Saturday, September 20, 2014

Today's Teamster News 09.20.14

Teamster News
Teamsters, Safety Group Sue DOT For Not Producing Entry-Level Driver Training Rule  Commercial Carrier Journal   ...A coalition of highway safety and labor advocates have brought a federal lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for not heeding Congressional requirements to produce an entry-level driver training rule...
New York City’s Clinton Park Stables Get State Horse Council President’s Approval  New York Daily News   ...They’re not horsing around at the Clinton Park Stables. That was the assessment of the president of the New York State Horse Council after visiting the West Side facility Thursday to see firsthand how New York City’s carriage horses are treated. “It’s wonderful,” Marsha Himler said of the home to 76 of the iconic Central Park carriage horses...
Trade
Nothing Wrong With Chlorine-Washed Chicken, Say German Backers Of TTIP  EurActiv   ...Hüther has an "economically practical" recommendation.  He said, "Dismantle trade barriers and, instead, label products clearly and comprehensively". In this way consumers could freely choose – with or without chlorine, he added...
TPA in the ‘Lame Duck’?  World Trade Daily   ...House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Ill) told WTD yesterday he sees a real possibility that Congress will vote to give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority in the post-election “lame duck” session...
State Battles
New Kansas Jobs Report Bad News For Sam Brownback, Good News For Paul Davis  Kansas City Star   ...According to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures Kansas created only 900 new jobs in August. For the entire year of 2014, the state has added just 7,400 jobs. That’s a puny growth rate of .5 percent. Since Brownback took office in January of 2011, the state has gained a total of 49,700 jobs. That’s a sluggish growth rate of 3.7 percent...
Moral Mondays Planting Roots In Indiana  WLFI   ...A Lafayette group will travel to Indianapolis to join community and faith groups in a nationwide campaign that has come to plant roots in the Hoosier state. Indiana Moral Mondays launches its statewide campaign to fight poverty and racism in Indiana this weekend...
Tens of Thousands of WI Students Face New Voting Hurdles  Center for Media and Democracy   ...The last-minute reinstatement of Wisconsin's voter ID restrictions could create voting problems for over 32,000 students attending state universities...
Audit: Jobs agency makes progress on bad loans by writing many off  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...The bad loans held by the state's top jobs agency have declined in value by nearly $8 million, though much of the decrease was from loans being written off rather than salvaged, a new audit shows...
Wilmington Ponders Contractor Wage Boost  Delaware News Journal   ...Wilmington Councilman Darius Brown wants to raise the minimum pay to $10.10 an hour for employees working at businesses contracted by the city. The move would put the city in line with New Castle County, which in March boosted the minimum wage for government workers and contractors to $10.10...
War On Workers
Koch Brothers, ALEC Threaten Campus Democracy at FSU, US Universities  Dissident Voices   ...Florida State University is poised to appoint former ALEC Legislator of the Year John Thrasher as new president after “sham” presidential search and Koch funding scandal...
MI County Sells Injured Mom's Home Over One Tax Bill, and Will Keep Extra $80,000 in Profit  Alternet   ...Deborah Calley told WITI that she paid cash for her dream home in 2010. She had thought that it would make raising two children easier while she was recovering from the traumatic car accident.But that dream was shattered when she was notified that the county was foreclosing on her home over a missed property tax payment...Court documents obtained by WITI showed that notices went out about the missed payment, but Calley said that did not see a single one of them. WITI discovered that all but one of those notices were addressed to banks, instead of the homeowner...
Republican NLRB Reform Act Would Cripple the Agency  Blue Nation Review   ...what it would do is ensure even more partisan gridlock...
License plate scanner networks capture movements  Associated Press   ...A rapidly expanding digital network that uses cameras mounted to traffic signals and police cruisers captures the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S., regardless of whether the drivers are being investigated by law enforcement...
Atlantic City Casinos: Storied Past, Grim Future  The State   ...Four casinos have closed this year in this New Jersey beach town and another may not be far behind. Hall, 33, was “working poor.” Now she’s just flat out desperate and poor in a city whose 12 percent jobless rate was about twice the national average even before the mass layoffs...
Uber Has Pretty Much Destroyed Regular Taxis In San Francisco  Time Magazine   ...Techno-optimist disrupters and angry cab drivers alike have predicted that Uber, the leading app-powered car service, would eventually put traditional yellow cabs out of business. Now, a new report shows that that Uber is hitting metered cabs hard, at least in San Francisco...
Construction Worker Killed In Crash In Interstate Work Zone In Morganton  WXII   ...A construction worker was killed and at least two others were injured in a crash in a work zone on a North Carolina interstate early Friday...
Miscellaneous
Home Depot Breach Put 56 Million Payment Cards At Risk  Washington Post   ...Home Depot announced Thursday that a breach at its U.S. and Canadian stores over a six-month period this year may have put an estimated 56 million payment cards at risk. That would make it the largest compromise of debit and credit cards in the string of cyberattacks that have hit retailers over the past year...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Today's Teamster News 09.19.14

Teamster News
Teamsters Call On FedEx To Stop Paying Personal Taxes For Executives  teamster.org   ...ISS, the country’s leading proxy voting advisor, has recommended that shareholders vote for a Teamsters-sponsored shareholder proposal at FedEx [NYSE: FDX] that calls on the board of directors to eliminate the practice of paying the personal taxes owed on restricted stock awards on behalf of CEO Fred Smith and other named executive officers...
Teamsters Call On Rush University Medical Center To Bargain In Good Faith  teamster.org   ...Teamsters Local Union 743 denounced management at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) today, for continued refusal to bargain with the more than 230 patient care technicians (PCTs) that overwhelmingly voted to become Teamsters on Aug. 29...
Teamsters: 20 years is too long to wait for a safety rule  TeamsterNation   ...The Teamsters and other public safety advocates sued the U.S. Department of Transportation today for failing to issue long-overdue truck safety requirements...
Hoffa: Georgia Official Must Stop Ignoring Voter Registration Requests  IBT   ...James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, issued a statement today addressing reports that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is ignoring more than 50,000 voter registration requests as the deadline for new voters to sign up to participate in the upcoming Nov. 4 election looms near...
Trade
Corporate Courts — A Big Red Flag On “Trade” Agreements  Trade Reform   ...Corporations even sue governments for passing laws that might cause the investors in the corporations to make a bit less money — like raising the minimum wage. But wait, there’s more. The suits aren’t even heard in courts. They are settled by corporate-controlled tribunals set up by these trade agreements...  
State Battles
Oregon Minimum Wage Will Increase To $9.25 In 2015  The Oregonian   ...Oregon's minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.25 an hour in 2015, state labor officials announced Wednesday...
Missouri Governor releases additional funding for public education  ABC3   ...Missouri Governor Jay Nixon made a stop at Truman State University Wednesday afternoon to discuss new funding for public universities like Truman State...
More trouble from privatized food contracts  TeamsterNation   ...Aramark is once again proving in Michigan that outsourcing government services to for-profit corporations results in really, really bad service...
Wisconsin ranks 33rd in private-sector job growth, lagging behind the national average  Associated Press   ...the job-growth ranking and Walker's failure to meet his 2010 campaign promise to add 250,000 private-sector jobs are evidence that (Scott Walker's) policies have not worked...
Administration disputes projections of huge state deficit  WTAQ   ...Wisconsin’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau painted a bleak financial picture earlier this month, predicting a $1.8 billion dollar structural deficit in the 2015-2017 biennium...
Fox News Admits WI Voter ID Laws May Disenfranchise Voters  Media Matters   ...Fox News acknowledged that a voter ID law may prevent people from casting votes while discussing the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin -- despite the network's sustained campaign to deny the negative repercussions these laws have on voting...
Six Years Later, La. Still Waiting For Keystone (opinion)  Shreveport Times   ...From a safety perspective, Keystone is a better option than the rail transport currently used in the American market. A recent study by the Manhattan Institute reaffirmed the longstanding fact that pipelines are a much safer way to transport oil...
War On Workers
Wal-Mart Truck Drivers Granted Class Action Status In California Minimum Wage Lawsuit  The Trucker   ...Truck drivers employed by Wal-Mart have been granted class action status in a lawsuit over the employer’s alleged failure to pay minimum wage in violation of the California Labor Code...
Even in Palin Country, Raising the Minimum Wage Is Wildly Popular  Mother Jones   ... Twenty-three states already have moved past the federal rate, and this November, voters in five more will have a chance to follow suit...
Which Industry's CEOs Are Ripping Off Workers Most?  Huffington Post   ...Today, CEOs at leading fast food companies pocket more than 1,200 times more than their average employees, according to a report by Demos, an economic policy think tank. In comparison, the average CEO at S&P 500 companies today makes about 200 times more than typical employees...
Poverty Unchanged By Wall Street Recovery  firedoglake   ...wealth inequality has actually gotten worse during the recovery. The overwhelming majority of assets are owned by the rich and super-rich so when government policy is used to push the Dow up, few Americans go with it...
School Bus Driver Sacrifices Life To Save 10-Year-Old Girl  Huffington Post   ...Zborowski worked for a private bus company, Cincinnati-based Petermann, a subsidiary of National Express Corp. Zborowski was pronounced dead at a hospital about two hours after the 8:10 a.m. accident...
Worker killed by wood press at Mill City lumber plant  Fox 12 Oregon   ...A lumber mill worker was killed when a wood press was activated as he was conducting repairs on the machine...
Worker killed on the job in Dalton  WRCB-TV   ..."An outside contractor, Spartan Industrial Contracting, was moving equipment and one of their employees was involved in an accident that resulted in a death of one of their employees," Marketing Alliance Group HR spokesperson Michael Arnold said in a statement...
Miscellaneous
Occupy Wall Street Buys, Then Cancels, Student Debt  Huffington Post   ...Strike Debt, a group of anti-debt activists born out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, said it purchased $3.9 million in delinquent private student debt and immediately canceled it...
Police Demilitarization Pits Police Union Against Top Labor Federation  BuzzFeed   ...The International Union of Police Associations, a member of the AFL-CIO, has been largely quiet on the issue of police militarization. But in a couple of open letters the union has shown support for the program that provides police with military-grade weaponry. The AFL-CIO meanwhile has been a vocal supporter of police demilitarization and better oversight...
Domestic Workers Advocate Wins MacArthur Genius Award  Moyers and Company   ...Ai-jen Poo, a labor organizer for America’s nannies, house cleaners and home care attendants, has been named a MacArthur “genius” for 2014...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Georgia Teamsters fight against voter suppression

Georgia's secretary of state has a new way to enforce Jim Crow voting laws: He just doesn't process tens of thousands of voter registration forms. And then he tries to intimidate a nonpartisan group registering new Georgia voters.

At a press conference in Georgia's state capital yesterday, leaders of the New Georgia Project called on the secretary of state to put registrants on the voter rolls. Our brothers and sisters from Teamsters Local 728 were among the civil rights and religious leaders who attended the event.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, a strong opponent of voter suppression, issued a statement:
We are supposed to be a nation of one person and one vote. But how can that be when citizens trying to exercise their right to vote are being disenfranchised? The state of Georgia is engaging in voter suppression, plain and simple. No matter one’s political affiliation, that is not right and cannot be tolerated. I call on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to do his job and process all valid applications so the people’s voice can be heard.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported
The New Georgia Project brought bins holding copies of more than 51,000 unprocessed voter applications to the state Capitol on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has put the group under investigation for alleged voter registration fraud, but group leaders said it was a “witch hunt” to intimidate their efforts...
With the state’s Oct. 6 registration deadline quickly approaching, state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta,and more than a dozen civil rights and religious leaders who support the New Georgia Project called on Kemp —the state’s top elections official — to focus on ensuring ballot access to thousands of new voters they and others have signed up this election year. 
Speaking at the state Capitol ahead of the 3 p.m. special meeting of the Georgia Election Board, the leaders stood before 13 plastic bins filled with copies of applications they said have not been processed despite being turned in, in some cases, months ago. 
“You don’t have to wear a hood or be a member of the Ku Klux Klan to be engaged in voter suppression,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. “Mr. Secretary of State, stop this dog and pony show, all these accusations and fear campaigning, and do the job you were [elected] to do.” 


Teamsters: 20 years is too long to wait for a safety rule

Not for novices.
The Teamsters and other public safety advocates sued the U.S. Department of Transportation today for failing to issue long-overdue truck safety requirements.

In 1993, Congress ordered the transportation department to issue a rule setting training standards for entry-level drivers. Twenty years later, inexperienced drivers are still hitting the road with no behind-the-wheel training.

To get a commercial driver's license, people only need to take 10 hours of classroom lectures and to pass a test.

The Teamsters, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Public Citizen is representing the groups.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said,
Proper training is absolutely necessary for new drivers to operate their rigs safely. The agency is shirking its responsibility by not issuing this long-overdue rule.
A Public Citizen press statement described how an inexperienced driver killed a 35-year trucker:
Dorothy Wert’s husband, David Wert, Sr., was killed in 2011 in a truck crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver who left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark Pennsylvania highway at 3 a.m. with no lights on and no warning signals or flares. After the crash, David, a truck driver with 35 years of experience, managed to drive his truck safely onto the side of the road in spite of suffering fatal injuries. 
“We have waited far too long for a requirement to ensure that truck drivers know what they are doing and have been tested before we allow them behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck,” said Wert, a CRASH volunteer advocate who lives in Montrose, Pa. “Truck drivers should not be allowed to drive without a required understanding of the regulations and a minimum number of training hours behind the wheel. I know that my husband would be alive today if the driver that caused Dave’s crash had been better trained, had more experience and had taken the proper precautions.”
About 4,000 people a year die in truck crashes. Another 100,000 are injured.

More trouble from privatized prison food contracts

Aramark is once again proving in Michigan that outsourcing government services to for-profit corporations results in really, really bad service.

A Michigan state prisoner is suing Aramark for serving rotten food just days after the state fined the company $200,000 for serving rotten food.

MLive reports today,
On the menu - Meatballs, gravy, noodles, bread, cooked carrots and cake or a cookie - didn't match what was on the plate, which contained a green and spoiled hamburger patty, cold gravy, cold noodles with a vinegar odor, raw carrots, moldy bread and a green orange in place of dessert, the lawsuit claims. The milk was warm and past its expiration date.
Even as that news broke, Progress Michigan suggested Gov. Rick Snyder was pressuring the Department of Corrections NOT to fine Aramark and then covering up his actions.
Progress Michigan released an email chain between the head of the MDOC, Daniel Heyns and Gov. Rick Snyder’s chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, that showed the Snyder administration had pressured the department to cancel a $98,000 fine against out-of-state corporation, Aramark, 
Progress Michigan sued the Department of Corrections,
...alleging that the department may have illegally redacted at least 16 emails in whole or in part that were part of a Freedom of Information Act request...
“The Department of Corrections has shown that they cannot be trusted to follow FOIA law when it comes to redactions,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “We believe information has been illegally withheld and will fight for the release of that information.” 
The FOIA request to MDOC was part of a broader effort by Progress Michigan and other Progress Now affiliates to hold executive offices around the country accountable through public records requests. 
Aramark has been fined twice by Ohio for prison food problems.  The Associated Press reported in July,
The state on Wednesday announced a second fine against the private vendor - Philadelphia-based Aramark - that took over the job of feeding inmates last year as the company defended its operations before a prisons oversight committee. 
The $130,200 fine against Aramark Correctional Services covered continued staffing shortages, unacceptable food substitutions and shortages and sanitation issues, including maggots observed in food service operations at five prisons this month and last, according to Ohio’s July 23 letter to the company.



Teamsters to FedEx: Quit paying personal taxes for Fred Smith

The Teamsters want FedEx to stop giving its top executives millions of dollars of perks while cutting employees' pensions and raising their health care costs.

The Teamsters are sponsoring a shareholder proposal for FedEx to stop paying the personal taxes owed on restricted stock awards to CEO Fred Smith and other executives. Today, a leading proxy voting adviser recommended that shareholders support the Teamsters' proposal.

Ken Hall, Teamsters general secretary-treasurer, said:
Shareholdesr are fed up with FedEx paying personal taxes for the company's well-compensated executives. FedEx has cut pensions and raised the costs of medical coverage for workers while continuing to lavish executives with this outdated perk. 
A Teamsters press statement said,
According to the company’s 2014 proxy statement, FedEx paid out more than $1.8 million in tax gross ups for the named executive officers last year. Over the past four years FedEx has paid more than $6.4 million just in tax payments for top executives’ restricted stock awards. The FedEx shareholder meeting will be Sept. 29. 
Now we know why Fred Smith thinks personal income taxes should rise and corporate income taxes should be lowered. In December 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported
FedEx Corp. Chairman and CEO Frederick W. Smith said lawmakers should increase individual tax rates and lower levies on corporations as part of a deal to advert the fiscal cliff. 
Such a deal would avoid across-the-board tax increases and would spur job creation and economic growth, he said in a speech Thursday to the Economic Club of Washington. 
Easy for him to say, since his company pays his taxes!

The Teamsters just this week announced they have organized workers at FedEx Freight for the first time in North America.  FedEx Freight workers in Delanco, N.J., will be voting on October 10 in their Teamsters election, and numerous Teamster local unions in the United States have filed for elections at FedEx Freight.

Scott Walker kills another 4,300 jobs

Wisconsin lost 4,300 private-sector jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced today. The timing is unfortunate for Gov. Scott Walker, who campaigned on a promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Now he's running for re-election and his promise is coming back to haunt him. 

He has only himself to blame. One of his first acts as governor was to cancel a high-speed rail project. The Cap Times reported in June the move cost several hundred manufacturing jobs in one of Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods and 4,000 construction jobs:
It didn't get a lot of press — two Milwaukee bloggers noted it — but Talgo, the Spain- and U.S.-based train manufacturer, closed its factory on Milwaukee's north side last week and moved the last of its train sets out of town. They will probably be sold to Michigan. 
The irony is that here was a manufacturing company that was enticed to Wisconsin thanks to a bundle of federal dollars but was chased away by a new governor who professed his main interest was creating jobs and making Wisconsin friendly to business. Yes, go figure. 
Instead, he kissed goodbye several hundred jobs that would have been created in one of Milwaukee's poorer neighborhoods and gave the federal government back $810 million that was to pay for expanding passenger rail service from Milwaukee to Madison and create roughly 4,000 construction jobs to boot. 
It is not only one of the biggest financial blunders in the state's history, but ranks high for its utter cluelessness. And its says volumes about the governor's judgment.
Talgo is now suing the state for $65 million for the state's reneging on its Talgo contract, and Wisconsin has to foot the bill for a multimillion-dollar maintenance facility and handicap accessibility upgrade at the Milwaukee station, all of which would have been covered by the $810 million federal grant.
The train sets originally destined for a Madison-Milwaukee run will now run between Chicago and Detroit, it was just announced.