Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wisconsin, Kansas worse than rest of US in creating jobs

Kansas and Wisconsin show that an anti-union, low-tax, low-minimum wage business climate discourages new jobs. 

That's according to the Econbrowser blog.

Econbrowser notes:
It’s interesting how “pro-business” policies do not appear to be conducive to rapid employment growth. 
Employment in Governor Walker’s Wisconsin, as in Governor Brownback’s Kansas, has lagged behind that of the United States (and behind that of Governor Dayton’s Minnesota and Governor Brown’s California).
ALEC will tell you that Kansas and Wisconsin are great for business because of the anti-union, low-tax climate. ALEC is wrong.

ALEC will also tell you Minnesota is bad for business because it's pro-union and has a high minimum wage. Wrong again. Minnesota is going better than the rest of the United States.

Just sayin'.

Another prison privatization nightmare in Ohio

In the latest prison privatization nightmare, Ohio officials banned employees of a private food-service contractor from prisons for violating security, smuggling contraband and relationships with inmates ('unspecified,' but we can guess).

We've brought to you plenty of other prison privatization nightmares herehere and here. On Saturday, The Columbus Dispatch brought us this new one. The State of Ohio gave Aramark a $110 million contract to feed state inmates, replacing state employees who belong to the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association.

Since then, according to the Dispatch:
The vendor that feeds state prison inmates was fined $142,100 yesterday for contract violations that include failing to hire enough workers to prepare and serve meals... 
The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association said prison employees have logged “thousands of incidents,” including poor food quality and small portions since Aramark took over prison kitchens. 
The union is taking the state to arbitration beginning next week over what it contends was the improper privatization of food service. The move cost 17 union employees their jobs; the remainder moved to other prison positions... 
Forty-four (Aramark employees) were removed because of “inmate relationships” and 16 were banished due to security violations or bringing contraband — tobacco, lighters, marijuana and cellphones — into prison. 
Another state document shows that an Aramark employee was fired in December after admitting she had sex with a Lebanon Correctional Institution inmate. 
Aramark has fired at least 192 of its prison kitchen employees since it took over food-service operations on Sept. 8, records indicate. 
Aramark’s contract requires it to provide a minimum of 414 workers. The company had 387 employees working in the 26 state prisons as of April 4, partially prompting yesterday’s $142,100 fine.

Today's Teamsters News 04.22.14

Teamster News
Memo: Teamsters urge 'no' vote on YRC compensation package  Kansas City Business Journal   ...Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are asking YRC shareholders to vote against a number of proposals concerning executive compensation at YRC Worldwide Inc...
Mayor Tom Coyne Seeks Cut In Brook Park's Workforce  Cleveland.com   ...Mayor Tom Coyne is trying to cut his staff's size and pay. Council has given him mixed support, approving a pay freeze on April 15 for non-union workers but rejecting a pact demoting several supervisors represented by the Teamsters...
Free Trade On Steroids: The Threat Of The Trans-Pacific Partnership  Los Angeles Times   ...Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama's bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week...
State Battles
Wisconsin Bargaining Law Doesn't Breach Unions' Constitutional Rights, Court Affirms  Bloomberg BNA   ...A controversial law enacted in 2011 that provides that most public employee unions can bargain with state and local government employers over base wages only and eliminates payroll deductions for union dues doesn't violate the unions' First Amendment or 14th Amendment rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled April 18...
How The Koch Brothers' Greenback Influences Green Jobs, Clean Energy Debate  Bangor Daily News   ...Just last month the Maine Heritage Policy Center and the Beacon Hill Institute, housed at Suffolk University in Boston, released a new study attacking Maine's efforts to promote public health and mitigate climate change...
ALEC And The Koch Brothers Fight Solar Energy With Surcharges  Digital Journal   ...Citizens across the United States are attempting to break free of the fossil fuel industry and do what state and federal governments are unwilling to do by installing solar panels...
UAW Withdraws Objections To Chattanooga VW Vote  Nashville Business Journal   ...The National Labor Relations Board was to hold its hearing today on February's unionization vote at Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant, but the UAW has instead withdrawn its objections...
War On Workers
Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?  Huffington Post   ...For the Koch brothers, spending more than Obama and Romney combined would be a drop in their bucket. They would hardly miss the few billion dollars...
For Many Americans, 'Temp' Work Becomes Permanent Way Of Life  NBC News   ...For Americans who can't find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it's a dead-end route...
Union Target: For-Profits  Inside Higher Ed   ...A relatively small group of New York City teachers' announcement that they'd received a collective bargaining agreement with their school might have gone unnoticed last week, but for one significant detail: their employer is Kaplan, Inc, a major player in for-profit higher education...
The Decline Of Labor Unions And The Rise Of The Minimum Wage  Seattle Times   ...In February, a bitterly divided local Machinists union at Boeing, narrowly voted to accept the company's contract extension to build the 777X airplanes...
NCAA Faces Change, Legal Challenges In Months Ahead  CNN   ...When training camps for big-time college football teams open in August, behemoth linemen and other players will get their first taste of how much food Division I schools can provide their athletes. In short, as much as they want...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Teamsters at San Benito Foods demonstrate their frustration over contract talks

Our brothers and sisters at Teamsters Local 890 in Salinas, Calif., demanded a fair contract during a large and spirited rally outside their employer's plant last week. They are mostly seasonal workers employed by San Benito Foods in Hollister, Calif.

Bob Reid at BenitoLink tells us about 100 workers carried signs and chanted 'Si! Se puede!' Permanent employees came out and joined them in a show of Teamster solidarity.

Contract talks started in January, but have stalled over health care coverage.

Writes Reid:
Kent Rounds, Plant Manager of San Benito Foods, a Neil Jones Food Company, said that the workers "were all good people who were simply expressing themselves". He noted how friendly those gathered were being and said that, as he walked down the sidewalk past them many said, "Hello!" to him.
We hope you get a contract soon, brothers and sisters!

Teamsters fight taxpayer subsidies for outrageous CEO pay

The Teamsters are actively lobbying for a bill that would prevent CEOs from plundering their companies at taxpayers' expense. Average CEO pay rose 13 percent just last year.

Take, for example, McKesson CEO John Hammergren, a union buster who took home $51.7 million last year after the company paid nearly $1 billion fines to settle charges it cheated its customers.

The Next New Deal blog explains how these CEOs are also looting taxpayers.

It started when President Bill Clinton signed a law eliminating corporate tax deductions for executive pay higher than $1 million. But the tax change had a loophole: so-called 'performance pay' was still tax exempt.

No surprise as to what happened next:
...companies started dispensing more compensation that qualified as performance pay, particularly stock options. Median executive compensation levels for S&P 500 Industrial companies almost tripled in the 1990s, mainly driven by a dramatic growth in stock options, which doubled in frequency...
Performance pay made executives very wealthy, very fast. It motivated them to make shortsighted, risky and sometimes fraudulent decision to boost stock prices. Performance pay led to the mortgage crisis and global financial meltdown in 2008. It encourages CEOs to spend cash on buying back stock to boost the price, rather than research and development, capital investment, workforce training, higher wages and more hiring.

What's worse, taxpayers subsidize that behavior. The Economic Policy Institute estimates taxpayers paid $30 billion for that loophole between 2007-10. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the CEOs of the top six public food chains “pocketed more than $183 million in performance pay, lowering their companies’ IRS bills by an estimated $64 million.”

Democratic Sens. Ralph Blumenthal of Connecticut and Jack Reed of Rhode Island introduced the Stop Subsidizing Multi-Million Dollar Corporate Bonuses Act, which would end taxpayers’ subsidies to CEOs by closing the performance pay loophole. Teamsters are actively lobbying for more co-sponsors to a companion bill in the House, sponsored by Democratic Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggettl.

Save the New York City horse carriages! Watch the video, sign the petition!

Teamster horse-carriage drivers are getting a reprieve from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who says he won't destroy their jobs (by banning horse carriages) until year end. Let's hope the mayor is adopting the tried-and-true political tactic of hoping something goes away -- that is, pressure from animal rights people.

The animal rights activists don't seem to notice the carriage horses are well cared for and -- according to horse lover Liam Neeson -- happy.

And as Guardian columnist Sadhbh Walshe puts it, the bigger picture is disturbing:
...there seems to be more concern for the rights of working horses than there is for the everyday exploitation and abuse endured by working people.
She interviewed a young man holding a cumbersome advertising sign on the same New York streets deemed so dangerous for horses. He's paid less than minimum wage with no benefits or sick days. Walshe notes that he'd have his own protest movement if he were a horse.

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News is continuing to support our brothers and sisters with sympathetic news coverage and a petition drive. If you haven't yet, you can sign the petition here.

Today's Teamster News 04.21.14

This Time, Get Global Trade Right (opinion)  New York Times   ...To gain the support of a divided Congress and public, the administration must ensure that new agreements are much stronger than Nafta and other pacts...
During Asia trip, Obama will renew effort to ‘rebalance’ U.S. relationship with the region  Washington Post   ...the president has a long list of tasks awaiting him: He will try to make headway on trade negotiations with Japan...
War on Workers
Tech Companies Adopt Astroturf to Get Their (Wicked) Way  truthout   ...FWD.us was founded in April 2013 by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg...The group favors a certain type of immigrant: highly-skilled, foreign tech workers who would be cheaper to hire than their American counterparts. Net effect: lower wages for everyone...
After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords  Aljazeera America   ...low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords — sometimes with disastrous consequences...
After Everest Disaster, Sherpas Contemplate Strike  New York Times   ...On Sunday, disappointed at the Nepali government’s offer of 40,000 rupees, or about $408, as compensation for the families of the dead, some Sherpas gathered at Everest’s base camp proposed a “work stoppage” that could disrupt or cancel the 334 expeditions planned for the 2014 climbing season...
'It's miraculous': Stowaway, 16, walks away unharmed despite flying more than five hours from California to Hawaii in plane WHEEL WELL after running away from home  Daily Mail   ...A 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii on Sunday, surviving the trip halfway across the Pacific despite -81F (-62C) temperatures at 38,000 feet...
Is America an oligarchy?  New Yorker   ...From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy...