Oil Company employee whose wife had a premature baby came back after two months to find that he’d been moved to a closet of an office, his computer passwords and email were erased, he had a warning letter in his personnel file and most of his duties were stripped. When he tried to appeal to higher-ups, he was drop-kicked through the goal posts of The Corporate Culture. The survey found only 22 percent of ‘companies training supervisors to comply with the Family Leave law, only 9 percent are guaranteeing jobs as required by the law and only 5 percent are allowing the full three months leave. If you want information about the Family Leave Act and how to make it work for you, contact the National 9 to 5 Job Survivai “Hotline” at 1-800-522-0925. Baby Think It Over Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Common sense is genius with its work clothes on.” Well, Richard Jurmain, an out-of-work aerospace worker in San Diego, recently applied some common sense to a major national problem, and has produced a solution that is a stroke of genius. The problem? Teenagers have babieshalf-a-million of them a year. Solution? Give the teenagersboys as well as girlsa taste of the “joys of parenthood.” Jurmain was watching a TV special featuring a local effort to deter potential teenage moms by having them schlep a sack of flour around. Not good enough, he thought, because sacks of flour don’t wake you up in the middle of the night. So he disappeared into his garage and a couple of months later emerged as the proud father of a very special, high-tech doll he and his wife Mary named: “Baby Think It Over.” It’s an absolutely adorable creatureuntil it cries, which it does at random intervals…day…and night. The only way to hush this “Baby,” which is controlled by a microprocessor, is to “feed” it, which means putting a key into its back and holding it for about 20 minutes the time it takes to feed a real newborn. In tests, Jurmain’s “Baby” is a howling success. Girls in San Diego took their dolls home for three daysand three l0000ng nightsbringing “Baby” to school with its stroller, diaper bag and whole cumbersome kit and caboodle. By the end of the trial period, these bedraggled “moms” were thrusting the dolls back in the arms of the teachers and vowing to postpone motherhood. How long? “Forever,” said one. “Baby Think It Over,” which the Jurmains sell for $220, comes in various ethnicities, is so durable it could withstand being run over by a car and even has an alarm light that alerts teachers to any negligence or abuse it receives. Let’s salute the common sense genius of folks like the Jurmains. To find out more about their practical approach to teenage pregnancy, call them on 619-268-7973. Making Executions Fun If you’re a sports fan, you had to be wowed by the triple header pulled off by the state of Arkansas in August. It was a quick but dramatic game, beginning at 7 p.m. and over by 9:30. First up was Hoyt Clines, 37, followed 58 minutes later by Darryl Richley, also 37, and finally James Holmes, 43. Clines, Richley and Holmes were convicted murderers and the key players in America’s first triple execution in 32 yearsall three killed by “the people of Arkansas” on the night of August 3. The last state to manage a “triple play” execution of criminals was California, 1962. But three is not even close to the record. Virginia electrocuted eight men during one long night in 1951and federal agents sponsored a hangfest in Mankato, Minnesota, back in 1862, stringing up 38 Dakota Indians in a single day. It strikes me that states could begin to compete for mostnovel executions. Take the gloom off this state-killing business, and 12 SEPTEMBER 16, 1994