The right thing to do
I'm glad to see Lynne Gobbell's story getting some coverage in the mainstream news media. As of this morning Google shows 89 sources running it (most are just running the short AP version, but a few have more detailed coverage). This is the kind of story that we should all have printed out and ready to hand to our coworkers and kin who are concerned about Kerry's "character."
Here's a short summary. Lynne Gobbell was a line worker who put in 50-60 hours a week at an Enviromate insulation factory near Moulton, Ala. Last Thursday she showed up for work with a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker in the rear window of her Chevy Lumina. The owner of Enviromate is a bankrupcy lawyer named Phil Geddes, an enthusiastic Bush supporter who has included pro-Bush flyers in his employees' pay envelopes. After a break she was approached by her supervisor who passed on an order from Geddes to remove the bumper sticker or be fired. She confronted Geddes and exchanged hot words. A few minutes later her supervisor told her to leave wit the words, "I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry."
The story got some local coverage, but little else from the mainstream media. But the bloggers got hold of the story and spread it far and wide. By Tuesday Geddes--who was being called a massive pile of elephant dung by bloggers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and several foreign countries-- was being driven to distraction by calls for comment. He sent a subordinate to apologize and offer Gobbell her job back. Gobbell said she wanted a guarantee that she wouldn't be re-fired after the heat was off Geddes. While waiting for his answer, she got a call from John Kerry. Timothy Noah of Slate got hold of her a few minutes later and got the details: "He was telling me how proud he was that I stood up.He'd read the part where Phil said I could either work for him or work for John Kerry. He said, 'you let him know you're working for me as of today.'" The Democratic National Committee called her later Tuesday to work out the terms of her new job.
No doubt the Republican slime machine will kick into action later today. They'll find co-workers to testify that Gobbell was a troublemaker, bad worker, and had terrible taste in music. At the same time the right wing punditocracy will swing into action tut-tutting that Kerry would take advantage of this poor woman (the right thing to do, they will tell us, would have been to leave her unemployed and at the mercy of an employer who thinks he's a feudal master). Well, they are all wrong. Gobbell took her knocks for Kerry, it's only right that he should repay her for her loyalty.
This is real character. It's also a symbol of what we are fighting for in this election. Why do companies and employers like that still exist in the 21st century? This is why unions and an administration that is friendly toward them are still relevant.