Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Reid is slowing down fast track in Senate

Local 657 members in San Antonio voiced their opposition to fast track last week.
Corporate elites everywhere received some bad news last night when Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced he would not allow the chamber to move forward with consideration of fast track trade legislation until other more time-sensitive measures are dealt with by lawmakers.

Reid, a strong opponent of fast track, said he would not concede to the whims of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who wants to speed fast track trade authority through the Senate before dealing with transportation and foreign intelligence measures that are brushing up against deadlines. He told the Huffington Post:
McConnell said he wanted to move to trade in the next two or three weeks, and I'm going to -- maybe he can, but I don't think he's going to have an easy time doing it, because I will not let him do that. We're not going to lay over, as I said, until we have some way to move forward on FISA and the surface transportation bill. He has some decisions to make and he's going to have to work around me and the caucus.
It's the latest bad news for big business, which has led the push for fast track because it knows its the only way it can get secret trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) approved. Late last week, House leaders conceded they didn't have the votes to get fast track passed. Add it together, and its almost enough to make a billionaire go bonkers.

More and more lawmakers are starting to see the glaring problems the Teamsters and other fair trade advocates have had with fast track. Lost jobs, lower wages and unsafe food and products are just a few of them.

But increasingly there are signs that U.S. trade is not living up to the promises of its proponents.
In fact, just this morning the Commerce Department released March trade figures showing the trade deficit soared by 43 percent over the previous month, reaching $51.4 billion. That's no way to create new American jobs.

Fast track is the wrong track for America!

Today's Teamster News 05.05.15

Teamsters
LA Mayor Announces Eco-Flow, A New Port Drayage Trucking Company  Teamster.org  ...Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, port truck drivers, business leaders, labor leaders, and environmental groups today announced the formation of Eco Flow Transportation, a new, innovative company that will transform the drayage trucking industry by hiring all drivers as employees thereby creating a stable workforce...
Teamsters has allies on board for battle over school buses  The Times  ...National Express has come under renewed pressure from one of America’s most powerful unions to reform working practices at a subsidiary that carries more than a million children a day to and from school. The Teamsters union, which represents more than 1.4 million blue-collar workers in North America, has tabled a proposal for a vote at the transport group’s annual meeting tomorrow...
Teamsters: Workers reinstated after public pressure   Capital New York   ...Two workers who said they were fired from a New York City private trash hauling firm after testifying to the City Council about poor working conditions were reinstated, according to an announcement from the Teamsters who intervened on the workers' behalf. “New Yorkers have learned two things this week: Five Star Carting does not respect its workers or their free speech rights, but also that when workers, community members, and elected officials stand together, we win"...
Teamsters launch effort to stem growth of nonunion commercial movers   Crain's New York  ...Teamsters Local 814, along with their employers in the commercial-moving industry and other local labor organizations, began an advertising blitz Monday and released a letter from elected officials to discourage businesses from hiring nonunion or pseudo-union commercial movers...
These Food Distributors Are Trying To Convince A Judge To Let Them Form A Monopoly  Think Progress  ...After years of acquiring smaller competitors, US Foods and Sysco, Inc. are the last two large companies in the food distribution industry. The government, AAI, Food and Water Watch, and the Teamsters union all argue that the companies already control the market, and would represent a monopoly if merged...
St. Vincent technicians organize as Teamsters  Telegram  ...Technicians at St. Vincent Hospital voted 130-40 last week to be represented by Teamsters Local 170, the union reported. The local will represent more than 200 technicians who work in radiology, operating rooms and other departments...

Global Labor & Trade
Harry Reid Plans To Block Trade Deal Until The Senate Deals With Surveillance Reform, Highway Funding  Huff Post  ...Reid said he has spoken with his leadership team and is confident Democratic senators will stick together to demand the two bills be dealt with before moving to approval for trade promotion authority or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "I'm not willing to lay over and play dead on trade until we have some commitment from them on surface transportation," he said...
Economists Say White House Argument on Outsourcing Falls Flat  Wall Street Journal  ...Economists on both sides of the trade debate say the White House seems to be barking up the wrong tree, muddling arguments about two distinct things–foreign investment and outsourcing–on a hot-button issue that is dividing the public and Congress. Labor unions and skeptical economists are warning the Pacific pact could lead to the kind of outsourcing many workers blame on the North American Free Trade Agreement...
Chuck Schumer Warns Obama His Trade Agenda Is Dead Without A China Currency-Manipulation Crackdown  Huff Post  ...With Obama pushing Congress to give him so-called fast-track authority to pass massive new trade agreements with Pacific nations and Europe, Schumer and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are using the opportunity to try and force the White House to get tough on China's monetary policy...
GOP scrambling to limit defections on trade  The Hill  ...House Republican opposition to sweeping trade legislation isn’t breaking down along traditional Tea Party-GOP establishment fault lines. But the pockets of GOP defections will give President Obama and Republican leaders little wiggle room to muscle a bill through the lower chamber...
Robert Reich: The Trans Pacific Partnership is a corporate hijacking  (opinion) Salon  ...What we should have learned by now about trickle-down economics is that nothing trickles down. If the Trans Pacific Partnership is enacted, big corporations, Wall Street, and their top executives and shareholders will make out like bandits. Who will the bandits be stealing from? The rest of us...
Humanitarians split on Obama’s trade agenda: Trans Pacific Partnership  Humanosphere  ...Leading humanitarian organizations like the ONE Campaign and Oxfam appear to strongly disagree on whether to support the Obama Administration’s push to ‘fast-track’ an international trade agreement – and if its impact on the global fight against poverty and inequity will do more harm than good...

State & Living Wage Battles
As McDonald's Announces Corporate Shake-Up, Workers Vow to Rise Up  Common Dreams ...On the same day that McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook announced sweeping changes aimed at "returning excitement" to the behemoth—and struggling—fast-food chain, thousands of McDonald's cooks and cashiers vowed to descend on the the company's annual shareholder meeting in Illinois later this month to demand higher wages, fairer treatment, and the right to organize...
Dems bet on $12 minimum wage  The Hill  ..Democrats are doubling down on their push for a national minimum wage hike ahead of the 2016 presidential election, as they look to make a campaign issue of an effort that met a stinging legislative defeat last year. Party leaders are rallying behind new legislation that would raise the wage to $12 an hour, well beyond the $10.10 effort that failed to pass when Democrats controlled the Senate...
Right to work bills launch hours of debate in Maine Legislature   Central Maine  ...abor union members faced off against the LePage administration and Republican lawmakers on Monday over the latest push to make Maine a so-called “right to work” state. The hours of debate and rhetoric over several bills largely echoed previous “right to work” attempts in Maine with supporters claiming the measures are needed to improve the state’s business competitiveness and opponents dismissing them as blatant efforts to undermine organized labor...
State Assembly passes bill allowing higher state minimum wage  Daily News  ...The state Assembly passed a bill Monday allowing a higher state minimum wage in New York City and nearby counties. The legislation, which faces opposition in the Senate, seeks to phase in a minimum wage that would reach $15 an hour by the end of 2018 in the city and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties...
Kanawha County will continue paying prevailing wage   WV Gazette  ...Members of the Kanawha County Commission are expected to vote Tuesday to keep paying prevailing wage rates for all county construction projects. In March, the WV Legislature passed a bill eliminating prevailing wage rates for public construction projects of less than $500,000. But Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said that doesn’t mean the county has to go along with the change...

U.S. Labor
Tufts Students Stage ‘Indefinite’ Hunger Strike Against Janitor Layoffs  In These Times  ...Tufts University students launched a hunger strike and took over a quad next to the Medford/Somerville campus’s main administrative building Sunday to protest planned layoffs of 35 janitors. Five undergraduates joined the “indefinite” hunger strike as a show of solidarity with the janitors, 17 percent of whom are slated to lose their jobs...
Clark County, SEIU heading to binding arbitration  Review Journal  ...Clark County and its largest union, which represents about 5,000 county employees, agreed Monday to go to binding arbitration to reach a contract agreement. The county and the Service Employees International Local 1107 started negotiations in June 2013. They’ve also spent months trying to get the matter to a third-party arbitrator, or fact-finder, for a final decision on the terms of a contract...
Union plans to fight MUA dissolution, job cuts  Press of Atlantic City  ...At a union meeting Monday, about two dozen local American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees members were urged to fight the potential dissolution of the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority, along with cuts to city staffing. “It’s about survival and supporting each other,” said Rafael Valentin, a staff representative for AFSCME District Council 71...
The conservative answer on Baltimore: Blame the teachers  Daily Kos  ...What's responsible for Baltimore's problems? Republicans need answers other than "massive economic inequality, racism, and police violence," and when Republicans need answers but can't admit what the real problems are, they turn to a familiar set of scapegoats. "...you still have a failing education system dominated by public sector unions, teachers unions"...

Miscellaneous
Relatives of 43 Missing Students: U.S.-Backed Drug War Fights Organized People, Not Organized Crime  Democracy Now  ...he relatives have criticized U.S. support for the drug war, saying Mexico is using the aid to kill innocent people. "If they were really fighting organized crime, as the United States government says, then the crime rates would have gone down," Bautista Salbador says. "Apparently they are not fighting organized crime; they are fighting organized people"...
America's Growing Inequality Worsens In One's Senior Years  Alternet  ...As traditional pension coverage has declined, those who still have adequate retirement packages are likely to be professionals, business executives, and the wealthy. To the extent that middle-class and poorer Americans have access to retirement plans at all, they are typically 401(k) or similar plans that depend on optional contributions from workers and employers...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Workers' wages aren't the problem -- corporate tax breaks are!

Income inequality is a growing problem in this country. But you would never know that by the actions of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their corporate cronies who keep trying to take even more pay away from hardworking Americans.

The latest effort involves the move to roll back prevailing wage laws in states across the nation. Pushed for years by ALEC, the effort is making headway in states such as Indiana, Nevada and West Virginia, where Republican-controlled legislatures are buying into the argument that low wages for skilled professionals are OK if it means the state has to pay less.

Henry Burks, a 57-year-old union electrician in Indianapolis, said he will likely lose a quarter of his salary if Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R.) signs the bill there into law:
This is going to inhibit me from taking care of my family. Our wages will go down. The contractors we work for won't get as many jobs. Maybe I'll have to find work outside of Indiana.
Prevailing wage laws were passed in many states during the Great Depression to stop companies from offering low bids for projects that ultimately were covered by paying workers low wages. The law, which exists in 32 states and on federal contracts, ensures that private contractors pay workers on these public projects a salary in line with other workers doing similar work in a given geographical region.

Too many state lawmakers, however, are now looking to tamp down on such rules. This when many states at the same time are doling out tax breaks to corporations raking in record profits. It just isn't right!

Luckily, there are some standing up to this madness. Wisconsin state Sen. Howard Marklein, a Republican, announced he would oppose legislation that would repeal prevailing wage in that state, ensuring the bill won't make it through committee:
The prevailing wage law isn't perfect by any means, but I've got people in my district, contractors and workers, who are affected by it. I'm not comfortable at this point with full repeal.
More elected officials need to keep the needs of workers in mind when they go to vote on such legislation. Because the Teamsters will remember!

Today's Teamster News 05.04.15

Teamsters
US Foods Drivers in Michigan Vote to Join Teamsters   Teamster.org  ...Domicile drivers at US Foods in Kalamazoo, Mich., voted yesterday to join Teamsters Local 337 in Detroit. The drivers voted more than 70 percent in favor of Teamster representation, joining more than 200 US Foods drivers and warehouse workers in Novi, Mich., who are already members of Local 337...
Teamsters: Port Truck Drivers At 3 Major Drayage Firms Return To Work  Teamster.org   ...Striking drivers from Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacer Cartage, and Harbor Rail Transport returned to work this morning after a four day strike that drastically impacted company operations and left containers bound for the companies’ customers – including Walmart, Costco, Toyota, General Electric, Target, Procter and Gamble, and JC Penney – languishing on the docks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as nearly all marine terminals turned away trucks from struck companies...
BLET urges FRA to require additional buffer cars on crude oil trains  BLE-T.org   ...The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is urging the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the nation’s Class 1 rail carriers to take action to address a serious shortcoming in current railroad operating regulations that endangers the lives of train crew members who work on crude oil trains...
Convention Center files emergency motion in Carpenters, Teamsters case  Philadelphia Business Journal  ...The Carpenters and Teamsters, the two unions who filed the unfair labor charges against the Convention Center, were barred from working at the site after failing to sign a new customer satisfaction agreement by a May 5 deadline last year. The unions maintain that they had until May 10, the date of a contract extension...

Global Labor & Trade
Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama's trade pact  Politico  ...If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door. If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving...
Obama vows to help pro-trade Democrats fight off the left wing   Washington Post  ...President Obama is pledging to campaign for skittish House Democrats against challenges from the left if they support his massive Pacific free-trade pact, putting his political capital on the line as the administration enters a crucial stretch to win passage...
American workers deserve a trade deal negotiated in public  (opinion) Cleveland.com   ...the fact that "fast track" would give the president of the United States unilateral authority to negotiate global trade deals under a cloak of secrecy where Congress can only vote up or down on the final deal is indicative of an agreement that could only pass with no scrutiny...
May Day: Workers Stand Strong in Face of Threats  Solidarity Center  ...Workers in Bahrain, Burundi, Morocco, Swaziland and Turkey are standing strong in the face of economic and political threats this May Day. Working women and men are undaunted by intimidation and, in some cases, risking their lives to exercise their freedom to gather in the public space and stand up for their rights. This year more than ever, May Day stands as a beacon for internationally recognized human and labor rights...
Germany Braces for Longest Rail Strike as Drivers Walk Out  Bloomberg  ...The government-owned train operator is wrestling with the union over pay, working hours and which employees the union may represent. This week’s strike alone may cost the German economy about 500 million euros ($557 million) as depleted stocks and stuttering supply chains may result in production being hampered or even halted at some companies...
Bus strikes: Hundreds of thousands of workers stranded in massive walkout over privatisation of routes  Irish Mirror  ...The first day of a 48-hour bus strike left hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded and disrupted Bank Holiday travel yesterday. Pickets were held at Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus depots as drivers walked out over a row on the planned privatisation of 10% of routes...

State & Living Wage Battles
Wisconsin Republicans Don’t Want Food Stamp Recipients Buying Beans, Potatoes, Pasta Sauce  Think Progress  ...Low-income Wisconsin families won’t be able to buy shellfish with food stamps, and will have a much harder time getting basics like dried beans, pasta sauce, and cooking spices into their kitchens, under the latest state-level Republican proposal to tighten the government’s grip on the poor...
Jasper County GOP boosts right-to-work legislation  The Joplin Globe  ...Members of the Jasper County Republican Central Committee passed a resolution in support of right-to-work legislation currently before the Missouri General Assembly, then heard opposing viewpoints on whether the bill could survive a gubernatorial veto. The vote came Thursday in a quarterly meeting of the group...
Here’s How The Nation’s Two Largest States Plan To Crack Down On Predatory Lending  Think Progress   ...If the Texas laws pass, the two largest states in the country would likely be building payday loan databases at the same time. California regulators are introducing a new slate of rules for policing high-cost lending, including a database provision that would help the state to better enforce the rules that are already on the books...
G.O.P. Expands Labor Battle to Laws Setting State Construction Wages   New York Times ...Indiana’s Republican-held legislature narrowly voted in April to repeal the state’s so-called common construction wage, a provision that had been around in various forms for 80 years and that sets pay standards for workers on publicly financed projects. The debate over the change, which Mr. Pence has said he supports, was muted compared with two decades ago, when tens of thousands of union workers turned up at the State Capitol and held off repeal...
San Francisco Minimum Wage Rises to $12.25, Other Bay Area Cities Considering Hikes  NBC Bay Area  ...San Francisco will join the city of Oakland in having the highest minimum wage in the nation as it increases its minimum wage from $11.05 to $12.25. Affecting more than 142,000 workers, the pay hike is the first in a set of increases that will see the minimum wage rise to $15 per hour by 2018, according to officials from the Service Employees International Union 1021...

U.S. Labor
NLRB rules against Pennsylvania-American Water  Business Management  ...The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that Pennsylvania-American Water Co. violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it disciplined two Pittsburgh-area workers for refusing to cross a picket line. The board also censured the company for removing a union letter from a bulletin board...
Strike avoided, UAW and administration come to agreement  The Daily UW  ...UW union UAW Local 4121 announced Thursday night it had reached a bargaining agreement with the Cauce administration, avoiding a strike. The union represents research assistants and teaching assistants. The tentative agreement with the UW will be sent to union members for review. If ratified, the contract would become binding...
National Nurses Union reached a deal with UCMC, avoids strike   The Chicago Maroon  ...As union-affiliated nurses employed by the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and the hospital braced for a planned one-day nurses’ strike on April 30, an announcement early this week signaled the aversion of the strike and a sudden and complete resolution of more than eight months of contentious contract negotiations between the two parties...

Miscellaneous
Candidate Sanders Calls for 'Political Revolution' Against Billionaire Class   Common Dreams ...Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is calling for revolution. The independent senator from Vermont who just this week announced his bid for Democratic nominee, minced no words when speaking on ABC's This Week on Sunday. "I think I'm the only candidate who's prepared to take on the billionaire class which now controls our economy, and increasingly controls the political life of this country"...
Robert Reich: America’s economy is a nightmare of our own making  Salon  ...The ensuing debate over the merits of the “free market” versus an activist government has diverted attention from how the market has come to be organized differently from the way it was a half-century ago, why its current organization is failing to deliver the widely shared prosperity it delivered then, and what the basic rules of the market should be...
'We Have Each Other's Backs': May Day Rallies Highlight Black Lives Matter Movement   Common Dreams  ...With May Day rallies taking place worldwide on Friday, activists in the U.S. are expanding their message—historically focused on workers' rights—to take a stand for racial justice, as the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality continues to spread...

Friday, May 1, 2015

Teamsters celebrate May Day 2015, offer Tom Morello labor music giveaway

Today is May Day, International Workers' Day, a day for workers around the world to celebrate the struggles and successes of the global labor movement.

Although May Day is celebrated worldwide, it's less observed in the U.S. - an irony considering that May Day began in the U.S. to commemorate the anarchist martyrs of the 1886 Haymarket riot and the fight for the eight-hour workday.

That's no accident. In 1894 President Grover Cleveland, alarmed by the radical unionists promoting May Day activities, proclaimed the first Monday of September as a national holiday in an effort to detract from May Day, hoisting up Labor Day as a holiday heralded by moderate union members.

In recent years, May Day has made a comeback in the U.S., thanks in large part to the immigrant rights movement which is led by workers bringing this international holiday from abroad back to its roots. Other sections of the U.S. labor movement have sought to revive May Day in the U.S. as well.

The need for a global day of labor action is more important today than ever as the globalization of corporate power signals the urgency for the globalization of workers' power. From the garment workers' struggles in Bangledesh and Central America to the living wage battles at mega retailers in the U.S. selling garment workers' products, worker abuse is connected like never before.

That's why May Day is about the labor movement as an internationalist movement.

And continuing our yearly May Day tradition since 2013, the Teamsters have partnered with our good friend and guitar legend Tom Morello, a passionate trade unionist formerly from the political rock group Rage Against the Machine.

Tom now plays his strings for working-class power as "The Nightwatchman." We've teamed up with Tom to giveaway his Union Town labor ballads today only in celebration of this special day for workers everywhere.

As Tom said to Teamsters in an interview in 2013, the Union Town giveaway is about giving a soundtrack to May Day and our year-round labor actions:
There’s never been a successful social justice struggle without a great soundtrack. From the Civil Rights Movement to the anti-war movement to the labor movement, songs have been a great unifier of the working class. Often people of disparate cultural backgrounds can unite around a love of music, and when it contains a potent class-conscious message, those songs have been an important part of steeling the backbone of those involved in labor struggles throughout American history.
Part of the reason of doing this record and giving it away on May Day is to re-educate people in this country about the importance of May Day as a day that celebrates our struggles and celebrates our victories. It celebrates the long history of people in this country boldly standing up and sometimes sacrificing their lives for things that we take for granted. Things like the weekend, the fact that children are not working in coal mines, and the protections we have on the job. Those are things they fought tooth and nail against and we only have them because of the historic struggles of the labor movement. 
The leadup to this year's May Day was full of action for Teamsters. In Los Angeles and Long Beach, Teamster-backed port truck drivers celebrated May Day on the picket line as they ended four days of striking against wage theft and misclassification. They haul goods made by other workers halfway around the world supplying American industries and businesses.

May Day reminds us that Teamsters and workers worldwide are in the same labor struggle for justice and dignity.

Happy May Day!

Today's Teamster News 05.01.15

Teamsters
Technicians at Saint Vincent Hospital Vote Overwhelmingly to Join Teamsters Local 170  Teamster.org   ...Technicians at Saint Vincent Hospital have become members of Teamsters Local 170 following an election yesterday in which more than 75 percent of voting workers cast ballots in favor of union representation. The vote count was 130-40 and there are more than 200 technicians in the bargaining unit...
Hoffa Statement on Minimum Wage Legislation  Teamster.org  ...Hoffa in response to the introduction today of the “Raise the Wage Act” by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), which would increase the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020: “This legislation will offer a hand up to millions of U.S. families who are struggling to make ends meet"...
Osco Drug Pharmacists Join Teamsters  Teamster.org  ...Pharmacists at Osco Drug have voted to become members of Teamsters Local 340 in South Portland, Maine. The newly organized group consists of 20 pharmacists who work for Osco pharmacies located within 16 Shaw’s supermarkets throughout Maine...
Michigan truck drivers, warehouse workers rally for union at Sysco  Fight Back News   ...Around 50 workers and drivers joined a Teamsters Union Local 406 rally outside the food distribution giant Sysco Corporation on April 29. A huge black and gold Teamster truck was parked just outside the Sysco warehouse, bordering the Gerald R. Ford airport in Grand Rapids. Over 160 drivers and warehouse workers are demanding Sysco recognize their union affiliation with Teamsters 406...
Allegiant, Teamsters fighting over executive pay  Vegas Inc  ...The Teamsters union, already grappling with Allegiant Air in court over a possible pilots strike, is fighting with the carrier in the boardroom, too. The union, which owns a miniscule portion of Allegiant’s stock, is pushing back against the Las Vegas-based discount airline’s $8.5 million payout to former president and chief operating officer Andrew Levy...
Members of Congress Call on the Administration to Address Unfair Middle East Airline Subsidies  Teamster.org  ...Today 262 Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx urging them to request consultations with the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because those governments have been providing massive, market-distorting subsidies to their state-owned airlines...

Global Labor & Trade
Obama Accused Democrats Of Lying About Trade Deal, And They Aren't Having It  Huffington Post   ...Democrats are not happy about President Barack Obama's accusation that they are being "dishonest" about his trade agenda. Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded by pointing out that the pact remains classified, making it a crime for lawmakers to share its details with the public...
New Democrats expect growing support for fast-track  Politico  ...A small group of House Democrats who back President Barack Obama’s effort to win “fast-track” trade legislation said Thursday they expect more party members to step forward in favor of the bill, but indicated Republicans would still have to provide the bulk of the votes to win its approval...
Obama to push case for trade deal at Nike headquarters in Oregon  Reuters  ...President Barack Obama will travel to Nike Inc headquarters in Oregon next Friday to argue that a 12-nation Pacific trade deal and the fast-track legislation needed to finalize the pact are good for workers. Obama faces tough opposition from his fellow Democrats in Congress over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which they fear could hurt American jobs and the environment...
Battle rages over key Obama trade policy  Washington Post  ...For many liberal critics, the problem with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal isn’t simply the worry that it could lead to more job loss by exposing American manufacturing to more import competition. Rather, they assert that the TPP is in many ways not even a trade agreement: Its real offense is in the areas of intellectual property and global dispute settlement, where the deal, they say, could further tilt the playing field towards major corporations...
Chile upbeat on Pacific trade deal, urges Canada to give ground  Reuters  ...The 12 countries working toward a historic Pacific trade pact could reach a deal at the end of May, though Canada must still show greater willingness to open up its markets, a senior Chilean official said on Thursday. Chile is among the nations in talks over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact that would cover 40 percent of the world economy and includes the United States and Japan...
Fast Track and TPP Bad for Development  (opinion) Oxfam America  ...“Trade can indeed spur economic growth and poverty reduction, but only if the rules actually benefit those at the lower end of the development ladder,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “Although it is being negotiated in secret, what we currently know about the TPP lines up the trade deal to do exactly the opposite”...
Nepal Quake Galvanizes Local Unions; Felt in Bangladesh  Solidarity Center  ...The General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), which represents mostly blue-collar workers, the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), which includes teachers and other white-collar workers and the Joint Trade Union Coordination Center (JTUCC), the umbrella organization of GEFONT and the NTUC, say their employees are safe and now working to provide disaster relief...
Portugal: TAP pilots to begin 10-day strike as talks fail  Euronews  ...Portugal’s flagship air carrier TAP looks set to be grounded for ten days from now because of a strike by pilots. Last-minute talks between the pilots and management yesterday afternoon failed to produce results...
 
State & Living Wage Battles
Democrats make minimum wage pitch: $12 by ’20  Washington Post  ...Top Democrats laid down their minimum-wage marker on Capitol Hill on Thursday, setting up their party's middle-class-focused economic message heading into the 2016 elections campaigns. Their pitch: "$12 by '20" — a $12 per hour federal minimum wage by 2020, which they say will give a pay raise to nearly 38 million Americans...
Senate committee to hold hearing on ending prevailing wage  Channel3000  ...The state Senate's labor committee has scheduled a hearing on a GOP bill that would repeal Wisconsin's prevailing wage law. The committee set the hearing for Tuesday and plans to vote on the bill the following Thursday. The committee's chairman, Sen. Stephen Nass, is one of the bill's sponsors...
State Sen. Daylin Leach proposes raising state minimum wage to $15 per hour   The Mercury News   ...A legislative proposal to raise the Pennsylvania minimum wage to $15 per hour has been circulated to the 49 state senators by state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17th Dist., who is seeking co-sponsors. The proposal, if it eventually becomes law, would also index the $15 minimum wage amount to inflation in future years and eliminate the current, $2.83-per-hour minimum wage for service workers who work for tips...
San Francisco set to introduce nation’s highest minimum wage  Daily Journal  ...San Francisco is getting ready to raise its minimum wage to $12.25 an hour, a rate that will have the city joining Oakland as the locales with the nation’s highest legally mandated pay for non-salaried workers. San Francisco’s new minimum is set to go into effect on Friday. It was approved by voters as part of an initiative that will increase the minimum wage to $15 in 2018...

U.S. Labor
On May Day, Longshore Workers Stop Work to Protest Racist Police Brutality  In These Times  ...This May 1 will see some serious protests against racism and police violence -- be they in Baltimore or Oakland. In fact, because ILWU Local 10 has announced it will stop work, the union may have created the space for thousands of protesters from around the Bay Area to join the marches. Using a provision in its contract, ILWU locals can “stop work” to discuss important matters on and off the waterfront...
Teachers at Four NY Archdiocese Schools on Strike  NY1.com  ...About 90 teachers are set to take part in today's strike at St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan, Notre Dame Academy High School and Our Lady Queen of Peace School on Staten Island, and St. Thomas Aquinas School in the Bronx. The Federation of Catholic Teachers says it has filed unfair labor practice charges against the Archdiocese's Association of Catholic Schools...
SEIU, Franchisees Form Alliance In Support Of Industry Reforms  Progress Illinois  ...SEIU and franchisees are joining forces in a push to reform the nation's franchise industry as part of a new alliance announced Thursday being called "We Are Main Street." Those with the campaign "will support efforts to strengthen franchisee rights, share franchisee voices and provide research to fuel efforts for reform," according to the We Are Main Street website launched today by SEIU...
Microsoft’s Unionized Contract Workers Get Aggressive  Bloomberg  ...For more than two decades, the industry has outsourced an expanding range of jobs to contractors, including coders, chip designers, customer service reps, custodial staff, security guards, and cafeteria workers. “A lot of temps are really used as a permanent tier of second-class workers,” says Erin Hatton, author of The Temp Economy, a history of U.S. contingent labor. In September, 38 bug testers who review Microsoft apps voted to create a union, the Temporary Workers of America...
Wall Street owns our cities: The secret pension travesty threatening American workers   Salon   ...Currently, about 9 percent — or $270 billion — of America’s $3 trillion public pension fund assets are invested in private equity firms. Public officials are overseeing this massive payout to Wall Street at the very moment many of those same officials are demanding big cuts to retirees’ promised pension benefits...

Miscellaneous
Baltimore’s Economic Devastation Goes Back To Racist Housing Policy  Think Progress   ...There are many causes of a city’s economic decline, and much of Baltimore’s job loss is tied to the falling fortunes of the manufacturing sector. But the fate of the city’s black population has much to do with deliberate policy choices related to housing...
The Rise of the Machines: It's Happening  (opinion) Truthout  ...I argued that computers would take over many of the cognitive tasks that we find difficult, but that human beings would continue to be wanted for jobs that require common sense, including many forms of manual labor. Or as one friend described it at the time, my thesis was that we'll always need maids and gardeners. And it's happening...

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fast track is going off track in the House

Teamsters express their distaste for fast track at a D.C. rally.
For weeks, supporters of fast track trade authority that would speed proposed deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress have expressed confidence they have the support within the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill to get it approved.

The reality, however, is much different. Not only are Democrats overwhelmingly opposed to fast track, but a growing number of Republicans, especially in the House, are expressing doubts. And Politico reports it could end up sinking efforts to back a deal that would ship U.S. jobs overseas:
The House is currently dozens of votes short of being able to pass legislation that would allow President Barack Obama to send trade deals to Congress for fast approval, according to senior lawmakers and aides in both parties, imperiling a top White House priority for the president's final years in office.
At this point, upward of 75 House Republicans could vote against trade promotion authority if it comes up for a vote in the coming weeks, according to aides and lawmakers involved in the process. Some of the lawmakers fear job losses in their districts from free trade; others distrust Obama and oppose giving him more power.
It is now more apparent than ever there is bipartisan opposition to fast track, and members are not backing down. Lawmakers can see that the trade vehicle will stop them from making changes to TPP that would jeopardize American workers, lower their wages and bring unsafe food and products to U.S. shores. Then there's the fact that it does nothing to stop currency manipulation that hurts the sale of American goods or lawsuits by foreign corporations against this country. It's even making one 2016 presidential candidate rethink her support for the deal.

It's time for fast track backers to admit that the reason the legislation doesn't have support is because it isn't a very good.