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11/30/2004

New NLRB Decisions Point to Onerous Climate

Two decisions issued last Friday by the National Labor Relations Board point to an onerous climate in which the Board is increasingly siding with employers over workers and denying workers their federally protected rights to form unions.

They are the latest evidence of a dangerous new trend that threatens some of our most fundamental freedoms.

In Oakwood Care Center, the Board effectively eliminates the rights of temporary agency workers under the National Labor Relations Act by ruling that these workers cannot be included in a unit with regular workers without the consent of both employers. Despite frequent rhetoric from the Bush Administration about meeting the challenges of the 21st century, this decision demonstrates an effort by the Bush Board to shrink the coverage of the federal law and reverse a decision that was designed in part to recognize changing employment patterns and remove an arbitrary barrier to organizing among temporary workers. This is in line with earlier decisions to eliminate coverage for graduate assistants (Brown University) and workers with disabilities (Brevard Achievement Center, Inc.). Temporary workers should have every right to improve their lives through collective action. This decision sends our nation in the wrong direction.

In Lutheran Heritage Village-Livonia case, the NLRB has allowed employers to use workplace rules that will inhibit workers’ freedom to form unions. The decision is a veiled attack on workers and gives employers opportunities to restrict workers’ activities that are protected under the NLRA. The decision reflects a push by the NLRB to elevate employer interests over workers’ rights and relieve employers of any liability in their attempts to stifle employee communication in the workplace.

Bush nominates corporate flunky for cabinet

President George W. Bush nominated Kellogg Co. Chairman Carlos Gutierrez as commerce secretary, picking a Cuban refugee who rose to the top of the biggest U.S. cereal maker as the chief advocate for American business.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

Does it disturb you as much as it does me that Bush has nominated a corporate-friendly-millionaire to be the next U.S. Commerce Chief?

Miners allege union busting

Coal miners trying to organize a new union at the Co-Op Mine owned by the polygamous Kingston family on Monday complained of dangerous conditions and worker intimidation at the mine near Huntington.

Co-Op miner Bill Estrada alleges workers supporting the United Mine Workers of America have been threatened and, in one case, assaulted.

"They are trying to use anything possible to defeat our attempt to organize with the UMWA," Estrada said.

"They are taking desperate measures," including unrealistic work demands, threats to fire workers who cannot prove they are legally in the country and warnings they will close the mine if the UMWA wins the election set for Dec. 16.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

APFA to join AFA for White House vigil

Airlines workers plan solidarity vigil in DC to show opposition to The United and US Airways threats of filing bankruptcy.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

I hope the United Mine Workers will also participate in this vigil since they are leading the way in the fight to reform federal bankruptcy laws. Let us not let another Horizon Natural Resources happen again.


Judge rules in favor of Cintas workers

Judge Rules Cintas CEO Improperly Discouraged Workers From Joining Lawsuit
Thousands Of Current And Former Route Drivers To Be Notified That Cintas Cannot Retaliate Against Law Suit Participants

(Washington, D.C.) – A federal judge in the Northern District of California has found a letter sent from Cintas CEO, Scott Farmer, that was intended to discourage workers from joining a lawsuit aimed at recovering millions of dollars in unpaid overtime was improper. The judge has taken the unusual steps of ordering a corrective notice be sent to Cintas drivers and extending the date for Cintas employees to sign on to the lawsuit.

In April 2004, Cintas was ordered to notify thousands of current and former Cintas route drivers of their right to join a lawsuit charging that drivers may have been misclassified as exempt from overtime in violation of federal law. To date, over 2,100 current and former drivers in over 40 states have joined the suit. But in June, many Cintas drivers received letters from Cintas CEO, Scott Farmer, charging that the suit was “baseless.” In a November 12, 2004 decision, the court ordered the company to send out a notice clarifying the letter from the CEO and gave Cintas employees until January 14, 2005 to join the lawsuit.

The corrective notice reads in part, “You may have received a letter on or around June 18th, 2004 from Cintas’ CEO Scott Farmer regarding the lawsuit. Because this letter contained language that may have created some confusion or misunderstanding, the Court has ordered this Corrective Notice to be sent to you to eliminate any possible confusion caused by Mr. Farmer’s letter.” The corrective notice continues, “Cintas may not retaliate against you for choosing to join this lawsuit.”

Cintas settled a similar overtime lawsuit filed by California drivers for $10 million in February 2003. The current suit, covering drivers nationwide, could cost Cintas up to $100 million.

For more information on the lawsuit go to www.cintasovertime.com, or call 1-800-851-7783.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million members throughout North America. UNITE HERE and the Teamsters represent more than 1/3 of workers in the uniform and laundry industry.

11/29/2004

Economic Growth...this proves its all a lie.

The Bush Administration and all their followers have preached over the past four years that the economy was on the rise and all was good in the U.S. for workers and consumers, but today's news of Wal-Mart showing a disappointing Thanksgiving weekend sales profit might wake a few folks up...but I doubt it.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, fell about 3.5 percent to $53.37 after it slashed its forecast for November sales on Saturday, saying customer traffic slowed toward the end of the week.

Analysts said Wal-Mart's forecast could fuel concerns that high oil prices and lackluster job and wage growth could curb spending over the holidays, particularly among lower-income earners.

Folks its a simple matter of logic here and you don't need a degree in economics to figure it out. Ok are you ready for the grand revelation...no money in consumers pockets equals less money they can spend, especially on non-essential items.

Imagine in a couple more years when the Administration has allowed more jobs to outsourced and more people are out of work.

I guess the only good thing about this story is probably some Wally World Executives are going to be facing the corporate firing squad and may realize what it means to be out of work.

L.A. SUES CINTAS

The city of Los Angeles is suing giant uniform-supplier Cintas for breach of contract. Besides charging Cintas with failing to provide promised new uniforms for its Department of Water and Power, an electronic tracking system and subcontractor tracking, the suit alleges Cintas may have violated the living wage ordinance. In April, workers at three Cintas facilities sued the company, claiming it paid less than the official Los Angeles County living wage of $8.78 an hour with health benefits and $10.03 without benefits. Workers at Cintas nationwide are attempting to form a union with UNITE HERE, but the company is waging a virulent anti-union campaign.

REWARD OFFERED IN MURDER

The IBT, in conjunction with the Longshoremen and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, posted Nov. 19 a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderers of Gilberto Soto, an IBT organizer, who was assassinated Nov. 5 in Usulutan, El Salvador. Soto, who helped U.S. port drivers form unions, was in Central America to meet with union leaders and activists fighting to organize port drivers for Bridge International Transport, a subsidiary of A.P. Moller-Maersk, a Danish ocean carrier. IBT leaders have dismissed Maersk’s offer to independently investigate Soto’s murder. AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney and IBT President James P. Hoffa met Nov. 16 with Salvadoran Ambassador René León to insist Salvadoran authorities intensify their investigation.

ANOTHER ANTI-WORKER NRLB RULING

The Republican-dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued its string of anti-worker decisions with a major ruling Nov. 19 that overturns a key precedent and further restricts workers’ freedom to form unions.
The 3–2 decision overturns the four-year-old precedent set in M.B. Sturgis, which allowed temporary workers supplied by staffing firms the right to form a combined union with employees of the company using the temporary workers.
Under the new ruling, temporary workers now must have the permission of both employers before there can be a vote on whether to form a union.
The board dismissed a petition filed by SEIU District 1199 seeking to represent employees at Oakwood Care Center, a nursing home in Oakdale, N.Y. The nursing home and N&W Agency Inc. jointly determine the agency workers’ pay and benefits. Oakwood supervises them, and they work side by side with workers employed solely by the nursing home.
The three Republican members of the NLRB voted for the change, while the two Democrats, Wilma Liebman and Dennis Walsh, dissented strongly. They accused the majority of “accelerating the expansion of a permanent underclass of workers” and charged that the “result—which exalts business flexibility at the complete expense of employee rights—is the opposite of what Congress intended.”
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, “Despite frequent rhetoric from the Bush administration about meeting the challenges of the 21st century, this decision demonstrates an effort by the Bush board to shrink the coverage of the federal law and reverse a decision that was designed in part to recognize changing employment patterns and remove an arbitrary barrier to organizing among temporary workers.”
This past summer, the NLRB, also along partisan lines, voted to deny university teaching and research assistants the protections of the National Labor Relations Act, which include the right to form unions, and restricted the rights of workers with disabilities to form unions.

Must Read Anti-Bush Column

I want to commend the West Virginia newspaper the Huntington Herald-Dispatch for running such a controversial column in their newspaper entitled Those who voted for Bush should enlist their kids , written by guest Columnist BILL HAYES .

Its a great read and like most progressives I agree with every word of it.

In these days of Fox News inspired right-wing media, this was a breath of fresh air and should create some shockwaves amongst the Herald-Dispatch's readership.

This is definitly worth linking to and letters of praise about the column should be written to the Herald-Dispatch

Worker complaints up in 2004, U.S. reports

Workers' complaints about being denied overtime pay, wages and job leave guaranteed by law rose this year to the highest level in four years, the Labor Department said yesterday. Penalties for violations and awards of back wages fell.

The department's Wage and Hour Division received 31,786 worker complaints in the federal budget year that ended Sept. 30. That compared with 31,123 complaints in 2003. The increase came as the department was putting in place overtime rules that Democrats warned would strip rights to premium pay for millions of workers.

Wage and Hour Administrator Al Robinson said a growing work force accounted for much of the increase in complaints. The division assessed nearly $9 million in civil penalties, compared with nearly $10 million in 2003. It collected $196.7 million in back wages, down from $212.5 million in 2003 — much for overtime violations.

Not made in Kentucky

This comes from the Governor who wanted to take away the teachers health care.

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher came under some criticism later yesterday because most products in the new line of the state's new motto/advertising campaign "Unbridled" merchandise were made overseas.

Tags on the hats, shirts and bags show they were made in Bangladesh, Honduras, Mexico, China, Sri Lanka or Pakistan. And the logo embroidery was done by Kentucky prisoners, not private print shops in the state.

"It seems like the governor missed the whole point of promoting Kentucky," said Senate Democratic Leader Ed Worley, of Richmond.

Terry Johnson, deputy commissioner of the Tourism Department called this point "well taken." He said the overseas goods were used for only a test run because an in-state network of companies that will carry the new logo hasn't been fully developed.

The state will seek out Kentucky vendors as it heads into mass production, he said. But he added that even those companies are likely to buy their T-shirts from overseas.

11/28/2004

Union Organizer to Stand Trial in RNC Case

Daniel Gross, a co-founder of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union and an employee at the company, is set to stand trial for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at a Republican National Convention protest. Gross participated in a peaceful union rally in front of the Starbucks store where he works to protest the Bush Administration’s support for anti-union actions at the world’s largest coffee chain. He faces a maximum sentence of over six months in jail. The union is asking its friends and allies to attend the trial in support of the right to protest. The trial will begin on January 14 at 9:30 a.m. in Part C of the 100 Centre Street Courthouse in Downtown Manhattan.

“Once again, Starbucks has proven it will do or say anything to attempt to break our union,” Mr. Gross said.

“Chairman Howard Schultz will likely use a conviction against me as a fear-tactic to deter workers from joining the IWW to improve their life on the job. Multiple videotapes as well as eyewitness testimony will demonstrate that NYPD officers concocted these charges against me- a New York City jury will no doubt see through the Bush/Bloomberg hype that prevailed during the Republican National Convention.”

The only attendees arrested at the protest were both union workers at the store. Prosecutors later dropped charges against Starbucks barista Anthony Polanco, an outspoken supporter of the organizing effort. Company managers were witnessed giving information to NYPD detectives before the protest began. Starbucks has a history of making false allegations about IWW rallies in New York City.

“Daniel Gross is being prosecuted for political reasons,” maintained his attorney Leonard Weinglass, a noted advocate for controversial defendants. The DA and the NYPD are desecrating the right to assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

Hundreds of people have already signed a petition demanding that the District Attorney drop all charges against Gross. Support has come from overseas as well. Last Saturday, union members in Edinburgh and Glasgow demonstrated at Starbucks shops in solidarity with the Starbucks Workers Union and Mr. Gross.
The Union has called for all charges to be dropped against RNC protesters.

Starbucks workers in New York City have sparked a national campaign to organize the chain. Workers are coming together to rise out of poverty, put an end to understaffing, and achieve a guaranteed number of work hours per week.

The Industrial Workers of the World IU/660 is a non-partisan union of retail workers fighting for dignified employment conditions in the industry.

For a good commentary about the issue check out Liberal Patriots...couldn't have said it better myself.

11/27/2004

Salute to the Cannelton Miners

I just wanted to take time to write a short entry about the striking Cannelton coal miners in Smithers, WV who were part of the now infamous Horizon Natural Resources Bankruptcy decision in August of 2004 - which left 5,000 union coal miners and retirees without jobs , slashed pensions, no health care benefits and voided contracts.

Along the road leading to the meeting, displaced UMWA Horizon miners man a picket shack directly across from the Cannelton mine's cleaning plant.

The Cannelton miners were given pink slips after the sale of Horizon's assests to Massey Energy's head honcho Don Blankenship.

Massey's decision destroyed the economy of Smithers and left an entire community wondering what their future was going to be like without good paying union jobs for its residents.

It was standing room only inside the Valley High School gym, where the important meeting was held.

Blankenship plans to reopen the mines non-union and replace the union miners with scab labor at much lower pay.

The Cannelton miners have created a strike line in Smithers and have been camped out there since October. I salute those guys out there fighting for what is rightfully theirs and just wanted to let them and their families know some of us appreciate what they are doing.

If more people had enough gumption to stand up for themselves this country would be a better place.

Solidarity Forever



Mainstream Labor Union Media?

I was intrigued by this column I read on the ICAONLINE website about how organized labor needs its own media outlet. Being a strong union supporter I have to agree that no matter how many union publications we have and no matter how much we try to inform our own union members of what's going on it seems to never be enough.

If Fox News can have a Republican agenda, then why not a Union media outlet for those who support organized labor and progressive politics.

A Union media outlet would not only help keep members of organzied labor informed, but it would also be a great way to dispell many of the stupid ideas people have regarding the evils of organized labor. Also it would be probably the most effective tool in the plans to organize Wal-Mart.

Check out Howard Kling's article by clicking here

Say Goodbye To Social Security

The New York Times reports the Bushies in White House and Bushies in Congress are all but certain to embrace large-scale government borrowing to help finance President Bush's plan to create personal investment accounts in Social Security, according to administration officials, members of Congress and independent analysts.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

11/26/2004

Union Organizer Murdered by Corporate Thugs

I advise readers to check out a story posted over at Liberal Patriots (one of my favorite blogs) about a
Union Organizer Murdered by Corporate Thugs.

I've been preaching for a couple of years now about America needs to wake up and see there is war being waged between Corporate America and the Working Class...this story just proves my theory.

I thought this was the land of the free and equality for all (and that means in the workplace also ...contrary to what Neo-Conservatives and the Rich try to make you believe).

11/24/2004

Funding bill extends mine cleanup program

The federal program to clean up abandoned coal mines will continue through at least June 2005, under a government funding bill approved over the weekend. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., included language in the bill to allow federal officials to continue collecting a coal industry tax the funds the cleanups.
[ Read More ]


Byrd criticizes mine academy privatization

Sen. Robert C. Byrd on Tuesday criticized what he said is a plan by the Bush administration to privatize part of the federal mine safety training center in Raleigh County, WV.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials have been moving to outsource the mining industry library at the federal Mine Health and Safety Academy outside Beckley.

“I am deeply concerned about MSHA’s decision to privatize the library services at the mine academy,” Byrd said in a statement.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

11/23/2004

This Billboard Scares Me...Dictatorship?



November 23rd, 2004
Letters to the Editor; Billboard message
Orlando Sentinel

On my way to work Wednesday morning, I looked up and saw a giant billboard with a picture of George W. Bush and the words "OUR LEADER" under it. The first thing I thought was, when was the last time I have seen a president on a billboard? What is going on? Didn't Saddam Hussein have his picture up everywhere? What next, a statue?

I am so concerned with our country and the division. I still stand by my vote, which was for John Kerry. George W. Bush has a lot of work to do to change the way I feel. Putting him up on a billboard does not make him a better president. His actions speak louder than words.

I wonder if anyone else finds the president's picture on a billboard odd? I'm sorry, but it reminds me of countries with dictators, and it seems people are making him out to be the messiah, the savior of our world.
Fear, fear, fear. I'm tired of being afraid.

Dianna Lawson
Orlando

Employers Suspend Lockout of Hotel Workers

Facing millions of dollars in lost business, worker solidarity nationwide and staunch support from Mayor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco hotel employers agreed Nov. 20 to a 60-day cooling-off period that puts 4,300 UNITE HERE Local 2 members back to work at 14 San Francisco hotels. Fighting for a union contract that expires in 2006, the same year agreements end in other major cities, the workers went on a two-week strike Sept. 29. A few days later, employers locked out the workers, who return to work today.

Along with UNITE HERE hotel workers in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the workers are fighting for contracts that expire simultaneously as necessary to counter consolidation and expansion in the international hotel industry. Hotel employers have responded by threatening health care benefits. After it locked out workers, the San Francisco Multi-Employer Group refused to let a $22 million emergency trust cover their health benefits, which would then run out Dec. 1. The workers' health care providers—Kaiser Permanente, the Chinese Community Health plan and Pacificare—offered to extend coverage for two months and wait for payment.

Ohio Unemployment Rises

WTOL News11
TOLEDO -- The unemployment rate is going up in Ohio. The new numbers are out and Ohio had more people out of work in October than any other state.

The number of people out of work went up from 354,000 in September to 373,000 in October. The news of more people being out of work has some shop employees worried.

Denise Labay runs Cache at Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park. "It does get me nervous it's been a little slower right now I think as time progesses ... I'm calling it the calm before the storm. I think people are going realize they need to get out and shop," said Labay.

The Ohio Job and Family Services director says jobs were lost in transportation, utilities, manufacturing and the hospital industry.

And this state won the election for Bush? Wonder if it was worth 19,000 jobs.

Miner protections gone

HUNDREDS of miners and retirees who spent much of their lives working at Cannelton operations in eastern Kanawha County — some of them injured on the job — have been stripped of their employment, pensions and medical insurance, thanks to a successful ploy by coal moguls.

The West Virginia complex formerly was owned by the Addington Brothers of Kentucky, who grew wealthy from their 42 mines stretching from Appalachia to the Rocky Mountains. Altogether, 5,000 employees and retirees, plus many more dependents and survivors, relied on them.

In 2002, the Addingtons filed bankruptcy, then reorganized as Horizon Natural Resources, then filed bankruptcy again. In the second case, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Aug. 31 that their union contracts are void — thus freeing the owners to sell their mines without passing along million-dollar pension and medical obligations.

When the decision was announced, according to United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, coal company lawyers “began laughing and high-fiving each other, knowing full well that the ruling meant that thousands of Horizon retirees and active coal miners, many suffering from chronic, high-cost medical problems like black lung disease, soon would be without promised health-care benefits and job rights.”

The union appealed the ruling. But the Cannelton operation and others were shut down, throwing employees out of work. Then the union-fighting, Virginia-based Massey coal empire and investors led by billionaire Wilbur Ross paid $786 million for the Addington holdings. Cannelton is to reopen next year as a union-free enterprise.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and other political leaders are trying to change federal bankruptcy laws, to prevent any further corporations from defaulting on labor contracts that promise pensions and medical coverage. But the former Horizon workers — as well as airline and steel employees who similarly lost hard-earned benefits — evidently will remain cast into the gutter.

Coal corporation defenders say miners should be realistic and accept the fact that money-losing owners can’t pay benefits. But this claim rings hollow, because the owners rolled in enormous profits — and recently showered millions on right-wing politicians.

In the 2004 election, three of the Kentucky Addingtons gave maximum $1,000 gifts to many West Virginia Republican candidates such as Kanawha County’s Vic Sprouse, Ann Calvert, Rusty Webb and others. Massey President Don Blankenship — who pocketed $17.6 million by selling some of his Massey stock a couple of weeks ago — donated $3.5 million to defeat state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, and also gave to other races.

So the bitter reality is that out-of-state coal moguls have millions to give to West Virginia Republican politicians — but nothing for castoff West Virginia miners.

11/22/2004

BAD CONNECTION AT T-MOBILE

Global unions are coming to the support of 100 Communications Workers of America members in California who were fired earlier this year by T-Mobile, a German-owned wireless communications company. The CWA members had been employed by Cingular, which sold the operation to T-Mobile. According to CWA, T-Mobile fired the union workers but kept the nonunion workforce. The Union Network International, which represents 15 million workers in 150 countries, has protested the action to Deutsche Telekom AG, T-Mobile’s corporate parent. CWA also filed an unfair labor practices complaint against T-Mobile with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Nov. 9.

RETIREES SET ’05 PRIORITIES

The Alliance for Retired Americans will focus its efforts in the coming months on pushing legislation to permit the government to negotiate prescription drug prices and to allow for the reimportation of safe, lower-cost drugs from Canada. The retirees also will take whatever action is necessary to stop Social Security privatization. Representatives from more than 40 state and local affiliates of the Alliance participated in a nationwide conference call last week to review the group’s role in the 2004 election and to discuss the organization’s agenda for the coming year. Alliance President George Kourpias said 72 percent of Alliance members voted for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Alliance members also mailed more than 2 million pieces of literature in an effort to educate other members on retiree issues, made more than 700,000 telephone calls and sent 12 members of the headquarters staff to the field to work in get-out-the-vote efforts.

BUSH THREAT KILLS O.T

In another slap in the face to working families, the Bush administration threatened last week to veto a huge spending bill if it contained an amendment restoring overtime pay rights. In response, congressional Republican leaders killed efforts to restore overtime pay rights for some 6 million workers whose overtime paychecks are threatened by Bush administration eligibility rule changes. The final spending bill, which the House and Senate passed—344–51 in the House and 65–30 in the Senate—combines several appropriations bills. Both houses of Congress had voted several times to rescind most of the Bush administration changes that limit eligibility for overtime pay. Since the changes were announced in March 2003, workers sent more than 1.6 million messages to Congress and the White House to protest the action. Union activists in several states are expected to mount campaigns next year to win overtime pay protection laws at the state level. In addition to killing the overtime protections, another Bush veto threat resulted in the elimination of House- and Senate-passed rules and restrictions on administration efforts to outsource and privatize federal jobs.

Media Blacks Out Bush Assault on Minimum Wage

Bush's success in reducing the value of the minimum wage in each of the past four years has wreaked havoc with the lives of millions of working Americans, but it does not exist as a media story.

The minimum wage loses value as the cost of living rises. Were the government to take action to partially correct for this loss in value, the media would cover that story, but would refer to it as "raising the minimum wage."

The minimum wage has lost well over a third of its value to inflation since 1968 and has not been adjusted since 1997. Correcting the current $5.15 to $9 would not be a new experiment, but would restore the minimum wage to a value it held during years when the U.S. economy performed better than it does now. Contrary to myth, there is no correlation between the value of the minimum wage over the years and the unemployment rate. One doesn't rise or fall with the other.

Two years ago, Bush's proposal to gut what was left of welfare included elimination of the minimum wage for workfare workers. He lost on that point, but only after thousands of angry people, organized by the Center for Community Change and ACORN, protested at the headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services and took over the lobby of the Heritage Foundation. The media paid attention for 24 hours in March of 2002. Since then, from the media's point of view, Bush hasn't done anything, so there's nothing to cover.
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)

This is truly a good article concerning the gatekeeping going on in the media in regards to non-Bush agenda news and labor.

11/21/2004

Rebellious Republicans Derail Bush Agenda

In a defeat for President Bush, rebellious House Republicans on Saturday derailed legislation to overhaul the nation's intelligence agencies

Byrd celebrates 87th birthday



Just wanted to note Saturday was the honorable Sen. Robert Byrd's 87 th birthday.

Byrd has proven over the past several years that he is one our last hopes for the preservation of Constitutional Democracy in the Congress.

So happy Birthday Senator Byrd and thanks for being the voice of reason for the American People.

GOP gets busted trying to sneak provision

Calling it a big mistake, red-faced Republicans say they'll swiftly repeal a measure allowing tax returns to be disclosed without penalty.

This after Congress passed a massive spending bill containing a provision to give two committee chairman and their assistants access to income tax returns without regard to privacy protections.

The Senate immediately and unanimously adopted a resolution saying the provision "shall have no effect." House leaders promised to pass the resolution next Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens called it "a serious situation," saying he and House

Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Young were unaware the measure had been inserted in the bill.
But some Democrats don't believe it was a mistake and are demanding an investigation

I don't buy for one second this measure was an oversight, instead it was yet another grab for power by this Administration to undermine what freedoms we have left.

11/20/2004

Mine Workers Win Labor Board Ruling

Struggling coal miners at the Kingston family-owned Co-Op Mine in Huntington now can vote to join the United Mine Workers of America union without fear their voices will be drowned out by co-workers related to the polygamous clan.

In a ruling handed down this week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Denver determined workers at the mine who are related by blood or marriage to the Kingston family won't be allowed to vote on UMWA representation.
(CLICK HERE TO READ STORY)

I'm glad to see the UMWA won this victory in Colorado, although it going to be legally challenged by the Kingstons.

Finally a state NLRB has ruled in favor of the working class and organized labor, a rare thing in this Bush America where Corporations are always right and workers are expected to follow the Wally World creed: "shut up and work".


Comcast Workers Need Your Help NOW!

Three years after voting to form a union to win higher wages, hold onto important benefits and a secure retirement, Comcast technicians in Pittsburgh are still fighting for a voice on the job and a first contract.And while Comcast punishes its workers with stalling, harassment and intimidation, the company is asking the state for more than $35 million in subsidies.

Comcast workers have been forced again and again—four times—to demonstrate their desire to have a union voice on the job with the Communications Workers of America.

According to Comcast workers, the company has been stalling negotiations to prevent them from securing a first contract while at the same time asking Pennsylvania’s taxpayers for tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks and subsidies.Please send the following message to your state legislators and Gov. Rendell right now.

Urge them to oppose H.B. 1321 and to support workers at Comcast.

We must all do our part to ensure Comcast workers win the justice they deserve.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

11/19/2004

Bush, Congressional Republicans Kill Overtime Pay Protection

Few workers will be giving thanks to President George W. Bush this Thanksgiving holiday after his administration's veto threats effectively killed congressional efforts to protect the overtime pay rights of 6 million workers.

The overtime pay protections, which had been attached to both the Senate and House versions of a bill to fund the federal government in fiscal year 2005, would have blocked the Bush administration's changes to overtime pay eligibility rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which since its passage in 1938 has ensured millions of workers receive overtime pay. The overtime pay protection amendment was part of the fiscal year 2005 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, which will be combined with eight other spending bills into an omnibus package Congress is expected to approve Nov. 19 or 20.

On Nov. 17, the Bush administration told Congress it would veto the entire $388 billion omnibus spending package if lawmakers insisted on protecting workers' overtime pay rights by including the overtime pay protection amendment. On Nov. 18, congressional Republicans eliminated the overtime pay protection amendment.

Congress has voted six times to block the Bush administration attack on workers’ overtime pay, but Bush veto threats and strong-arm, back-room maneuvers by Republican congressional leaders have killed those measures. The most recent vote to save overtime pay came Oct. 10 when the Senate approved freestanding legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to restore workers overtime pay rights. The House, however, failed to consider the Senate-passed bill. Previously, the House voted to add overtime pay protections to the fiscal year 2005 spending bill on Sept. 9, and the same overtime pay protections were added to the Senate version on Sept. 15.

Bush Ignored Millions of Workers Who Protested Overtime CutsSince the Bush administration announced in March 2003 that it would change overtime pay eligibility rules under the FLSA to take away overtime pay rights, workers have sent more than 1.6 million e-mails, faxes and letters to protest the action.

Some of the 6 million workers who will lose their overtime pay protections likely voted for Bush in the recent presidential election, says Harkin. “This is what happens when you vote that way,” he said after President Bush's final veto threat killed his overtime pay protection amendment.

With congressional action uncertain next year, union activists in several states are expected to mount campaigns to win overtime pay protection laws on the state level.

Jobless Figures Hide Record Long-Term Unemployment

While the Bush administration touts increases in new jobs, several recent reports show the nation's job crisis is deeply entrenched as millions of workers remain unemployed longer and the nation continues to lose manufacturing jobs.

The official unemployment rate for the third quarter of 2004—5.5 percent—significantly understates the severity of the jobs crisis. The rate ignores millions of Americans who either have lost their jobs and given up on finding new ones or who want to join the workforce but are too discouraged to try because the job situation remains so bleak. If these workers were include, the unemployment rate would be 7.5 percent.

The official unemployment rate also masks the rising number of long-term unemployed workers, according to the nonprofit Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Some 1.2 million workers, or 14.5 percent of unemployed workers, have been out of work for 39 weeks or more, EPI found. Historically, a long-term jobless rate this high has been associated with much higher unemployment rates.

When Congress enacted the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation (TEUC) program in 2002, the jobless rate was 5.7 percent, with some 700,000 workers among the long-term jobless. Last year, before Christmas, congressional Republican leaders refused to renew the TEUC program, which provides additional unemployment benefits when workers' benefits expire in high unemployment states. Workers received their last checks in March. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that since the TEUC program expired, a record-setting 3 million long-term unemployed workers have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits without finding jobs and with no federal benefits to fall back on.

"The unemployment rate is not representative of the real struggles and woes of workers in the economy," says EPI Economist Sylvia Allegretto, who co-authored the long-term jobless report.

MSNBC anchor eludes to election conspiracy

I urge everyone to read MSNBC'S Keith Olbermann's Bloggerman site and read his recent posting on Johnn Kerry, the election and some strange undertones that are in the new John Kerry video.

All I can say is even Olbermann is smelling a conspiracy theory.

(CLICK HERE TO READ OLBERMANN'S BLOG)

(CLICK HERE TO VIEW NEWEST KERRY VIDEO: "PROTECT EVERY CHILD")

Forced to Work Off the Clock, Some Fight Back

Bush's OT changes are hurting many Americans and this news story puts a face on one of those who have been shafted.
(Click Here To Read Full Story)

I'm not making this up...must read

John Hostettler, the Congressman representing the 8th district of Indiana, has been convinced by local religious groups to introduce legislation in the House that would change the name of an Interstate 69 extension to a more moral sounding number.
(CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY)

Economic Recovery...I doubt it

The recovering economy and looming retirement of the baby boomers are making this a very good year to be a college senior looking for a job after graduation. Recruiters, career counselors and students say the fall recruiting season has been the most active since the dot-com boom.
(Read Full Story Click Here)

Usually I trust the Assoicated Press with their feature stories (and news for that matter), but this one has me wondering their wasn't some reporter with an Bush Agenda.

I would love to think our economy is on the rise, but spend five minutes on the streets and you'll see its just not a reality.

A quote from the story that most intrigues and disturbs me is this:
"'Any major' is the No. 1 demand," he said. "We have plenty of employers that say if you are a college grad and want to ... learn our business, we will take you from that point on."

In my travels I've met far too many folks with degrees that are searching the want ads everyday trying to find something to work at and most college grads end up going to work in a field that doesn't even require a degree (call centers, fast food, retail, etc).

There is no clear indication of pay in the AP story for these so-called booming new jobs, which leads me to believe its all lip service at this point and/or there are actually new jobs out there at much lower than average pay.

A disturbing trend I'm seeing is the rising amount of commission-based or output/incentive-based pay jobs that are showing up as part of this so-called rising economy. These are jobs that pretty much mean you don't get paid per hour worked, instead its based off how much you can sell or how much quota production you can reach in an hour (standards are often an unreasonable number or fluxuate according to management). What it all boils down to is simply you might not get paid for a days work. Take a look at Hotjobs, Monster or Career Builder and look at all those jobs that are going to this. Think there are labor boards that will protect workers from these unfair practices....HA, not a chance.

It just stands to reason that as long as outsourcing continues, corporate mergers and downsizing continue daily how can the economy be getting better?


Union-busting hurts communities

October 21,2004 Horizon Community Impact Hearing, Smithers, WV

Reporters needed a shoehorn to squeeze into Valley High School, Oct. 21, as over 1,500 coal miners, their families, and others jammed into the gym to attend a public hearing on the economic and social impact of coal company union-busting and the corporate slashing of health care and pensions. A blue-ribbon panel, consisting of elected officials, ministers, and others, heard the testimony.

Smithers is located in Fayette County, southeast of Charleston, and its population is 876.

Earlier this year, the bankruptcy of Horizon Resources, a major coal company, resulted in a federal judge tearing up the United Mine Workers union contracts, which provided health care and pensions, and selling off the corporation’s mines. The notorious A.T. Massey Energy Corporation bought two of them near Smithers. Massey has announced that it plans to reopen the mines in early 2005, but to operate them nonunion.

Students testified that they would have to leave college or stop participating in school activities if the coal operators eliminated their health insurance. Retired miners detailed the life-and-death choices they make when coal companies and judges choose to rob them of health care and pension checks. Elected officials said that Smithers would collapse because the tax base would be wiped out by the judge’s corporate decision.

A report from the panel, called the Community Impact Board, is expected in two weeks.

Reforming Federal Bankruptcy Laws

Today I am elated to announce that Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall (both of West Virginia) have introduced legislation to reform federal bankruptcy laws in hopes of finally putting a stop to large corporations from robbing their workers and retirees of their hard earned pensions, health care and jobs.

Although these bills have not passed, still the introduction to the houses of Congress are the starting point that will hopefully put an end to injustices like what happened to the coal miners of Horizon Natural Resources and what could be looming for workers of several major airlines that are threatening bankruptcy.

This is not a movement to reform bankruptcy laws that regular working folks like us sometimes find ourselves having to file, instead its to make sure huge Corporations are accountable for their workers pensions and retirement funds, health care coverage plans, union contracts and whatever else workers have earned from those companies instead of having them vanish with the stroke of a federal judge's pen.

The Horizon case set a disgusting precedent in the legal system that corporations did not have any accountability to their workers and retirees, no matter what the workers had earned it could be taken away...to say the least there is nothing fair about that. I saw people who worked 40 years lose their pensions (most lost an 80% cut in their earnings) and health care (many suffering from black lung and now have no other way to afford their treatments, medications and doctors visits).

Now other large companies like American Airlines, Delta, Adelphia and others are threatening to follow this trend. Although Horizon's workers were union, the judge's decision voided those union contracts and now other corporations are salivating and thinking they can do the same and start over the next day after the bankruptcy clears and hire non-union labor to replace everyone.

I'm not saying this to be melodramatic, but there is a serious chance any of could be next if a company we work for decides to file bankruptcy. No more pension, no more health care...nothing except maybe an HR department saying "Yeah he worked here once".

As many of you who read Resist Oppression know this issue of reforming bankruptcy laws is very personal to me because the Horizon bankruptcy left many of my family, friends and former neighbors of my hometown without anything to show for their years of service for Horizon.

Judge William S. Howard's ruling destroyed lives, hurt local economies and left the door open for other corporations to do follow in the footsteps of Horizon.

On September 1, 2004 I started Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners which was created in the after-math of the judge's ruling to allow Horizon to file bankruptcy. Myself with a small group of concerned citizens circulated petitions, met with lawmakers, wrote letters-to-the-editor, did interviews, spoke with community leaders and civic groups, rallied other unions and did anything we could to get HR 3796, a bill which would continue the 1946 Promise that Congress made to the Union Coal Miners of this country that they would have-cradle-to-the-grave health care coverage. We sent over 1,000 signatures to the Hill and by our records more than 60% of those who signed did not even know a coal miner or live in a coal community.

Although that bill is still pending in this lame duck Congress, many lawmakers are still fighting hard to attach the language of the bill to other bills out there in hopes of the Promise will still be kept to the miners.

I am pleased to announce as Director of Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners we will be joining the United Mine Workers of America in the fight to reform bankruptcy laws.

In the coming weeks we will be launching an Internet Dot.Com for the movement and will be beginning our first wave of action to reform this broken system of bankruptcy laws. I urge everyone out there to educate themselves on this issue and I make a plea especially to other union members to join in this fight because they've figured out a way to bust organized labor and we need to stand in solidarity in this fight no matter what union we belong to...because we all could be next.

11/18/2004

UMWA Praises Bankruptcy Reform Legislation

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Praises Today’s Introduction of Legislation in the U.S. Senate and House That Would Prevent More Coal Operators From Being Allowed to Terminate Miners’ Promised Coal Act Benefits By Declaring Bankruptcy

Legislation Prompted By What Recently Happened in Federal Bankruptcy Court to Thousands of Horizon Natural Resources Coal Miners and Their Dependents.

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil Roberts is praising today’s introduction in the U.S. Senate and House of companion bills targeted at preventing coal operators from using federal bankruptcy laws to terminate Coal Act-promised lifetime health care benefits to the miners they employ.
The legislation was prompted by an Aug. 31 ruling in federal bankruptcy court in Lexington, Ky., that allowed Horizon Natural Resources to terminate the health care benefits of some 2,000 retired miners and their dependents covered under the Coal Act.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) introduced his bill today in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced his today in the U.S. House.

"The UMWA is extremely thankful to our friends in Congress for introducing this very important legislation, and also to those members of Congress who have already given their support to the measures," said Roberts.

"This is a great first step in beginning to address the travesty of justice that occurred in Lexington."

He continued, "One of the primary reasons the Coal Act was passed in 1992 was to prevent coal operators from being able to walk away from their obligation to provide lifetime health care benefits to the miners they employed–through the courts, through bankruptcy, or by whatever means. The principal focus of the legislation introduced today is that bankruptcy law–or any other law for that matter–should not be allowed to supercede the Coal Act. Hopefully, these bills will help confirm Congress’s intent to the courts, which would be a huge help to our campaign to prevent any more Horizons."

Rockefeller, Rahall propose protecting retiree health care

Retired coal miners whose health care benefits were slashed in federal bankruptcy court would be protected from such actions under bills proposed by two West Virginia congressmen.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall, both D-W.Va., introduced measures in the Senate and House on Thursday that would bar coal companies from evading their obligations under the 1992 Coal Act to finance health care for retired miners.

It's the first blow in a campaign to bar employers from using bankruptcy to evade obligations to their employees, Rockefeller said.

"The deficit of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has doubled in one year because so many companies are going to bankruptcy court," Rockefeller said.

The measure introduced Thursday is specifically aimed at Horizon Natural Resources, a coal company that filed for bankruptcy in eastern Kentucky in November 2002.
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)


AFL-CIO: Debate Over Merging and Power

Andrew L. Stern, S.E.I.U leader, has ignited a debate throughout the labor movement by arguing that labor needs a sweeping overhaul, including the merger of many unions and a vast increase in organizing, to reverse its long decline.
(CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

This is a tough call for all of us who believe in organized labor. We understand something has to be done to save union jobs in this country, but a radical change could also spell doom.

The points and counterpoints are equal arguments without clear-cut winners in this debate. Issues like industry-related representation would mean better union representation, but it runs the risk of wiping out a lot of unions that need membership to stay afloat and the risk of one union becoming too large to meet the needs of everyone.

Its a difficult call and one many of us will have to monitor closely as the debate progresses.

Ex-Bush Administration leader now working for a corporation

Outgoing federal mine safety chief Dave D. Lauriski has accepted a job with a mine industry consulting firm, the firm announced Wednesday.

The John T. Boyd Company said that Lauriski would be its executive director of health and safety. Lauriski will work out of the firm’s Denver offices.

Late last week, Lauriski had announced that he would leave his post as assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
(CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY)

Doesn't surprise me one bit Lauriski is back working for a coal mining consulting firm. This is the same guy who pushed for lowering industry standards on dust-control and setting the coal industry safety laws back 100 years.
I agree I'm glad to see this guy out of office, because he was nothing more than a tool for the rich mining owners.
Whatever happened to human life being more important than money...oh yeah, this is the new Bush America...what was I thinking.

11/17/2004

Unions insulted by Bush minimum wage

Despite Democratic losses across the board in the elections, organized labor is refusing to embrace President Bush’s offer to raise the minimum wage by $1.10 an hour.

“It’s insufficient, and it’s too little, too late,” said Bill Samuel, director of legislation for the AFL-CIO. “This is an insult to workers whose wages have fallen so far behind that they can’t even afford the bare necessities.”
(CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

$1.10 an hour raise...I have to agree this is a joke and if this all trickle down economics has to offer the working class then I think its time to reform the system...but oh yeah, anyone with half a brain knows the idealogy of Reganomics which the Bushies subscribe to is nothing more than a smoke and mirrors way of saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Filmaker Jonahtan Demme to direct Steve Earle video

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme ("The Manchurian Candidate," "Philadelphia") will direct the video for Steve Earle's "Rich Man's War," the second single from his latest Artemis album, "The Revolution Starts... Now."

Footage for the clip was captured during a performance at legendary New York club CBGB's on the night of the U.S. presidential election. "Steve Earle is the youngest master American singer/songwriter working today and it is a simultaneous blast and honor to be collaborating with him on a visualization of his incredibly moving and deeply patriotic new song," Demme says.Released in September "The Revolution Starts... Now" debuted at No. 89 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 53,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

K-Mart and Sears Merger Possible

K-Mart's blue light special has found a new home...

K-Mart and Sears are merging to create the nation's third largest retailer.

The chairman of K-Mart says the merger will produce a higher return than either company could achieve on their own.

The new company will be called Sears Holdings Corporation.

Under the 11 billion dollar deal... K-Mart shareholders will get one share of new Sears Holdings stock for each K-Mart share.

With stockholder's approval, the merger could be in the bag by next year.

I'm not very fond of either Sears or K-Mart because of labor practice issues, but at least Sears does sell union-made clothing like Carhart and made-in-America tools like Craftsman (although their deal to equip riding mowers with Honda engines disturbs me), but I can't forget that there is also a serious issue with the practice of paying certain Sears sales associates by commission only- which to me should be illegal in our workforces in the retail industry and the company has a list of racial prejudice violations a mile long against them.
Whether or not this merger happens, the bottom line is evil Wally World is going to exist and Sears/K-Mart will continue to sale products made from companies which have outsourced or from sweat shops and anti-union companies.

Bottomline is consumers need to take a stand for American Made products and educate themselves about where they spend their money, until then the oppression continues.

Bush video

I'm sure the majority of liberals and progressives who use the net have seen the now infamous "Bush flipping off the camera" video.

For those who haven't, well here's the link http://static.vidvote.com/movies/bushuncensored.mov

Personally to me its not anything build a battle cry of proof around that Bush is immoral and voters were mislead...there was a lot more proof of that already existing out there like the 9/11 Commission findings, tax cuts for the wealthy, lies about WMD's, cutting programs that help the poor, elderly and children...nuff said, this administration has nothing to do with moral values.

Anyways...

Getting back to the video, what I'd like to see done is get comments out of some the Extreme-Right's so-called Religious Leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson regarding the video...and even some of the local Bushies behind the pulpits of our churches. I'm sure they'd come up with some kind of spin and for a good laugh I'd like to hear what they have to say.


Divorce higher in Bush States

If blue states care less about moral values, why are divorce rates so low in the bluest of the blue states? It's a question that intrigues conservatives, as much as it emboldens liberals.

As researchers have noted, the areas of the country where divorce rates are highest are also often the areas where many conservative Christians live.
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE)

AFA Board Approves Strike Resolution

The governing body of the Associationof Flight Attendants-CWA today unanimously approved a resolution calling for a nationwide strike to draw attention to attempts by the nation's air carriers to bust unions and destroy contracts.

"The current assault by airline management has evolved from seeking to cutcosts on the basis of proven economic need to a destructive 'race to thebottom' that threatens to cause the collapse of wages, benefits and workingconditions across the industry," said the AFA Board of Directors during itsannual meeting being held in Pittsburgh this week. "The bankruptcy process hasemboldened airline management to use the court process to achieve costreductions that are unfair and unnecessary."
(CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

DuPont to expand in N. Ireland

DuPont said yesterday that it will expand production of Kevlar fiber at a factory in Northern Ireland to meet what the company called soaring global demand for the high-strength material.

The decision prompted complaints from a union officer at DuPont's Spruance plant in Richmond, which also makes Kevlar. The synthetic fiber is used in a variety of products, but it is best known as the key material in body armor.

Donny Irvin, an officer with the Ampthill Rayon Workers Inc. and the International Brotherhood of DuPont Workers, said yesterday the expansion overseas could cost jobs at the local plant. "This is a prime example of our jobs going overseas," he said. (CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

Bart Simpson is now Union

More than 220 employees of DPS Film Roman in North Hollywood, Calif., voted Oct. 29 for a voice at work with the Animation Guild, Local 839, Theatrical Stage Employees. DPS produces animation for the “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill” and “X-Men: Evolution” television shows. In another victory, about 50 workers at Fox Sports International voted Oct. 20 for IATSE. The new union members make up a master control operation that broadcasts international sporting events.

Have A Sweat Shop-Free Holidays

In the rush to purchase holiday gifts, some shoppers are ensuring the products they buy are not made in sweatshops where workers labor in unsafe conditions and are paid wages so low they must struggle to feed and shelter their families. At the same time, Los Angeles city officials have taken steps to make sure the $3 million the city spends annually on goods such as police uniforms are not made in sweatshops.

Last week, a coalition of economic justice advocates in Southern California convinced the Los Angeles City Council to pass an ordinance that requires city contractors to abide by a code of conduct to ensure suppliers follow fair workplace laws. Passed unanimously, the measure requires the city to hire an outside firm to monitor compliance and inspect factories.

"Whether we're buying uniforms, desk chairs, computers or pens, the city government shouldn't be sending its money to sweatshops," says Councilman Eric Garcetti, who introduced the ordinance. "Companies who exploit or abuse their workers should have no part in supplying L.A. with the goods we use to run the city."

Union activists, community groups, students and people of faith campaigned for two years to pass the ordinance. The coalition, spearheaded by the group No More Sweatshops, is building on its victory at the Los Angeles Unified School District, which in April agreed to comprehensive anti-sweatshop procurement reforms. The anti-sweatshop movement began in colleges some six years ago, when students formed United Students Against Sweatshops and successfully fought for regulations at more than 100 campuses mandating logo-bearing apparel be made under fair conditions. Activists expanded their campaigns to educational institutions at all levels. Several years ago, New York Gov. George Pataki (R) signed laws allowing school districts and public universities to implement their own anti-sweatshop legislation, which many have done.
Holiday Gift-Givers Shopping Sweat-FreeHoliday shoppers also have an array of options for ensuring the gifts they buy aren't made in sweatshops.

With greeting cards, games, clothes, books and music in stock, The Union Shop Online™ is the first stop for activists who want to buy union-made and social-justice oriented holiday gifts for their friends and families. In Washington, D.C., The Union Shop is located at the AFL-CIO, 815 16th St., N.W.

Holiday shoppers also can give the gift of good jobs by buying union-made presents for the holidays during Buy Union Week, Nov. 26-Dec. 5, spearheaded by the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department, which recently launched the all-union online shopping site, www.ShopUnionMade.org. The site also enables visitors to send holiday e-cards with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwaanza themes.

Consumers who want to do even more can spread the word about sweat-free shopping to store owners and fellow shoppers by downloading postcards and fliers from the Campaign for Labor Rights. The postcards urge store managers to enforce a code of conduct to ensure suppliers provide workers with a safe, dignified workplace and the freedom to form unions without intimidation. Activists also can distribute leaflets at shopping malls and houses of worship about the postcard campaign.

Explore AFL-CIO resources on stopping sweatshops.

11/15/2004

LAME DUCKS MAY KILL O.T...TAKE ACTION

Republican congressional leaders are planning this week to kill a measure that would block President George W. Bush’s new rules that take overtime pay rights away from some 6 million workers. Send a message to your congressional representatives to protect overtime pay at www.unionvoice.org/campaign/Restore_OvertimePay . The House and Senate, back for a lame duck session after the Nov. 2 elections, are expected to vote on an omnibus appropriations bill, which will combine the fiscal year 2005 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bills and several other unfinished spending measures. Both houses passed amendments to the Labor spending bills that would rescind most of the changes that limit eligibility for overtime pay, but observers expect the amendments to be dropped from the omnibus bill.

Republican Spector vs. Neo-Conservatives...winner takes Judicary Chair

After winning a bruising battle for a fifth term, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is struggling to keep the fruits of victory with the same aggressiveness, agility and finely honed survival skills that have marked most of his idiosyncratic 24-year career on Capitol Hill.

He is in line to achieve his long-sought goal of chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee but could be denied the post by fellow Republicans as a result of a furious backlash among conservatives about his post-election comments suggesting the Senate is likely to reject staunchly antiabortion nominees to the Supreme Court. (CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

Feeding the poor in Miami is now illegal

Don't even think about sharing any of that leftover Thanksgiving dinner with the homeless -- at least not in public.Exactly two weeks before holiday feasting begins, the Miami City Commission on Thursday may ban feeding the homeless on city property. Those who flout the law by offering a turkey leg or illegal spoonful of mashed potatoes to the needy could get a warning. After the 90-day moratorium, these scofflaws will be fined and could face arrest for repeatedly loitering or obstructing city streets.
(CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY)

What kind of a nation are we if we can't help those in need?
This story proves that morality movement has a long way to go.

Update:Employee Firing for being anti-Bush

Here is the response I got from the Dollar Tree regarding the recent firing of an employee for allegedly having an anti-Bush conversation with a customer (who agreed with him) and another customer overheard it and ratted him out


"Thank you for sharing your concern with us.Be assured that Dollar Tree does not ask its associates to take sides onpolitical issues, nor does it hire and fire people for their politicalviews. In fact, we have nearly 2,700 stores across the country that employand respect associates with diverse political, religious, and otherbackgrounds. Our customer base is equally diverse and we believe ourcustomers realize that there is often more to a story than initially meetsthe eye. We cannot share more information because, out of respect for ourassociates, we treat individual associate matters confidentially.
Adam BergmanDollar Tree Stores, Inc."

MSN Money - Forbes: Wal-Mart's next victims



MSN Money - Forbes: Wal-Mart's next victims: "The world's largest retailing machine is always looking for new worlds to conquer. Here are 5 that look particularly vulnerable, including banking and electronics."

Powell quits as secretary of state..6 have now resigned



Colin Powell has resigned as secretary of state, becoming the latest member of President Bush’s Cabinet to depart for his second term. (Click Here To Read Full Story)

Yet another of Bush's inner-circle tucks tail and runs before second-term. Makes you wonder if they know something the rest of us should know.

Here is the latest list:

  • Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
  • Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman
  • Education Secretary Rod Paige
  • Attorney General John Ashcroft
  • Commerce Secretary Donald Evans
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell

Ashcroft's at it again

Ashcroft Condemns Judges who Question Bush; "...second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war."

The outgoing mouth-piece for the Dubya Dictatorship had to try to top his everybody is aiding terrorism unless you are a Bush Supporter statement he made in 2001. This one lacked the punch of the other, but nonetheless the Attorney General just doesn't know when to quit. Makes you wonder if the Administration writes this stuff for him or if he really is just that paranoid.


The job-quality debate

Are newly created jobs the equivalent of those that were lost?
BY LOU DOBBS (CNN)

The domestic debate this election season has centered on job creation, with both candidates using Labor Department statistics to support their own arguments. But now that the economy has been added nearly 2 million jobs since last summer, economists are looking critically at the quality of these new jobs, to determine whether they are paying less than the ones we've lost.
(Click Here For Full Story)

Great Story and I highly recommend that any progressive out there watch his television news program weeknights at 6 p.m. (EST) on CNN. Dobbs is a great journalist and the only one out there asking the real questions about our economy.

11/13/2004

Another Bush Adm. Official resigns

The Bush administration official in charge of safety in the nation's mines is leaving his job.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave Lauriski said Friday he plans to leave the agency by the end of next week. He said he would work within the mining industry from his home in Colorado but declined to be more specific about his plans.

A replacement has not been named.

Lauriski, a former industry executive, had a contentious relationship with the United Mine Workers of America, which represents coal miners. UMWA spokesman Doug Gibson expressed "relief" Friday that Lauriski was stepping down.

Perhaps the biggest dispute between the union and the agency came over a government proposal to allow coal operators to equip miners with special respirators when operators were having difficulty controlling dust levels.

Union officials complained the rule, which was shelved, could have allowed for more dust in mines. Prolonged exposure to excessive concentrations of coal mine dust can cause black lung disease - a debilitating illness that is sometimes fatal.

Lauriski said his proudest moment at the agency came two years ago when nine Pennsylvania miners were pulled to safety after being trapped underground for three days following an accident.

11/12/2004

Vet Says He Was Fired After Talking Politics

A Pennsylvania man says he was fired from his job because of a political discussion. Ron Chapel, now former Dollar Tree employee told a Harrisburg local tv news reporter the conversation with a customer was low-key and genial, but somebody else in line heard him criticize President Bush.

That person later called the Dollar Tree corporate office, and Chapel was fired that day. He says the manager told him the company is pro-Bush.

Dollar Tree told the news crew it does not comment on personnel matters.

Now if Mr. Chapel's story is true it is outrageous that a business like Dollar Tree would fire him for simply having a discussion with a customer (who agreed with him) and is denying his freedom of speech rights.

I urge everyone to use the link below and write the Dollar Tree's corporate office and express your outrage to them regarding Mr. Chapel's firing.

Contact Dollar Tree via e-mail using the link below:
http://www.dollartree.com/site/fr_comment.cfm

Disney union could strike

Members of Walt Disney World's largest union group have rejected a contract proposal for a third time.

They've authorized union leaders to call a strike if necessary.Union members cheered when the vote was announced. A strike isn't likely any time soon because union officials first plan to ask for a federal mediator.

Those who oppose the contract say the proposed wage increase is too small to offset the increases in what they would pay for health insurance.

The contract proposal from the Walt Disney Company was offered to six unions that cover 40 percent of the theme park's 52-thousand-person work force.

Two of the unions advised members to reject the proposal. The other four unions recommended approval.

Wonder if Mickey Mouse is a scab?
All joking aside yet another example of the cost of health care being out of control in this country.

11/11/2004

India: Outsourcing firms rejoice

Outsourcing companies in India are jubilant that the elections in the United States have returned President Bush to office.

This is great news for the offshoring industry," said Nandan Nilekani, chief executive of Infosys Technologies, a software services company. The trend toward outsourcing will now become even more inexorable, Nilekani said.

News on Wednesday that John Kerry had conceded the election to Bush was greeted with joy in the industry.

"We are very happy that Bush is back," said Kiran Karnik, president of the industry group Nasscom, or National Association of Software and Service Companies. "The president's track record has been of recognizing the advantages of free trade."
(Read Full Story Click Here)

Commentary:
I'd say they are rejoicing in India because Bush has been re-elected as Dictator...I mean President.
Only the Executives of Corporate America benefit from outsourcing and that whole "trickle down economics" is a load of crap because the money does not trickle down to the workers and that money saved on "overhead" does not create new jobs for us here in the United States.
This President does not have our best interests at heart.
I know the people have spoken in this election, but guess what folks while you are worrying about making sure Bill can't marry Bob or Jill marrying Susan...this Administration is sending your jobs overseas.
Not that I'm for gay marriage, but our priorties need to be taken care of and making sure we still have jobs in this country should be at the top of the list.


Employees win UMW representation

The United Mine Workers of America said Monday it will represent employees of the Rolling Meadows Nursing Home in Waynesburg following an 80-25 vote for representation. The 111-employee unit includes licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants and dietary, housekeeping, maintenance, laundry andactivities department employees. The UMWA represents employees at several other nursing homes in Pennsylvania.

11/09/2004

Line-Item Veto Is Back

The line-item veto, left for dead after failing a Supreme Court challenge in 1998, is slated for resurrection as a key piece of President Bush’s second-term budget policy, White House aides said last Friday.

What is Line-Item Veto?

In a nutshell no President should have that kind of power, but here is the official definition:

At various times, Congress has given the President statutory authority not to spend appropriated funds. That authority was elaborated and made more systematic with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which permitted the President to delay the expenditure of funds (deferral authority) and to cancel funds (rescission authority). To rescind funds, the President needed the support of both houses within 45 days.

The Line Item Veto Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-130, 110 Stat. 1200) supplements the rescission authority. Instead of requiring the President to obtain the support of both houses within a specified time period, the Line Item Veto Act puts the burden on Congress to disapprove presidential proposals, acting under expedited procedures, within a 30-day period. Any bill or joint resolution of disapproval is subject to a presidential veto, ultimately requiring a two-thirds majority in each chamber for override. These procedures delegate important new powers to the President, affect the balance between the legislative and executive branches, and change the budget process.

Even the Supreme Court thought it was a bad idea back in 1996

Supreme Court Deletes Line-Item Veto
The line-item veto is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court decided Thursday, ruling that Congress did not have the authority to hand that power to the president.

The 6-3 ruling said that the Constitution gives a president only two choices: either sign legislation or send it back to Congress. The 1996 line-item veto law allowed the president to pencil out specific spending items approved by the Congress.

We have three branches of government for a reason and its so no one branch has absolute power. Voters should be concerned by this news from the Hill that the Bushies want Line-Item Veto authority. Oddly enough if was the Republicans who cried foul back in 96 when Clinton had the power for a little while, now I'm sure the GOP will be saying its ok now that the President is Republican.

Be afraid folks, be very afraid.

Ashcroft Resigns

Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans resigned Tuesday, the first members of President Bush’s Cabinet to leave following his re-election.

You know the man who brought us the Patriot Act and said anyone who questions the government actions in the name of homeland security was aiding and abetting terrorism.

Well like most people who follow history and political scandals, you begin to wonder if a Watergate-like strory is waiting to break.

Both CIA Director George Tenant and now Ashcroft putting in their resignations from the Bush Cabinent it makes you wonder if they are getting out of dodge before something comes out.

Guess we can only wait and see.

Now only if we could get Bush, Dick Cheney and especially Donald Rumsfeld to do the same this country's government would start getting on the right track.

So today, although its a small victory, still a celebration is in order.

So long Ashcroft, I'm sure you will find work singing your "Let the Eagle Soar" diddy for Neo-Conservatives across the country.

11/08/2004

Miners hurt by Corporate Conspiracy

October 21,2004 Horizon Community Impact Hearing, Smithers, WV

Allegations have been flying that Horizon Natural Resources and Massey Energy Co. have conspired to undermine the wages and benefits of unionized workers. In response, a progressive coalition of miners, students and community activists was formed after a fightback rally in a town near the Cannelton, W. Va., coal mine.

In September of this year Horizon placed its Cannelton mine on idle and laid off all its unionized workforce. Horizon recently sold the mine to Massey Energy Co. Union activists claim that Massey did not place the highest bid; other bidders had promised to keep the union workforce mostly intact.

Horizon had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2002. This is the second time that owners of this company have used the bankruptcy court to slide out of their obligations to the workers. Horizon is a reincarnation of AEI Resources Inc., which had filed for bankruptcy in February 2002. According to the company's web site, "Less than three months later, on May 9, it emerged as Horizon, the nation's fourth-largest coal company. Horizon operates 42 mines, including 27 surface and 15 underground, in five states: Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Colorado."

The United Mine Workers of America protested the recent sale of Horizon because it would strip more than 5,000 active and retired coal miners of health benefits and job security.

Along the road leading to the meeting, displaced UMWA Horizon miners man a picket shack directly across from the Cannelton mine's cleaning plant.

The federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the sale allowed Massey's assault on the union to go forward when he gave permission to cancel the union contracts for current workers and retirees. Massey, the new owner of the mine, has since fired over 250 coal miners in West Virginia for connections with the UMWA. Retirees have lost the healthcare and pension benefits they were depending on after exiting the workforce, adding to the 270,000 West Virginians who already lack healthcare.


In a move reminiscent of the West Virginia Coal Mine Wars of 1912-1921, Massey has placed armed guards on the premises to intimidate workers and the community into submission.

This declaration of war on the working class by Massey Energy is nothing new to Appa lachians. For years Massey has been plagued by a bad reputation for union busting and environmental destruction.

At an Oct. 21 UMWA rally at a packed high school gym in Smithers, W. Va., near Cannelton, miners and the union promised to stand up and fight to regain their voice in the workplace. If Massey thought it was going to close this deal in the comfort of the courtroom, it is sadly mistaken. Students, miners and community activists are uniting in what looks to be a long struggle as workers fight back against Massey's war on the workers.

This progressive coalition is demanding a return of healthcare benefits to all retirees, retention of the union and its current contract, the removal of all armed guards from the Cannelton mine, and an investigation into the purchase of Horizon Mines by Massey Energy. One thing that this ordeal makes abundantly clear to West Virginians is that the business tycoons, government and judges in this country are not on the side of the workers and their families.

Commentary:
Help the miners affected by the Horizon Natural Resources bankruptcy decision out by visiting the Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners site by clicking here and signing the petition to Congress.

WAGELESS RECOVERY

Millions of workers are unemployed longer and the nation is still losing manufacturing jobs, according to recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The bureau reported Nov. 5 that the official jobless rate rose in October to 5.5 percent. “Despite gains in different industries, we still lost 5,000 manufacturing jobs in October and…the average length of long-term unemployment remains at 19.6 weeks and millions of workers are forced to work multiple jobs to pay for health care and basic household expenses,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. Meanwhile, average wages for workers grew at the slowest rate on record between July and September, according to BLS. “The recovery is no longer jobless, but it is beginning to look ‘wageless,’ ” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist for the Economic Policy Institute.

MINIMUM WAGE MEASURES WIN

By huge majorities, voters in Florida and Nevada Nov. 2 approved measures to boost the state minimum wage to $6.15 an hour, a dollar more than the federal minimum. Union activists worked with ACORN in Florida to win 71 percent of the vote for a constitutional amendment boosting the minimum wage, which will be indexed to inflation. In Nevada, 68 percent of the voters approved a measure that would require businesses that don’t offer health insurance to workers and their families to raise their minimum wage. Voters must approve the measure again next year for it to take effect.

SUPPORT GROWS FOR HOTEL WORKERS

As thousands of hotel workers in San Francisco, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, remain locked out of their jobs at 14 properties, community support for their fight for a fair contract is growing. In a pre-Halloween show of encouragement, costumed members of the group Critical Mass, which mobilizes for bicycle riders’ rights, rode their bikes Oct. 29 through the city to hotel picket lines. Meanwhile, activists are logging on to http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/hotelworkers to send faxes to four hotel executives, urging them to end the lockout. Supporters plan rallies in Baltimore, Seattle, Jersey City, N.J., and San Diego this week. For more information, visit http://www.hotelworkersunited.org.

WV. Gov. helping his people

West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise announced Monday that he will leave successor Joe Manchin with a $243.7 million revenue surplus, and also announced he is restoring the $50 cut from school clothing vouchers for nearly 57,000 children back in July.

“It feels good to say I’m leaving the state in the black,” Wise said after a news conference Monday.
A robust recovery in the state economy, coupled with higher than expected state Lottery profits allowed the state to finish the 2003-04 budget year with a $53.7 million surplus, along with a projected surplus of $190 million when the 2004-05 fiscal year ends next June 30.............

11/07/2004

So the Bush Adm. is about morals huh?

In this entry I just wanted to bring up some talking points showing the Neo-Conservative-Evangelicals aren't practicing what they preach.

Peacemaking, not War Making: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. [Matthew 5:9] Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. [Matthew 5:39] I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; [Matthew 5:44]
Profiteering from war is not a Christian value.

Corporate Greed and the Religion of Wealth: In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [John 2:14 & 15.] Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.] Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23] You cannot serve both God and Money. Matthew 6:24.]
Outsourcing of jobs, corporate bankruptcy, not paying workers a living wage, denying of workers rights, not sharing the wealth....I don't think those are moral values.

Paying Taxes: Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. [Matthew 22:21]
Once again I ask the question, why do most Conservatives whine so much about paying taxes and want to abolish the IRS?

Equality & Social Programs: But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. [Luke 14:13 &14.]
Wouldn't you think the would want to support and fund programs like welfare, medicare, medicade, social security, veterans programs and other non-profit community action programs instead of trying get rid of them? I believe charity was at the root Jesus's message.

Public Prayer & Displays of Faith: And when thou pray, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret… [Matthew 6:6 & 7]
Mandatory prayer in school, a national religion and ripping down the wall of seperation of church and state goes against everything Christianity is about...man choses to come to God, declaring Jesus as his Lord and savior and living a Christian lifestyle by their own choice not out of fear of any man's law.



11/06/2004

Republican Specter has Neo-Conservatives Upset

There was some good that came in this past Tuesday's elections, especially since Republican maverick Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) won re-election and it has the GOP and Evangelical Extremists scared to death since he is scheduled to take over the chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee and judicial nominations go through that committee.

Sen. Specter sent shockwaves through the rightwing press in a post-election press conference by implying imply that the any nominee put forward by the President would probably not be confirmed if he or she was against the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion.
He said, "When you talk about judges who would change the right of the woman to choose, to overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely."

Many news organizations have been pointing out Christian Broadcasting Network head-honcho Pat Robertson has been almost beside himself about Specter's win and has used his so-called CBN news show to lambaste Specter and feels the Sen. will be a formidable roadblock for the Neo-Conservative takeover of this country.
Specter during his re-election campaign earned the political endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America because of his past record of being union-friendly and the working class -- a rare thing for Republicans.

Maybe all hope is not lost in this country and if the Democrats join together with the what the Neo-Conservative Movement has deemed elected "RINO's" Republicans - Republican In Name Only, we can have a balance of power in this nation and stop the assault on the poor, middle- class, elderly, overtime pay, health care, social security and our labor unions.

11/05/2004

AFL-CIO Addresses U.S. Presidential Loss

We are deeply disappointed that the presidential candidate we supported did not win Tuesday’s election, but we all should be extremely proud of and energized by the work we did together.

Fifty-five million Americans voted for good jobs, health care, retirement security, workers’ freedom to form unions, real homeland security and more. We made our voices heard, and they cannot be ignored.

Never have so many different unions done so much. Never have we been so unified, moving forward together. Hundreds of thousands of us phone banked, walked precincts, leafleted, educated and mobilized other working family voters in the largest-ever union movement political program. And in doing so, we built a lasting force to continue the fight against attacks on working families and the fight for the economic justice and fairness all working families deserve.

Our issues education and get-out-the-vote efforts worked. Union household voters made up a quarter of all votes cast, and by a strong two-to-one margin, union members voted for John Kerry. Members of WORKING AMERICA, the AFL-CIO community affiliate for workers without the benefit of union contracts, supported John Kerry by a 68 percent to 30 percent margin.

Our fight for working families will be harder than it would have been with John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House. But we didn’t get into this fight because we thought it would be easy or because we wanted to elect the candidates. We got into it to win for working families—and we will.

We will take the energy and momentum, the technology and the field operation we developed throughout the presidential campaign and use it to turn our country around. We’ll take the commitment, heart and solidarity of construction workers, teachers, janitors, engineers, firefighters, nurses and others phone banking and walking neighborhoods together —and we’ll turn them into success on the issues that shape working families’ lives.

Contrary to the claims being made, this election was breathtakingly close. It did not give President George W. Bush a "mandate" to continue policies that have cost us good jobs, affordable health care and retirement security. Bush’s re-election does nothing to change our need for policies that create and keep good jobs here rather than shipping them away, strengthen retirement security instead of privatizing Social Security and expand health coverage and lower costs rather than making drug and insurance companies even wealthier.
As it has over the decades, the union movement stands for the fundamental moral values that make America strong: quality education for our children, affordable health care for every person—not just some—an end to poverty, secure pensions and wages that enable families to sustain the middle-class life that has fueled this nation’s prosperity and strength. Union members and other working family activists don’t just vote our moral values—we live them. We fight for them, day in, day out. Our commitment to economic and social justice propels us and everything we do.

We believe hard work nourishes the soul and should nourish the body and support the family as well. We believe every one of us has an equal claim to the prosperity of America. And that it’s our job to ensure a better life for the generations that come after us.

Thank goodness we are part of a movement that has a real base to fight for what we value. And fight we will!
Today, be proud of what you have done and who you are. This land really is our land. And we can make it work for working families.

John J. Sweeney
President, AFL-CIO
November 2004

Commenatary:
In an earlier post I stated the union members vote for Kerry should have been 100% or at the very least 90%, instead of only 65%...which by the way is less than in the 2000 Presidential Election when Al Gore had 70% of union members voting for him
I don't understand the priorities of certain union members in this election when 35% voted for Bush who is openly opposed to organized labor, cut overtime pay and thinks outsourcing is good for the economy.