Thursday, July 2, 2015

Celebrate the Teamster way on the Fourth!

On Saturday, Americans will celebrate our nation's independence. And it only makes sense to do so with products that are not only made in America, but made by Teamsters.

Need to fill the fridge for a barbecue? Support your brothers and sisters who work at Costco if there's one near you. Many Costcos are represented by Teamsters. The company pays all of its employees an average of $17 an hour; CEO Jim Sinegal believes paying workers well is good business.

The summer's top cookout event demands beer, and Teamsters make (and deliver) a lot of it. Teamsters make such refreshing brews as Labatt's Blue, Beck's, Coors Light, Molson Ice, Miller Lite and the King of Beers, Budweiser. Our brothers and sisters also brew up tasty beverages at smaller breweries, Dundee Craft Beer and Genesee Brewery.

Is wine more your thing? If so, take a sip from a Woodbridge Winery offering, which employs workers who recently joined the Teamster family earlier this year.

Ice cream is another requirement for the Fourth of July, and tens of thousands of Teamsters work for American dairies. If you live on the West Coast, look for Darigold dairy products or Tillamook cheese and ice cream for that July 4th picnic. Alta Dena is another Teamster-represented dairy in California and Arizona that makes about a dozen different ice cream products.

Teamsters who live along the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Florida are probably more familiar with WAWA, a convenience store chain that started as a dairy and is a Teamster-represented employer.  WAWA makes premier ice cream from classic vanilla or chocolate to chocolate peanut butter cup or mint chocolate chip.

Another Teamster employer, Dean Foods, has more than 50 brands, including Country Fresh ice cream in Wisconsin and Michigan; Berkeley Farms ice cream in California; Country Love, Broughton and Ben and Jerry's in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. Click here to find out what Dean products are near you.

Teamster employer Prairie Farms sells dairy products in 14 Midwestern states, including Prairie Farms ice cream, sherbet and frozen yogurt.  Kemps Dairy in Wisconsin and Minnesota makes a wide variety of ice cream, including Green Bay Packer Salted Caramel Frozen Tundra Twist!

Not every Teamster-represented product is mentioned here. But buy union and supporter workers on this most American of holidays.

Today's Teamsters News 07.02.15

Teamsters
Hoffa: A Blueprint for Getting America Back on Track  Huffington Post  ...The American economy is not working. As the Teamsters have stated repeatedly, there needs to be a commitment to boost and expand America's middle class. The Roosevelt Institute, of which I am a board member, recently released a detailed blueprint called "Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy" authored by its renowned chief economist Joseph Stiglitz in an effort to tame income inequality...
Teamsters Joined By Community, Labor Allies to Denounce EVSC Union Busting  Teamster.org  ...Teamsters, community leaders and labor allies are joining together to denounce union-busting efforts by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC). Just under 700 workers represented by Teamsters Local 215 are seeking a fair contract from EVSC, while the EVSC Board is threatening to withdraw union recognition if the union does not comply with its overreaching demands...
Teamsters, state reach agreement  News Tribune  ..."After several productive rounds of good faith negotiations, the Illinois Governor’s Office and Teamsters Local 700 have agreed to terms on a new four-year collective bargaining agreement. The current agreement expired June 30, 2015," the office of Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Wednesday. The new contract covers nearly 350 workers at IDOT, CMS, IDES, and DHS in Cook County. The employees work as highway maintainers, heavy equipment operators, and building service and maintenance workers...

Global Labor & Trade
Trade chief: Congress could get Pacific deal by year's end  The Hill  ...U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Wednesday he is confident Congress will approve a massive trans-Pacific trade agreement, possibly by year’s end.  Froman said the “likelihood is very high that Congress will pass” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), because it will be a strong agreement reflecting the “enormous input by Congress”...
U.S. Trade Representative Sees Pacific Trade Pact Before Congress by Year -End  New York Times  ...U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said he hopes to wrap up a trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations soon and send it to the U.S. Congress for approval before the end of the year. Lawmakers last week granted the White House authority to close the Trans­Pacific Partnership and other trade deals and speed them through Congress, opening the door to a phase of intense negotiations to finalize the pact...
Leaked: What’s in Obama’s trade deal  Politico  ...A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law. Politico has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam...
Parliament to vote on TTIP next week  Politico  ...After months of internal strife, the European Parliament is set to vote next week on a disputed trade court that has emerged as the most delicate part of the EU-U.S. free trade agreement. MEPs will debate proposed changes to the Investor State Dispute Settlement provision at the plenary session on Tuesday, and will vote on Wednesday...
TISA Exposed: 'Holy Grail' of Leaks Reveals Detailed Plot for Corporate Takeover  Common Dreams  ...WikiLeaks on Wednesday released what it described as "a modern journalistic holy grail: the secret Core Text for the largest 'trade deal' in history." That deal is the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA, currently being negotiated by 52 nations that together account for two-thirds of global GDP. TISA "is the largest component of the United States' strategic neoliberal 'trade' treaty triumvirate," which also includes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP)...
The Undercurrent: Forget the TPP, does a secret global court spell the end of democracy?  The Guardian  ...With a series of murky international trade agreements like the TPP being negotiated, will a secret court give corporations the power to erode the rights of nation states? The TPP includes an Investor State Dispute Settlement clause that allows a secret court with global reach to arbitrate disputes between multinationals and the countries they operate in...
TPP Could Actually Make Working Conditions Worse in Vietnam  The Nation  ...The mega trade pact is alleged to help equalize these trading “partners,” supposedly bringing Vietnamese labor protections in line with international standards. But actually, the reason businesses tend to relish free-trade agreements, and unions loathe them, is precisely that trade liberalization allows multinational brands to exploit the absence of those labor protections in poorer countries...
Trade unions hijacked Greece's Finance Ministry with a huge anti-austerity banner  Business Insider  ...Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is calling for the nation to vote "No" in Sunday's bailout referendum and there's a huge banner on a key public building saying the same thing. Unions may have been spurred to hang the banner following the release of Tsipras' latest letter to Greece's creditors, dated June 30, which leaked earlier today. The letter show Tsipras caving in to most of the Eurogroup's demands...
Chomsky: Greece Faces "Savage Response" For Taking on Austerity "Class War"  Democracy Now  ...As Greece defaults and faces a referendum this Sunday on a new bailout package, Noam Chomsky explains Europe’s "savage response" to the pushback against austerity demands: "What’s going on with the austerity is really class war. As an economic program, austerity, under recession, makes no sense. It just makes the situation worse. So the Greek debt, relative to GDP, has actually gone up during the period"...
Unions may take MTN strike abroad  BDLIve  ...Strike action at the country’s second-biggest mobile operator, MTN, continues, with some Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) affiliates on Wednesday threatening to escalate the industrial action into an international boycott. The boycott hinges on whether MTN accedes to the demands made by the Communication Workers Union (CWU).
Strike Hits 9 Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstores In Ontario  Huffington Post  ...A strike is under way at nine stores in southwestern Ontario owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd. Workers walked out at midnight at three Zehrs Great Foods outlets in Windsor and another in nearby Kingsville, and at two Real Canadian Superstore outlets in Windsor and at stores in Chatham, Leamingston and Sarnia. The United Food and Commercial Workers union says 1,600 workers represented by Locals 175 and 633 are involved in the legal strike...

State & Living Wage Battles
Voter ID Education Efforts Begin in Earnest in Wisconsin  WUWM  ...Presidential campaigns won’t be the only ones vying for voters’ attention as next year’s elections grow near. The other campaign that will gain steam is the race to prepare people for Wisconsin’s photo ID law. This past spring, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the legal challenges to the law. That’s caused groups that fought the requirement to shift gears...
U.S. Supreme Court Accepts Case to Give 'Right-to-Work' to All Public Employees  Michigan Capitol Confidential  ...On the final day of its most recent session, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will consider a labor law case that experts say could dramatically limit the power of government employee unions. Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association was brought on behalf of 10 California public school teachers who sued for the right to leave their union and not still pay "agency fees." If the Supreme Court rules in their favor, it could have the same effect as extending right-to-work law protections to all public employees...
Chicago implements $10 minimum wage. Other cities aim for $15 by 2020.  Christian Science Monitor  ...Minimum wage workers in Chicago will receive $10 an hour starting Wednesday, as a part of a long-term plan to increase pay to $13 an hour by 2019. At the same time, Washington, D.C. will implement a $10.50 an hour wage, making it the first of the states to pass the $10 threshold. And Chicago and Washington are not alone...
California Moves To Pay Professional Cheerleaders Minimum Wage  Think Progress  ...Thanks to what is believed to be first of its kind legislation, legal minimum wages and worker protections may be on the horizon for California’s professional cheerleaders. A bill proposed by State Rep. Lorena Gonzalez (D) in January, and approved by the Senate on Monday, requires California sports teams to adhere to state and federal minimum wage requirements and to provide overtime pay and sick leave to professional cheerleaders...
Law creates alternatives to photo ID for voting  Daily Tar Heel   ...As lawsuits challenging North Carolina’s 2013 voter-ID requirement continue, a recent North Carolina law will provide an alternative for voters without photo identification in future elections. The law, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed June 22, will allow for voters without a valid form of government photo identification to cast a provisional ballot after signing a reasonable impediment declaration as to why they do not have an acceptable photo ID...
Paid Sick Leave Law Takes Effect, Valley Businesses Reluctantly Comply  ABC  ...Working Californians not entitled to paid sick leave before are now eligible for it under state law. The right to accrue and take sick leave starts today, and while that's good news for working Californians, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce says local businesses are reluctantly beginning to implement it...
Prevailing Wage Expires in West Virginia  WSAZ  ...July 1 marked the end of prevailing wage in West Virginia, at least temporarily. For contractors like Jeffries, the wages his workers receive can vary -- at least for now. "At Cornerstone Interiors, we've had four people already quit," said Jeffries, "and have left to find a stable market somewhere." Those four are part of the roughly 10,000 employees the state's labor department says could be affected...

U.S. Labor
U.S. Economy Adds 223,000 Jobs; Unemployment at 5.3%  New York Times  ...The American economy entered the summer powered by a decent head of steam, as employers added 223,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent. After bottoming out in March as the overall economy stalled, hiring has rebounded in recent months along with other indicators like home sales and consumer spending...
Wages Are Stagnant Even As The Unemployment Rate Keeps Falling  Think Progress  ...While analysts had expected strong wage growth, there was no change over the month before and wages have grown just 2 percent year over year. June job growth was led by professional and business services (64,000), health care (40,000), retail (33,000), food and drinking places (30,000) and financial activities (20,000). Food and drinking places in particular have added 355,000 jobs over the last year, while retail has added 300,000...
Construction stops at about 30 sites as union concrete workers strike  Crains New York   ...Construction partially ground to a halt at an estimated 30 major sites across the city Wednesday morning after a group of concrete workers went on strike. Among the stalled sites are the Related Companies' massive Hudson Yards project and Time Equities' 50 West St. condo tower. The workers belong to a union umbrella group called the New York City District Council of Carpenters...
USW employees at ATI still working under contract extension  Observer-Reporter   ...Unionized members at Allegheny Technologies Inc. plants in Pennsylvania – including its Allegheny Ludlum plant in Canton Township – and in three other states, went to work Wednesday under a contract extension as negotiations on a new agreement continued. Late Tuesday, the United Steelworkers offered to continue working following the expiration of the previous labor agreement...
Teachers Say 17 Firings at Urban Prep Charter Schools Were Retaliation for Unionization  In These Times  ...On June 19, during their biannual semester-end interviews, 17 teachers were informed by school staff that they would not be returning to Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy come fall. The terminations came just weeks after 61 percent of Urban Prep’s teachers voted to form a union; activists say the firings were a blatant act of anti-union retaliation...
Denouncing 'Corporate Democrats,' Labor Leader Joins Sanders Campaign  Common Dreams  ...Larry Cohen, the labor leader and outgoing president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), is officially backing Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign—at least in part thanks to Hillary Clinton. Cohen told the Huffington Post on Wednesday that he made his choice after Clinton, who is currently the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, continued to evade questions from the media and consumer watchdogs over her stance on Trade Promotion Authority...

Miscellaneous
Donald Trump's comments on immigration complicate GOP's 'Latino problem'  LA Times  ...When Donald Trump disparaged Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and drug-runners during his presidential announcement, the slurs were initially dismissed as just another outrageous pronouncement from the blustery billionaire. But as Latinos reel in anger and celebrities and corporate sponsors drop their associations with Trump, the Republican Party's other presidential hopefuls face an increasingly uncomfortable choice...
Why We Still Need Affirmative Action Policies In College Admissions  Think Progress  ...In the past few years, there has been more criticism of affirmative action policies in admissions programs. The idea is that colleges should only consider class because income inequality is becoming worse. But sociologists point out that there are plenty of reasons why affirmative action policies should continue and not be focused only on class differences. There are also many misconceptions about how affirmative action policies work...
"A New Chapter": After Half a Century, U.S. and Cuba Unveil Reopening of Embassies & Restored Ties  Democracy Now  ...The United States and Cuba have announced they will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals and formally re-establish diplomatic relations. Secretary of State John Kerry said he will travel to Havana to open the U.S. Embassy there. In a statement, the Cuban government said relations with the United States cannot be considered normalized until trade sanctions are lifted, the naval base at Guantánamo Bay is returned, and U.S.-backed programs aimed at "subversion and internal destabilization" are halted...
Black Churches Are Burning Again in America  The Atlantic  ...These fires join the murder of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church as major acts of violence perpetrated against predominantly black churches in the last fortnight. Churches are burning again in the United States, and the symbolism of that is powerful. Even though many instances of arson have happened at white churches, the crime is often association with racial violence...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

High court could curb union rights

The Teamsters and other unions have helped build the middle class by negotiating for fair wages. But the corporate class and its allies are doing all they can to tear that down. And a Supreme Court case slated to be heard in the coming months could help anti-union forces reach their goal.

Public sector unions are the target of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, where a handful or public school teachers are suing the state's teachers union affiliate saying they shouldn't have to pay union dues. This, of course, even though they get the full benefit of the union hammering out a contract and representing them.

The Los Angeles Times explains what's at stake:
At issue is the court’s 1977 precedent in Abood vs. Detroit Board of Education, which today allows government worker unions in California and 20 other states to collect “fair share” fees to cover the costs of collective bargaining, even from employees who do not join or support the union. 
Though the high court has said workers cannot be required to pay for a union’s political activities, it has concluded that they should contribute something toward a union’s cost of negotiating better wages and benefits for everyone. 
The court’s conservatives, particularly Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., have long questioned whether these forced fees in the public sector violate free speech because they require employees to support a union they may oppose.
While any ruling wouldn't affect private sector unions because only the government is required to abide by the First Amendment, its effect could be substantial nonetheless. The Teamsters represent more than 260,000 public sector workers, and millions are represented by other unions.

Representatives from the NEA, AFT, AFSCME, SEIU and the California Teachers Association said there is no reason the freedom of public workers to advocate for better services and communities should be curtailed as part of this case:
We are disappointed that at a time when big corporations and the wealthy few are rewriting the rules in their favor, knocking American families and our entire economy off-balance, the Supreme Court has chosen to take a case that threatens the fundamental promise of America—that if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to provide for your family and live a decent life. 
The Supreme Court is revisiting decisions that have made it possible for people to stick together for a voice at work and in their communities—decisions that have stood for more than 35 years—and that have allowed people to work together for better public services and vibrant communities.
Government employees are not the enemy. They are just hardworking Americans doing what they can to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Powerful interests are trying to demagogue these workers for their own political gain. Workers represented by unions shouldn't lose one of their only vehicles they have to fight for their rights.

Today's Teamster News 07.01.15

Teamsters
Danafilms Workers Join Teamsters Local 170  Teamster.org  ...Production workers at Danafilms, a plastic film manufacturer in Westborough, Mass., voted to join Teamsters Local 170 in an election held in April. Ballots impounded after the vote were counted yesterday, resulting in a 23-13 count in favor of representation. There are 44 workers in the bargaining unit...
EVSC, Teamsters haven't reached agreements, current contracts expire at midnight  Courier & Press  ...The midnight deadline to reach an agreement was not met between the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and Teamsters Local 215 negotiating teams, meaning the school corporation's contracts with secretaries, special education assistants, bus aides, custodians and bus drivers are expired...
EVSC, Teamsters Still Deadlocked on Contract  Tristate  ...The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation and Teamsters Local 215 remain deadlocked on contract negotiations as the eleventh-hour approaches. The talks have started and stalled for months, and at midnight Wednesday the contract will expire, leaving an uncertain future for nearly 700 employees and their union representation...

Global Labor & Trade
Australian politicians slam TPP for ‘excessive secrecy’  RT  ...Australian lawmakers have slammed the country’s deal-making process as one lacking transparency and oversight. They’ve particularly criticized the currently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership for its “excessive secrecy.” The report, entitled the “Blind Agreement,” was a joint party report from the Labor, Liberal and Green parties...
Secret TPP Negotiations Denounced as “Undemocratic” in Peru  TeleSUR  ...On Tuesday, a group of Peruvian members of Congress and analysts denounced the secret negotiations of the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty – or TPP – as undemocratic and an attempt by elites to force decisions on Peru. Together with 11 other countries, Peru has been negotiating TPP in secret, a trade agreement which could become the largest on the planet...
How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Hand Corporations the Reins to Our Government  In These Times  ...critics argue that within the hundreds of pages of esoteric provisions, the deal—like similar ones before it—includes a glaring double standard: It provides legal rights to corporations and investors that it does not extend to unions, public interest groups and individuals. Recently leaked drafts of the agreement show the pact includes the kind of “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) provisions written into most major trade deals...
Administration objects to Israeli-linked provision in trade bill  Politico  ...A day after President Barack Obama signed a key trade bill, his administration publicly stated its objection to a provision of the measure that critics say appears to legitimize Israeli settlements in Palestinian-claimed territories. The amendment to the trade law instructs U.S. trade negotiators to try to discourage foreign governments, especially in Europe, from signing on to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement...
Austerity ‘condemns’ children to poverty – report to UN  RT  ...Young people in the UK risk falling deeper into poverty if the government continues to make cuts to welfare programs, Britain’s four children’s commissioners have said. In a report for the United Nations, the commissioners say austerity policies have already pushed 2.3 million children into poverty with the figure set to hit 4.7 million by 2020...
Tube strike: RMT and TSSA union workers vote to go on strike  BBC  ...More London Underground workers have voted to strike in a dispute over the new all-night Tube service. Members of the RMT and TSSA unions backed industrial action following a similar vote by drivers. Workers in these unions will now join a planned 24-hour walkout by members of the drivers' union Aslef, which begins at 21:30 BST on 8 July...
GM Korea workers vote in favor of strike over pay, output   Reuters  ...General Motors Co employees in South Korea voted on Wednesday in favour of a strike over wages and production volumes, prompted by uncertainty over the U.S. auto maker's output plans as its labor costs in the country rise. South Korea's National Labor Relations Commission is expected to meet on July 6 to decide whether to order a 10-day arbitration period, according to the company and the workers' union...
Greece debt crisis: Tsipras in new bailout 'concessions'  BBC  ...Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has offered new concessions to the country's creditors. A letter to creditors sent by Mr Tsipras says he was prepared to accept most conditions that were on the table before talks collapsed and he called a referendum. On Tuesday, eurozone finance ministers refused to extend the previous bailout...

State & Living Wage Battles
Paid Sick Leave Law Gives California Employees More Time Off  CBS  ...Paid sick days are no longer an option for California employers as a new law takes effect this week. Baristas Kyla Wiegand and Eduard Andrusyak are part-time employees at Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters in East Sacramento. But come Wednesday, a new benefit is brewing at work—paid sick leave...
A Chris Christie presidency would be 'very disturbing', New Jerseyans warn  The Guardian  ...As he prepares to unveil his presidential campaign on Tuesday, Chris Christie is promising American voters that he will tell it to them straight – New Jersey-style. New Jersey has a straight message for American voters, too: run away. Criticism of Christie in his home state, where a Monmouth University poll last month tracked his favorability rating at a record low of 35%, is not confined to teachers. In a blistering editorial published at the weekend, the Newark Star-Ledger warned, bluntly: “He lies”...
Inside The Push To End A State’s ‘Ugly Policy’ Targeting Poor Mothers  Think Progress  ...In most states, when a family in need has a new child, their welfare benefits increase to cover the extra costs that come with a new family member. But 16 other states operate differently, limiting benefits after a certain number of children. There’s no evidence that these limits have the desired result — in fact, people on welfare have the same sized families as those who don’t enroll, and there is strong evidence that these caps increase poverty...
The Curious Case of Puerto Rico, And Why Default Poses A Risk To The U.S.  Huffington Post  ...U.S. lawmakers have no firm plan to help more than 3 million American citizens living 1,000 miles off the coast of Florida under a government staring down the barrel of a $73 billion debt crisis. Those U.S. citizens live in the territory of Puerto Rico. Thousands of them are fleeing each month to the U.S. mainland in the search of economic opportunity, compounding the island’s financial crisis...
West Virginia's prevailing wage set to temporarily expire  WOWKTV  ...West Virginia's prevailing wage is set expire Tuesday at midnight, as WorkForce West Virginia and economists with West Virginia University and Marshall University continue to work on a new calculation method. During the 2015 regular legislative session, state lawmakers passed a bill to change the way prevailing wage is calculated...
Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect in Chicago  NBC  ...Minimum wage employees in Chicago will begin earning $10 an hour Wednesday as the first part of a yearly incremental minimum wage increase takes effect in the city. The $1.75 hourly bump is part of a plan aimed at raising the minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour by 2019...
Starting today, the D.C. minimum wage jumps to $10.50  Washington Post  ...D.C.’s minimum-wage workers will get a city-mandated increase in their paychecks beginning Wednesday, when their hourly wage bumps from $9.50 to $10.50. The hike is part of legislation signed into law in January 2014 that brought the District’s minimum wage from $8.25 to an eventual $11.50 per hour in 2016...
Minimum wage ordinance upheld by judge  Courier-Journal  ...Louisville workers can expect a pay raise starting July 1 after a Jefferson County Circuit judge on Monday upheld an ordinance raising the city's minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next three years. In a four-page ruling, Circuit Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman said state law establishes a floor for wages that does not expressly authorize or forbid a local government from raising workers' pay rates...

U.S. Labor
Obama and labor reconcile, sort of, on overtime  Politico  ...What a difference a day makes. Last week, President Barack Obama was a traitor to progressive groups and unions for pushing his trade agenda through Congress. This week, he’s their hero for putting forward a regulation to expand overtime, which would give an estimated 5 million Americans a raise...
The Rise Of Anti-Union Rhetoric In The 2016 Race  Think Progress  ...This week, the Supreme Court agreed to take a case that could spell doom for public sector unions, with the potential to make the entire country so-called “right-to-work” territory. If that effort fails, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has vowed to make every state a “right-to-work” state if elected president. But while Walker may be the loudest and proudest union buster in the 2016 race, his fellow candidates are also striving to prove their anti-labor bona fides...
Supreme Court will hear case on public sector union fees  Aljazeera  ...A case that will soon be heard before the Supreme Court has the potential to institute a de facto right-to-work regime across the entire public sector. The Court said on Tuesday it would soon hear arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), a case concerning government employee unions' ability to gather fees from non-members...
With New Overtime Rule, President Obama May Have Given an Estimated 5 Million Workers a Raise  In These Times  ...President Obama’s administration took another promised step on Tuesday towards raising the living standards of American workers, and Republicans and business groups are not likely to be able to stop it. Using the administration’s power to update workplace rules regarding premium pay for overtime work, the Department of Labor on Tuesday began taking steps that could bring higher pay or more leisure time to an estimated 5 million middle-income workers by next year...
Santa Clara County, SEIU Reach 11th Hour Deal to Avoid Strike  San Jose Inside  ...Hours before thousands of workers planned to walk off the job, Santa Clara County's largest employee union reached a tentative four-year agreement after 72 straight hours of bargaining. The 11th hour deal reached at 4:30am today came in time for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 521 to call off the 6am strike...
USW Offers to Remain at Work at ATI While Continuing to Bargain for a New Agreement  PR Newswire  ...Late Tuesday evening, the United Steelworkers (USW) offered to continue working following the expiration of the current labor agreement with Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (ATI), and to continue negotiations for a fair agreement. While the differences between the parties are quite significant, the USW believes the company should depart from its current, nonsense course of hiring temporary replacement workers and security goons...
Milwaukee County bus drivers strike, scrambling commute  St. Louis Post-Dispatch  ..Hundreds of Milwaukee County union bus drivers went on strike early Wednesday, leaving tens of thousands of commuters scrambling to make alternative plans to get to work and elsewhere. The roughly 750 drivers walked off the job at 3 a.m. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 leaders said the strike would last until Saturday...
Victoria’s Secret Is Getting Rid Of On-Call Scheduling In Stores  Buzzfeed  ...Victoria’s Secret is ending the use of on-call scheduling in its stores, employees were told yesterday — a major reversal of a policy that wreaked havoc on the lives of tens of thousands of retail workers across the country.
The chain told employees it would no longer use the controversial scheduling practice, which requires staff to be available for shifts that can be cancelled at the last minute...
GOP's New Attack on Social Security's Disability Benefits: Exaggerate Number Of Claims  Alternet  ...Congressional Republicans are trying to block a routine reallocation of funds to the SSDI Trust Fund, insisting that they will only allow reallocation if “reforms” to SSDI are implemented. The intellectual underpinning for their demands is that there is an unfolding fiscal crisis caused by workers who are able to earn a living but are instead choosing to claim disability benefits. However, a closer look at the evidence shows that SSDI benefits have become, if anything, less generous...

Miscellaneous
Ruling Against "Three Strikes" Sentencing Law Opens Door to Reform  Truthout  ...Friday's Supreme Court decision in Johnson v. United States highlights the complicated nature of sentencing provisions that result in lengthy prison terms, a leading cause of mass incarceration. The ruling struck down a sentencing provision that lengthened prison terms for certain federal prisoners and potentially impacts the lives of thousands of people who have received enhanced federal sentences...
White Racism, NIMBYism, And The Surprise Supreme Court Ruling That Could Finally Desegregate Cities  Think Progress   ...The people who fight housing discrimination and residential segregation in America were bracing for a defeat last Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruled on Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project. But instead of gutting a decades old legal theory known as “disparate impact,” as court watchers had predicted, Justice Anthony Kennedy penned a strong defense of the anti-racism tool on behalf of a 5-4 majority...
High Court's Ruling, Say Critics, Endorses 'Torturing People to Death'  Common Dreams  ...In the most closely-watched death penalty case in years, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-4 (pdf) that Oklahoma can use the controversial and experimental execution drug midazolam that was behind the last year's horrific killing of 38-year-old man Clayton Lockett—who writhed and groaned for 43 minutes before ultimately succumbing to a heart attack...
U.S. and Cuba to Re-Establish Diplomatic Ties, Reopen Embassies After 50 Years  Slate  ...The gradual warming of relations between the U.S. and Cuba continued on Tuesday with the news that the two will formally restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies. The final agreement is expected to be announced on Wednesday and the U.S. embassy is Havana should be up and running in July. U.S. diplomatic ties with Cuba were severed in 1961 following Castro’s ascent to power during the Cuban revolution...
US police killings headed for 1,100 this year, with black Americans twice as likely to die  The Guardian  ...Police in the United States are killing people at a rate that would result in 1,100 fatalities by the end of this year, according to a Guardian investigation, which recorded an average of three people killed per day during the first half of 2015. The Counted, a project working to report and crowdsource names and a series of other data on every death caused by law enforcement in the US this year, found that 547 people had been killed by the end of June...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Unions do worker training better

President Hoffa lauded CDL program grads earlier this year at Fort Sill, Okla.
We've written extensively about the importance of unions in American life -- how unions provide a pathway to the middle class by paying $200 a week more than non-union jobs as well as offering good health care and other benefits.

One thing that is often overlooked, however, is how unions provide skilled workers to American companies. For decades, trained labor professionals have taken up important roles in many different sectors of society. The Teamsters, for example, have been at the forefront of providing qualified truckers to businesses so they can safety transport cargo along the highways of this nation.

But increasingly, the corporate class has taken the cheap way out. And they are paying the price for that, as a Washington Post story states:
Although it has historically constructed high-quality educational pipelines to well-paying jobs in cooperation with employers, labor has lost ground over the years. In the absence of union training programs, businesses in vast sectors of the economy are scrambling to meet their workforce needs through other means, like piecemeal job training programs and partnerships with community colleges, with few solutions that have really broad reach.
Some have attempted to go around the union model and form apprenticeships. But as the article states, in many cases that can "lead to a proliferation of low-quality programs." Imitators often can't provide the same skills that unions have.

The Teamsters haven't stopped trying to improve the skills of hardworking Americans. In fact, it is a integral part of our core mission. Earlier this year, the union announced it was teaming with the U.S. Army and ABF Freight to provide commercial driver's license (CDL) training to veterans transitioning to civilian life. It's just the latest effort of the Teamster Military Assistance Program.

In addressing the first graduating class of drivers at Fort Sill, Okla. in March, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said the union was providing a service that he hoped would be expanded:
The men and women who defend and protect our country deserve good, full-time jobs when they return home. I am proud that our union is working in this great partnership to honor our military veterans and help them transition to a rewarding civilian career.
If America wants to compete in an increasingly global economy, it needs to do more to succeed. Better worker training means better services and safety for all Americans. Labor unions like the Teamsters make it happen every day.

A college degree is not the answer for all workers. It should be the goal of lawmakers across the political spectrum to encourage youth not pursuing post-secondary academic studies to obtain training in a skill area that will provide them with the opportunity to earn a living wage and give them a career track that will ultimately give them a foothold in the middle class.

Increasing worker training, particularly through labor unions like the Teamsters, will ensure that will happen. That's good for workers and good for America.

Today's Teamster News 06.30.15

Teamsters
Teamsters to US Foods, Sysco: Restore Labor Relations, Customer Confidence  Teamster.org ...Following today’s announcement that Sysco terminated its merger agreement with US Foods, the Teamsters Union cited the decision as a critical step toward restoring labor relations and renewing customer confidence at the two companies. “As Sysco and US Foods move forward, we remain committed to a meaningful dialogue about the future health and prosperity of these companies,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa...
EVSC, Teamsters exchange contract proposals, negotiations to occur again Tuesday  Courier & Press  ...Contracts expire at the end of June 30 and an agreement has not yet been reached, but discussions are occurring between the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. and Teamsters Local 215 negotiating teams. EVSC and Teamsters officials met on Monday afternoon. Local 215 President Chuck Whobrey said the union offered a proposal, the EVSC negotiating team countered, and the union offered another proposal...

Global Labor & Trade
In bipartisan ceremony, Obama signs trade legislation, calls for infrastructure bill Washington Post ...President Obama hailed a "true bipartisan effort" on Monday as he signed a package of trade bills into law, and he called on Washington to summon a similar spirit of compromise to address the nation's crumbling infrastructure. Obama was joined by seven members of Congress, including two Republicans, during a signing ceremony for the two bills, which will give his administration "fast-track" authority to complete trade accords and provide retraining for workers displaced by trade pacts...
TPP ministerial meeting set for last week of July: source  Reuters ...A ministerial meeting aimed at finalizing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal is set for the last week of July, a source close to the negotiations said on Monday on condition of anonymity. The meeting of trade ministers from the dozen countries involved would likely mark the final stage in the TPP negotiations, a massive trade pact covering 40 percent of the world's economy...
New trade battle looms on the horizon  The Hill  ...President Obama’s prized fast-track authority is a done deal in Congress, but Washington is already steeling for the next major trade battle — this one over lawmakers’ approval of a sweeping Pacific Rim agreement. Completion of talks in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could come as early as August, setting up a fall fight over ratification that is all but certain to spill into the 2016 presidential race...
Trade vote puts Froman on faster track  Politico ...Following Congress’ hard-fought approval of “fast-track” trade authority last week, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman vowed not only to complete the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership but an even bigger pact with the European Union and three other major trade deals — all in the 18 months remaining in President Barack Obama’s term. It could add up to the biggest trade blitz in history, transforming the rules under which the world does business...
Thousands Of Greeks March For A No Vote On Austerity Measures  Buzzfeed  ...Thousands of Greeks gathered outside the country’s parliament on Monday night to campaign for a No vote in Sunday’s referendum on whether to accept austerity measures demanded by international organizations. Following months of negotiations between the left-wing Syriza-led government and international institutions, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called an all-or-nothing referendum...
13,700 Moroccan Call Center Workers Win Union  Solidarity Center  ...Some 13,700 workers won collective bargaining rights at 11 call centers across Morocco, a major victory for the country’s union movement that culminates a three-year effort to help call center workers form a union. Elections took place between June 1 and June 10, and the results were announced late last week. The Union Marocaine du Travail (Moroccan Labor Union, UMT) also won the right to represent all the country’s workers at the national level...

State & Living Wage Battles 
Pennsylvania’s Contentious Charter School Fight  Think Progress  ...On Sunday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill allowing a state-run district, the Achievement School District, to take control of low-performing public schools. The bill would require that the lowest performing schools would make huge changes in three years by converting to charter schools or contracting out work. The bill has been controversial among some education advocates, who argue that these bills are an effort to privatize education or deprioritize spending on public schools...
Study: Repealing prevailing wage will hurt Michigan  Michigan Radio  ...One new study suggests repealing Michigan’s prevailing wage law is a bad idea. Smart Cities Prevail and the Midwest Economic Policy Institute — two groups that support union-level pay and benefits for workers on publicly-funded construction projects — say their research shows overturning the prevailing wage would have “quite profound impacts” on Michigan’s economy...
Prevailing wage remains sticking point in budget stalemate  Wisn.com   ...Nearly 60 percent of public projects in Wisconsin would not be subject to the prevailing wage law under a proposal introduced Monday by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos as the state budget stalemate enters its fifth week. What to do with the prevailing wage -- a law that sets minimum salaries for construction workers on a variety of public projects -- is one of several large issues that Republicans who control both the Senate and Assembly have not been able to agree on...
House speaker: Minimum wage hike 'unlikely' to pass this session  Oregon Live  ...House Speaker Tina Kotek said Monday it's "unlikely" that her proposal to raise Oregon's minimum wage to $13 an hour has enough support to pass before the end of session, all but confirming the Legislature won't vote on the issue until at least next year...
Puerto Rico Unemployment at 12.6%, Poverty at 41%  24/7  ...At the depth of the recession, unemployment reached 10.1% in the United States. Today, its sits at 5.5%, and job additions have surged at an average rate of over 250,000 a month. Puerto Rico has an unemployment rate of 12.6%, another sign of how poorly off the territory’s economy is. Puerto Rico’s civilian labor force is small, only 1.42 million, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, about the same as Nevada’s...
Meet One Of The First Home Care Workers In The Country To Win A $15 Minimum Wage  Think Progress  ...Kindalay Cummings-Akers has been working as a personal care attendant, caring for the elderly and disabled in their homes, for nearly a decade. But she will soon be making $15 an hour for the first time ever after she and her union, 1199SEIU, reached an agreement with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) at the end of last week. Home care workers have long been poorly paid, thanks in part to the fact that they are excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements.
Victory for Democracy as Court Sides with Voters over 'Self-Dealing Legislators'  Common Dreams  ...In a decision hailed as a "major victory for voters," the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld an Arizona ballot initiative, adopted by voters in 2000, which took redistricting power away from elected politicians and gave it to a nonpartisan commission. The 5-4 decision, which saw Justice Anthony Kennedy serving as the swing vote, allows redistricting commissions to remain in place across the country and in turn works to curb the practice known as gerrymandering...
Citizenship proof for federal voter registration form rejected  Tucson.com  ...Arizona cannot require people to produce proof of citizenship before they register to vote, at least not for federal elections, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday. The justices upheld a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that said neither Arizona nor Kansas can demand the federal Election Assistance Commission add a proof-of-citizenship requirement to the federal registration form the panel designed...
Fast-Food Restaurants Should Raise Minimum Wage, New York Panel Says  New York Times  ...The minimum wage for fast-food workers in New York should be raised substantially, maybe even to $15 an hour, a state panel appointed to study the issue said on Monday. The three-man panel, known as a wage board, agreed that fast-food restaurants that are parts of national chains should be required to pay more than the state’s minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. But the panel said it was not ready to make a full recommendation...

U.S. Labor
President Obama overtime rule could raise wages for 5 million   Politico  ...President Barack Obama will this week release a long-awaited overtime rule aimed at raising wages for 5 million people as soon as 2016, according to sources familiar with the plans. The proposed rule will more than double the salary level under which virtually all workers qualify for overtime pay whenever they work more than 40 hours in any given week. That threshold, now $23,660, will rise to $50,440...
Thousands of Santa Clara County Union Workers Set to Strike  NBC  ...Santa Clara County's largest union is on the verge of a strike. The union includes 911 dispatchers, public health nurses and many others. The union voted to strike if they can't reach a contract agreement with the county by Tuesday. The union has complained of unfair labor practices and worker shortages. The county says it's taking those concerns seriously and is close to making a deal...
Boston Airport Workers Strike, Join Growing Campaign to Unionize Subcontracted Airport Employees  In These Times  ...On the morning of June 17, a large group of non-union airport employees went on strike at Boston’s Logan Airport, with about 100 of them picketing outside the facility. The contracted workers belong to G2 Secure Staff and ReadyJet Flight Support; workers accuse both companies of engaging in unsafe labor practices and say they are seeking a fairer work environment and a union...
FairPoint workers seek more time to consider severance deal before layoffs  Portland Herald Press  ...FairPoint Communications workers in Maine have until Tuesday night to accept a voluntary severance deal before up to 80 employees are laid off in order of reverse seniority. But union leader Peter McLaughlin said that many employees had not received their severance offers as of Monday afternoon. McLaughlin, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 2327 in Augusta, said the union is asking North Carolina-based FairPoint to push back its 11:59 p.m. Tuesday deadline...
Largest federal workers union sues OPM over breach  The Hill  ...The country’s largest federal workers union has filed a class action lawsuit against the government agency at the center of the recent hack that exposed millions of people’s sensitive information. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) on Monday became the first to sue the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the wake of the massive data breach that has shaken the government...
Justices Take up Dispute Over Union Fees  ABC News  ...The Supreme Court will consider limiting the power of government employee unions to collect fees from non-members in a case that labor officials say could threaten membership and further weaken union clout. The justices said Tuesday they will hear an appeal from a group of California teachers who say it violates their First Amendment rights to have to pay any fees if they disagree with a union's positions and don't want to join it...

Miscellaneous
Americans Are Ready to Fight Powerful Interests  New York Times  ...Not long ago same-sex marriage was abhorrent to a majority of Americans, but now, according to polls, most approve of it. Meanwhile, the Confederate flag is being removed from public buildings and grounds. And even conservatives now agree fewer people should be imprisoned. But economic inclusiveness is proving more elusive. Yet Americans may be signaling they're ready for such a fight. Witness the current battle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the elections of Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio...
President Obama’s immigration actions face skeptical judges  Politico  ...Two judges who dealt a significant blow to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration last month will again play key roles in deciding whether the controversial programs are legally sound. Fifth Circuit Court Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Jerry Smith, both Republican appointees, in May ruled against the Obama administration’s request to proceed with the executive actions — which would protect more than 4 million immigrants here illegally from being deported...
Renting: Awful for Just About Everyone Right Now  The Atlantic  ...A recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard, puts some numbers on just how bad this problem is: About half of all renters in the U.S. are using more than 30 percent of their income to cover housing costs, and about 25 percent have rent that exceeds 50 percent of their monthly pay. It’s not just the poorest city-dwellers who are feeling the rent pressure...
Robert Reich: Economic Apartheid in America  Alternet  ...In a 5-4 ruling, the Court found that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 requires plaintiffs to show only that the effect of a policy is discriminatory, not that defendants intended to discriminate. The decision is important in the fight against economic apartheid in America – racial segregation on a much larger geographic scale than ever before...
Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi are on the wrong side of history and they want us to know it  Daily Kos  ...As if determined that the South should retain its poor reputation on civil rights for another generation or two, the attorneys general of three states are saying "not so fast, Supreme Court" when it comes to marriage equality. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton has told county clerks that they can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and judges and justices of the peace that they can refuse to marry them...
"This Flag Comes Down Today": Bree Newsome Scales SC Capitol Flagpole, Removing Confederate Flag  Democracy Now  ...On Saturday, Bree Newsome, a 30-year-old African-American woman, was arrested at the state Capitol after scaling the 30-foot flagpole and unhooking the Confederate flag. As police officers shouted at her to come down, Bree Newsome shimmied to the top, took the flag in her hand and said, "You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today!"...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Housing costs are too damn high!

Homeownership, once considered the cornerstone of the American Dream, continues to slip away from more and more U.S. workers, a new report by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) states. But the document also states that rent costs are straining the middle class as well.


The "State of the Nation's Housing 2015" paper detailed that the nation's housing recovery slipped last year as homeownership rates continued to fall. Meanwhile, rental markets continue to grow, but soaring rents combined with flat incomes means more and more households are paying too much for the roof over their heads.

Chris Herbert, JCHS's managing director, said:
Perhaps the most telling indicator of the state of the nation's housing is the drop in the homeownership rate to just 64.5 percent last year. This erases nearly all of the increase from the previous two decades. In fact, the number of homeowners fell for the eighth straight year, and the trend does not appear to be abating.
That, in turn, has caused a surge in rental demand. As a result, the national vacancy rate fell to its lowest point in nearly 20 years and rents rose 3.2 percent last year. Households headed by those aged 45-64 led the renter growth "movement."

Not surprisingly, the surge in rents has created an increase in the number of cost-burdened households -- those paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. According to the latest numbers, nearly half of all renters now fall into that category.

This is what income inequality has done to this country. Working families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. And increasingly, lower rent options are being torn down, replaced with high-rent alternatives that leave few places for low-income families to go.

A Slate article explains:
Rents are rising for the simple reason that, thanks to the never-ending hangover of the housing bust, a larger share of Americans are renting their living places now than they have in 20 years. And while developers have responded by building apartment buildings like mad—last year, there were the most multifamily housing starts for rent since 1987—it hasn't quite been enough to keep up with demand. (Moreover, new construction is largely catering to wealthier buyers, while the families most burdened by rent tend to be lower-income.)
Workers should be able to live a life of dignity. That means being able to have a place to call their own. But due to corporate greed, salaries aren't keep up. It's time for lawmakers to push for sustainable wages so hardworking Americans can afford the basics of life.