Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SANDY POPE wins the first round of Teamsters 2011 election

Sandy Pope won the first round of the Teamsters 2011 election—the media battle before and after the convention--walking across James P. Hoffa like he wasn’t there. Fred Gegare, the third candidate wasn’t even in the running.
Media success is crucial to foster name recognition. Hoffa has had his thanks to his dad. No doubt that Sandy Pope’s appeal to journalists is the fact that a woman with a black belt in karate is running for the presidency of a union with a reputation of burly, big-bellied men who drive trucks.
Hoffa, unlike Sandy Pope, has never driven a truck as a real rank and file Teamster. He does have the belly that goes with the old out-of-date image.
Before last month’s Teamsters Convention in Las Vegas, Sandy Pope scored with a major piece about her in The Nation and on public radio stations across the nation via an interview on The Story with Dick Gordon.
During the convention, the New York Times, CNN, and ABC featured her. After the convention, she managed to wind up in a big story in The Sunday Times of London.
The assumption is that the combination of support by a large bloc of Teamsters local leaders and his incumbency makes Hoffa an almost sure bet to win another five years in the presidency.
But there are factors at play that could cause that sure bet to stumble. Sandy Pope is getting the needed name recognition, she has the support of the potent reform group, Teamsters for a Democratic Union, she has a substantial record as a local union leader in New York City as well as a background as a working Teamster and organizer, and in addition, the issue that made her attractive to journalists could very well bring in votes from the women who make up 20 to 25 percent of the union.
And, the decision of Midwestern Teamster leader and International Vice President Fred Gegare to run for the presidency against Hoffa could change the outcome of the 2011 election. There is the possibility Gegare could win and the probability he will take a substantial number of votes away from Hoffa.
In his acceptance speech on July 1 as a presidential candidate at the convention, Gegare contended that Hoffa betrayed the members by allowing United Parcel Service to withdraw its employees from the Central States Pension in 2007 in exchange for making it easier for the IBT to organize the 12,000 workers in UPS-owned Overnite Trucking.
Without UPS, which has created its own plan, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars every year into Central States to fund its workers’ retirement, the storied pension fund is in serious trouble, according to Gegare, who is a fund trustee.
Gegare said that he told Hoffa at the time: “Don’t let it happen. You’re going to destroy everything your father built. You are going to ruin the foundation of this great organization...You ain’t going to see the tsunami coming if you let them take 45,000 participants out of Central
State Pension Fund.” Gegare told the convention, “They gave the farm away to UPS...That’s criminal. I’m telling you,
we cannot afford it. I got four retired for every
one working.”
Gegare sounded a warning to the union as a whole: “
Let me tell you something. If Central States goes down, there’s going to be a domino effect from the New England pension fund, Central PA, Central States, and the Western pension fund, because we all got the same top employers. If they did it to me, I keep telling the members, they’re going to do it to you. You got to get involved.”

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Monday, July 18, 2011

THE DREAM DANCER soars as a freebie

Over the weekend, Amazon cut the price of my novel, THE DREAM DANCER, from a modest 99 cents for a Kindle copy to zero, free, nothing. The impact?
On the first day of the giveaway, Saturday, July 16, 2011, there were 553 downloads of THE DREAM DANCER putting the novel at 181 on Kindle’s free-ebooks best seller list; number five in Literary Fiction and number three in the Occult genre.
By the following day (Sunday), there had been 2,022 downloads with THE DREAM DANCER ranked 69 on Kindle’s free-ebooks best seller list; number one in both the Occult and Mythology genres, and number two in Literary Fiction.
For the first half of July while THE DREAM DANCER was still selling for 99 cents, one copy was sold providing me with a royalty of 35 cents. Now I wish the 2000 plus readers who downloaded this now free ebook had been willing to pay the measly penny short of a dollar, but they weren’t.
I must admit I’m happy just to have more readers, especially thousands of more readers.
For those who don’t know what the term downloading means, let me explain: Downloading an ebook is like selecting a hard-copy book from a bookstore or library shelf. You add it to the lists of books on your Kindle, or whatever device you are using, and hopefully read it.
I consider THE DREAM DANCER my best novel. In the two years that it has been available through Amazon, no one has reviewed it. I was happy to see one person clicked “the like it button” over the weekend.
I hope that all the 2,000 plus downloaders (so far) will read THE DREAM DANCER and that some among them will review it. And most of all I hope that thousands more will download and try it.
Oh, the reason for Amazon slashing the price? The company has a policy offering its books for the lowest price out there. THE DREAM DANCER was being distributed by Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, etc. as a freebie. Amazon discovered that and matched it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Herman Benson, the soul of the Association for Union Democracy

Herman Benson has spent the past 42 years as the soul of the Association for Union Democracy on a quest as elusive as the Holy Grail: to instill union democracy in the American labor movement. At the age of 96, he says that biology is finally catching up with him. Not that he is going to retire.
Benson recently informed AUD’s board of directors that he is relinquishing his roles as editor of the Union Democracy Review and secretary treasurer. He plans to continue as a member of the board of directors, to write from time to time for the Review, and to be on call via telephone and e-mail for union members who need his help. A lot of them have over the past decades.
Back in the late 1980’s Benson stepped down as AUD’s executive director passing that post to Susan Jennik, a union activist and labor lawyer. Benson and Jennik played central roles in assuring that the rank and file election of the Teamsters hierarchy, promised in the federal court decent decree aimed at cleaning the mob and corruption out of the union, was run by court-approved officers not the IBT and its locals.
As a result and with the significant help of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, Ron Carey became the first rank and file-elected president of International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 1991.
That must have been Benson’s crowning triumph. I’m sure that he enjoys the memories of dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of lesser victories.
Benson was in his 70s when he gave up his role as AUD’s executive director. At the time, I was Newsday’s labor writer and intended to do a major piece on his retirement and his dedication to trying to make the American labor movement a linchpin of democracy. Well, I didn’t write it because he didn’t retire. And the same is true now. He isn’t retiring and is continuing to do what he can as a one-man revolution of union democracy despite the claws of biology.

A suggestion: my novel, THE TRUCKERS, has been described as a fun read. It is serious and tragic too. Try it free on KindleSmashwordsBarnes and Noble, or Apple.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bibliotastic an inviting new outlet for indie authors

Every indie author hungers for a review, no less a number of reviews. Bibliotastic.com, the latest indie author outlet on the scene, not only urges its audience to review the ebooks downloaded but also provides a team of in-house reviewers. Potentially, you can get inside and outside reviews.
When the site was officially launched on Feb. 6, 2011, London-based bibliotastic proclaimed that it “aspires to be to the free ebook market what YouTube is to user-generated video.” That is pretty ambitious, but what really caught my eye was the statement by Bernard Gerard, one of the co-founders, said: “What our authors long for more than anything is feedback from the reader.” No kidding. All of us indie authors hunger for just that.
I have added my novel, THE HERO, to bibliotastic.com’s list in the mystery category. I look forward to a review of THE HERO by the bibliotastic.com editors with some excitement and trepidation. Will they get around to reviewing it; will they find it marvelous, mundane or somewhere in between? My personal opinion: I consider THE HERO a really good book, better than most, but nowhere as good as my novel, THE DREAM DANCER, which is the closest I have come to a work of art.
The bibliotastic site lists three regular reviewers; it is worth going to the page to read their brief bios. With just three regulars it could be a while to read your book reviewed, if ever. So indie authors had better hurry to list their books before the queues for reviews go around the block.