Bruce’s Malaysia junket yields pandan essence, bizarre sex scandal

Not long ago, I went to a “career planning” seminar in which I learned that human resources departments make two piles of job applications: one for people under 40, and one for people over 40. If they absolutely can’t find anyone to hire in the under-40 pile, they reluctantly look in the over-40 pile. This is even more astonishing if you know the full name of the seminar: “Career and Life Planning for People over 45.” Continue Reading

What to do about jobs: “I’m trying to reinvent myself” and “We need to organize”

With unemployment in the Twin Cities still high, it’s hard to believe that it’s workers—not jobs—that we’ll be short of in the next ten to twenty years. It’s especially hard for some one like John Kunesh, one of thirty participants at the Twin Cities Daily Planet’s community conversations on the future of work and jobs. Kunesh worked at a private law firm as a paralegal for 25 years, but lost his job when the economy slowed down. He recently lost his house and moved in with a friend, and is still looking for work. “It’s the epitome of what can happen even though I was good at my job,” Kunesh said. Continue Reading

Bernie Hesse: Seeing hope in young organizers at Jimmy Johns

Bernie Hesse is the Director of Special Projects and Political Director at UFCW Local 1189. Hesse took a break from contract negotiations for grocery workers to talk to the Twin Cities Daily Planet about the future of unions and jobs in Minnesota.  “We believe that working people should be paid a good and fair wage,” he told the Daily Planet. “Nobody should have to worry about whether or not they can afford health care or put food on the table.” TCDP: So where are unions going? The labor movement that we’re going to see down the road is much less bureaucratic. Continue Reading

A fantasy by any other name

I used to work in politics.  I say “used to” because I and many of my co-workers were laid off after the last elections.  That was easy to see coming.  I am no longer needed in politics, apparently, and, while I am often described as stubborn, I have never been described as stupid or clingy.  Time to move on.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | “We Are Impressed With Your Experience and Qualifications…”

I navigate away from the usual crochet forums, the free pattern sites, the crafty type tutorials, the multitude of crochet ideas online, just long enough to check my email.  There, in my inbox is a note from a potential employer! “We are impressed with your experience and qualifications, but have decided to pursue other candidates.” I give a prayer to God for the Sensitive HR Professional who, obviously, spent hours in his or her stuffy office trying to come up with just the right phrase for Lisa.  I imagine him or her with head in hands, furrowed brow, pencil perched behind the ear.  Each time they approach the keyboard with an idea, they realize that it just isn’t the right method of delivering the bad news.  How to tell her?  How to tell Lisa that she is so close….she was ALMOST selected, if not for that ‘other’ person (who will probably show up drunk and high the first day).  Lisa is a straight shooter, intelligent and resilient.  No meaningless profundity for her, just respectfully say it and move on.  She is talented, intelligent, an asset to society – Lisa is a winner.  As a Sensitive HR Professional, your job is simply to let her know that you realize that she is a winner and that you know she will be snatched up by some other, wiser, more important Hiring Manager.  Wait….wait….here it comes!  Yes!  Yes!  Our Sensitive HR Professional starts typing and knows that he or she has hit the mark with the above sentence; they would be correct.  I like it.  I think it is classy – it compliments the rejected party, but quickly lays out the rejection.  I like it.  As it turns out, every one else likes it too because every turn-down letter I receive contains the same sentence.Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Another chip at my positive attitude?  Another attack on my naïveté? Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Job creation by the wealthy…mostly a myth!

We hear it continually, it is the mantra of conservatives: “we must give tax breaks to the wealthy so they can create more jobs…and higher taxes will stifle economic growth…because the rich are the job creators…”  It is the basis of all the tax breaks given the top income groups in recent years, including the contentious extension of the Bush tax cuts to top brackets, last year.  It is the common subject of conservatives on the talk shows. Just last weekend, Paul Ryan, now the architect of the new Republican budget, reaffirmed his proposal to cut the top tax rate to 25% claiming in his plan: …advancing pro-growth tax reforms, this budget is a jobs budget. It sends signals to investors, entrepreneurs, and job creators that a brighter future is still possible. Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Voter Redemption

A parable tells of a room in which “a zillionaire, a Tea Party person and a union member” confront a plate of 12 cookies: “The zillionaire takes 11 of the cookies, and says to the other two, ‘That guy is trying to steal your cookie.’ ” Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. This is an open forum for articles that otherwise might not find a place for publication, including news articles, opinion columns, announcements and even a few press releases. Many Americans fell for the demonization of public workers by Republicans and turned on their neighbors while the wealthy laughed all the way to the bank with all the “cookies.” Wise up folks: In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80 percent held just 12.8 percent. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | Yet Another Gap in Our State?

The Twin Cities has yet another gap to add to our growing list–the job gap. According to a recent article in the Star Tribune “Twin Cities jobless gap worst in nation”, the jobless rate of blacks is more than three times that of whites in our state.Randy Furst, the author, explores a few reasons why our jobless gap is the worst in the nation in his article Twin Cities jobless gap worst in nation.” I do not doubt any of them.Based on my experience as a job counselor at a non-profit in North Minneapolis, I would add though, that areas like North Minneapolis also have very few employment opportunities. I would even describe the area as a job desert. People living here must travel far (often to suburbs) to places where the jobs are and if Metro Transit is the only mode of transport, this can be a long and difficult daily commute (read: at least 1.5 hours).Free Speech ZoneThe Free Speech Zone offers a space for contributions from readers, without editing by the TC Daily Planet. Continue Reading

FREE SPEECH ZONE | It’s the private sector, not government, that has failed us

You’ve heard it over and over again: “if only government would get out of the way, and let the private sector operate as is should all would be right with the American economy”.  The recession could be ended; folks would be back to work; and our nation would once again prosper.  A nice thought…but patently untrue!  Indeed, it has been the private sector (not government) which has brought us to this fiscal malaise, if not crisis; and it is the private sector which is not helping us out of it, especially with job creation. First, a brief disclaimer.  If you think this is some left wing rant from an anti-captialist ideologue, you would be dead wrong. I have spent over 50 years of my professional life as owner of several of my own businesses. I understand Capitalism, flawed as it might be, is the best system we have.  I am entrepreneurial to the core.  I have put my own money at risk numerous times to develop and build businesses.  But it is my interest in seeing this economic system work that brings me to this conclusion. The private sector has brought down our economy, and it must be called out on this failure – especially if we are to make things better going forward. Continue Reading

No bonding bucks without economic justice

Minnesota lawmakers already passed a state bonding bill this year that DFL lawmakers say will put people back to work on construction projects around the state.But how many of the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent hiring people from communities with disproportionately high-unemployment rates and other disadvantaged groups?Nobody knows for sure, and that’s the point of HF 3184 from Rep. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis.Champion’s bill, and a Senate counterpart SF 2809 from Sen. Linda Higgins, DFL-Minneapolis, would require that before bonding money can be spent on a project, companies getting the contract to do those projects must put together a plan detailing how they will:* Recruit veterans, unemployed and disabled individuals to work on the projects, and target specific communities with disproportionately high unemployment rates from which to hire employees.* Recruit employees from job training providers.* Get word out about job opportunities to disadvantaged communities.* Demonstrate how much energy savings their building or construction project will generate.The bill is moving through committees in the House of Representatives this week and awaits  hearing in the House State Government Finance Committee before going to the floor for a vote.The bill language is similar to wording passed last year to deal with reporting on how the federal stimulus dollars are being spent in Minnesota.If it becomes law, the requirement would apply to state agencies, colleges and universities, counties, cities and other local governments.The bill requires a follow-up report from the agency, but does not include any language requiring agencies to hire contractors who submit the best plan, or even create penalties if contractors don’t follow the plan. It is a first step, Champion said. Continue Reading