TUCSON, Ariz. – Metric Roofing edged out U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) by a mere three votes to be crowned Tucson’s “2003 Grinch of the Year.” The competition took place Dec. 13 at a Jobs with Justice sponsored party at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center.

The annual event is both a means of raising much-needed funds and a chance to highlight those who the community regards as the most notorious enemies of Arizona working families. Workers at Metric Roofing are fighting for dignity and justice on the job and to improve their wages and working conditions. They have sued Metric alleging that the company was cheating them on their wages. Many of the workers who have demonstrated against Metric’s practices have been fired. Many of those attending the “Grinch party” have picketed Metric in solidarity with the fired roofers. The selection of Metric for the year’s Grinch designation demonstrated the support and admiration in Tucson for the Roofers Union’s strong organizing drive here.

Runner-up Kyl, pronounced, we were reminded, as in “vile,” was nominated by the Alliance of Retired Americans for his role in support of the recent congressional attack on Medicare. When Arizona retirees attempted to deliver a letter requesting a town hall meeting on the bill to Kyl’s local offices, the senator had them arrested for trespassing.

Other nominees included Steven A. Burd, president and CEO of Safeway union busting stores; Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County administrator and hospital privatizer; Taco Bell, for backing exploitation of tomato pickers; Gene Repola, asst. superintendent at Sunnyside Schools; Convergis, for moving our jobs off shore; and Tucson City Manager James Keene. The well-attended party was great fun with great food and music, and it added a few hundred badly needed dollars to the Jobs with Justice treasury.

– Joe Bernick (