- I received an email today from a JMBzine reader (I will post the full text of it unedited once I get permission from the email’s author.) concerning my endorsement of Virginia “Blue Jeans” Jenner.
First, let me say that all of the endorsements were qualified. I am not a Democrat but a Green. Democrats sometimes support good things but often are off-base. In all of the races I was picking who I prefer over the other, not who is the ideal candidate.
Secondly, the reader is right. Virginia Jenner is a kook. I don’t know if your allegations that she is runnng for offices so she can get a pension for her old age is true or not (I’ll have to ask her someday.) but it wouldn’t surprise me. Some of her ideas (paying the First Lady a salary) are downright stupid.
But all the same, I preferred the kook over the alternative.
My decision was made after reading the League of Women Voters’ Candidate Statements for both candidates and Lloyd Fields’ website.
On the LOWV’s questionaire Fields gave no specifics on how he would protect workers’ rights under the law, while Jenner expressed support the universal living wage proposal, increased unemployment benefits, increased rights for small-firm employees in harrassment cases, and universal health care.
She also said when asked about how she would balance business and labor interests:
- Oklahoma is an employer state, not an employee state. I will be a Commish for employees, not employers. Employers are rich and powerful and do not need any help. Employees are poor and powerless and government should protect them from the abuses of the bosses. State minimum wage has not been increased in five years. It is a disgraceful $5.15 an hour and $2.13 an hour for tipped workers. Only 28 per cent of Okie jobless get unemployment compensation, compared to 43 per cent nationally.
I will blow the whistle when employees are mistreated by their bosses. I will set up a 24-hour, toll-free “Bad Boss” hotline for employee complaints and these complaints will be investigated. State Constitution gave us a Labor Commish to protect employees against the excesses of bosses. It is not the job of the Commish to protect bosses. That’s for the Chambers of Commerce.
To this same question, Fields only said:
- By being Fair to employers and employees in every aspect.
His remarks gave no specifics and are just meaningless platitudes.
Secondly, I checked out the candidates’ websites. Jenners had none which I found to be a black mark on her (It’s not that hard to create a website these days, and for a low-budget candidate it is stupid not to have one.), but when I viewed Fields’ site he might as well have not had one as he discussed no issues other than wanting to reduce the rates for workers’ comp insurance (which one would assume would lower the benefits for injured workers) and wanting to bring new industry into the state (a job for the Commerce department not the Labor department).
The mission of the Department of Labor is different than what Mr. Field’s seems to believe. Looking at the department’s website (www.okdol.state.ok.us), the mission, vision and values of the department are:
- The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Labor is to help ensure fairness, equity and safety in Oklahoma workplaces through ethical behavior, conscientious guidance and loyal service to Oklahoma’s employers and employees.
The Commissioner of Labor is charged with preserving, protecting and promoting the welfare of the wage earner.
Oklahoma’s workers are our state’s greatest asset. Each has the right to work in an environment that is fair, equitable, healthy and safe.
This Agency serves as an advocate for employees, employers and the public. We believe in value-added change and we provide a forum where all constituent interests can be heard. We believe in government reform, when necessary, to provide benefits and opportunities for employees.
ODOL employees provide professional guidance and services, supported by education and training. Our services include the necessary relief, regulation and resolution for employees, employers and the public.
We provide consultation, regulation, enforcement and education information for employers, generating opportunities for everyone to work in an environment that is fair, equitable, healthy and safe. Each individual we serve is treated fairly with personal attention.
ODOL employees work in harmony, respectful of others, in an open and honest manner. We are loyal to our mission while performing our duty to serve the public. Our integrity is the cornerstone of our public service and we are good stewards of public trust.
Our continually improving work environment serves as a model workplace.
No where in Mr. Field’s website or his LOWV’s questionaire response did I see how he would go about “preserving, protecting and promoting the welfare of the wage earner.” It looks to me he would instead focus on preserving, protecting and promoting big employers who want to oppress their workers.
I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that the Labor department and the Commerce Department are two seperate agencies. Sometimes they may complement each other, but often they will counterbalance each other. If the Labor Commissioner doesn’t look after the rights of the workers, who will?
So, my vote (along with over 100,000 others) for Virginia Jenner was not so much an endorsement for her, but a protest against Fields. I don’t think any of us who voted for Jenner (except maybe Ms. Jenner herself) had any real expectations or desire to see her get elected, but rather that we would send a message to Mr. Fields that we want to see him step up to the plate on behalf of the workers of this state.
If you disagree with me, or just want to put in your two cents worth, please email me at jmb@NOSPAMjmbzine.com (remove the “NOSPAM” from the email address before sending). I’ll then post it to JMBzine.com under the headline “Reader Comments.” Also from now on, unless you say otherwise if you send email sent to me at jmbzine.com, you agree that I can publish your remarks here on this website.