Friday, May 22, 2015

Our No. 1 Letterman moment! (video)

Long-time CBS "Late Show" host David Letterman called it quits earlier this week, ending a more than three-decade run as arguably America's greatest late night TV talker who kept many laughing with his snark and humor.

But perhaps his greatest achievement (and admittedly, we may be a bit biased here) came less two years ago, when he invited members of Local 817 to appear on the Aug. 27, 2013 episode to contribute to that night's "Top Ten" list: Top 10 Things Never Said Before By A Teamster.

Here's the clip from that very funny episode. And thanks, Dave, for the many years of chuckles. Enjoy your well-earned retirement!

Today's Teamster News 05.22.15

Teamsters
Hoffa Statement on Senate Fast Track Cloture Vote  Teamster.org  ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in response to the Senate’s decision to invoke cloture and cut off debate on the fast track trade bill currently being considered by the chamber: “For years, the Teamsters and our fair trade allies have stood up for workers and all Americans by fighting to stop fast track. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers in the Senate today decided to side with the big business agenda instead"...
Teamsters organize strike at SLS Hotel and Casino  8 News Now  ...Teamsters Local 986 say they have launched a strike against SLS Hotel and Casino Wednesday. The labor union group said they launched the strike because SLS management is preventing its valet parking attendants from exercising their right to form a union. The group also said management fired three workers for supporting the union organizing campaign...
From delivery to discovery UPS driver reconnects child with family  Valley News Live  ...While making his daily rounds a UPS driver found a 5-year-old girl sitting alone outside her daycare. We spoke to this delivery man who stopped everything he was doing to get this girl to safety. Skala told us the young girl's father dropped her off at daycare earlier in the day, unaware the daycare was closed for the day...

Global Labor & Trade
This Time, Senate Votes to Advance Trade Pact  New York Times  ...A flurry of last-minute deal-making on the Senate floor Thursday rescued President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda from defeat, advancing legislation that would empower the president to complete a sweeping, 12-nation Pacific trade accord. The bill, the first to grant a president trade promotion authority since 2002, still must weather a bunch of amendment votes on Friday...
Trans-Pacific Partnership won't improve workers' rights in Asia, critics warn  The Guardian   ...Congressional Democrats and labor unions have in recent days vigorously attacked one of President Obama’s main arguments for the proposed Pacific trade deal – that it will increase worker protections in Vietnam and several other Asian countries. These critics question Obama’s assertion that the pact will get Vietnam to grant real freedom of association to labor unions, despite a pattern of repression by the country’s communist government...
Obama thanks Senate for advancing trade bill  The Hill  ...The vote was close, and the result was only apparent after Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) was assured that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would allow a vote next month on renewing the charter of the Export-Import Bank. The White House has made an aggressive lobbying effort to convince Democrats in Congress to back his trade agenda...
Obama’s trade bill narrowly clears a key Senate hurdle  Washington Post  ...In a triumph for President Barack Obama, sweeping legislation to strengthen the administration’s hand in global trade talks advanced toward Senate passage Thursday after a showdown vote that remained in doubt until the final moment. The 62-38 vote, two more than the 60 needed, came from a solid phalanx of Republicans and more than a dozen Democrats...
Farm Groups Are Failing in the Free-Trade Fight  National Journal  ...The Senate vote last week on proceeding with debate on Trade Promotion Authority demonstrated the limited power that agriculture groups now have with Democrats in Congress. The National Farmers Union is the only major farm group in opposition. The Democratic-leaning NFU acknowledges that trade is good for the family farmers it represents but says it will lead to an increase in the trade deficit and not deal with currency manipulation...
Growing Global Inequality Gap 'Has Reached a Tipping Point'  Common Dreams  ...With the gap between the rich and poor growing worldwide, a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published Thursday suggests that the only way to reverse such rampant inequality is by implementing government measures aimed at balancing the playing field. Chief among those measures: Tax the rich and push for gender equality...
Two Years After Rana Plaza, Are Bangladesh’s Workers Still at Risk?  The Nation   ...Two years ago, on April 24, 2013, the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza in Dhaka killed 1,100 workers in the world’s worst garment-factory disaster. Now the difficult phase of fixing the problems is under way. Who will ensure that garment factories are safe after international pacts expire and media scrutiny and consumer outrage fades? To make safety truly sustainable, the workers themselves must have a voice...

State & Living Wage Battles
Petition drive for prevailing wage repeal legislation could bypass Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder  MLive  ...A group fighting to repeal Michigan's prevailing wage law is looking to launch a petition drive for citizen-initiated legislation, a move that could allow it to bypass Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. Protecting Michigan Taxpayers, a ballot committee last active in the 2012 election cycle, announced Thursday it has filed proposed language with the Michigan Secretary of State...
Missouri secretary of state candidate files voter ID measure  Associated Press  ...A Republican candidate for Missouri secretary of state on Thursday filed an initiative petition that would allow the Legislature to require voters to present photo identification at the polls. St. Louis attorney Jay Ashcroft filed the proposed constitutional amendment with the secretary of state's office to permit a photo ID requirement...
Fast Food Workers Take Their Fight to McDonald’s Shareholders Meeting  In These Times  ...The men and women who, in the words of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, “grind out” the burgers and fries that have made the company with the familiar golden arches the second largest private employer in the world dramatically displayed their discontent on Wednesday, returning again early Thursday as shareholders arrived in suburban Chicago for the company’s annual meeting. Over the last two years, the focus of their “Fight for $15 and a union” movement has stayed constant...
'We Will Win': McDonald's Worker Protests Stretch Into Second Day  Common Dreams  ...Less than 24 hours after 5,000 workers marched on McDonald's corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois, the fast food giant's cooks and cashiers returned on Thursday morning to bring their call for $15 an hour and union rights directly to the company's shareholders at their annual meeting. Chanting "We believe that we will win" and "We want change and we don't mean pennies," an estimated 3,000 workers gathered for the second day of protests...
A Fascinating Minimum-Wage Experiment Is About to Unfold  The New Yorker  ...This week’s decision by the Los Angeles City Council to raise the local minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour by 2020 is part of an intriguing development in urban politics and social policy. Reacting to grassroots campaigns carried out by labor unions and other progressive groups, some of the biggest cities in America are now defying several decades of economic orthodoxy, as well as challenging a set of social norms that regarded low-wage jobs as unavoidable and acceptable...

U.S. Labor
UAW gearing up for 24th Ride for Freedom  Southwest Times  ...Hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts, veterans and citizens will gather Saturday at the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2069 Union to take part in the Veterans Ride for Freedom Memorial Ceremony and Run to the Wall. This is the 24th year the UAW has sponsored the event, designed to honor veterans, prisoners of war and those still missing in action...
USW Stands for Order in Chaos Created by Century Aluminum  PR Newswire  ...The United Steelworkers (USW) today disputed allegations of picket line misconduct made by Century Aluminum, which locked out the 565 members of Local 9423 from their jobs at the company's Hawesville, Ky. smelter on May 12, 2015. The union further repeated its call for Century to end the lockout and reinstate the USW workforce to their rightful jobs while negotiations for a new labor agreement proceed...
AFSCME 3299 & CLF Call on UC to Support Equal Pay for its Subcontractors  IndyBay  ...As State and Federal lawmakers struggle to address the growing problems of poverty and income inequality, AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger, California Labor Federation Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski and others today publicly called upon UC President Janet Napolitano to support SB 376 (Lara)—a measure that would guarantee that the employees of private firms providing contract services to the University are paid commensurate wages as career UC employees performing the same jobs...
NLRB Reiterates Its Position That Undocumented Workers Are Entitled to “Conditional Reinstatement” in Unfair Labor Practice Cases  National Law Review   ...The National Labor Relations Board continues to focus on issues concerning the rights of undocumented workers whose rights under the National Labor Relations Act are interfered with for engaging in union activity and other forms of protected, concerted activity covered by the Act...

Miscellaneous
Megabanks Fined $2 Billion For Criminal Activity, Will Be Able To Continue Business As Usual  Think Progress  ...Despite a slate of criminal fines with eye-popping dollar figures announced on Wednesday, five banks that conspired to rig foreign currency exchange rates in recent years face only minor real-world consequences that are more a cost of doing business than a significant punishment for breaking the law...
In Guatemala, Indigenous Woman Sues Multinational Company for Husband's Murder  Truthout ...Choc's husband of 30 years, Adolfo Ich Chamán, was a respected community leader, schoolteacher and outspoken critic of the violation of human rights by mining activities in Guatemala. But on September 27, 2009, Chamán was shot and hacked to death by private security forces of Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), the Guatemalan subsidiary of the Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The fast track fight continues!

The Senate earlier today voted to limit debate of fast track legislation and to proceed to a final vote as early as tomorrow. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said the decision hurts workers, but is not the end of the story on this issue:
For years, the Teamsters and our fair trade allies have stood up for workers and all Americans by fighting to stop fast track. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers in the Senate today decided to side with the big business agenda instead. 
Despite this legislative setback, however, the war is far from over. We will continue this battle in the House of Representatives, where we know opposition to fast track is strong. A bipartisan collection of lawmakers in the House understand it makes no sense to give a quick up-or-down vote to bad trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will only ship jobs overseas and lower wages in the U.S. 
Fast track is a vehicle that will speed a race to the bottom for our nation’s economy. It will allow currency manipulation to flourish under the TPP and could leave U.S. taxpayers on the hook to cover the costs of foreign corporations who sue our government seeking compensation for laws they don’t like. 
The future of America and for hardworking Americans isn’t better with fast track. And that should be the most important consideration.
As the Senate moves forward with debating fast track, it is scheduled to discuss currency manipulation and corporations filing suit against governments, known as investor-state dispute resolution. There is no reason lawmakers should be jeopardizing this nation's economic health by opposing both measures!

But regardless of the final outcome in the Senate, the Teamsters and their fair trade allies are not giving up. As Congress heads home for Memorial Day, the Teamsters will continue with efforts to educate Democrats and Republicans in the House about how fast track is the wrong track for America. And they will meet with members in their district offices and let them know they are jeopardizing the livelihoods of their constituents if they approve this measure.

This is not about being against trade. It is about sticking up for what America is supposed to stand for – a place where an honest worker can earn an honest wage that supports a family. Lawmakers shouldn’t be turning their back on those they are supposed to represent!

Today's Teamster News 05.21.15

Teamsters
First Transit Drivers at Disney Choose Teamsters Union  Teamster.org  ...First Transit drivers who transport tourists and employees to and from Disneyland amusement parks in Anaheim, Calif., have voted to join Teamsters Local 952 in Orange, Calif., seeking respect, fair wages and better working conditions at the company. There are 127 workers in the bargaining unit...
Teamsters Local 986 Launches Strike at SLS Hotel and Casino  Teamster.org   ...Today, Teamsters Local 986 launched an unfair labor practice strike against the SLS Hotel and Casino for multiple violations aimed at preventing its valet parking attendants from exercising their federally protected right to form a union. Management has committed several unfair labor practices, including interrogation of workers who support the union, threatening to outsource their jobs, threatening to reduce their pay and benefits and other violations...
LA County Board of Supervisors Approves Motion Offering Assistance to Port Truck Drivers Filing Claims for Wage Theft  Long Beach Post  ...The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Tuesday to create a plan to implement five areas of action from the County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Department (DCBA) that help employees, including Long Beach port truck drivers, filing claims for wage theft...

Global Labor & Trade
Human Trafficking Still Plagues Obama's Trade Ambitions  Huff Post  ...Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Tuesday threatened to do "everything possible to have a floor fight" if President Barack Obama undercuts pending trade legislation to combat human trafficking. "Human trafficking -- modern-day slavery -- is one of the great moral challenges of our time," Menendez said during a conference call with reporters...
John Kerry visits Boeing, defends controversial trade deal  Seattle Times  ...With Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton as a backdrop, Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended a Pacific Rim trade deal negotiated by the Obama administration against criticism from unions and prominent congressional Democrats. Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, said Kerry and other TPP backers are misleading the public when they suggest the choice is between a secretly negotiated trade pact and no trade at all...
McConnell blames Dems for bottleneck on trade  The Hill  ...Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday placed the blame squarely on Democrats for the stalemate over amendments to a key trade bill. The Kentucky Republican said while he is continuing to try to allow for additional amendments to the fast-track legislation, Democrats are standing in the way...
Hundreds of Tech Companies to Congress: TPP and Fast Track Harms Digital Innovation and Users’ Rights  EFF.org   ...In a joint letter to Congress released today, more than 250 technology companies and user rights organizations say that the extreme level of secrecy surrounding trade negotiations have led to provisions in agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that threaten digital innovation, free speech, and access to knowledge online, and the letter calls on Congress to come out against the Fast Track...
The Trans Pacific Partnership is bad for seniors  (opinion) AZ Central  ...Pending House legislation would take $700 million from Medicare to pay for trade adjustment assistance, so it is not hard to connect the dots: Medicare would be cut in order to pay for the adverse conditions that workers face as a result of trade promotion authority. Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank every time the government needs funding for other purposes...
A trade deal at what cost?  (opinion) Washington Post  ...Perhaps those who’ve experienced such free-trade consequences as factory closings and lower-paying jobs are thinking about two entirely different sides — capital and labor. Trade promoters cite David Ricardo’s 200-year-old assessments of trade’s benefits to nations, but skeptics can mine a rich vein of mainstream economics that demonstrates how trade deals can, and frequently do, benefit major investors at workers’ expense...
Desperately seeking a new model for trade  (opinion) Aljazeera America  ...Will our trade policy help us fulfill our collective obligation to our kids? Will they have clean air to breathe and water to drink? Will they have access to quality education and health care? Will we keep our promise to them that if they work hard and play by the rules, they can build decent lives for themselves? The Hatch-Wyden-Ryan bill would set us on the wrong path on all those fronts and must be opposed. We need a new model for trade that doesn’t prioritize corporate profits over the health of our communities, the economic security of everyday Americans and the future of our kids...
After Striking and Occupying Their Factory, Chinese Bike Light Workers Face Firings and Arrests  In These Times  ...Workers who make bike lights at a factory in Shenzhen, China, have been on strike since April 30, demanding that the company pay up what it legally owes them. The strikers stayed overnight in the factory, stopping production and delivery for two weeks, until police came to evict them and arrest worker leaders on May 13...

State & Living Wage Battles
Ahead of Big Budget, “Right-to-Work” Votes, IL Gov Rauner Is Literally Paying Politicians Off  We Party Patriots  ...Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is once again making waves before making a difference, doling out $400,000 from his campaign fund to the state’s Republican lawmakers in advance of several key votes. Major budget and “turnaround agenda” decision are looming for the legislature. The unorthodox move shows that the multi-millionaire’s promise to “shake up Springfield” more closely resembles an attempt to shake down Illinois...
Arizona Will Boot Thousands From Welfare To Address $1 Billion Budget Hole  Think Progress  ...Arizona’s legislature has decided to try to plug a $1 billion budget deficit in part by kicking people off of welfare after just 12 months, the strictest time limit in the country. The change will mean that at least 1,600 families, including more than 2,700 children, will lose the benefit on July 1, 2016 and save the state at least $4 million...
Fitzgerald says prevailing wage repeal is unlikely but reform could come in budget  Star Tribune  ...Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday that he doesn't have the votes to repeal the state's prevailing wage law, but he hopes to reform the statutes through the state budget. The Juneau Republican told WTMJ-Radio that his caucus is "fractured" on the issue, with some saying a full repeal would disrupt the construction industry...
Nevada Republicans Say They Want More Latinos Voting. They’re Also Pushing Restrictive Voter ID.  Think Progress   ...Nevada will play a crucial role in the presidential primary next year, as the fourth state to nominate a candidate and the first heavily Latino state to vote. In an effort to win support of the growing minority, Republican lawmakers in the state are trying something new — expanding voting rights for minorities instead of restricting them. At the same time that they’re looking at making the election more inclusive, the GOP-controlled legislature is also trying to require voters to show identification at the polls...
Walmart’s Absurd Anti-Union Training Video Just Got Leaked  In These Times  ...On April 13, Walmart suddenly shut down five stores—two in Texas, one in California, one in Florida and one in Oklahoma—leaving 2,200 workers shocked and unemployed. According to Los Angeles Times reporter Michael Hiltzik, employees were told that the stores have “ongoing plumbing issues that require extensive repairs.” A recently leaked Walmart training video lends credence to the suspicion that plumbing was not the real issue...
McDonald's can't ignore worker protests before shareholder meeting  Daily Kos  ...McDonald's workers are once again rallying ahead of the company's shareholder meeting, boosting their call for $15 an hour pay and the right to join a union. There was no ignoring the protest Wednesday:
"McDonald's shut down a restaurant near its headquarters Wednesday after the area was swamped by hundreds of protesters"...
McDonald's workers descend on headquarters to protest 'poverty wages'  The Guardian  ...Thousands of McDonald’s employees and union activists descended on the company’s headquarters near Chicago on Thursday to hold the biggest ever protest against “poverty wages” paid to most of its 400,000 employees, as the company’s board gathered for its annual shareholder meeting. About 5,000 McDonald’s employees from across the US chanted: “We work, we sweat, put $15 in our cheque” as they marched towards the burger giant’s headquarters...

U.S. Labor
UAW is best route to works council, union leader says  Nooga.com  ...The United Auto Workers released documents they say shows consensus among Volkswagen leaders that the best route to establishing a works council in Chattanooga is through their union. "It's well-established by Volkswagen's leadership at the Chattanooga plant and in Germany that a works council can only be realized in partnership with a union"...
Members of GTFF, UA, SEIU and SLAP hold unity rally outside Johnson Hall  Daily Emerald  ...Around 59 students, classified staff and faculty gathered in front of Johnson Hall from the Service Employees International Union, Graduate Teaching Fellowship Federation, United Academics and Student Action Labor Project participated in a rally to celebrate a year’s work of labor between the groups, and to look forward to the bargaining process to continue over the summer concerning raising the contracts of the SEIU and the UA...
Century Aluminum hiring temporary replacement workers for smelter: USW  Platts.com   ...Century Aluminum has bused in dozens of temporary replacement workers to its 244,000 mt/year Hawesville smelter in western Kentucky as a week-old lockout continued Wednesday with no end in sight, a spokesman for Local 9423 of the United Steelworkers union said...

Miscellaneous
World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)  Democracy Now  ...Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the $5 trillion FX spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. No individual bank employees were hit with criminal charges as part of the settlements...
How Defunding Derails Our Infrastructure  The Nation  ...It’s not just safety that’s being underfunded, and not just on rail lines. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of D+ in 2013 and outlined the need for massive investment to bring things up to speed. Congress must recognize what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, a Republican, recently noted: While US spending on infrastructure has collapsed to 1.7 percent of GDP, “the rest of the world races ahead"...
Robert Reich: It’s time to bust up the big banks  Salon   ..Antitrust law should be used the way it was against the big oil trusts and the telephone monopoly. The idea was to prevent too much economic and political power from concentrating in too few hands. And that’s precisely the problem with Wall Street. The only sure way to stop excessive risk-taking on Wall Street so you don’t risk losing your job or your savings or your home, is to put an end to the excessive economic and political power of Wall Street.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

America needs a long-term infrastructure solution

Congress has a work completion problem. The latest example came yesterday when the House approved a two-month extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which makes dollars available for transportation projects and maintenance. And the Senate is likely to follow suit by the end of the week.

More road construction would put Americans to work.
Stymied by gridlock, Capitol Hill lawmakers are ignoring the huge problems of U.S. infrastructure investment. Trillions are needed to improve roads, bridges, rail, mass transit, airports and ports in this country, but elected officials continually punt on the problem. Time is running short, however, as the Teamsters and others have repeatedly said.

The White House, frustrated by inaction, used yesterday's House action to call Congress on the mat. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx noted in a blog that Tuesday's vote was the 33rd short-term funding measure in the last six years. He said the nation is suffering because of it:
On the surface, funding transportation drop-by-drop might not seem like such a big problem. But it is, and the facts are unassailable. This era of short-term patches and chronic federal underinvestment has crippled America’s ability to build the transportation system we need.
Both parties admit there has been a policy failure. But as an article in The Atlantic points out, the problem comes down to how to pay for such investment going forward:
The most popular alternative at the moment is to use revenue generated by taxing repatriated earnings that U.S. companies now keep overseas. But there is disagreement over the details of that proposal, and Republicans believe it would only work if included in a broader tax-reform plan—an even heavier political lift. In fact, the reason Congress is reauthorizing the Highway Trust Fund for just two months is because lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to fund it for the remainder of the year, let alone for the rest of the decade. It has enough money to last through July, and Republicans are reluctant to simply transfer more money from the Treasury’s general fund, as they have done in the past. As a result, Congress probably will have to pass yet another extension this summer, which would be the third in the last year. A highway bill lasting for more than two years hasn’t passed on Capitol Hill in a decade. 
The stopgap funding is bad, advocates say, because the biggest infrastructure projects can takes years of planning, and states won’t start them without knowing how much money they’ll get from the federal government. Industry officials estimate that $2 billion in projects have already been pulled back so far this year because of the inaction in Washington. 
All of this is frankly unacceptable. Now should be the time to build, repair and maintain America! But many on Capitol Hill seems more than happy to ignore our infrastructure woes. That decision not only hurts those who commute to work and earn a living on the road, it also prevents putting people to work earning good middle-class wages in transportation construction.

Lawmakers must do a better job here. They were elected to get things done, but instead offer only platitudes on why they're not. Investing in infrastructure would help businesses and workers alike, and would boost the economy.

Come on, Congress! Let's get America working!

Today's Teamster News 05.20.15

Teamsters
L.A. Board of Supervisors Taking Closer Look at Port Drivers' Plight  Eagle Rock Patch  ...The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted May 20 to take a closer look at allegations of “wage theft” by truck drivers serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. A representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said drivers were frequently issued “negative paychecks” because companies illegally charge for fuel, truck leases, repairs and insurance, calling the drayage companies “sweatshops on wheels”...
De Blasio Cuts Contract Deal With NYCHA Teamsters Union for Raises, Cost Cuts  New York Observer  ...Mr. de Blasio and Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237, announced a preliminary deal—pending a union vote—that would grant 5,500 workers their first new contract since 2008 and 10 percent in retroactive and prospective raise over the next seven and a half years...

Global Labor & Trade
Rising skepticism among Democrats about Obama’s big trade deal  Washington Post  ...After meeting with Froman, Levin says he is not reassured. While Members of Congress have had access to much of the TPP, Levin says they have not yet been shown the portions fortifying labor standards. Levin’s primary concern is whether they will meaningfully hew to International Labor Standards on freedom of association, collective bargaining, protections against child labor, and other safeguards for workers, particularly when it comes to Vietnam and Mexico, a concern that is now being raised by Elizabeth Warren...
U.S. lawmakers compromise on 'poison-pill' Pacific trade rules  Reuters  ...U.S. lawmakers reached a compromise on Tuesday on rules that threatened to derail a proposed Pacific trade partnership by agreeing to soften tough provisions against human trafficking. An amendment to legislation allowing trade deals a rapid run through Congress had been dubbed a "poison pill" for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership...
McConnell moves to end debate on trade bill  The Hill  ...Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved to end debate on "fast-track" trade legislation, after Democrats objected to allowing additional amendment votes. McConnell said he hopes Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) will continue to try to find a way forward on amendments to the legislation, after talks appeared to hit a hurdle Tuesday...
Clinton finds problems with Obama TPP trade proposal  CNN  ...Hillary Clinton took aim Tuesday at two core components of a massive free trade pact that President Barack Obama is negotiating — signaling some agreement with the deal's liberal critics. The Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race said she wants to see rules included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would penalize countries for driving down the value of their currencies...
Broad Coalition Rallies to Defeat Obama on Trade Deal  Bloomberg  ...Unions remain a backbone of the opposition to the TPP. The United Steelworkers and United Auto Workers unions are among those who've organized plant demonstrations, and the UAW is mobilizing retired auto workers. The AFL-CIO has been leafletting, including in the states and districts of lawmakers like those of Senator Ron Wyden, the chief Democratic negotiator on trade...
Barack Obama’s shocking TPP paradox: Why the gargantuan trade deal undermines everything he says he cares about  (opinion) Salon  ...After four decades of intense globalization, the results are in: America used to make things, often in unionized and well-paid sectors, but cheap labor abroad — accessed by corporations when free trade agreements hammer down tariff barriers — have steered the U.S. toward a low-wage, non-unionized service economy. And yet the president, so readily vocal about the phenomenon, has made advocacy for a trade deal that challenges American jobs with dirt-cheap labor in Vietnam, Indonesia, and elsewhere his job lately...
Why Fast Track Is a Dangerous Gift to Corporate Lobbies  (opinion) Huff Post  ...including Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the two draft treaties. ISDS is a dangerous policy that undermines the case for TPP and TTIP. The ISDS framework is an unjustified grant of exceptional power to multinational companies above and beyond the legal system in which the companies operate...
ILO: Precarious Work Rises, Incomes Fall around the World  Solidarity Center  ...More than 60 percent of workers worldwide, predominantly women, are in temporary, part-time or short-term jobs in which wages are falling, a growing trend that is fueling global income inequality and poverty, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released today. Although the incomes of permanent workers are relatively stable, the percentage of such workers is declining globally...
Ford halts production in Turkey due to Renault, Fiat labor strikes  BGN News  ...Laborers have been on strike in Fiat and Renault factories in Bursa province since last week over employment conditions. Protests began on late Thursday at Turkey's largest car factory, run by Oyak Renault, a joint venture between the French automaker and the Turkish army pension fund Oyak, in the northwest city of Bursa...
France teachers strike over government reforms  BBC   ...Teachers across France are going on strike against government reforms to the education system. Trade unions representing 80% of teachers at French middle schools are leading the action against the plans...

State & Living Wage Battles
Will Mo. Lawmakers Attempt Right to Work Override?  Ozarks First  ...Gov. Jay Nixon has vowed to veto Right to Work legislation, telling KOLR 10 he thinks it's an "attack" on working people, while backers in the legislature are finding out whether enough support exists to override the governor's impending decision. About 25 other states have Right to Work laws. The issue has been talked about in Missouri for decades, but this legislative session was the first to put it on the governor's desk...
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has 'serious problems' with prevailing wage repeal bills  MLive ...Republican Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he has "serious problems" with prevailing wage repeal bills approved last week by the GOP-led Michigan Senate. Michigan law currently requires contractors to provide union wages and benefits on government-funded construction projects...
Thousands of Fast Food Workers to Protest McDonald’s Shareholder Meeting Today  In These Times  ...When McDonald’s stockholders meet on the leafy corporate campus in suburban Chicago today and tomorrow, thousands of protestors will be ready to greet them, according to organizers of the fast-growing Fight for $15 movement. Last year, in the first such confrontation, a few hundred people marched on and then blocked roads leading on to the company property before police arrested them...
Los Angeles Becomes The Largest City With a $15 Minimum Wage  Think Progress  ...On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draft legislation that would set the city’s minimum wage at $15 per hour by 2020 for businesses with more than 25 employees and by 2021 for smaller ones.
The council voted in favor of the move 14 to 1. The legislation will set the wage to $10.50 an hour for large businesses next year before gradually rising to $15...
McDonald's employees are swarming headquarters to protest low wages during the company's annual meeting   Business Insider  ...Thousands of McDonald's workers seeking a minimum wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize are expected to swarm the fast-food giant's headquarters for two days of protests that will coincide with the fast-food chain's annual meeting on Thursday. Protests by low-wage fast-food and retail workers have helped fuel a national debate about pay levels...

U.S. Labor
Marathon Galveston Bay refinery workers vote to continue strike  Reuters  ...Hourly workers at Marathon Petroleum Corp's Galveston Bay, Texas, refinery voted on Monday to continue a strike, rejecting a contract proposal developed by a federal mediator aimed at ending a stoppage that has lasted three-and-a-half months. Officials of United Steelworkers union Local 13-1, which represents the strikers, said nearly 900 striking workers had voted and the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected...
Bid to unionize Detroit charter school system in limbo  Detroit News   ...An effort to unionize a local charter school system remained unresolved Friday with no official results from an election held a day earlier. "While there were 19 more no votes from those who did not want the union, Detroit 90/90 challenged the voting rights of Teachers for America teachers and long-term substitutes, claiming the teachers they hired to stand in front of students are not actually professionals," said Nate Walker, K-12 organizer and policy analyst with AFT Michigan...
NLRB blocks union election at Stetson Charter School  Philly.com   ...The National Labor Relations Board yesterday blocked a union vote set for later this week at John B. Stetson Charter School after the union behind the organizing efforts filed an unfair-labor-practice charge. The Alliance of Charter School Employees union claims that Stetson, which is managed by charter operator ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania, has violated federal law...
County OKs AFSCME Contract; Salary Hikes Average 2.3%  Cape May County Herald  ...Cape May County government’s 686 members of local 3596 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have a new contract that will remain through Dec. 31, 2018. The former contract expired July 1, 2013. Negotiations had been ongoing since that time. The contract was unanimously approved by freeholders May 12 without comment...
Farm-labor case appears headed to Supreme Court  Ag Alert  ...A sweeping state appellate court decision, ruling part of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act unconstitutional, sets the stage for an eventual state Supreme Court decision on the act's mandatory mediation and conciliation provisions. the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in the case, Gerawan Farming of Fresno, that it should have been given an opportunity to prove that the United Farm Workers union had "abandoned" Gerawan employees...

Miscellaneous
Why We Should Spend Billions More On Trains  Think Progress  ...In the same way that the U.S. subsidized cars, other countries are subsidizing trains. China is currently undertaking a huge public investment in rail. And while the system has experienced problems, ridership was nearly 900 million in 2014, compared to a paltry 30 million in the U.S. And the United Kingdom, with a far smaller area and population than the U.S., spends billions more than in public money to maintain its world-class system that regularly sees 1.2 billion passengers a year...
Progressive Groups Rally Behind Sanders' Plan to Tax 1% and Fund Higher Ed  Common Dreams  ...A broad coalition of nurses, students, religious and civil rights groups, environmentalists, labor and housing advocates on Tuesday praised Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) plan to use a so-called Robin Hood tax on stock transactions to fund tuition at four-year public colleges and universities...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Magazine preview: Teamsters Professor Eric Arnesen

Teamsters Professor Eric Arnesen
In February, history professor Eric Arnesen officially became the first James R. Hoffa Teamsters Professor in Modern American Labor History at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The introduction of a Teamsters Professor was a new experience for both Arnesen and the union, but the Teamsters have worked with Arnesen in his capacity as a history professor for years.

In the April/May issue of Teamster Magazine, you were introduced to Arnesen as the new Teamsters Professor, but you may have seen his book reviews and other writings in the magazine earlier.

As far back as 2005, the union has been quoting his work, which acknowledges the importance of labor unions in American history. He has reviewed books on the PATCO strike and farm labor for the union, and written about civil rights for the website.

In the next issue of Teamster Magazine, he has another book review.

Arnesen says of “Bending Toward Justice” in the June/July issue that the book:
... illustrates the tremendous courage and suffering that brought about that transformation. But is the voting rights victory secure? Since 2010, a growing number of conservative state legislatures have passed laws making voting more difficult, ostensibly to combat the (non-existent) problem of voter fraud. With voting rights again under attack, May’s timely book reminds us of just how crucial the 1965 Act was and how important it remains today.
Look for the full review toward the end of June in the next issue of Teamster Magazine.