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7/29/2005

UFCW Disaffiliates from AFL-CIO

Statement by UFCW International President Joe Hansen

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), its local unions and its officers are committed to rebuilding worker power. We have undertaken the process to restructure and revitalize our union to meet the needs of our current and future members. For our union to succeed on behalf of our members, we must be part of a revitalized and dynamic labor movement that connects with a new generation of workers struggling in the 21st century's global economy. (MORE >>>)

Read Hansen's letter to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

‘We Are Strong. We Are Ready to Make America Work for Working Families’


Source: AFL-CIO

Emphasizing bold steps taken by union members at the 25th AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on July 28 told the nearly 1,000 Convention delegates: “We have accomplished a great deal and put the union movement on a stronger footing. The work we have done together will enable more working people to gain the benefits of union membership and to gain a stronger voice in the laws and policies that shape everyday life in America.” (MORE >>>)

Workers Respond to Hoffa Announcement


Source: Teamsters

A wide range of workers, who seek to become Teamsters, have contacted local unions and the International’s Organizing Department since the beginning of the week. Organizing new workers is one of the union’s primary goals and a fundamental reason for disaffiliating from the AFL-CIO on Monday.


“Our message of bringing new members into the labor movement is resonating with workers,” said General President Jim Hoffa. “Already, we’ve received a great response, and we will do everything we can to bring these workers—and many others—into our union.”

Workers from a wide range of professions, including airline mechanics, FedEx drivers and professional wrestlers, among many other trades, have contacted the union for representation.

“We have chosen a course of growth and strength for the American labor movement based on organizing new members,” Hoffa said. “Organizing is the lifeblood of our union, and we welcome any and all workers.”

7/28/2005

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts delivers rousing nomination speech for Rich Trumka




Source: Workers Independent News

Evoking the passionate, fiery history of the mine workers and their mighty contributions to the U.S. labor movement, UMWA President Cecil Roberts nominated Rich Trumka for another term as Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO in one of the most rousing speeches of the Chicago convention. Roberts delivered his remarks Wednesday, July 27, 2005. Audio provided by WIN's Doug Cunningham from Chicago. (Part 2 of 2)

Click to Listen:CecilRoberts072705(2of2).mp3 (3.41 MB)

15 Democrats who voted for CAFTA

Editors Note: Thanks to the Working Life blog for compiling this list.

Melissa Bean, Illinois (8th District): 202-225-3711
Jim Cooper, Tennessee (5th District): 202-225-4311
Norm Dicks, Washington (6th District): 202-225-5916
Henry Cuellar, Texas (28th District): 202-225-1640
Ruben Hinojosa, Texas (15th District): (202) 225-2531
William Jefferson, Louisiana (2nd District): (202) 225-6636
Jim Matheson, Utah (2nd District): (202) 225-3011
Gregory Meeks, New York (6th District): (202) 225-3011
Dennis Moore, Kansas (3rd District): (202) 225-2865
Jim Moran, Virginia (8th District): (202) 225-4376
Solomon Ortiz, Texas (27th District): 202-225-7742
Ike Skelton, Missouri (4th District): 202-225-2876
Vic Snyder, Arkansas (2nd District): 202-225-2506
John Tanner, Tennessee (8th District): (202) 225-4714
Edolphus Towns, New York (10th District: (202) 225-5936

Hoffa Expresses Anger on Congress’ Passing of CAFTA


Source: Teamsters

Early this morning, Congress narrowly passed the job-killing trade agreement, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), by a vote of 217 to 215. This unfair trade deal will further spread the damage of its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA.

“Congress had an opportunity to act on behalf of workers here in the United States and across Central America by killing CAFTA,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Instead, Congress voted on the side of multinational corporations that want to sell off U.S. jobs to the lowest bidder. Americans should be outraged.”

Teamster voices during the last couple of weeks have made a difference in this battle. CAFTA supporters were more than 40 votes away from passing CAFTA. Thousands of Teamsters reached out to their Senators and Representatives with phone calls, emails and letters.

CAFTA supporters prevailed only by resorting to cheap tricks, including buying off lawmakers with pork projects and threatening others with cuts in funding for roads and other infrastructure projects in a transportation bill. Many members of Congress who voted for CAFTA did so out of fear and threat of retribution, not because they believed it was good for America.


“I would like to thank those members who were true leaders in this battle, including Representatives Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Walter Jones (R-NC), for their outstanding leadership and strong determination in trying to defeat CAFTA,” President Hoffa said.

“To those Representatives who voted against this job-killing trade deal, I extend the gratitude of the 1.4 million members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters,” Hoffa said. “To those who abandoned working families by voting for CAFTA, the Teamsters have taken notice.”

7/27/2005

AFL-CIO dramatically increases organizing money



Source: WIN

Delegates at the AFL-CIO convention here in Chicago Tuesday approved a strategic organizing plan that dramatically boosts annual spending on union organizing: Twenty-two and a half million dollars, up from 12.5 million last year. Up to two-thirds of that money will go back to affiliate unions as organizing rebates. The goal is to get to a total of 500 million dollars a year spent on organizing by the AFL-CIO and all unions nationwide. It will be spent in coordinated, strategic campaigns to build worker power. AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stuart Acuff:

[Acuff] : “The federation is gonna focus on helping unions develop their organizing capacity and develop their capacity and their planning to organize in their key, core industrial sectors.”

Kids Count Survey Finds Kentucky Falling Behind

Editor's Note: This report is an obvious sign of how a poor economy hurts all.

Children in Kentucky are facing higher death rates, more poverty and divided family situations, leaving them in the worst shape in 16 years.

The grim numbers are outlined in an annual report called Kids Count.

The report ranks states based on ten indicators of child well-being and this year adds the work status of low-income families.

It is funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Kentucky ranks 42nd in the country.

For the most recent time period studied, Kentucky improved on two of the ten indicators, stayed the same on two and worsened on the other six.

The report found death rates for children ages One to 14 and teenagers 15 to 19 increased.

Child poverty increased as did the number of babies born at low birth weights, which increases their risk of health problems.


More children were also living in single-parent households, limiting economic resources.

Kentucky's ranking dropped 20 spots on the percentage of children living in families in which no parent has full-time, year-round employment.

Connecticut nails Wal-Mart


Source: People's Weekly World
By George Fishman

Wal-Mart has been nailed for child labor violations by the state of Connecticut. The State Department of Labor has fined Wal-Mart stores in Putnam, Norwalk and Hartford for 69 violations. These violations parallel similar violations of child labor laws throughout the country and world. Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell involved herself directly in the action against Wal-Mart. She asked the state’s Wages and Workplace Standards Division to investigate after the U.S. Department of Labor charged Wal-Mart in February with numerous violations between 1999 and 2001.

In February, Wal-Mart paid $135,540 to settle federal charges relating to stores in Arkansas, New Hampshire and Connecticut, while denying the violations. The violations still exist in Connecticut, Rell told the New Haven Register.

The Labor Department’s report stated that 337 minors worked at 32 Connecticut Wal-Mart stores between 2003 and 2005. Rell said the most serious violations were at the Putnam store, where minors used hazardous equipment.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal praised the state’s investigation and said he will continue to examine the matter. He called for increased penalties for child labor law violations. “We will protect our children from hazardous equipment and excessive hours, no matter how powerful or wealthy the employer,” he said.

DHL Workers Score Victory in West Virginia


Source: Teamsters

On July 22, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Small Stuff, a DHL independent cartage contractor (ICC) in Huntington, West Virginia, must recognize the Teamsters as the sole bargaining agent for 24 drivers.


The drivers had worked for Bigfoot Express—a different DHL ICC—but were fired April 15 when DHL cancelled their agreement after the workers voted to join Local 505 in September 2004. DHL then awarded the contract to ICC Small Stuff, replacing all the Bigfoot Express workers with new, nonunion workers.

The NLRB also determined that Small Stuff needed to reinstate the drivers who were previously employed at Bigfoot Express with full back pay on the same routes they had driven. If Small Stuff does not comply, the NLRB General Counsel will prosecute the company in a formal trial before an administrative law judge.

Huntington, A Union Town

On April 18, shortly after the Bigfoot Express drivers were fired, they sprung into action and galvanized community support at a picket with help from Local 505 in Huntington, West Virginia and international organizers.

“The whole city, including judges, came out to walk a picket with the workers,” said John Newton, Local 505 Secretary-Treasurer. “The police told us to clear the streets since no one could come through, but we explained that we had no control over all the turnout of folks who lived in the neighborhood and were a part of the community.”

Fighting for What’s Right

On April 25, Small Stuff fled West Virginia to a nonunion, industrial park facility in Ashland, Kentucky, and the Bigfoot Express workers and Teamsters extended their picket to that location. The state police came to take those on the picket line to jail.

“The first day we were on the picket, the state troopers were alerted that the picketers were going to be violent and that they would need to arrest a number of people,” said Colleen Hall, a driver with Bigfoot Express. “We told them we were there to have a peaceful picket. We stayed calm and the troopers respected our right to demonstrate.”

The local police did not bother the picketers, and workers held strong to win their jobs back.

“It felt like we were out there fighting for six months, even though it was only three,” Hall said. “I want every driver for all DHL ICCs out there to hear about this victory so they'll know that if they stick together, they will win.”

AFL-CIO approves resolution calling for troop withdrawal from Iraq

The AFL-CIO delegates meeting in Chicago Tuesday approved a resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

U.S.Labor Against the War posted this account on their web site:


Chicago: In a major change of course, the AFL-CIO Convention delegates voted this afternoon in favor of a resolution calling for a "rapid" return of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

Eighteen AFL-CIO state federations, central labor councils and unions had submitted resolutions to the convention calling for an immediate or rapid end to the occupation and return of the troops. The General Executive Council, meeting on the eve of the convention, submitted a resolution that borrowed heavily from elements of those eighteen but failed to clearly call for a prompt end to the occupation.

When it came time for the convention to act on the resolution Tuesday afternoon, Fred Mason, President of the Maryland/District of Columbia AFL-CIO and Co-Convenor of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), offered a "friendly" amendment that clarified and strengthened opposition to continued occupation of Iraq. The amendment was accepted by the leadership and the modified resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority of delegates following a parade of delegates who spoke in favor of its adoption (none spoke in opposition).
(This action occurred after delegates of four unions - SEIU, Teamsters, UFCW, and UNITE HERE had already departed the convention after announcing their decision to boycott the proceedings. The SEIU and Teamsters subsequently also announced their disaffiliation.)

Rising to speak in favor of the resolution, Henry Nicholas, President of District 1199 of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) of Pennsylvania, told the delegates that his son had been deployed to Iraq four times and was about to be sent again. He said, "In my forty-five years in the labor movement, this is my proudest moment in being a union member, because it is the first time we had the courage to say 'enough is enough.'"

Also speaking for the resolution, Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (also a Co-convenor of USLAW), introduced Iraqi trade union leaders attending the Convention as guests. She made the point that all three of the labor federations whose leaders toured the U.S. in June under the auspices of USLAW called for an end to the occupation as essential to restoring peace and ending terrorism in Iraq.

USLAW Co-Convenor Gene Bruskin observed, "The action taken by this convention puts the AFL-CIO on record for a rapid end to the Iraq occupation - a stand squarely in the mainstream of American public opinion." Polls taken in late June show more than half of the American people feel the war was a mistake and similarly that it has made the U.S. less, not more safe. A majority of Americans also say the administration "intentionally misled" the public in going to war.
U.S. Labor Against the War had rallied its affiliates and supporters to press for the AFL-CIO to take an unambiguous stand for an end to the occupation and return of all U.S. troops.

Widespread antiwar and anti-occupation sentiment among the delegates became even more evident when USLAW and Pride at Work, the AFL-CIO constituency group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered union members (also affiliated with USLAW) hosted a reception for Iraqi union leaders attending the convention as guests. The reception, which took place after the plenary on Monday, drew more than 150 delegates and guests, including top officials of a number of unions.

The convention action comes on the heels of a 26-city U.S. tour by six Iraqi trade union leaders from three of Iraq's major labor federations organized by U.S. Labor Against the War in mid-June. The Iraqi union leaders were unanimous in their call for an immediate end to the U.S. occupation, describing it as a source of instability, violence and terrorism in Iraq. (For more about the tour, visit the USLAW website at
www.uslaboragainstwar.org.)

The resolution pays tribute to the troops in Iraq and says, ". . . they deserve a commitment from our country's leaders to bring them home rapidly. . . ." It accuses the Bush administration of misinforming the American people about the reasons for going to war and about the reality on the ground since it launched the invasion. It calls for expanded benefits for veterans and protection for workers affected by military base closings. The resolution also heralds the courage demonstrated by Iraqi workers and unions. It calls for full respect for the right of Iraqi workers to freely organize and bargain in unions of their choice and unconditional cancellation of the foreign debt and reparations accumulated by Iraq during the Hussein regime. It pledges continuing solidarity in concert with the international trade union movement with the workers of Iraq ". . . as they lead the struggle for an end to the violence and a more just and democratic nation."

Adoption of this resolution represents the first time in its 50 year history that the federation has taken a position squarely in opposition to a major U.S. foreign policy or military action.

Resolution #53 The War in Iraq
Submitted by the Executive Council, as amended from the floor and adopted by the delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in Chicago, July 26, 2005.

The AFL-CIO supports the brave men and women deployed in Iraq, which include our members in all branches of the armed services.

Our soldiers—the men and women risking their lives in Iraq—come from America's working families. They are our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our husbands and wives.

They deserve to be properly equipped with protective body gear and up-armored vehicles. And they deserve leadership that fully values their courage and sacrifice. Most importantly, they deserve a commitment from our country's leaders to bring them home rapidly. An unending military presence will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military.

We have lost more than 1,700 brave Americans in Iraq to date, and Iraqi civilian casualties are in the thousands. In recent months, the insurgency increasingly has focused its terror on the Iraqi people, engaging in a deliberate campaign to frustrate their aspirations to take control of their own destiny. These aspirations were clearly demonstrated earlier this year when Iraqis defied widespread intimidation and escalating violence by turning out in the millions to elect a new Iraqi interim government tasked with writing a constitution. The AFL-CIO applauds the courage of the Iraqi people and unequivocally condemns the use of terror in Iraq and indeed anywhere in the world.

No foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. The American people were misinformed before the war began and have not been informed about the reality on the ground and the very difficult challenges that lie ahead.

It is long past time for the Bush administration to level with the American people and for Congress to fulfill its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities. The AFL-CIO supports the call from members of Congress for the establishment of benchmarks in the key areas of security, governance, reconstruction and internationalization.

Since the beginning of the war almost two-and-a-half years ago, the AFL-CIO has emphasized the support and participation of a broad coalition of nations and the United Nations is vital to building a democratic Iraq. Greater security on the ground remains an unmet precondition for such efforts to succeed. The AFL-CIO calls on the international community to help the Iraqi people build its capacity to maintain law and order through a concerted international effort to train Iraqi security and police forces.

Future efforts to rebuild the country are hampered by the weight of the massive foreign debt accumulated under the Saddam Hussein regime. The AFL-CIO calls for cancellation of Saddam's foreign debt without any conditions imposed upon the people of Iraq, who suffered under the regime that was supported by these loans. Further, the AFL-CIO calls for the cancellation of reparations imposed as a result of wars waged by Saddam Hussein's regime and the return of all Iraqi property and antiquities taken during the war and occupation.

The bedrock of any democracy is a strong, free, democratic labor movement.

That is true in the United States and Iraq.

Our returning troops should be afforded all resources and services available to meet their needs. Our members should return to their jobs, with seniority and benefits.

The AFL-CIO calls on Congress and President Bush to expand benefits for veterans and assist those affected by military base closings, including a G.I. Bill for returning Iraq veterans and a Veterans Administration housing program that meets current needs.

The AFL-CIO supports the efforts of Iraqi workers to form independent labor unions. In the absence of an adequate labor law, the AFL-CIO calls on the Iraqi government, as well as domestic and international companies operating in Iraq, to respect internationally recognized International Labor Organization standards that call for protecting the right of workers to organize free from all government and employer interference and the right to organize and bargain collectively in both the public and private sectors. These rights must be extended to include full equality for working women.

The AFL-CIO condemns the fact that Saddam's decree No. 150 issued in 1987 that abolished union rights for workers in the extensive Iraqi public sector has not been repealed. Under current laws, payroll deductions for union dues are not even permitted. The AFL-CIO calls on the Iraqi government to place as a top priority the adoption of a new labor law that conforms to international labor standards to replace the old anti-worker laws and decrees.

Despite legal obstacles, Iraq's workers and their institutions are already leaders in the struggle for democracy. Trade unionists are being targeted for their activism, and some have paid for their valor with their lives. The AFL-CIO condemns these brutal acts of intimidation.

The AFL-CIO has a proud history of solidarity with worker movements around the world in their opposition to tyranny. In concert with the international trade union movement, the AFL-CIO will continue to provide our full solidarity to Iraq's workers as they lead the struggle for an end to the violence and a more just and democratic nation.

7/26/2005

ILCA’s Membership Amendment and the Current Dispute within Organized Labor

Source: ILCA

In November 2003 – many months before the current disputes erupted within the AFL-CIO -- the International Labor Communications Association drafted a constitutional amendment to build closer working ties with union publications, the pro-worker religious press and other labor-friendly media outlets not affiliated with the AFL-CIO. ILCA delegates adopted a final version of that amendment July 23 in Chicago, allowing full membership to publications from non-AFL-CIO unions on a case-by-case basis, subject to approval of the ILCA executive council.

Our International unions have always had internal disputes, sometimes sharp; sometimes not. It was never our intent to intervene or take sides in the current debate. Quite the contrary.

As labor communicators we seek to build stronger unions and to address the needs and aspirations of workers, organized and unorganized. We do everything possible to keep such disputes from dividing workers and weakening labor solidarity at the local level, and we feel this is the right and proper stand for ILCA.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney: disaffiliation a tragedy for working people

Source: Workers Independent News

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in his keynote address to the AFL-CIO convention that the disaffiliation from the federation by the SEIU and Teamsters is a tragedy for working people.

“Pulling out of our convention dishonors the founders and the members of my union,” Sweeney said to loud applause. “It is a grievous insult to all the unions who helped us—and to the unions in this hall who came here to discuss and debate the difficult issues and make historic changes.”

Sweeney told delegates gathered at the convention that this split in labor’s ranks hurts workers.


“But most of all it is a tragedy for working people,” Sweeney said. “Because at a time when our corporate and conservative adversaries have created the most powerful anti-worker machine in the history of our country, a divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life.”

So far SEIU and Teamsters are the only unions to announce their disaffiliation, but UNITE-HERE and the United Food and Commercial Workers union also boycotted the convention.

President Sweeney said in his keynote address :


“The labor movement belongs to all of us— every worker—and our future should not be dictated by the demands of any group or the ambitions of any individual,” said Sweeney.

CHINA CURRENCY PLAN A ‘SMOKE SCREEN’




Source: AFL-CIO

China’s announcement that it will revalue its currency, the yuan, by 2 percent is little more than a smoke screen, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka said. “A 2 percent revaluation doesn’t mean much when the yuan is undervalued by 40 percent or more,” Trumka said, adding the devaluation will not affect the mushrooming trade deficit with China or the 410,000 manufacturing jobs lost over the past two years to China trade. Last September, the Bush administration rejected a petition by a coalition of 20 industrial, agricultural and service organizations that called for trade sanctions against China unless that country devalued its currency. China keeps the exchange rate of its currency artificially low, the petition said, giving that country an unfair trade advantage over the United States.

7/25/2005

Pensions Freezing Out Younger Workers

Source: Associated Press

Companies looking to cool their pension problems are freezing benefits for the workers least likely to complain.

This means cutting off new employees, or a combination of new employees and workers of a certain age — often those under 40. Only people ages 40 and over are covered by federal age-discrimination labor laws, an area of growing concern to employers who are still reeling from age-discrimination lawsuits over so-called cash-balance plans. (MORE >>>)

Teamsters, SEIU split from AFL-CIO

Source: MSNBC

The Teamsters and a major service employees union on Monday bolted from the AFL-CIO, a stinging exodus for an embattled movement struggling to stop membership losses and adjust to a rapidly changing working environment. (MORE >>>)


Statement of James P. Hoffa on the Teamsters' Disaffiliation from the AFL-CIO (MP3)

Statement of Andrew Stern on SEIU's Disaffiliation from the AFL-CIO (MP3)

Source: Workers Independent News

7/24/2005

Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney On SEIU, UNITE/ HERE, IBT and UFCW’s Decision to Not Attend AFL-CIO Convention



Source: AFL-CIO

The delegates to the AFL-CIO convention will make major decisions about changing workers’ lives this week, no matter what happens. It’s a shame for working people that before the first vote has been cast, four unions have decided that if they can’t win, they won’t show up for the game.

SEIU, UNITE / HERE, the Teamsters and UFCW should come argue for their ideas and listen to others. That’s how democracies work.

Not to attend the convention - - especially when the differences that remain between our proposals are so narrow - - is an insult to their union brothers and sisters, and to all working people. The fact is that the real issue for these unions is not one of policy or direction, but rather who controls and leads the Federation…and it’s fundamentally wrong to use working people’s issues as a fig leaf for a power struggle.

It’s far easier to tear down a union movement than to build one. America’s working people cannot afford for unions to declare ‘it’s my way or the highway’ when workers are under the biggest assault in 80 years. Unity and solidarity are the cornerstone of our strength.

7/22/2005

United Farm Workers joins group demanding AFL-CIO changes

Source: Monteray Herald/ AP

The farm workers' union founded by labor hero Cesar Chavez is joining a coalition of labor groups demanding changes in the AFL-CIO, another blow to the struggling 50-year-old federation. (MORE >>>)

Laborers may leave Building Trades Organization

The Working Life blog is reporting the Laborers may leave the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD).

Wal-Mart Discovers Asian America

Source: Asian Week

Wal-Mart has conquered retailing. It stands as undisputed number one in the world. But, the battle came at the expense of its image with consumers. An odd alliance of competitors, labor unions and activists has been pummeling Wal-Mart in the press. And now complaints from Asia America are catching the attention of the world’s largest retailer. (MORE >>>)

Oregon AFL-CIO top officer to blog about national convention

Communicate or Die is reporting Oregon's AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt will be blogging about the AFL-CIO's national convention in Chicago.

The AFL-CIO's Working Families E-Activist Network is also offering e-news updates via sign up.

7/21/2005

Teamsters Give Leaders Permission to Leave AFL-CIO



Source: NPR

Morning Edition (Click to listen)

The Teamsters have given their union leaders the authority to decide whether to leave the AFL-CIO. Three other unions are threatening to leave the labor federation as well. The discourse comes as the AFL-CIO prepares to celebrate its golden anniversary.

7/20/2005

AFL-CIO Launches TV Ads to Stop CAFTA



Source: AFL-CIO

As the House prepares to vote on the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the AFL-CIO launched new TV ads in key congressional districts where the House member’s vote could decide whether the trade deal is passed or stopped.

The 30-second ads, which launched July 20, remind voters that 11 years ago supporters of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the model for CAFTA, promised that deal would boost the nation’s economy. The ad shows instead how the deal “spurred corporations to close plants here and ship our jobs across the border. CAFTA…will have the same, disastrous effect, driving more of our jobs to six more low-wage countries.” The ad then urges voters to contact their member of Congress “to stand up for American jobs and vote no on CAFTA.”

Post Reports: Dissident Unions Likely To Leave AFL-CIO


Source: Resist Oppression

The Washington Post is reporting unless something dramatic happens at the last minute, the biennial convention of the AFL-CIO, which begins on Monday in Chicago, will be radically smaller than originally planned. As things now stand, the four dissident unions that have raised the specter of disaffiliation from the labor federation will announce over the weekend that they won't be attending the convention.

AFL-CIO UNIONS TO MEET


Source: AFL-CIO

When the AFL-CIO’s 50th anniversary Convention convenes in Chicago July 25–28, the more than 900 delegates from around the country will make important decisions about how the AFL-CIO can best lead the workers’ movement. The Convention, which will focus on strategies for building good jobs and a voice for working families, caps an eight-month debate on the future of the union movement. In addition to deciding organizing and political strategies, the delegates will determine changes in the structure and governance of the AFL-CIO. On July 25, Convention delegates will consider resolutions on diversity in the union movement, good jobs, public health and retirement programs and the Dominican Republic–Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The following day will be devoted to decision making about organizing, political mobilization and strengthening state and local labor movements, while on July 27, the focus will be the global and U.S. economies, along with nominations for AFL-CIO officers. Convention speakers will include prominent national leaders including Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) (by video), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Peter King, (R-N.Y.) (by video), the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Julian Bond and John Edwards. Building Power for Working Families, a pre-Convention conference July 23–24, will address diversity in the union movement, organizing, strengthening state and local labor movements and bringing justice to the global economy.

For up-to-date coverage of the Convention, be sure to visit www.unionvoice.org/campaign/convention2005, where you can also sign up for Convention e-mail updates.

7/19/2005

Series of marches to protest Massey facilities

Source: West Virginia Gazette
‘Tear it down’ is battle cry on Marsh Fork coal silo, residents say

Environmental activists and coalfield residents on Monday announced three days of marches to protest Massey Energy facilities along the Coal River Valley.


The marches start today at Marsh Fork Elementary School, where state regulators on Friday halted construction of a new Massey Energy coal silo just 220 feet from school property.

Department of Environmental Protection officials took action on the silo after conceding that company maps do not show the silo as being within the operation’s original permit boundary. (MORE >>>)

CWA locals keep wary eye on AT & T - SBC merger


Source: Workers Independent News

As negotiations continue over the potential merger of AT & T and SBC some Communication Workers locals are concerned what the future may hold for them. (MORE >>>)

7/18/2005

Corporations Using Google AdWords to Poison Worker's Minds


Source: ICLA

The Communicate or Die community has posted this story about how corporations and anti-union lobbying groups are using Google AdWords to disseminate anti-union propaganda. This is just one more reason unions can no longer afford to remain disorganized in their approach to the technologies and strategies for communicating messages on the Internet. More and more, public opinion is shaped by the information received on Internet web sites. Although effective use of the Internet can't guarantee success for unions, improper and uninspired application of the technology greatly increases the odds for failure.

7/15/2005

How labor law fails democratic election standards


Source: American Rights At Work

Based on a Report by Gordon Lafer, Ph.D., University of OregonProduced for American Rights at Work

Recent debates on labor law reform have focused on how we best bring elections for union representation in line with the norms of U.S. democracy. One side argues that the current National Labor Relations Board system must restrict all forms of union recognition to the process of a secret ballot to safeguard democracy. Others assert that the secret ballot is not enough to guarantee a free and fair election.

American Rights at Work commissioned University of Oregon political scientist Gordon Lafer to investigate how current union election procedures measure up to U.S. democratic standards. Lafer engaged in a thorough examination of the political philosophy and published works of the founders, the historical development of electoral law and jurisprudence, and current statutes and regulations that define "free and fair” elections.

Lafer concludes that union representation elections fall alarmingly short of living up to the most fundamental tenets of democracy. The inclusion of a secret ballot does not change the fact that the process as a whole is fundamentally broken and unfair.

For a print-friendly summary of the report, click here (PDF).

7/14/2005

Illinois Governor Signs Film Production Tax Credit Bill

Source: Teamsters

On July 11, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 1965—the Film Production Tax Credit—into law. The ceremony took place on the set of Universal Pictures’ The Break-Up--a romantic comedy being filmed in Chicago, starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.

The new legislation will strengthen Illinois’ economy in the film and television industries by attracting more motion picture and television production companies to Illinois and creating thousands of jobs for the industries’ unionized workforce.


“We thank Governor Blagojevich for signing the bill, and for his continued support for working families in Illinois,” said Robert A. Hogan, Local 714 Secretary-Treasurer. “Senate Bill 1965 will help Chicago remain competitive in the film industry.”


The film tax credit legislation was first enacted in August 2003 when Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 785, which created the tax incentive designed to attract the film industry back to Illinois.


"Illinois has once again become the Hollywood of the Midwest," Blagojevich said. "By extending and improving the tax credit that has been instrumental in generating millions and millions of dollars for our economy, and putting thousands and thousands of people to work, you can expect to see Chicago and other parts of the state on the big screen for years to come."


The bill will provides a tax credit equal to 35 percent of the wages paid to Illinois residents working on television and film projects shot in Illinois. Productions that are 30 minutes or more qualify for the tax credit if at least $100,000 is spent on Illinois labor.

“The film tax credit is a great incentive program which has helped to bring film production to the state of Illinois,” said Vince Vaughn, producer and star of The Break-Up. “This piece of legislation made it financially attractive for the production of The Break-Up to shoot entirely in my hometown of Chicago, and will continue to entice future projects to the state.”

Senate Bill 1965 also gives some filmmakers an additional financial benefit by allowing them to transfer unused tax credits to other companies that want to make TV shows and movies in Illinois.


7/13/2005

Kentucky Hospital Workers Prepare For Strike


A strike at Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg, Kentucky now seems almost certain, unless a contract offer changes drastically.

Members of the Healthcare and Social Services Union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) /District 1199,
say they're concerned about health insurance, benefits, job security and being treated fairly.


After an overwhelming vote the union members rejected the hospital's latest contract offer.

The contract officially ended Tuesday.


In a statement released Tuesday, the hospital says "The medical center fully anticipated the contract proposal to be rejected due to the fact that many union members had not seen the proposal prior to the vote and did not understand that it was not the medical center's final offer."

Mediators have scheduled a conference call Wednesday night between union and hospital representatives.

Hospital representatives have told they press they are optimistic, but if a strike occurs they say they're prepared to bring in workers so that services and patient care are not affected.

Workers Protest Assault on Federal Employees’ Rights


Source: AFL-CIO

More than 1,000 federal workers and members from a wide range of unions and allied groups rallied on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 12 to protest the Bush administration’s assault on federal workers’ rights. Workers from the metropolitan D.C., area were joined by federal workers who traveled from Alabama, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania to take part in the protest.

The rally focused on the Defense Department’s new National Security Personnel System (NSPS), which will deny collective bargaining and civil service rights to some 750,000 Defense Department workers. The Bush administration unveiled the new workforce rules in February. Workers also spotlighted the Bush administration’s denial of collective bargaining rights to the workers in Homeland Security and its ban on organizing and collective bargaining for tens of thousands of Transportation Security Agency workers.

The NSPS system, which is expected to be put into place soon, is patterned closely after the personnel system the Bush administration
imposed on 160,000 Department of Homeland Security workers Jan. 26, which slashed employees’ bargaining and workplace rights and civil service pay scales.

‘An Assault on Every Worker in America’


“Federal workers protect our homeland and food supply and provide necessary services in every area from education to law enforcement,”
AFGE President John Gage told rally participants. “The services that the American people depend upon will be severely disrupted or come to a screeching halt if these changes are put into place.”

Seeking to restore workers’ rights and reach a compromise on the new rules, representatives from the three dozen unions and other labor organizations that make up the
United DoD Workers Coalition were recently in negotiations with the Defense Department. But union leaders say the department refused to budge. The United DoD Workers Coalition was formed in 2004 to fight the Bush administration’s attack on defense employees’ rights.

“This administration does not believe in sharing power with anyone—certainly not its workers,”
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers President Gregory Junemann said at the rally. “These people have no taste for negotiations, no stomach for compromise. They sneer at the success our defense workers have created. And they turn their backs on workers’ rights to belong to labor unions.”

Bush Seeks to Eliminate Federal Employees’ Rights in all Agencies

The Bush administration has said it wants to impose rules similar to the NSPS on the entire federal workforce.

“What’s happening to our federal workers…is more than just the biggest attack ever on unions and our members, it’s an assault on every worker and every union member in America…part of an all-out, ongoing war on working families,”
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka told the crowd.

Along with eliminating collective bargaining rights, whistleblower protections and other worker and civil service rights, the new rules replace the current civil service pay scales, which will result in lower wages and poor worker morale and likely will compromise national security, according to AFGE.

Unions have filed lawsuits to in federal court to block implementation of the NSPS and Department of Homeland Security rules.

WAL-MART & CHINA: COZY, MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BEDFELLOWS

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Source: Wal-Mart Watch

Today’s news (July 11) reports show that China’s trade surplus has soared to $9.68 billion, a five-fold increase from the previous year. The country’s strong export growth – a rise of more than 30% on the year – is furthering the criticism that China has an unfair trade advantage. Ominously, as officials meet today in Beijing, experts warn of a trade war if China does not begin importing more goods and services. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart – the company that used to proudly tout the “Buy American” motto of founder Sam Walton – remains hugely responsible for growing China’s economy in its model of endless expansion and supplier squeezes.

“Walk down any Wal-Mart aisle and note where the products come from. Then think about the millions of American jobs lost at the expense of those cheaper Chinese goods,” said Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director Andrew Grossman. “Will Wal-Mart continue to aid China in sinking the U.S. economy?”

As Wal-Mart Watch recently noted in its annual report, Wal-Mart is a massive and unique contributor to China’s trade imbalance.

* At least 70% of non-food items sold at Wal-Mart stores have a Chinese component. * Wal-Mart imports an estimated $18 billion in products from China each year. * Experts believe Wal-Mart is China’s eighth largest trading partner, importing more goods than entire countries like England and Russia.

Read more about the uncomfortably close, and increasingly dangerous, relationship of Wal-Mart and China. The Wal-Mart Watch report and accompanying citations can be found here.


Volunteer Organizers Help Make Hertz Campaign Victorious


Source: Teamsters

Lot-Maintenance Workers Seek Fair Pay, Better Benefits

In a campaign aided by volunteer organizers, lot-maintenance workers at Hertz at the Detroit Metro Airport overwhelmingly voted on July 7 to join Local 299 in Detroit.

“Our volunteer organizer, Mike Gluba, and staff organizer, Al Hinojosa, were instrumental in making this campaign successful,” said Kevin Moore, Local 299 President. “Both Mike and Al attended a training workshop recently at Joint Council 43 where International Union staff members offered their expertise. It was an excellent training, and I look forward to more campaigns where our volunteer organizers take an active role.”

The 11 workers in the bargaining unit install child seats and make other preparations for customers, and clean rental cars upon their return. Local 299 represents all the other Hertz workers—approximately 400 of them—at Detroit Metro airport.

The lot-maintenance workers want to negotiate fair pay and better benefits.

“These workers saw what their coworkers in other Hertz departments were receiving, and they wanted to improve their livelihoods,” said Mike McElmury, an international organizer who helped with the campaign.

7/12/2005

WORKING FAMILIES NEED LABOR UNITY NOW MORE THAN EVER


By Cecil E. Roberts, President, United Mine Workers of America

Working families in America are under attack-not from some foreign foe, but from within our own country. Giant American corporations continue to send manufacturing jobs overseas by the millions, and now they're starting in on the service sector as well, sending customer service call centers to India and Pakistan and high-tech programming jobs to Thailand and elsewhere in Asia.

Big business is aided and abetted by our government, which continues to force one-sided trade deals down the throats of working families. The most recent, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) would be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of additional American jobs.

At the same time, the current political leadership in Washington continues to place roadblocks in the way of working people who want to form unions, allowing companies to run roughshod over the rights of workers and only reluctantly enforcing the laws that are supposed to protect workers' freedom to form unions, if they enforce them at all.

For America's working families, these are times that require strength of character and unity of purpose from within America's labor movement. Fighting back against these attacks and winning means our labor movement must be open to change while remaining democratic and inclusive. We must be prepared to stand united in the defense of working families to be effective.

Unfortunately, that's not what's happening within the labor movement today, and all working people are the worse for it.

The leaders of some international unions have challenged the direction of America's labor movement and our umbrella organization, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). That is their right, and indeed such challenges can and often do lead to a fresh, effective approach that helps working families.

Their challenge has been heard, and acted upon. The AFL-CIO Executive Council, which I am privileged to sit on, has approved a bold new set of proposals that will address not just the concerns of these union leaders, but for all unions and all working people as well-whether they're currently union members or not.

But instead of welcoming these proposals as a good step toward a more effective AFL-CIO, these few union leaders have rejected them out of hand. Some have even said if they don't get their way they'll pull their unions out of the AFL-CIO and set up their own organization-meaning one of the last truly powerful forces for positive change for working families left in our nation will be split in two, weakened by our own hand.

The big corporations and their anti-worker right-wing allies are rubbing their hands with glee. This is a gift that has fallen into their lap, an unanticipated but highly sought end-game to their 60-year campaign to crush the organized power of working people.

Now is not the time for some union leaders to adopt a "play by my rules or I'll take my ball and go home" approach to fighting for working families. We're faced with far too many threats to take such a short-sighted view. I sincerely hope that as the AFL-CIO gathers in convention later this month in Chicago, we will be able to come together and emerge as a still-unified, even stronger organization re-dedicated to winning the fight for better and safer jobs, better health care and better retirement security for all Americans.

Some have suggested that the current situation is similar to the events of 1935, when my predecessor, John L. Lewis, left the AFL because of its refusal to organize industrial workers. But there is no comparison. This is not 1935, there is no New Deal helping working families, Franklin Roosevelt is not the President of the United States, the pro-organizing Wagner Act does not exist anymore, and there are not tens of thousands of workers engaging in sitdown strikes and other job actions in workplaces throughout America.

Lewis dispatched UMWA organizers and spent UMWA money to organize the auto industry, the steel industry, the rubber industry and many others in the 1930's and 1940's because he recognized that all working people need to be able to speak with one strong voice when it comes to fighting for their rights.

Today, we need that unified voice that Lewis envisioned just as much as-if not more than-we did in 1935. I remain true to his vision, as does the United Mine Workers of America. We invite all other unions-whichever side of this unnecessary divide they're on-to join us as we continue the fight to make America a better place for all working families.

7/10/2005

Pickets at Co-Op mine press fight for UMWA


Source: The Militant

The signs read, in English and Spanish: “UMWA all the way!” “Count the votes!” “We want the UMWA!”

Ten Co-Op miners and supporters held up these signs during an informational picket line June 29 at the entrance to the Co-Op mine here.


It was the latest of such picket lines that the miners have organized during their 22-month-long battle to organize the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at the mine, owned by C.W. Mining. (MORE >>>)

Kentucky Right-to-Work-for-Less Proponents: Inaccurate, Misleading and Ignorant of the Facts


Source: Kentucky AFL-CIO

BY BILL LONDRIGAN
KENTUCKY AFL-CIO PRESIDENT

In his latest attempt to stir up interest for right-to-work-for-less in Kentucky, Doug Alexander, former press secretary for Wallace Wilkinson and current director of the Commonwealth Progress Council, submitted a convoluted editorial to the Lexington Business Journal in which he tried to tie the fortunes of ailing Ford and G.M. to the right-to-work-for-less issue. The editor of the Journal requested that I respond to Mr. Alexander’s submission. My response follows:

Mr. Alexander’s perspective on union dues is both inaccurate and purposefully misleading and displays lack of knowledge about the relationship enjoyed by management and labor at Ford and G.M. He calls the relationship between these firms and its workers and their union “adversarial” while failing to mention the fact that the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford and G.M. have one of the most cooperative relationships of any union in any industry. In making a convoluted case for right-to-work-for-less, he betrays his ignorance of the extremely positive relationship enjoyed by these entities, which includes joint programs in health care, retirement plans, safety programs, productivity enhancement programs, the establishment of Family Life Centers and so on.

The relationship between the UAW, Ford and G.M. is considered a mature relationship in the parlance of labor management relations where each respects the other’s positions and goals and recognizes the importance of working cooperatively in a competitive marketplace. Mr. Alexander fails to mention the cooperative effort put forth by the UAW and the management at Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant (LAP) that pulled together and saved LAP from being closed by Ford during the 1980s. He is also more than likely unaware that the Ford/UAW team at LAP was awarded the prestigious Labor/Management Award presented by the University of Louisville’s Labor/Management Center in recognition of their progressive and positive relationship.

Mr. Alexander’s claim that right-to-work-for-less is “one way to make sure that the Kentucky of the future doesn’t become the Michigan of today” ignores the fact that federal law requires that workers employed by firms with collective bargaining agreements receive the same wages and benefits whether they pay union dues or not. In other words, if a company operates in a right-to-work-for-less state and the union negotiates a certain wage rate, all workers in the bargaining unit, whether they pay unions dues or not, receive the same wages and benefits. A company derives no direct benefit if they operate in a right-to-work-for-less state.

Forcing unions to represent workers that refuse to pay dues is like asking any other service provider such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. to provide services for customers that simply don’t have to pay a fee if they don’t want to. How long would these service providers remain in business?

How passing a right-to-work-for-less law would benefit automakers like Toyota is beyond me.

Toyota, G.M. and Ford are all global corporations with hundreds of facilities around the world, some of which are in countries with strict prohibitions on forming unions and others, like Canada, that have more liberal labor laws and much higher levels of unionization and, where Toyota has recently announced it will build a new production facility. Those who do not have an anti-union agenda recognize that whether a state has right-to-work-for-less or not is of little real consequence in site location decisions of large global corporations. Kentucky’s Economic Development Secretary, Gene Strong, has called the impact of right-to-work-for-less on economic development “more perception than reality.” (The Kentucky Gazette, 01/21/04)

If right-to-work-for-less is such a paramount issue in these types of investment decisions, then why did Toyota locate in Kentucky to begin with and continue to make several major expansions of the plant? Why did Ford Motor Company pump several billion dollars in expanding and improving the Louisville Assembly Plant and the Kentucky Truck Plant and why is G.M. also continually investing in its renowned Corvette plant in Bowling Green?


The argument about right-to-work-for-less has more to do with an anti-union agenda then it does about economic development. It all sounds so logical until you look at the facts. Whether workers in unionized workplaces can opt out of paying union dues and still receive the benefits and protections of unionization has nothing to do with economic development. By the way, the reason why I have referred to this policy as right-to-work-for-less is because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in right-to-work-for-less states earn on average $5,333 LESS per year than workers in non-right-to-work-for-less states. That’s right, thousands less in wages and even greater differences in health care benefits.

Policies like right-to-work-for-less that result in lower wages for Kentucky’s workers are not good for Kentucky and its hard working citizens, many of whom are already struggling to get by or are worried about losing their job in the global economy.

When legislators, candidates and the general public find out that right-to-work-for-less simply means weaker unions, lower wages, less benefits for Kentuckians they will reject Mr. Alexander’s disingenuous efforts.

7/09/2005

Statement by AFL-CIO President on June Employment Report



Source: AFL-CIO


BY JOHN SWEENEY
AFL-CIO President

Despite signs of a strengthening economy, the labor market continues to disappoint. Only 146,000 new jobs were created in June, below the 190,000 economists expected and far below the 300,000 jobs typically produced at this stage in a recovery. The economy, which registered strong first quarter output growth, is simply not creating enough family-supporting jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 5.0 percent in June, but only because too many Americans have stopped looking for work, believing there are no good jobs in their communities. Working families cannot pay for a week’s worth of gasoline and groceries on the low wages that are being offered by many employers.

Our trade deficit continues to grow to record heights, destroying millions of good manufacturing jobs and weakening our nation’s industrial base. Another 25,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in June, jobs that helped to create our nation’s middle class. Corporate profits have recovered, but business is still not investing and hiring new employees. Productivity is surging, but real wages are still falling in the fourth year of recovery. Companies are using their profits to repair their balance sheets and boost CEO pay rather than create good jobs. And too many of the companies that are expanding their businesses are investing abroad rather than in the U.S. Meanwhile, large corporations like Wal-Mart continue to offer low-wage jobs with inadequate health care, putting undue burdens on taxpayers and communities.

Americans cannot continue to live on borrowed money. Our nation is on the wrong track economically. We must reverse the misguided policies that are undermining our economic security and put America back to work, producing more of what we consume and providing the good jobs we need to raise our families and build strong communities.

Do Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Stimulate Employment?...NO

Source: NY Times/UFCW

The centerpiece of the Bush administration's economic policy has been large federal income tax cuts aimed mainly at top earners. These tax cuts account for much of the $2 trillion increase in the national debt projected to occur during the Bush presidency. They prompted a large group of Nobel laureates in economics to issue a statement last year condemning the administration's "reckless and extreme course that endangers the long-term economic health of our nation." (MORE >>>)

Change To Win Coalition Announces Election Of Top Officers


Source: Change To Win

The Executive Committee of the Change to Win Coalition announced today that it has elected Anna Burger as its first Chair and Edgar Romney as its first Treasurer.

Ms. Burger is the International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Mr. Romney is the Executive Vice President of UNITE HERE! (MORE >>>)

Kentucky DHL Drivers Choose Teamsters



Source: Teamsters

On July 6, 26 drivers at L.P. Enterprises—a DHL independent cartage contractor—overwhelmingly voted to join Local 89 in Louisville, Kentucky.

When Local 89 began organizing at the facility in September 2004, there was a turnover rate of more than 60 percent among the drivers. In spite of the high turnover rate, the organizers gained ground in the campaign after they began making regular house visits to meet as many of the drivers as possible.

Although Local 89 organizers initially filed for an election in November 2004, the date was blocked after L.P. Enterprises terminated two drivers who supported the union. Local 89 filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and won reinstatement for both workers with back pay. The NLRB also scheduled the new election for July 6.

“These workers stood firm for their rights to create a union, and we did everything we could to help them,” said Fred Zuckerman, President of Local 89. “I am proud to welcome them into our local.”

7/05/2005

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil E. Roberts Won't Back Down from the "Bully of West Virginia"


Source: UMWA

Roberts says Blankenship can't "shut me or the UMWA up" when it comes to speaking about issues critical to UMWA members and working families

In his first public response to a lawsuit filed by Massey Energy and its CEO, Don Blankenship, United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts said today,
"Don Blankenship's attitude seems to be that if he can't have his way and bully people into doing his bidding, then he'll sue them. Well, I've never backed down from bullies, and I'm not going to start now.


"By filing this suit, Don Blankenship wants to shut me up and shut the UMWA up when it comes to talking about issues that our members and working families care about," Roberts said. "He can't stand it that we won't bow down to him and his way of thinking. I've got some news for Don: This union-and this union leader-have never backed down to bullies, and we never will.

"If you don't stand up to bullies, you just encourage them to go further and run roughshod over more people," Roberts said. "Don Blankenship's been trying to do this for some time in West Virginia, and I'm here to say that those days are over. We're looking forward to vigorously contesting and prevailing over Blankenship's desperate attempt to use a lawsuit to gag those who are the voices of the citizens of West Virginia."

Massey Energy and Blankenship filed suit in Fairfax County, Va. last month seeking damages from the UMWA and Cecil Roberts personally regarding statements that Massey alleges damaged its business, as well as the company's and Blankenship's reputation. The suit also alleges, among other things, a conspiracy between the UMWA, the Charleston Gazette, West Virginia Consumers for Justice and West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenneth Purdue to damage the company and Blankenship.

7/04/2005

NEA considering joining coalition of dissident unions

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday, the National Education Association, which never has joined the AFL-CIO, is seriously considering joining Change To Win.

So far the NEA has yet to release a formal statement regarding what the Sun-Times is reporting.

Nation's largest union sets goal of $40,000 starting salary for teachers

Source: WKYT/Associated Press

The National Education Association says the typical starting salary for teachers should be 40-thousand dollars.It's a lofty goal. Not a single state pays its new instructors an average of 40-thousand dollars. And the American Federation of Teachers, another teachers' union, says the U-S average hovers close to 30-thousand dollars for beginning teachers.

Still, NEA president Reg Weaver says his officers will work with their state and local chapters to lobby state leaders and school boards.

The NEA is holding its annual meeting in Los Angeles.

7/03/2005

NRLB Ruling Favors Workers Terminated For Union Activities

Source: Teamsters

In May, The National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) ruled in favor of six Boston pressmen who were terminated from their jobs at Graphic Services Inc. in Rockland, Massachusetts, for participating in union organizing activities. The workers, represented by GCC/IBT Local 3-N in Boston, were awarded a total of $163,320 in back pay and the option to return to work at the company.

‘This settlement is a victory for all workers who have the courage to improve their living standards by seeking union representation,” said Martin A. Callaghan, President of Local 3-N. “We hope this sends a clear message to any company tempted to punish workers for union activity.”

The six pressmen were terminated in March 2004, just days after attending a pro-union committee meeting with fellow pressmen and bindery workers at the company. They had reached out to GCC/IBT Local 3-N seeking help in gaining improvements in wages, health care, vacation time and seniority rights. They were also concerned about management style and lack of respect in their workplace. The terminated workers had been the most active of the company’s 80 employees in the union organizing efforts.

As soon as we started working seriously with Local 3, the company got rid of us,” said Robert Frizell, a key leader in the organizing effort. “This was a very busy and productive shop, with more than enough work for everyone. There was no logical reason to suddenly let six experienced workers go.”

Although the settlement requires the company to rehire the six workers, none of them are planning to take up the offer at this time. All six have found other employment in the fourteen months since the terminations occurred.

“We all had to find other jobs while we fought the company. The process took a pretty long time,” said Frizell. “But that doesn’t dampen our spirits toward the union at all. Local 3 members were there for us all the way. We couldn’t have asked for better representation throughout this whole mess.”

“The workers at Graphics Services were exercising their rights when they attended our meetings,” said Steve Sullivan, an organizer at Local 3-N. “Every employer should know that attempts to intimidate and retaliate against workers for participating in union activities is illegal and will not be tolerated.”

7/01/2005

New Jersey Set to Expand Workers’ Freedom to Choose a Union

Source: AFL-CIO

The New Jersey Senate approved legislation by expanding the freedom of New Jersey workers to choose a union when a majority signs authorization cards for union representation. The legislation, already passed by the state assembly, now goes to acting Gov. Richard J. Codey (D), who, as president of the Senate, voted for the bill.

The legislation, approved 24–to–11 June 27, covers workers who do not fall under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act. Those employers whose workers could choose a union by signing authorization cards indicating their support for the union include race track owners, breeders and trainers, real estate brokers, certain small businesses not engaged in interstate commerce, certain public employers and supervisors.

Similar laws already exist in California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts (covering charter school workers only) and majority sign-up is specifically provided for, on a voluntary basis, in New Mexico, Alaska and Ohio.

Miners fear they worked in toxic waste dumped by company

Source: Associated Press

The state said last year that disposed material at a southwestern Indiana mine did not pose an immediate threat, but some miners are concerned that Alcoa Inc. might have dumped more toxic waste than was previously known.

"We are not trying to be alarmists, but at the same time we are trying to be realists too," said Bil Musgrave, a member of United Mine Workers Local 1189 and a former miner at Alcoa's Warrick Operations. (MORE >>>)

More information on the story:
Miners say Squaw Creek waste worse than believed
Alcoa to have screenings for mine workers
Concerns arise over possible exposure to toxic waste