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1/30/2005

More on Wal-Mart being bad for the economy

PBS's Frontline lauched a website showing just how bad Wal-Mart is for our economy and how they are leading the way in making sure China is strongest economic nation on the planet.
Great website and very informative, plus you can watch the entire show online in segments.

But of course neo-conservative voters don't watch Public Broadcasting and think as long as they can save $5 dollars on their grocery bill its ok to help tank our economy by shopping at Wal-Mart.
So I guess its preaching to the choir...nonetheless, its a great website.

1/29/2005

Wal-Mart to appeal Colorado NLRB decision

Workers in the tire and lube section of Loveland's Wal- Mart Supercenter have gotten the OK from the National Labor Relations Board to vote on whether they want to unionize.

The retailer immediately said it would appeal the decision. (MORE >>>)

Once again Wal-Evil-Mart proves it doesn't want to let its workers have any rights.

1/28/2005

UMWA backs Bankruptcy Reform Legislation

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

Legislation Prompted By What Happened last Year 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 re-introduction in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate of legislation targeted at preventing coal operators from using federal bankruptcy laws to terminate federally 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 federal 1992 Coal Act.

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) both re-introduced their bills today, as is required when a new session of Congress commences. Each had introduced similar legislation in their respective bodies in November 2004.

"The UMWA is very thankful that our friends in Congress are once again working with us to rectify the travesty of justice that occurred last year in Lexington," said Roberts. "One of the primary reasons Congress passed the Coal Act in 1992 was to prevent coal operators like Horizon 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 Rep. Rahall's and Sen. Rockefeller's legislation is that bankruptcy law-or any other law for that matter-should not be allowed to supercede the Coal Act. Hopefully, their bills will help confirm Congress's intent to the courts, which would be a huge help to our campaign to prevent any more Horizons."

Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), whose congressional district is home to many displaced and wronged Horizon miners and retirees, is already on board as a co-sponsor of the House legislation.

Roberts reminded that the UMWA continues to pay for the health care of all the displaced Horizon miners and that it will do so through March 2005.

"The UMWA is spending millions of dollars to provide our Horizon members with a temporary cushion during this very difficult time," said Roberts. "It is the right thing to do, but the fact of the matter is the Union should have never been put in this position. Congress promised miners lifetime health care benefits-as did Horizon-and it remains up to Congress to see that the funding is there to fulfill its promise."

He continued, "The UMWA is already mobilizing our members for a full-scale grassroots lobbying effort in support of the Rahall/Rockefeller legislation. We intend to remind every member of Congress-new and old, and particularly in America's coalfields-about the promise made to coal miners more than 50 years ago."

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Unions form alliance to take on Allegheny Power

Utility Workers, Mine Workers, and the AFL-CIO Call on Allegheny Power to Recognize Workers' Demand to Form Union

(Washington, January 27, 2005) - - The Utility Workers Union of America, United Mine Workers of America, and the AFL-CIO have joined together to call on Allegheny Power of Pennsylvania and West Virginia to acknowledge and agree to the requests of call center workers who want to form a union to improve their lives. Workers in the Fairmont, West Virginia call center have been struggling to better their economic situations and workplace standards by organizing a union with the utility workers union, but their efforts have been stymied by Allegheny Power. At a time when Allegheny Power is asking much of the states and of its workers, the unions say company must team with workers and move forward with their requests form a union.

"Since the company consolidated and moved its call service center to West Virginia in a move to save costs, the workers are the ones bearing the burden," said Donald E. Wightman, National President UWUA. "The majority of Allegheny Power's call center employees are women who want to form a union to achieve wages that will help them to better support their families." The unions are asking Allegheny Power to agree to be neutral and to recognize the call center workers' choice, if a majority of workers sign authorization cards asking for union representation.

"The UMWA's goal is to help our sisters and brothers in the utility industry realize their hopes of someday belonging to a union," said UMWA President Cecil Roberts. "Like the coal miners who built America's energy industry, our nation's call center workers provide an important service role. And like coal miners, they deserve the right to union representation and good workplace benefits and protections."

"Two national unions, the Mine Workers and the Utility Workers, as well as the AFL-CIO, are linked in solidarity with the workers in the Allegheny Power call centers who are struggling to form a union," said Richard Trumka, Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

The call center workers are seeking improved workplace standards, like regular breaks, and they are increasingly worried about the outsourcing of call center jobs out of the country. The Utility Workers are hoping to duplicate their success in negotiating contracts containing a "no lay off policy" and a successor clause to assist workers with this concern.

Co-OP Miners to Speak at Sundance Film Festival

Delegation of Co-Op Miners to Speak at Sundance Film Festival Premiere of New Print of Barbara Kopple's Award-Winning Film Harlan County USA

Miners to Draw Comparisons Between Their Struggle and the Brookside Miners

Following the premiere screening of a new print of Barbara Kopple's award-winning documentary Harlan County USA at the renowned Sundance Film Festival, a delegation of coal miners from the Co-Op mine near Huntington, Utah, will tell the audience about their current struggle for union representation. The Co-Op mine is owned and operated by C.W. Mining Company, which is controlled by Utah's Kingston family.

On December 16, 2004, the Co-Op miners-many of whom are Latinos who say they worked in sometimes unsafe conditions and were paid between $5-7 per hour-conducted a vote for union representation. The miners were voting for one of three options: representation by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the company union or no union at all. The results of the vote have been impounded while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C., decides whether or not to uphold an earlier decision by the Denver NLRB to bar Kingston family members from participating in the election. The Denver NLRB agreed with the UMWA that Kingston family members should not be allowed to vote because their interests are more aligned with mine management and not with the workers who petitioned for the election.

Just prior to the vote, a majority of the Latino miners were fired due to what C.W. Mining called their "undocumented status." This was after many had worked for the company for years. Even so, most of the Co-Op miners-including the miners who were fired and Kingston family members-voted in the election. The UMWA has filed a number of unfair labor practice charges against the employer on behalf of the displaced workers.

"The Co-Op miners' fight for fair wages, benefits and protections is not unlike the Brookside miners bitter struggle in 1973 to convince Eastover Mining Company to sign a contract after they organized," said UMWA International President Cecil Roberts. "The re-launch of this powerful film provides an excellent forum for the Co-Op miners to explain what is happening to them to a much broader audience. After viewing the film, I believe everyone at the screening will have a deeper appreciation for the struggle America's coal miners-and a great many more working people-have fought in the past and are still fighting today."

The new print of Harlan County USA will premiere at noon on January 28 at the Egyptian Theater on Main Street in Park City, Utah.

1/26/2005

Mine Benefit Legislation Back in Congress

Assets formerly owned by Horizon Natural Resources--including Zeigler No. 11 mine at Coulterville--are up for sale again.

At the same time, Congressmen Jerry Costello (D-IL) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced legislation today to re-affirm the government's commitment to health care coverage for miners.

"What we are trying to do is make certain that the federal government is committed to protecting these miners from bankruptcy situations like what happened with Horizon," Costello said Tuesday, referring to a federal court's decision last year allowing Horizon to nullify its union contracts--including health care coverage--when it went on the auction block early last fall. (MORE >>>)

To show your support for legislation that Keep's the Promise To the Coal Miners Click Here
and to show your support of Reforming Bankruptcy Laws Click Here


1/25/2005

Another unionized Wal-Evil-Mart in Canada

Hopefully American Wally World workers will do the same....

Wal-Mart Canada Corp. faces a second unionized store in Quebec as the world's largest retailer scrambles to polish its overall image.

Employees at the Wal-Mart in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., were certified as a bargaining unit by the Quebec Labour Relations Commission this week. The commission found that a majority of the workers had signed cards with United Food and Commercial Workers Canada.

It marks the second successful drive for the union over the past six months, and another challenge for Wal-Mart, which has resisted all unionization attempts.

It also comes after U.S. parent Wal-Mart Stores Inc. last week launched a multimillion-dollar public relations blitz to try to clear up some of the misconceptions that the retailer feels have emerged about its track record as an employer and corporate citizen.

Last August, the Quebec labour commission certified the UFCW union at a Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Que., and first-contract negotiations are under way.

Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada, said it is reviewing its options, including challenging the Saint-Hyacinthe decision in court.

The Quebec employees didn't have a chance to express their opinions about the union in a secret ballot vote, he said.

Canada has become a battleground in the UFCW's attempt to unionize Wal-Mart because the labour laws, particularly in Saskatchewan and Quebec, present fewer barriers to unionization.

"The momentum is picking up," Michael Fraser, UFCW Canada's national director, said of the successful Saint-Hyacinthe application. "Wal-Mart workers now realize that if they want a union in their store, Wal-Mart can't stop them."

Wal-Mart operates 240 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores and employs more than 65,000 in Canada.

Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet?

I'm sure this won't mean a thing to the Right Wingers, but its worth showing how the good ol' boy system works....

Senate Democrats put off a vote on White House counsel Alberto Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general, complaining he had provided evasive answers to questions about torture and the mistreatment of prisoners. But Gonzales's most surprising answer may have come on a different subject: his role in helping President Bush escape jury duty in a drunken-driving case involving a dancer at an Austin strip club in 1996. The judge and other lawyers in the case last week disputed a written account of the matter provided by Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's a complete misrepresentation," said David Wahlberg, lawyer for the dancer, about Gonzales's account. (MORE >>>)

U.S. Foresaw Terror Threats in 1970s

WASHINGTON - Nearly three decades before the Sept. 11 attacks, a high-level government panel developed plans to protect the nation against terrorist acts ranging from radiological "dirty bombs" to airline missile attacks, according to declassified documents obtained by The Associated Press. (MORE >>>)


And directly related war profiteering news:

Halliburton wins a £40 million contract to build Britain's biggest ever warships.


1/24/2005

SOCIAL SECURITY BATTLE HEATS UP

Activists are attacking remarks by House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) that Congress ought to consider whether women should receive lower Social Security benefits because women live longer than men. Thomas chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Social Security.

“Shortcomings in the present retirement system already cause harm to women, many of whom are low-wage workers,” says Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families. Women earn less than men and are more likely than men to live in poverty and rely solely on Social Security, Ness said. More than 85,000 people have signed an AFL-CIO online petition to strengthen Social Security and defend it against President Bush’s plans to privatize the system and drastically cut benefits in the process.

To sign the petition, visit www.aflcio.org. Working families also sent some 500,000 e-mail messages to Bush and members of Congress, urging them to protect the country’s most successful family security program. Bush’s allies are raising millions of dollars for an election-style campaign to privatize Social Security, replacing guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts. Bush’s privatization plan would saddle future generations with $2 trillion in debt.

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO told the trade group Securities Industry Association (SIA) to stop pushing private Social Security accounts that would put workers’ retirement at risk but give SIA members a $940 billion windfall in fees. “Support for privatizing Social Security creates a conflict of interest for the member firms of the SIA like those that led to the financial industry scandals of recent years,” AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a letter to SIA Chairman Daniel Ludeman.

What a load of crap

I just read an article entitled " Minimum wage increase would hurt economy"...do I even need to write anymore or should I elaborate on just how wrong this message is?

Minimum wage increases wouldn't hurt the economy its the growing corporate greed thats tanking the system, as well as spineless consumers who have to make sure they save their whopping 25 cents at Wal-Evil-Mart buying items made in China instead of buying American Made or Union Made products.

Nuff said.

Indiana Scab Gov. Daniels busts 25,000 member union

With governor's executive order, some state workers lose right to negotiate pay and benefits.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels canceled union contracts covering nearly 25,000 state workers Tuesday, saying they stood in the way of his efforts to rapidly overhaul Indiana government. (MORE >>>)

You think State Government is on your side....think again folks.

1/23/2005

It all starts with communication

How many times have you heard the question, “What were they thinkin’?” when hearing about something that some folks did that was particularly dumb. Take for instance, the election of George W. Bush, and you get the picture. Yet, beyond general questions like this lays a science and the business it spawned for the sole purpose of finding out what they were thinkin’. I’m talking about polling and survey research firms (and union communication is a must).

After the election you heard and read a lot about voters who were thinkin’ about social-cultural issues (God, guns, and gays) and ignoring the war and the economy. You also heard that there is an ideological split between two major factions of the electorate among voters who were thinkin’ more about the war and the economy than social-cultural issues.

We know all this thanks to the sciences of polling and demographics. The purpose of polling voters is to find out what they are thinkin’ at any point in time, which issues are most important to them and which candidates they are more likely to support. We accept that if enough random folks are surveyed, important data can be discerned and analyzed according to specific statistical methodologies and reliable predictions about the likely outcome of elections posited. We view the data garnered through polling as fact and make important and expensive decisions based on these facts about what voters are thinkin’.

Voters are also polled post-election to determine whether the predictions match actual outcomes. Of course, these post election conclusions are designed to determine how voters are likely to vote in the next election, and the cycle of polling and surveying to find out what voters are thinkin’ goes on and on.

Another aspect of finding out what folks are thinkin’ is perhaps a bit more sinister than polling and survey research. It is called psychological evaluation. Just as it is important to political parties and candidates to find out what voters are thinkin’, there is another group that also finds it important and useful to find out what folks are thinkin’ – employers.

In order for employers to find out what prospective employees are thinkin’, they often employ psychologists who administer psychological evaluations to find out whether perspective employees are a good “fit” for the organization. Among other things, these evaluations are designed to measure a person’s group orientation, allegiance, and views on authority. Lots of employers submit perspective employees to a whole battery of tests to measure these things and make hiring decisions based on what a person is thinkin’ according to their evaluation.

Not surprisingly, employers use these devices to avoid unionization by weeding out prospective employees whose responses indicate likelihood for joining or supporting a union vs. someone who exhibits greater allegiance to the employer. Among questions not of a psychological nature are those that elicit background information and add to the profile of the perspective employee. Questions such as whether any family members are union members are considered highly determinative of whether a perspective employee would support a union. By employing these costly and time-consuming pre-employment evaluations, employers like Wal-Mart can cull out prospective employees who are thinkin’ that a union at Wal-Mart might not be such a bad thing.

By now you might be wondering where all this talk about what folks are thinkin’ is going. Well, if you are a regular reader of Resist Oppression you may have read previous columns about the importance of understanding the founding principles of the American labor movement during this period of debate and evaluation. You know about the importance of influencing public opinion in a positive and continual manner in order to inculcate the spirit of trade unionism in younger workers and the unorganized masses. This week’s offering asks the question, “Do the unions that comprise the American labor movement know what their members are thinkin’?”

While organized labor has used reputable and reliable polling firms to gauge the responsiveness of union members to issues and candidates in political campaigns it really hasn’t done a very good job of using the available tools to delve into what union members are really thinkin’. Perhaps this explains why labor’s post-election polling showed that only 65% of union member households voted for the labor endorsed candidate – John Kerry. Perhaps the reason why a third of union member households voted for Bush is that labor doesn’t know what its members are thinkin’ and haven’t been able to tailor our message to their interests.

It is ironic that organized labor engages in polling union members about their voting habits, yet ignores the potential for really finding out what union members are thinkin’ by employing these same polling techniques on a wide range of issues and subjects in order to develop a clearer member profile so that organized labor can respond to their needs and interests in a much more comprehensive and effective manner to re-invigorate the union movement – beginning with our current membership.

Organized labor can also take a lesson from employers by developing a background profile of union members’ that includes demographics and other key pieces of data to determine how to better influence what they are thinkin’ on a variety of importance issues. Imagine a database of union members that reflects far more than their basic information about age, gender, length of membership, address and phone number, and instead contains information about whether they are veterans, gun owners, where they bank, shop and play, level of education, incomes, number of children, etc. Combining this data with information gleaned from polling, surveys and focus groups will give organized labor a much better understanding of what union members are thinkin’ and be able to respond accordingly.

Many believe the American labor movement’s primary source of power is the muscle, energy and economic might inherent in its millions of current and retired members and their families and without their active involvement there is little hope for revitalizing the American labor movement. Without a much clearer and precise understanding of what union members are thinkin’ there is little hope of activating labor’s most precious resource.

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Corporate Crooks and the People They Employ

You should check out an entry over at Liberal Patriots called "Corporate Crooks and the People They Employ".
Great piece showing the need to reform bankruptcy laws in this country.

Reform Bankruptcy

New Yorkers mobilize against Wal-Mart

NEW YORK — The people of this city have plunged into the growing international fight against Wal-Mart’s unfair business practices by forming the “Wal-Mart Free NYC Coalition.” This comes in response to the department store chain’s announced plans to build its first city store in Rego Park, Queens. (MORE >>>)

1/22/2005

Fox News guest blasts Bush...must see

I couldn't believe it when I viewed it, but finally Fox News had someone speak the truth during one of their programs. The guest did a full out assault on President took the news anchor by surprise. Of course the anchor proved the network's Pro-Bush agenda, but the guest managed to make the network look like a bunch of idiots.

On Fox News Channel, you're free to speak about the coronation of George W... unless you've got the nerve to criticize Dear Leader. Then you get a Fox News MeltdownTM.

Click here to view the video at IFILM

1/21/2005

Lawsuit: Wal-Mart cheated workers

THREE EX-EMPLOYEES SAY STORE SHAVED TIME CARDS, SEEK CLASS-ACTION STATUS

Wal-Mart Stores, which last week launched an offensive against critics who have accused the company of being mean and stingy to employees, has been slapped with a lawsuit by three former California workers who allege the retailer manipulated time cards to cut their pay. (MORE >>>)

Politics Could Corrupt Private Accounts

President Bush likes to say private accounts would allow workers to control their own money. What he doesn’t say is Congress will have to pick the Wall Street firms to control the accounts, a process that could be corrupted by politics.

While retirees would lose benefits under Bush’s privatization plan, Wall Street firms would enjoy a $940 billion windfall over 75 years, according to a report this fall from Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Although the Securities Industry Association (SIA), a coalition of financial services companies, disputes Goolsbee’s findings, it still admits firms would reap as much as $279 billion over 75 years from fees.

Tell President Bush we won’t yield an inch in our fight to strengthen Social Security.

2004: Wages Dropped

Last year—2004—was the first year with job growth in every month since 1999, and the first year that the jobless rate declined since 2000.1 Yet the labor market remained relatively slack, and despite the reversal in job growth, there was little pressure on employers to raise wages. Thus, as the figure below reveals, wages grew more slowly in 2004 than in the previous year. In fact, the 2.1% growth rate for nominal hourly earnings in 2004 is the lowest in the history of this wage series, which began in 1964 (the series is for the 80% of the workforce who are either blue-collar manufacturing workers or non-managers in services).

At the same time, inflation grew more quickly last year, accelerating from 2.3% in 2003 to 2.7% in 2004. Clearly, faster price growth in 2004 was not a function of tighter labor markets leading to wage pressures that fed back into higher prices. Instead, prices grew more quickly due to the increased cost of commodities such as energy and health care.

This pattern of decelerating wage growth and faster price growth led to the first real decline in the annual hourly wages of production, non-supervisory workers since 1993. Thus, any real income growth these families achieved last year was a function of more work at lower hourly wages.

Another problem that the media and even the AFL-CIO failed to notice was the rise in the amount of jobs which provide "production-based", "incentive-based" and other psuedo-commission pay instead of hourly wages. Staffing firms like ACS and others are finding this work around to help employers to rip workers off. While not all staffing firms are using this method it is still setting a standard business model that will probably be followed.

The recovery is no longer jobless, but the benefits of the growing economy are still failing reach many working families.

1/18/2005

Board votes to dissolve State Police union

The union which had represented Indiana State Police troopers and other state law enforcement officers will dissolve in the wake of Gov. Mitch Daniels' decision to end collective bargaining rights for state employees. (MORE >>>)

Labor center fights threat of erasure

In a year when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed increasing state funding to the University of California by $97.5 million, the labor center is facing a $3.8 million cut that would all but eliminate it. Though the implications of the cut are dire, to Wong, the center's director, they are nothing new: Last year, the labor center faced virtually the same budget cut and the same prospect of extinction. (MORE >>>)

1/17/2005

Workers, residents fume over Detroit layoffs

Workers who have devoted decades to Detroit braced for the worst today as the city sends out hundreds of pink slips as part of a cost-cutting plan initiated by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

And residents who have complained of long waits for basic services such as snowplowing, streetlight repairs and road resurfacing prepared for longer delays. (MORE >>>)



Denver's Interst In Unions Surging

City's efforts to reform personnel rules cited Teamsters' organizing also is behind the 50 percent increase in membership by nonuniformed municipal employees. (MORE >>>)

Unions Honor King by Building Political Power

Union members celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are focusing on strategies for building on the union movement’s unprecedented political mobilization in the 2004 elections.

“We came within a few votes in Ohio of winning back the White House,” says Harriett Weaver, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 in St. Louis. “We can’t wait until 2006 or 2008 to start getting ready for the next election. We have to start organizing today, building more coalitions and educating our members on the important issues like Social Security and keeping the right to join a union.” Weaver says she is participating in the AFL-CIO’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities in Los Angeles because workers are under attack and must come together and fight harder than ever to survive.

The more than 240 union civil rights activists who are gathering in Los Angeles for the King holiday observance Jan. 13–17 will hold a community forum on building political power to highlight the importance of working together to advance the cause of workers and people of color. The discussion will include get-out-the-vote strategies for African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos.

Every candidate we support for every office should take a stand and join us in the struggle” to save Social Security, gain good jobs and protect the freedom of workers to form unions,” says AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson. “The way we fight these battles—the way we take the momentum we built last year and run with it—will define who we are and how successful we can be.”

‘Modern-Day Civil Rights Struggle’

Union members taking part in the events this weekend say the union movement must grow to gain political strength. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day participants will show strong support for the freedom of workers to form unions by joining with Los Angeles clergy and elected leaders in a Jan. 14 “Break the Chains of Injustice” march through downtown Los Angeles. The march highlights the nationwide fight by private security guards, 80,000 of whom are African Americans, to win affordable health care, better wages and more training by forming a union with SEIU. Of the 10,000 private security guards in the Los Angeles area seeking to join SEIU Local 1877, some 65 percent are African American.

“The security guard’s effort is a modern-day civil rights struggle and one that Dr. King would have supported,” says Terence Long, a member of Local 1877 working on the campaign.

Participants also will discuss ways to increase educational opportunities for people of color and the impact of environmental problems on communities of color. The group will distribute clothing, paper goods and other items to local agencies, food banks and shelters.

More

Bush buddy advises George to pull out of Iraq

On Thursday, decades-long Bush family friend James A. Baker gave George W. Bush some possibly unsolicited advice: It's time to plan for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Baker's call echoes that of sixteen Congressional Democrats who have also publically called for an exit strategy.

NLRB cancels hearing on bid to renew union representation

The National Labor Relations Board has canceled a hearing on whether to let nurses on strike in northern Michigan decide if the Teamsters union should continue representing them.

The strike against Northern Michigan Hospital started in November 2002. About 200 nurses remain on strike.One of the striking nurses filed a petition this month requesting a vote on whether nurses wanted the hospital to continue representing them.But the hospital says that the vote is unnecessary because a majority of the nurses already have signed a petition indicated that the Teamsters' help is unwelcome.
The hearing had been scheduled for January 19th.

Union maintains strong adversarial role

The message to Westmoreland County (Pennsylvania) Commissioner Tom Balya was clear.

Don't mess with the SEIU.

In 1999, a nurse at the county-owned Westmoreland Manor drew a circle and slash through Balya's name on a campaign shirt to protest comments he'd made during contract talks with Local 585 of the Service Employees International Union. Although the nurse, a union member, accused Balya of threatening retaliation, he denied the accusation and refused to apologize.

The incident quickly blew over, but the union's love-hate relationship with Balya has continued and may overflow into negotiations with county officials later this year. Westmoreland County's contract with SEIU Locals 1199P and 688 -- the largest of the nine unions representing county workers -- expires in December. (MORE >>>)

SHAFTING TEMPORARY WORKERS

In the latest from the NLRB, chairman Robert J. Battista, Peter C. Schaumber, and Ronald E. Meisburg, all Bush appointees, "found that temporary workers employed by an agency cannot join the same union as regular employees without permission from the agency and the company where they work" – effectively eliminating their ability to organize. That decision reversed a 2000 ruling by a Democratic board, a bad sign for America's growing temporary workforce.

1/16/2005

More AFL-CIO Revamping Ideas

As top union leaders started sifting through AFL-CIO reorganization proposals, two more top unions--AFSCME and the Machinists--unveiled their own plans: AFSCME, which pushed political action, and IAM, which says 'go slow." (MORE >>>)

CHAO UNVEILS PENSION GUARANTEE PLAN

Warning the federal agency that guarantees traditional private pensions is heading for a financial crunch, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled a new financing plan for it.

Her plan, announced Jan. 10, features higher payments by firms with higher risks of default--such as airlines--changes in pension funding rules and, she says, more disclosure to workers.

Traditional pension plans, with assets totaling about $1.8 trillion, cover some 34 million workers, she said.

But when the companies involved go bankrupt, as Bethlehem Steel did several years ago, or as United Airlines now is, the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., steps in and takes over the plans. (MORE >>>)

Viacom workers voting on strike

Union broadcast technicians are turning up the heat at Viacom Boston-owned TV stations, and could vote today to give authority for contract negotiators to call a strike. (MORE >>>)

Massey Energy Company CEO: D. L. Blankenship

The following post is a permission given reprint from our good friend over at Liberal Patriots :

Massey Energy Company CEO: D. L. Blankenship

Massey Energy Company recently bought Horizon Natural Resources after Horizon filed for bankruptcy on August 31, 2004. Horizon was allowed to void itself of all union contracts, pensions and healthcare payments to it's current employees and worse yet, it's retirees. The retirees are now without pension plans and healthcare that were part of their retirement packages.

In comes Massey Energy company which buys up Horizon and then refuses to re-hire the employees who had worked for Horizon because of union affiliation. But, the purpose of this post is to look at the CEO and President of Massey Energy Company Donald L. Blankenship's wage and benefit package. In doing this, attention will be directed to what the top brass of these companies are doing to the working class in America. Also, the wage and benefit packages of these executives need more scrutiny by federal bankruptcy judges when a company files for bankruptcy as a means of reducing overhead costs and paying debts of a company in financial trouble.

Donald Blankenship CEO and President of Massey Energy company.

D. L. Blankenship
Chairman CEO and President
Massey Energy Company

In 2002, D. L. Blankenship raked in $9,387,522 in total compensation including stock option grants from Massey Energy Company.

From previous years' stock option grants, the Massey Energy Company executive cashed out $2,832,180 in stock option exercises.

And D. L. Blankenship has another $225,500 in unexercised stock options from previous years.

How many workers could be supported by D. L. Blankenship's $9,387,522 pay package?

9 Nobel prize winners
28 average university presidents
23 U.S. presidents
41 AFL-CIO presidents
86 Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
367 average workers
876 minimum-wage earners

How long would it take to equal D. L. Blankenship's total compensation for 2002?

A Nobel prize winner would have to work until 2012 A.D.
An average university president would have to work until 2031 A.D.
The President of the United States would have to work until 2026 A.D.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney would have to work until 2044 A.D.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would have to work until 2089 A.D.
An average worker would have to work until 2370 A.D.
A minimum-wage earner would have to work until 2879 A.D.

2002 Compensation
Salary $1,000,000
Bonus $350,000
Long-Term Incentive Payoffs $0
Restricted Stock Awards $2,427,167
Other Compensation $176,553
Value of Stock Option Grants* $5,433,802
Total 2002 Compensation Plus Stock Option Grants $9,387,522


Compensation from Prior Stock Option Grants**
Value of Options Exercised in 2002 $2,832,180
Value of Exercisable Options $0
Value of Unexercisable Options $225,500
* Black Scholes present value model as reported in the company's proxy statement.
** Not counted in 2002 compensation totals.
Source: eComp Database - http://www.ecomponline.com

CEO-to-Worker Comparisons
Annual Weekly Daily Hourly Per Minute
D. L. Blankenship $9,387,522 $180,529 $36,105 $4,513 $75
Minimum-Wage Worker $10,712 $206 $41 $5.15 $0.09
Average Worker $25,501 $490 $98 $12.26 $0.20
President of the U.S.A. $400,000 $7,692 $1,538 $192 $3.21

How Many Years to Equal D. L. Blankenship's 2002 Compensation?
Minimum-Wage Worker 876 years Completion Date 2879 A.D.
Average Worker 368 years Completion Date 2371 A.D.
President of the U.S.A. 46 years Completion Date 2049 A.D.

How Many Workers Equal D. L. Blankenship's Compensation?
Minimum-Wage Worker 876 workers
Average Worker 368 workers
President of the U.S.A. 46 presidents


In 2002, D. L. Blankenship bagged $9,387,522 at Massey Energy Company. Here's what D. L. Blankenship could buy if he went on a shopping spree...

* Health insurance for 4,559 uninsured workers.

* Day care for one year for 2,311 working mothers.

* 357 average workers could upgrade their part-time
jobs with no benefits to full-time jobs with benefits.

* 8,205 workers could be enrolled in pension plans.


It is unnecessary for one individual to make this type of an income when we have a failing economy, unemployment at almost 10% and workers losing healthcare and pension plans on a daily basis. In order to get something done we need to support bills that will be presented in the US Legislature and you can do that by signing the petition of support for those bills here.


1/15/2005

U.S. Lost 1.5 Mln Jobs to China in 1989-2003

The United States lost nearly 1.5 million jobs between 1989 and 2003 because of increased trade with China, according to a report released on Tuesday by a government watchdog committee.

The report was prepared by the pro-labor Economic Policy Institute for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressionally-appointed panel that has pushed for a tough U.S. approach to China on trade.

The study estimates that imports from China displaced 1.659 million jobs between 1989 and 2003, while exports to that country generated only 199,000 additional U.S. jobs. (MORE >>>)

Washington D.C. Hotels, Union Reach Tentative Deal

he union representing workers at 14 upscale Washington, D.C., hotels has reached a tentative agreement with the hotels on a new three-year labor contract, both sides said on Friday.

The negotiating committee for Local 25 of the Unite Here union -- which had threatened to strike Saturday ahead of Thursday's Presidential Inauguration -- has strongly recommended that the deal be ratified, said union spokeswoman Amanda Cooper. (MORE >>>)

WAL-MART PR CAMPAIGN GLOSSES OVER REALITY

Statement by Ronald E. Powell, Local 881 UFCW President regarding New Wal-Mart Advertisements

(January 13, 2005) Today, Wal-Mart rolled out a slick, nationwide public relations campaign aimed at defusing negative facts that have been reported about the company. Full page Wal-Mart ads containing a letter from H. Lee Scott, President and CEO of Wal-Mart, are running in over 100 major newspapers throughout the United States.

However, facts are facts, and glossy advertisements cannot erase the long-standing and well-documented negative effects that Wal-Mart’s predatory business practices have had on working families, along with their wages, jobs, benefits, and communities. (MORE >>>)

And....

Low-Low Prices, Crushing Impact

Hotel Workers: No Contract, No Inauguration

While the Hotel Association of Washington D.C. agreed to return to the bargaining table at noon today, workers and supporters continue to prepare for a possible strike. “As the January 15 deadline looms, this round of negotiations renews hope that workers will be able to secure a contract before the inaugural rush begins,” reports Amanda Cooper of UNITE HERE Local 25. “Local 25 continues to negotiate in hopes of avoiding any disruption in hotel services. However, after a week of practice pickets and the dissolution of negotiations Wednesday, the union is well prepared for a strike.” Negotiations broke off earlier this week when management walked out of bargaining and workers and supporters have been conducting daily practice pickets at downtown hotels.

"NO CONTRACT, NO INAUGURATION!" There was no business as usual at several downtown hotels yesterday, as lively picket lines sprouted in the unseasonably warm weather. At the Washington Hilton, over 100 hotel workers decked out in red shirts and white picket signs circled the Florida Avenue entrance, keeping up steady chants of "No Contract, No Inauguration!" and "You say Co-pay, we say No Way!" Regular honks of support from passing trucks and taxicabs added to the din. Workers in the office building across the way showed their support with dozens of hand-made signs in the windows. While some simply said "We Support Hotel Workers," others echoed the picket line chants, warning visitors for next week’s $40-million-dollar inauguration that they may have to change their own sheets. Meanwhile, at the Capital Hill Holiday Inn, pickers carrying signs in multiple languages chanted “Overworked and underpaid, we refuse to be your maid!”

1/14/2005

West Virginia Newspaper blasts Massey CEO

Massey Energy's Bad Neighbor Attitude


MOST West Virginians were surprised when Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship poured millions of dollars into the 2004 campaign to defeat state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, paying for thousands of distorted television ads that sowed doubt and mistrust in voters’ minds. As a result, newcomer Brent Benjamin won an upset victory.

By law, a donor may give only $1,000 to a candidate in an election — but Blankenship avoided this limit by pumping his money into special-interest 527 political action groups, which get their numerical identity from the section of U.S. Code regulating them. (MORE >>>)

Great OP/ED piece about Dirty Donnie Blankenship using his company's money to buy his own Supreme Court Judge.



Two Republican Governors Rescind Workers’ Contracts, Bargaining Rights

Some 50,000 state workers in Indiana and Missouri saw their rights to negotiate wages, health care and working conditions eliminated when newly elected Republican governors signed executive orders Jan. 11 unilaterally rescinding their bargaining rights and contracts.

The attack on workers’ rights at the state level follows the Bush administration’s four-year assault on federal workers, including the administration’s unilateral take back of the bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of employees. Recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—now controlled by President George W. Bush’s appointees—also have begun to erode the legal guarantees of private-sector workers to form unions.

These actions “echo a message coming from the White House down to men and women on the front lines of our struggles against poverty, disease, crime and terrorism all across our country: We expect first-class devotion, service and sacrifice, but we will treat you like second-class citizens,” says AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney.

Workers Lose Rules Covering Health Care Benefits, Seniority and More

In Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), Bush’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, issued an executive order that repealed 15 years of collective bargaining rights supported by the state’s past three governors.

Daniels’s action eliminated the bargaining rights of some 25,000 workers and also rescinded contracts negotiated to run through 2007. Those contracts spelled out health care benefits, grievance and disciplinary rules, seniority, bidding and transfer rights and vacation time.

In Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt’s (R) executive order took away the bargaining rights of about 25,000 AFSCME and SEIU members, including some 9,000 who had reached contracts with the state. Blunt told reporters he believes his action also canceled those contracts, most of which were set to run through 2006.

In Indiana, workers who lost their bargaining rights include 8,600 AFSCME members, including hospital attendants, welfare case workers and professional health care workers; 14,500 workers represented by the Unity Team—an alliance between AFT and UAW—including mechanics and clerical workers; and 1,400 state troopers and other law enforcement personnel in the International Union of Police Associations.

Workers’ Rights Also Attacked by Bush, NLRB

“The union is the only safeguard against management taking advantage of employees. This turns back the clock in Indiana,” Irene Hansen, a Unity Team member who works at the Indiana State Library, told the Indianapolis Star.

Workers won their collective bargaining rights in 2001 when then Missouri Gov. Bob Holden (D) issued an executive order allowing workers to form unions and negotiate contracts with the state.

The actions by the Republican governors mirror Bush’s attack on federal workers’ rights. In 2002, he strong-armed Congress to undermine the civil service and collective bargaining rights of 170,000 workers in the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 2003, the Bush administration denied collective bargaining rights to tens of thousands of airport screeners.

In 2004, the Bush-controlled NLRB effectively eliminated the rights of temporary agency workers to win a voice on the job; ruled that graduate employees are not protected by federal labor law; and began to review rules regarding majority sign-up (card-check) procedures, which enable workers to more fairly and quickly indicate whether they want a union. Majority sign-up offers an alternative to the lengthy NLRB election process, which actually encourages employers to block workers’ free choice. The Bush NLRB also has ruled disabled workers do not have the freedom to form a union, it has restricted workers’ right to strike and refused to impose effective remedies when employers violate workers’ rights during organizing campaigns.


Wal-Mart begins propaganda campaign to save image

The world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart took out more than 100 full page adverts in national newspapers.

The group is trying to see off criticism over it pay deals, benefits package and promotion strategy. (MORE >>>)

If anyone believes Wal-Evil-Mart's claims in these ads then you need to seek serious help.
How about instead of launching a
propaganda campaign the retail giant instead opt to pay their workers better wages and give them a true benefit package that does not cost 60 to 70% of pay checks to afford.

Or how about Wal-Evil-Mart do its part to save our economy it helped to destroy and make a promise to sell only U.S. and union made products, thus putting more Americans back to work....yeah I know, that Corporate Greed thing will never let that happen.


Trade deficit reaches record $60B

The U.S. trade deficit reached $60.3 billion in November, a new record, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The number was far above estimates. Analysts had expected a deficit of $54 billion, according to Reuters.

Wal-Mart workers in PA set to vote on union

It took nearly five years of legal wrangling, but 15 workers in the auto services department at the Wal-Mart supercenter store in New Castle are getting an opportunity to vote on joining a union.

The National Labor Relations Board, in a case that has been pending since 2000, has scheduled an election for Feb. 11 to let employees of the store's Tire & Lube Express department decide whether to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union. (MORE >>>)

And check out a great story over at Liberal Patriots about this issue.

U.S. Soccer to Recruit Scab Players

The tumultuous labor dispute between the United States Soccer Federation and U.S. men's national team hit another wall and the anticipated move by the federation to call in replacement players has begun. (MORE >>>)

Labor support grows for Utah miners

Until they decided to rise up against a hostile mine operator, coal miners working at C. W. Mining Co.’s Co-Op Mine near Huntington, Utah, worked often in unsafe conditions and earned just $5 to $7 per hour with no health benefits,” says a description of the photo featured in the January section of the 2005 calendar published by the United Mine Workers Journal. (MORE >>>)

1/12/2005

UMWA Questions Frequency of Recent Visits by State Police to Local Union Hall

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts Questions Frequency of Recent Visits by West Virginia State Police to Local Union Hall

Calls on Superintendent of State Police to Provide Answer

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts is questioning why West Virginia state police troopers have come twice in the past two days to L.U. 8843's local union hall, allegedly to investigate "why there are so many cars and trucks parked outside the hall."

"The UMWA is holding training this week for our displaced Cannelton miners, and for some reason, the West Virginia state police have been dispatched twice to the local hall in the past two days to see what is going on," said Roberts. "Don’t we still live in an America where freedom of assembly is a basic right?"

In August 2004, a federal bankruptcy judge terminated the L.U. 8843 members’ contract and health care benefits so Horizon Natural Resources would be able to sell its Cannelton mine in Smithers, W.Va., and several of its other properties nationwide. The Cannelton mine was purchased out of bankruptcy by Massey Energy. L.U. 8843 members have erected picket shacks outside the mine and its prep plant to highlight the injustice of the bankruptcy judge’s ruling to the general public.

Roberts continued, "This group of workers has been harshly displaced, stripped of their promised health care benefits, denied employment at a place many of them have given their lives to, and now they are being–in my opinion–harassed by the state police. And not only at the local hall, but also at our picket shacks. The UMWA would like some answers from the superintendent about what is going on here. These workers are going through a very tough time right now, and these frequent visits by the state troopers do not help matters any."

Roberts said the UMWA appreciates the fine work the West Virginia state police–and all public safety workers–do, but their job is to protect citizens and enforce the law, not investigate why parking lots are full for meetings.

"I have not heard any reports of the state police investigating why the American Legion or VFW parking lots might be full on a meeting night, so how is Local 8843's meeting hall any different?" Roberts asked. "The fault here, however, does not lie with the troopers, but rather with the superintendent, or whoever is dispatching the troopers to the hall."

Roberts said the UMWA is continuing to provide health care benefits to all of the Horizon miners and that the union is still pursuing its appeal of the bankruptcy judge’s decision to the U.S. District Court in Ashland, Ky. He said the union also continues to wait to see how many of the displaced, experienced Cannelton miners Massey Energy is going to hire back. To date, only seven of the displaced miners have been hired back to work at the mine.

"I honestly do not know what is taking Massey so long to get back to our Cannelton miners," said Roberts. "Massey is publicly complaining about a shortage of experienced miners, but a large majority of these very experienced miners have submitted applications for employment, yet most have not heard a word from Massey. The UMWA continues to believe that Massey’s reluctance to hire these experienced miners can only be because of one of two things. Either Massey will not hire them because of their UMWA background or because of their age. Both of these reasons are illegal, and the UMWA intends to make that an issue, if need be."

Save Social Security Activism Alert

President George W. Bush, his Republican allies in Congress and corporate chiefs are on an ideological trophy hunt to destroy Social Security—the most important family security effort in America’s history. Their privatization plans to replace guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts would fatally undermine Social Security, cut benefits drastically, most likely raise workers’ retirement age—and saddle our children with $2 trillion in debt.

Now is the time to fight back.

There is no way we’re going to yield an inch on Social Security. No way, no how. To defend Social Security, we need to show President Bush, congressional leaders and the media that millions of Americans reject Social Security privatization and its benefit cuts. That is why the AFL-CIO is launching a petition to secure Social Security—one part of a multifaceted campaign to protect Social Security. Please take a minute right now to sign our petition by clicking on the link below:

www.unionvoice.org/campaign/ProtectSocialSecurity

Our goal is to get 100,000 petition signers between now and Jan. 20—President Bush’s Inauguration Day. Right now, Bush’s allies are raising millions for an election-style PR campaign, like we’ve never seen, to privatize Social Security. They’ll launch it on America immediately following Bush’s inauguration because they want to dominate the message on Social Security.

Don’t let them. It’s urgent that after you sign the petition you spread the word to your friends, family and co-workers. We need as many people as possible to demand over the next two weeks that we keep Social Security secure. Please click the following link to urge others to sign the Social Security petition.

www.unionvoice.org/campaign/ProtectSocialSecurity

Bush’s Social Security privatization plan would devastate working families like ours—while handing billions of dollars to rich Wall Street investment companies. We can’t let it happen.

The fight to protect Social Security is really heating up. Newspapers are reporting on a secret memo by a Bush administration official to corporate special interests backing privatization. The memo discusses a strategy to outright deceive the public, privatize Social Security and cut benefits. Please take action now.

Do your part for retirement security today by clicking on the link below to sign our petition. We’ll send you more alerts and information over the coming weeks about ways you can make a difference. Right now, we need a strong statement opposing these destructive privatization plans. You can help provide it.

www.unionvoice.org/campaign/ProtectSocialSecurity

In solidarity

Byrd to Publish Memoirs

The Last True Patriot in Washington....
Story Photo


U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd has written his memoirs, and they'll be published here in his home state.

West Virginia University Press will release the autobiography June 15. The 700-page book is called "Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields."

The book chronicles the Democratic senator's life, from his boyhood in the 1920s to his election in 2000, when he won an unprecedented eighth term in the U.S. Senate.

It will sell for $35 in hardback.

Byrd's last book was a best seller. "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency" focused on his concerns with the Bush administration's domestic and foreign policies, including its handling of the war in Iraq. His previous works include a four-volume history of the U.S. Senate and a history of the Roman Senate.

The 87-year-old senator is the former chairman and current ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was elected to the Senate in 1958.


In 2000, West Virginia voters elected Robert C. Byrd to an eighth consecutive six-year term in the Senate. The following year, Byrd received what he considers his greatest honor when Gov. Bob Wise and both houses of the West Virginia Legislature named him "West Virginian of the 20th Century."

As Congress gaveled into session last week, Byrd celebrated 52 years of Washington service. Of the nearly 12,000 men and women who have sworn the congressional oath of office, only two have served longer.

He has earned the trust and respect of West Virginians for more than a half century. Or should have.

Last Sunday, in a "Movers & Shakers" column, Sen. Vic Sprouse, R-Kanawha, disappointed us with his disrespect for the senior senator (in last Monday’s edition of The Beckley Register-Herald).

Sprouse pointed out that Byrd is up for re-election in 2006, and brings out reasons why he can be defeated.

"Byrd has become a caricature, not a real person," Sprouse wrote. "Because Byrd lives in Virginia, works in D.C. and only comes back to West Virginia every year or so, he has lost touch with West Virginia."

Is that so? For someone who has lost touch with this state, he sure does an awful lot for it.

Byrd's support of West Virginia over the years would be tough to measure strictly in dollars. The total would be in the billions. West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for almost every mile of the state's highway system. Before he was elected, the state had four miles of divided highway; today, about 37,000 miles. West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for the FBI fingerprint facility in Clarksburg. He almost single-handedly delivered the prize, and thousands of jobs, to the Mountain State.

Thanks to Robert Byrd, West Virginia's National Guard is ranked as the nation's very best.
West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for state-of-the-art federal buildings in Beckley, Charleston and Wheeling, and the thousands of jobs that come with them.

West Virginians can thank Robert Byrd for locks and dams, the world's largest telescope at Green Bank, health centers, research centers, academic and technology centers, community centers, libraries, industrial parks.
The list goes on and on.

Sprouse added that young people "only know Byrd as a name on a road sign. People in their 30s and 40s only know Byrd as the King of Pork." Byrd's response? "One man's pork is another man's job. Pork has been a good investment in West Virginia."

The story of Robert Carlyle Byrd is a classic American saga of hard work, success and achievement. For more than half a century, he has been a visionary. He has been an exceptional friend and public servant for the people of this state. Countless roads, public works and jobs attest to his labor.
And he has no apologies to make.

Sprouse is young, smart and appears to have a good political career ahead of him. One lesson that needs learning, though, is to "walk the walk" of Sen. Byrd before he "talks the talk."

Now 87, Byrd soon has a decision to make — whether to seek another six years in the Senate. He hasn't yet indicated if he'll run again. If he does, rest assured West Virginia will be a better place for it.

Massey CEO is in trouble again

A government watchdog group called West Virginia Wants to Know is financed in part by Massey Energy President Don Blankenship, one of the group’s founders said Monday.

Last year, the group spent $54,836.61 of its $68,978.41 budget on an ad criticizing state Attorney General Darrell McGraw and his brother, state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw.

The ad ran in the weeks before the November election in which the brothers were standing for re-election. Darrell McGraw won, Warren McGraw lost. (MORE >>>)

Marines involved in road rage

In a bizarre case of road rage, a Marine traveling through Kentucky on I-64 opens fire on another car which, as it turns out, was carrying two other Marines.

Considering this happened near my home it was worth posting.

Arizona lost 24,000 jobs to China over past 14 years

The Economic Policy Institute says in a new study that the United States has lost 1.5 million jobs to China with sectors such as semiconductors, manufacturing, textiles and electronics taking heavy hits. Semiconductors and electronics are two of Arizona's top industries.The study says Arizona has lost 24,300 jobs since 1989 to China, with just under 40 percent of those occurring since 2001. That was the year China entered the World Trade Organization and became more open to Western investments and free trade. The result has been an exodus of U.S. manufacturing, textile and semiconductor jobs to China which offers cheaper labor. (MORE >>>)

Labor Group Targets Iowa Legislature

The union representing guards at the state prison in Oakdale, Iowa, put up a billboard in Coraville Tuesday aimed at the Iowa Legislature.The billboard said "Rapists, Murderers, Drug Dealers. You Don't Want to Meet our Customers ...'' (MORE >>>)

Members of ATA pilots union reject wage cut deal

Members of the pilots union at ATA Holdings Corp. overwhelmingly rejected a tentative labor deal that would have won up to $6 million in immediate savings for bankrupt ATA Airlines, the union said.

The deal would have cut the pay of pilots by as much as 15 percent, the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement released late on Monday. Out of 988 crew members eligible to vote, 79.2 percent voted against the agreement. (MORE >>>)

Steelworkers, PACE Vote to Merge

Pittsburgh/Nashville – The International Executive Boards of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) have voted unanimously to merge. Merger of the two unions will create the largest and most powerful industrial union in North America, with over 850,000 active members in over 8,000 bargaining units in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

The newly merged union will be the dominant union in North America in metals, paper and forestry products, tire and rubber, mining, glass, chemicals, energy and other basic resource industries. It also will have a very strong presence in equipment and machinery, stone, clay and concrete, other manufacturing, transportation, utilities and the service sector.

The combined union will have over 1.25 million active and retired members to advocate for worker-friendly legislation and candidates. Together, PACE and the USWA will be a major political force in key battleground states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada.

"By joining forces with the USWA," said PACE President Boyd Young, "PACE members will have greater bargaining power, because this merger creates a larger union presence in our core industries and gives us more leverage at the bargaining table. Once merged, our union will immediately be a major presence in North America’s core industrial sectors and that strength of diversity will both protect and promote our bargaining agendas."

"PACE members will have access to a $150 million defense fund so that we can take on employers who make unreasonable demands at the bargaining table," said Young. "Furthermore, with an organizing budget of over $30 million per year, we will have the ability to strategically organize workers in our core industries."

"Our unions share a commitment to innovative bargaining strategies that protect our members in many ways while maintaining and building the productive capacity of the companies they work in," said USWA International President Leo W. Gerard.

"We’re also pledged to using our successes with our joint Rapid Response and political programs to challenge anti-worker forces bent on undermining the futures of our active and retired members," said Gerard.

The new union will be called the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union. PACE and USWA members will vote on the proposed merger at concurrent conventions to be held in April.

1/10/2005

Texas DHL drivers organize

Twelve drivers at JMK Inc. in Laredo, Texas, unanimously voted to join Teamsters Local 657 in San Antonio. The company is an independent contractor for DHL, the package delivery company. I'm glad to see the workers of the scab DHL are finally seeing the light.

TAX CUT CREATES FEWER JOBS THAN PROMISED

President George W. Bush’s tax cuts have fallen 3.1 million jobs short of the 5.1 million jobs the administration projected would be generated over the past 18 months, according to a new analysis at www.jobwatch.org by the Economic Policy Institute. Meanwhile, for the fourth year in a row, the number of job cuts announced by U.S. employers in 2004 topped 1 million, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement firm. “The economy remains unbalanced and unsettled, giving working families plenty of reason to worry about what may lie ahead,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

Lawmakers writing bill to limit giving to 527 groups

Call it the anti-Don Blankenship bill.


A committee of legislators is drafting legislation to limit independent spending for or against a candidate, like the $2.4 million Massey Energy Co. CEO Blankenship gave to one group to help defeat state Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw.

The draft bill would limit at $2,000 the contributions any one person could give to a group making an “electioneering communication” close to an election. (MORE >>>)

All I can say is its about time.

Another reason why we need to reform bankruptcy laws

Here is a great piece to read from over at Liberal Patriots about the need to Reform Bankruptcy Laws in this country:

David N. Seigel, President and CEO US Airways Group



Also be sure to check out our website:

Reform Bankruptcy

Click here for information from Citizens United to Reform Bankruptcy Laws on why workers are losing jobs to bankruptcy and how you can help.

Fire Fighters Union Recommendations for Change in Labor Movement

Yet another of the AFL-CIO's unions has answered the call issued by President Sweeney to submit their views and ideas to him to allow for afull and open discussion about our future and about the choices we must make together. (MORE >>>)

Trash haulers reject contract; scabs called in

Faced with the contract rejection by Teamsters Local 701, Waste Management has decided to bring in workers from Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as other parts of New Jersey to collect trash and recycling in Hamilton, Princeton Borough and Pennington this morning, a company spokeswoman said. (MORE >>>)

1/09/2005

NURSES STRIKE ST. LOUIS HOSPITAL: 'THIS IS ALL LABOR'S FIGHT'

With the St. John’s Hospital nurses strike stretching on for weeks, the St. Louis labor community turned out in force to demonstrate solidarity behind these angels of mercy standing up for their right to be their patients' advocates--and to tell the hospital it will not break their union.

But as the nurses walked the picket lines, a larger issue loomed: The hospital's fight to destroy the nurses union is only the prelude to a larger effort in Missouri to castrate the ability of organized labor to represent its members. (MORE >>>)

Its going to take more coordinated efforts between different labor unions if we want to protect our jobs and secure our nation's future as a key player in the world's economy.

Bush's Drug Videos Broke Law

The Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Thursday that the Bush administration violated federal law by producing and distributing television news segments about the effects of drug use among young people. (MORE >>>)

Screeners file lawsuit

S.F. AIRPORT -- Grassroots labor organizers at San Francisco International Airport are suing security screener employers at Covenant Aviation Security.

In a complaint filed Monday in San Francisco, labor organizers from United Screeners Association Local 1 said they aim to protect their right to campaign at SFO and recoup the lost wages of three employees they claim were unlawfully terminated.

In filing the suit, Local 1 representatives are trying to "do our best for justice for the workers, to do the right thing for people here," said George M. Valdes, the union's director of operations for labor organizers.

In a prepared statement, Valdes cited ongoing problems such as a "corrupt" relationship between San Mateo's labor council and the airport.

Conservative commentator was paid $240,000 by Education Dept.

A conservative columnist has been dropped by a major syndication service because he accepted a payment from the Bush administration to promote the No Child Left Behind law to fellow blacks and to give the education secretary media time. (MORE >>>)

Didn't we criticize Hitler for doing this during WWII and wasn't it called state-run propaganda?

Act to protect the freedom to choose a union

Bipartisan legislation (H.R. 3619 and S. 1925) introduced in Congress will help fix the broken process through which workers form unions. Please take a moment right now to send a fax to your senators and representative. Urge them to sign on as a sponsor of this important pro-worker legislation. ( MORE >>>)

1/08/2005

Two Million Lose Jobs Under Bush

The nation's unemployment rate ended 2004 at a December figure of 5.4 percent, with 8.047 million people out of work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The figures continued the high-unemployment trend seen since the U.S. Supreme Court seated GOP nominee George W. Bush in the Oval Office. As of December, the number of additional jobless during his reign totals 2.091 million.

The number of unemployed in January 2001--the last data gathered under President Clinton--was 5.956 million and the adjusted jobless rate that month was 4 percent.

BLS said 27,000 people joined the ranks of the jobless in December, but what was more striking was how many left the work force: 328,000, for a total of 76.437 million people out of the labor force in December. The number of employed also dropped. (MORE >>>)

New Attack on Workers’ Overtime Pay

The Bush administration is preparing another attack on working families’ paychecks as the 109th Congress convenes in Washington, D.C. The administration, with the backing of its corporate allies and Republican congressional leaders, will push for new legislation to allow employers to substitute compensatory time off for time-and-a-half overtime pay. They also are likely to push a so-called “flex-time” bill to replace the 40-hour workweek with an 80-hour, two-week pay period.

Both proposals would force employees to work longer hours for less pay, unions and other workers’ advocates say.

Last year, President George W. Bush won his fight to cut overtime pay protections under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules, stripping rights to overtime pay from millions of workers.

Specific legislation has yet to be introduced, but the Bush White House proposals are expected to closely mirror legislation working families and their allies defeated in past congressional sessions. The FLSA created a 40-hour workweek to spread employment more broadly, but the only enforcement mechanism is the requirement employers pay a cash premium for overtime work.

By removing the overtime pay requirement, comp time legislation would make it cheaper for employers to demand mandatory overtime, undermining the FLSA’s only incentive against excessive hours.

It is nothing more than a scheme to allow employers to avoid paying for overtime, a scheme that will result in longer hours, lower incomes and less predictable workweeks for American workers,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in an analysis of the past Congress’ comp time legislation.

While backers claim comp time arrangements would be voluntary between workers and management, past bills contained no strong protections against employer coercion. By giving employers a cost advantage to use comp time instead of premium overtime, employers are likely to subtly—or not so subtly—induce workers to accept the comp time.

The 40-Hour Week Under Attack

The push to kill the 40-hour week and replace it with an 80-hour, two-week, work period opens the door for employers to demand longer hours for less pay. For example, an employee who worked 50 hours in one week and 30 hours in the next would no longer be entitled to 10 hours of premium pay.

In a 2004 analysis of so-called “flex-time,” Pennsylvania State University economics professor Lonnie Golden said, “The ‘flex’ in this proposal all flows to the employer.”

He wrote that such legislation would allow employers to schedule hourly workers up to 50 hours in a given week and not owe time-and-a-half pay for any of the 10 hours of overtime work, provided the same workers are scheduled for no more than 30 hours in the following week.

“Not only would this exacerbate the current trend of most workers’ wages falling behind inflation, but it is also more likely to introduce unwelcome irregularity to employees’ lives. The proposed bill does not grant employees any power to determine which additional days or hours they will work or have off or even when they start or stop their workday,” Golden said.

Last August, when Bush stepped up his campaign to let employers substitute comp time for overtime pay and kill the 40-hour week, AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said Bush’s plan “is really about giving America’s corporations the flexibility to cheat their workers out of overtime pay after forty hours a week.”

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White House: Cut Social Security Benefits

The AFL-CIO is reporting a secret White House memo confirms what advocates for working families have known all along: President George W. Bush plans to drastically cut future Social Security benefits.

On Jan. 3, White House official Peter Wehner sent an e-mail to Republican opinion leaders calling for change in the way guaranteed benefits are calculated that would cut payments nearly in half for today’s young workers when they retire.

The benefit cuts are part of Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security, the nation’s most successful family protection program.

The confidential memo called for freezing the standard of living for retirees by pegging Social Security benefits to the increase in prices rather than wages. Because wages rise faster than prices, this would slash the amount of Social Security benefits retirees would receive. Under this formula, a person retiring at age 65 in 2075 would see a 46 percent smaller benefit than under the current system.

“Seniors will be hurt by benefit reductions and private accounts. So, too, will our children and grandchildren,” says George Kourpias, president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots activist group for seniors. “It’s our job to fight to protect, preserve and pass on Social Security.”

More than two years ago, in June 2002, analysts warned Bush’s privatization plan would mean large benefit cuts. The Century Foundation and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculated that workers retiring in 2066 would face a 41 percent cut in benefits if Bush’s plan were implemented.

“The Bush administration has finally acknowledged that the centerpiece of its plan to radically overhaul Social Security is a benefit cut of more than 40 percent in the coming decades for every American senior,” says House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).