Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Toyota is turning its back on Teamsters

Teamster carhaulers are involved in a battle for their livelihoods with Toyota, which is trying to destroy good-paying union jobs.

Toyota, which has been making record profits recently, is trying to make greater profits off the backs of hardworking Teamsters by contracting with lower-cost, less experienced carhaulers. The Teamsters went through a similar fight five years ago, and thanks to the efforts of carhaulers across the country, the union beat back Toyota last time around. Toyota even promised the Teamsters it wouldn’t try to destroy good Teamsters jobs, but it has broken its promise while the Teamsters have kept their promises.

Kevin Moore, Teamsters International Trustee and Director of the Teamsters Carhaul Divison, said Toyota's latest actions raise more questions about the Japanese automaker:
Toyota spent years trying to regain consumer confidence after mass recalls in 2009-2011 due to sticking gas pedals and faulty floor mats. Millions more Toyotas are being recalled due to dangerous faulty airbags. Now, on top of these very public issues, Toyota is bidding out much of its automobile transport work to small, unproven operators who undercut the health care protections and retirement security of their drivers.
The Teamsters are fighting again. Members are signing petitions to pledge their support in the fight, General President Jim Hoffa has sent a letter to Toyota’s CEO demanding a meeting to discuss mutual concerns and billboards have been erected around the country calling attention to Toyota’s danger to America with its recent faulty accelerators and air bag recalls. Now Toyota is endangering the public again by moving away from the best carhaulers in America—Teamsters! More than 1,000 Teamster carhaul jobs are at stake, and more could be threatened if other manufacturers follow suit.

Get involved with the campaign by joining the Facebook page—Teamster Carhaul Workers—and look for more information soon about how to help your brothers and sisters.

Today's Teamster News 08.04.15

Teamsters
Hoffa Statement on Failure of Trade Authorities to Reach an Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership  Teamster.org  ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa in response to trade officials failing to finalize the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during negotiations in Maui that ended late Friday. "Despite years of discussions about the TPP, there continues to be many fatal flaws that are rightfully giving many nations pause on whether to sign off on this faulty trade deal"...
Teamsters take on Silicon Valley  CNBC  ...In Silicon Valley, residents are used to seeing big buses rolling through the city transporting workers for tech companies. Now, those drivers want more money. On Saturday, bus drivers for Apple, Yahoo and eBay, among others, voted to ask for a new wage and benefits package. The 160 drivers are employed by a company called Compass Transportation. Back in February, the drivers voted for representation by Teamsters Local 853...
Bus drivers for Apple, Yahoo demand $27.50 an hour  CNN  ...Five months after unionizing, 75 bus drivers voted Saturday for a proposal that would increase their wages to $27.50 and provide them with new benefits. According to Rome Aloise, international vice president at Teamsters, the pay increase is significant bump from the $17 to $21 an hour they're currently making. "We agreed to be flexible on their client needs but inflexible on changing anything that was economic," said Aloise. "I think the negotiations went great ... It seems to be a very affordable contract [for] some of the richest companies in the world"...
Local 727 Members Helped Create ‘Wild Encounters’  Local 727  ...Teamsters Local 727 members played an important role in preparing for the July 1 grand opening of the new Hamill Family Wild Encounters exhibit at Brookfield Zoo. The $11 million, 2.3-acre exhibit, which occupies the space of the former Children’s Zoo, is aimed at fostering learning through up-close and hands-on interactions with animals. "Our members really do some incredible work," said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727...

Global Labor & Trade
Election Cycles Cloud Future of Trade Talks  Wall Street Journal  ...The U.S. and 11 other Pacific nations trying to hammer out a sweeping trade agreement notched progress in high-level talks in Hawaii but now face a renewed mix of thorny issues complicated by election seasons in the U.S. and Canada. A snowballing dairy fight threatened to derail the deal last week as top ministers also grappled with an economically larger issue on how automobiles can be produced and traded...
Trans-Pacific Partnership Session Ends With Heels Dug In  New York Times  ...Tokyo was ready to extend major concessions on American truck tariffs but was blocked by Mexico, which wanted less competition for its own trucks in the United States market. Canada held firm on protecting its politically sensitive dairy market ahead of elections in October, but for New Zealand, a tiny country with huge dairy exports, that was unacceptable...
Pro-trade lawmakers push for continued effort after setback in talks  The Hill  ...Pro-trade lawmakers and the business community are urging the Obama administration to keep pushing, after negotiators failed to finalize a massive 12-nation trade pact Friday. A group meeting for negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) came to a standstill Friday, as the partner nations were unable to finalize the terms of the deal. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said “significant progress” had been made, but all parties left the Hawaii meeting empty-handed...
State Department watered down human trafficking report  Reuters  ...Human rights experts at the State Department concluded that trafficking conditions hadn’t improved in Malaysia and Cuba. And in China, they found, things had grown worse. The State Department’s senior political staff saw it differently — and they prevailed. A Reuters examination, based on interviews with more than a dozen sources in Washington and foreign capitals, shows that the government office set up to independently grade global efforts to fight human trafficking was repeatedly overruled by senior American diplomats...
Corporate Tribunals Pose Biggest Hurdle to Europe's Vote on Transatlantic Trade Pact  Truthout  ...July marked the second anniversary of negotiations between the US and European Union over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but for the millions of European citizens opposed to the trade deal it was not a month to celebrate. One of the main points of contention remains the debate about whether to include investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) in the trade pact...
Did Obama’s Trade Agenda Just Quietly Run Out of Time?  Foreign Policy  ...It was just weeks ago that the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) passed after a perilous journey through the U.S. Congress. The episode prompted numerous reminders of just what was at stake: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S. standing in the Asia-Pacific. When TPA passed, that agenda remained alive. But did it escape the jaws of Congress only to quietly miss its window?...
UK asks austerity-weary workers to suggest new budget cuts  CNN  ...Imagine your pay has been frozen for years and thousands of colleagues have been let go. Then your boss asks you for ideas on how to save even more money. That's exactly what the British government is doing to millions of workers in healthcare, education and administration. Finance minister George Osborne tweeted that he has emailed every public sector employee to "ask for their views on how we can continue to do more with less"...
First Great Western rail workers to strike over August bank holiday weekend  The Guardian  ...Rail workers with First Great Western have announced they are to stage a series of strikes – including over the August bank holiday weekend – as a long-running row rumbles on over the introduction of new trains. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, including drivers and guards, will walk out for 24 hours on 23 August and for 72 hours from 29 August, with other members who work on maintenance striking on 29 and 31 August...
Japan's "Sacred" Rice Farmers Brace for Pacific Trade Deal's Death Sentence  Truthout  ...In small wet rice fields, or suiden, across Japan, farmers don rubber boots to slosh through the fields and check their plantings. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in tropical Hawaii, negotiators are in the final stages of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that farmers fear will disrupt the rhythm of their even-metered life. Rice is one of the five sacred areas of Japanese agriculture...
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit  Counterpunch  ...It is now clear that the European authorities do not intend to let the Greek economy recover any time in the foreseeable future. The primary surpluses that the government has been forced to agree to—2, 3, and 3.5 percent of GDP for the three years of the deal, 2016 through 2018—will not allow Greece to escape its depression, which is now in its sixth year.  Even if they miss these targets, which is likely, just trying to do what they have committed to will keep the economy from recovering...

State & Living Wage Battles
California minimum wage initiative cleared for signatures  KPCC  ...A union-backed proposal to raise California's minimum wage to $15 an hour was cleared Monday to begin collecting signatures for a ballot initiative next year as local efforts continue nationwide to boost the minimum wage to better reflect the cost of living. The proposal by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West would increase California's minimum wage by $1 an hour annually until it reaches $15...
NC House proposes spending $4.1B to improve infrastructure  WRAL  ...House leaders have raised the ante on both their Senate counterparts and Gov. Pat McCrory, proposing a $4.155 billion program aimed at rebuilding roads and rehabbing and expanding aging infrastructure. "We believe this proposal puts forward a great plan that both the Senate and the governor can pivot to and come together around," said Dean Arp, R-Union, who was put forward by House Republicans as lead author of the plan...
A Rare Red-State Accord for More Voter Access  The Atlantic  ...Last week, the coalition and Oklahoma’s election board announced an agreement in which the state committed to asking any person who interacts with welfare agencies whether they want to register to vote and then to helping them through the process. That includes assistance with helping them vote online. The state also agreed to establish a new website with information about the National Voter Registration Act...
Unions, policy analysts decry prevailing wage repeal  Pekin Daily Times  ...Now more than one month past the July 1 deadline for a comprehensive state budget, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said he’d be willing to compromise on, among other things, prevailing wage laws to deliver a long-awaited agreement. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune last week, Cullerton listed prevailing wage laws, which require that construction workers on state-funded construction projects be paid a wage comparable to a set county average, as one of the first budget items he’d concede to Gov. Bruce Rauner...
Labor Organizes Against Right-To-Work In Governor’s Race  WKU  ...Supporters of right-to-work laws have had a hard time passing legislation in Kentucky through the Democrat-controlled House and governor’s office. But if Republican candidate for governor Matt Bevin is elected, the House’s slim eight-person majority would be the only thing standing in the way of the legislation, which would forbid unions from demanding dues from its members as a condition of employment...
Puerto Rico triggers historic default as austerity spiral deepens  Telegraph   ...Puerto Rico has triggered the biggest municipal default in US history, risking years of bitter legal warfare with creditors and an austerity "death spiral" with echoes of Greece. The island Commonwealth finally ran out of money on Monday after a desperate effort to stay afloat, and missed a final deadline for a $58m payment - handing over just $628,000...
Long Beach Council to consider minimum wage study  Press-Telegram  ...It looks like Long Beach will be the next city to consider a proposal to raise the minimum wage. Long Beach Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal’s office released a statement Monday in which she and three other City Council members call for a study to examine the possible effects of a city law mandating wage increases. Lowenthal and other council members supporting the idea also want to look at how fee reductions or business incentives could be matched to a wage increase...
New Affordable Housing Rule Would Make Developers In New York Give Back To Communities They Build In  Think Progress  ...Real estate developers won’t be able to continue ignoring the needs of New York City’s working class tenants for much longer, if a new proposal unveiled Friday by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is approved. The policy goes further than other affordable housing rules in the city, setting requirements developers must follow rather than creating options they can choose to pursue. “This affordable housing will be mandatory and it will be permanent,” de Blasio told ThinkProgress in a statement...
Washington has failed to enforce labor rights. Can cities step in?  (opinion) Aljazeera   ...In the past year Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle have all scheduled minimum wage increases. At least 18 cities and four states now have passed paid sick leave laws. San Francisco also passed the Retail Workers’ Bill of Rights, which will guarantee employees fair notice of their schedules for shifts. All these measures create important improvements for working families. But how can these newly won rights be protected? The federal government is unlikely to help...

U.S. Labor
Verizon Workers Prepare for a Strike Over Job and Benefit Cuts  In These Times  ...Verizon wants to drive down costs, shrink its union workforce even further, and get out of the landline business. But in negotiations this summer it’s coming head-to-head with its unions, who want to protect gains won through decades of struggle. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) began bargaining a new contract in June for 38,000 telecom workers in the Northeast from Maine to Virginia...
Iron workers strike for higher wages, health benefits  The Tennessean  ...A group of iron workers has left work sites of the Westin Hotel and other construction projects to protest for higher wages, health benefits and better work conditions. The eight Manchester, Tenn.-based rodbusters began the strike almost six weeks ago, asking for wages to be increased to the national average...
No decision yet but UAW not ruling out new election to organize Chattanooga VW plant employees  Times Free Press  ...The United Auto Workers local in Chattanooga isn't ruling out another election to organize Volkswagen plant employees, but it hasn't decided on a new vote as a Facebook post claims. "There are multiple paths toward collective bargaining," said Mike Cantrell, president of Local 42, in a statement on Monday. "All options have been and remain on the table"...
U.S. wage and benefit growth at slowest pace in 33 years  MLive  ...Wages and benefits for American workers grew in the spring at the slowest pace in 33 years, stark evidence that stronger hiring is not lifting paychecks much for most Americans. The slowdown also likely reflects a sharp drop-off in bonus and incentive pay for some workers. The employment cost index rose just 0.2 percent in the April-June quarter after a 0.7 increase in the first quarter, the Labor Department said Friday...
After Years Of Cuts, Cities And States Are Hiring Again  Huffington Post  ...Public employment, long seen as a secure job with good benefits, took a series of hits during the recession, with state and local governments implementing hiring freezes and layoffs. But job-seekers can take solace: Many states and localities are now hiring, buoyed by an improving economy and better-than-expected revenue...
Duquesne’s NLRB Filing Reads as a Brazen Threat To Adjunct Union Organizers  In These Times  ...In Pittsburgh, in a case that some have suspected is destined for the Supreme Court, Duquesne University has pushed the boundaries of employer intimidation. On April 29, adjunct professors Clint Benjamin and Adam Davis testified under oath at a hearing at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The topic was Duquesne University’s unwillingness to recognize the union that their colleagues overwhelmingly voted for three years ago. After the hearing, the regional director of the NLRB held that Duquesne had to negotiate with the union...
Verizon wants to bust the union  (opinion) Socialist Worker  ...Despite $18 billion in profits over the last 18 months, despite the top five Verizon executives pulling in a combined total of $44.4 million last year, with CEO Lowell McAdam alone making $18.3 million, and despite Verizon being the 15th largest corporation in America in 2014, management still wants major concessions. CWA's website details Verizon's most retrogressive, egregious and insulting demands: "deep cuts to pension benefits, skyrocketing increases in medical costs and the complete elimination of job security"...

Social Justice & Other News 
Alabama officer kept job after proposal to murder black man and hide evidence  The Guardian  ...A police officer in Alabama proposed murdering a black resident and creating bogus evidence to suggest the killing was in self-defence, the Guardian has learned. Officer Troy Middlebrooks kept his job and continues to patrol Alexander City after authorities there paid the man $35,000 to avoid being publicly sued over the incident...
Finally, One Banker Gets Sizable Jail Term. But Will Others Follow?  Common Dreams  ..."A message needs to be sent to the world of banking," said UK Judge Jeremy Cooke on Monday as he handed down a 14-year sentence to former Citibank and UBS trader Tom Hayes, convicted in a London court on eight counts of conspiring to manipulate a global benchmark interest rate known as LIBOR. While many of the world's leading banks have paid heavy financial penalties for tampering with the key benchmark, 35-year-old Hayes is the first individual to face a jury trial...
GOP debate preview targets immigration  Aljazeera  ...There was no Donald Trump but his top issue, illegal immigration, was a dominant theme for 14 Republican presidential candidates who faced off in New Hampshire on Monday night during a crowded and pointed preview of the 2016 primary season's first full-fledged debate. All but three of the 17 major Republican candidates for president participated in the Voters First Forum in what was essentially a rehearsal debate...
Global Glaciers Melting up to Three Times Rate of 20th Century  Common Dreams  ...The 21st century has already seen a record-smashing decline in the world's glaciers, which are melting at up to three times the rate of the 20th century and will continue to disappear even without further climate change, an alarming new study concludes. Entitled Historically Unprecedented Global Glacier Decline in the Early 21st Century, the research was published Monday in the Journal of Glaciology...
Robert Reich: America is revolting against its ruling class  Salon  ...“He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment is mystified. Political insiders don’t see that the biggest political phenomenon in America today is a revolt against the “ruling class” of insiders that have dominated Washington for more than three decades...

Monday, August 3, 2015

TPP wipes out in Hawaii, and why it's good for workers

It seems the Teamsters and fellow fair-trade allies aren't the only ones who have problems with Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Several of the 12 nations currently negotiating the pact are raising concerns as well.

The U.S., Canada, Japan and Mexico are among the nations who still have major problems with the deal. Dairy, auto trade and medicines are some of the outstanding issues, the article stated. And now the future of the deal is in doubt, The New York Times reported:
[T]he failure to complete the deal — eight years in the making — means the next round of negotiations will push the United States ratification fight into 2016, a presidential election year. Most Republican candidates are very likely to back it, but a final agreement would force the Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to declare her position, which she has avoided.
This agreement is not a good deal for this country, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said today. He noted that some 30,000 good-paying Teamster dairy jobs could be jeopardized, while in return store shelves in this country will be littered with cheap products and unsafe food. There are real moral implications if the deal is approved, he stated:
The Teamsters and other fair trade advocates have taken a staunch stand against the TPP because of how this far-reaching proposal will affect workers across the globe. It will result in thousands of U.S. jobs being shipped overseas, and does not adequately address forced labor and human rights violations that continue to be an issue in nations like Malaysia and Vietnam.
Those worries are still very real. That’s why even if this Pacific Rim trade pact is eventually approved, Congress must do the right thing and reject it.
The TPP also would do nothing to halt the practice of currency manipulation, which drives up the cost of American products abroad and drives down the price for foreign goods sold here. The practice has taken a toll on the U.S. automobile industry, stifling sales of American vehicles overseas. Yet the agreement does nothing to stop it.

It's time the productivity of American workers showed up in their paychecks, and that means no more unfair trade deals. Now Congress needs to ensure that happens.

Today's Teamster News 08.03.15

Teamsters
Silicon Valley Drivers Vote Unanimously in Favor of Contract Proposal  Teamster.org  ...Shuttle drivers for seven big Silicon Valley companies voted overwhelmingly today to approve a union proposal for a first contract that includes industry-leading wages and benefits. The drivers employed by contractor Compass Transportation/Transdev voted 75-0 in favor. The drivers are members of Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif. The proposal is the result of nearly five months of negotiations with the company...
Fort Riley Veterans Graduate From Military Job Training Program  Teamster.org  ...Today, Teamster representatives were joined by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in a ceremony recognizing the graduates of a program that helps active military personnel transition to a career in transportation. The ceremony was held at the Army’s installation in Fort Riley, Kan. The innovative six-week program is the result of a partnership between the Teamsters Military Assistance Program, the U.S. Army, Fort Sill, ABF Freight, Soldier For Life, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command...
Strike threat looms in anticipation of Sun Tran, Labor Union contract renewal  Tucson News Now  ...The threat of a bus strike looms again in Tucson, as talks continue between Sun Tran bus drivers and management over a new contract. The dangers bus drivers face, the risk on the road and their paycheck are all items that are up for negotiation. Sun Tran officials have provided the Teamsters Local Union with a final offer, and union members will vote on it during three meetings scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug 1...
Apple, Yahoo shuttle drivers unanimously approve union wage package  USA Today  ...Shuttle drivers for Apple, Yahoo, eBay and several other Silicon Valley companies voted Saturday to approve a union wage and benefits package. The drivers who transport workers to and from those tech firms, as well as to Zynga, Amtrak, Evernote and Genentech, are employed by Compass Transportation. Back in February, the 160 drivers voted for representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif...
ABF Freight, Teamsters Graduate New Class Of Military Drivers  Times Record  ...A truck driver training program class jointly operated by ABF Freight, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the U.S. Army will graduate this week. ABF Freight is a subsidiary of Fort Smith-based ArcBest Corp. Known as the Teamsters Military Assistance Program, the program was created to help soldiers transition to civilian careers...

Global Labor & Trade
Talks for Pacific trade deal stall at a critical step  New York Times  ...Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations were headed toward failure Friday, with difficult talks on the largest regional trade agreement ever breaking down over protections for pharmaceutical companies and access to agriculture markets on both sides of the Pacific. Negotiators will return to their home countries to obtain high-level sign-offs for a small number of final sticking points on the agreement...
Ministers fail to cinch major trade pact  Politico  ...Top trade officials from the United States, Canada and 10 other Pacific rim nations fell short of concluding the biggest trade pact in history on Friday because of differences over agricultural, autos and pharmaceuticals, but said significant progress had been made. “We’re confident that TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is within reach,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Friday...
U.S. Bends on Patent Data as Dairy Vexes Pacific Trade Talks  Bloomberg   ...The U.S. on Thursday abandoned its longstanding position on the confidentiality of some patent data as officials immersed themselves in the minutiae of Asia-Pacific dairy markets in a bid to clinch a landmark trade deal. A day marked by widespread frustration with the slow pace at which Canada took up talks on opening its dairy sector gave way to grinding, all-night talks on the quotas and tariffs that would be applied to products such as whey protein, cheese and milk powder...
Trans-Pacific Partnership delegates fail to reach final deal; pharmaceuticals, cars, dairy key sticking points  ABC  ...Delegates negotiating a Pacific free trade agreement have failed to reach a final deal after several days of intense talks in Hawaii. The talks were halted after a dispute flared between Japan and North America over autos, New Zealand dug in over dairy trade and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs...
McConnell warns Obama against tobacco carve-out in trade deal  The Hill  ...Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning U.S. officials negotiating a massive trans-Pacific trade agreement for President Obama not to target tobacco growers in a final deal. McConnell said singling out the tobacco industry would set a dangerous precedent for future trade deals, in a letter to Obama’s top trade representative...
Obama Administration Ignores Malaysia’s Trafficking Record   (opinion) New York Times  ...After one year on the State Department’s list of countries that are failing to combat modern-day slavery, Malaysia has been upgraded to a higher category. That judgment, part of an annual evaluation of how 188 countries deal with human trafficking, strains credulity, given how little Malaysia has done to address the problem. The decision has raised suspicions that Malaysia’s status was changed to advance the Trans-Pacific Partnership...
Getting the TPP right: What needs to happen in Hawaii  (opinion) The Hill  ...When done right, on a level playing field, trade can be a powerful tool for global growth and rising living standards. But too often, past trade deals have not lived up to this standard. Instead, they’ve created a massively tilted playing field that has incentivized a global race to the bottom on labor practices, environmental protections and human rights...
Stocks Plunge in Greece as Athens Exchange Reopens  New York Times  ...Investors issued a vote of no confidence in Greece’s economy on Monday, dumping Greek stocks as trading on the Athens stock exchange resumed for the first time in five weeks. Shares on the exchange initially dropped by 22.8 percent as trading began, with bank stocks falling 30 percent. Banks have been among the hardest-hit sectors of the Greek economy, and they are dependent on emergency cash from the European Central Bank to stay afloat...
Black Unionists Try to Save South Africa From Becoming a Failed State  Truthout  ...Irvin Jim, the general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the largest union in South Africa, and Zwelinzima Vavi, the former general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) visited Washington, DC, this month to discuss the crisis within South African trade unions. They spoke of the betrayal by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in failing to implement the 1955 Freedom Charter and the deleterious impact of neoliberal economic policies...
Plane passengers face delays as Melbourne Airport workers strike  Herald Sun  ...The Community and Public Sector Union has warned of significant disruptions and delays at all Australian international air and shipping ports ahead of its latest round of industrial action. The union has detailed four-hour rolling stoppages in protest of the Federal Government’s approach to working rights, conditions and pay. Union members from the Depart of Immigration and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, including quarantine, and Australian Border Force Marine Union will observe stoppages...
Oaxaca, Mexico, Faces Police Militarization as Governor Acts to Preempt Education Protests  Truthout  ...Thousands of federal and state police troops were dispatched in mid-July to the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico to guard strategic buildings, patrol the skies and ensure that protesters cannot take over local radio stations. The aim of this heightened police militarization? To prevent protesting teachers from exerting pressure on the administration of Gabino CuĂ© Monteagudo, the current governor of Oaxaca, in their efforts to resist nationally imposed education reforms...

State & Living Wage Battles
A $15 Minimum Wage Would Increase The Price Of A Big Mac By Less Than 20 Cents  Think Progress  ...If the minimum wage were increased to $15 an hour, prices at fast food restaurants would rise by an estimated 4.3 percent, according to a new study. That would mean a McDonald’s Big Mac, which currently goes for $3.99, would cost about 17 cents more, or $4.16. The price increases would be a good deal larger if the minimum wage were raised to $22 an hour, or average private sector pay: the authors found they would increase by 25 percent, raising the price of a Big Mac by about a dollar...
Scott Walker Stresses Importance Of Education Days After Cutting Education Funding By $250 Million  Think Progress  ...Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) went on Fox & Friends Thursday to discuss his entry into the 2016 presidential race. But the governor who recently earned negative headlines for cutting hundreds of millions from the state’s top-tier university system made a curious claim: that the key to boosting wages wasn’t the minimum wage, but education...
How Childcare Actually Causes Poverty in America  The Nation  ....Activists are pushing for a $15 hourly base wage for preschool teachers and childcare workers. Many are currently college grads earning poverty wages, which have basically stagnated for nearly twenty years. The raise would be a major step toward providing livable wages for the service working families can’t live without. As the Fight for 15 movement gains momentum for fast food and retail workers, advocates are asking, if the people who prepare your lunch deserve a living wage, surely so do the people preparing our toddlers for school?...
Chris Christie’s violent fantasies: National teachers union deserves a “punch in the face”  Salon  ...Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said during a television interview Sunday that the national teachers union deserves a “punch in the face.” While campaigning for re-election in 2013, the New Jersey Governor scolded a local teacher after she challenged him on his claims that the state’s schools were failing. “I am tired of you people,” Christie yelled at the teacher, “What do you want?”...
Report: About 40% of workers in Ariz., U.S. have no paid sick leave  Yuma Sun  ...Close to half of Arizona’s private-sector workers, more than 934,000 people, do not have access to paid sick leave, according to a report Wednesday by a group pushing for such laws. But the National Partnership for Women and Families said Arizona is not alone: More than 43 million people, accounting for about 39 percent of private-sector workers in the country, currently don’t have the ability to earn paid sick leave, it said...
Without prevailing wage, pay will plummet, leader says  The Times  ...Without the state's prevailing wage law, construction workers would see their wages drop dramatically, a local labor leader says. "You'll see minimum wage within a couple of years," said Kevin Dale, business manager for Laborers International Union Local 393 in Marseilles. "You'll be making the same amount as the person flipping hamburgers at McDonald's when there's no prevailing wage." Earlier this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed repealing the prevailing wage law...
Hedge Funds Helped Wreck Puerto Rico’s Economy, And The Poor Are Paying The Price  Think Progress  ...Depending who you ask in Puerto Rico, the debt crisis was caused by neo-colonial and imperialist policies from the U.S., the Puerto Rican government’s wasteful overspending and corruption, or the cadre of hedge funds that are currently profiting from the island’s woes. Add to that toxic mix a series of free-trade agreements that triggered mass outsourcing, and a population in rapid decline due to out-migration...

U.S. Labor
Verizon Workers to Stay on Job Without New Contract  New York Times  ...Verizon and unions representing workers in nine states said employees will work without a contract as more negotiations are scheduled. The wireless carrier and leaders of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced the decision early Sunday, shortly after a contract covering 39,000 workers expired...
Bankruptcy Judge Gives Go-Ahead for Mass Firings of Unionized A&P Grocery Workers  In These Times  ...The mass firings of workers at the A&P supermarket chain is set to begin in mid-September, following action this week by a federal bankruptcy court approving a plan to quickly shed some 2,500 jobs at the ailing grocery retailer. The job cuts are a first step in a broader plan to dismember the entire 300-store chain, with expected job losses of 15,000 or more...
Negotiations begin for AT&T, Communications Workers of America  Local 10  ...AT&T has begun negotiations on contracts with 27,000 of its employees in the Southeast territory. Southeast region employees, who are represented by the Communications Workers of America, include employees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The CWA issued a news release Sunday saying that representatives from both sides met Saturday. However, AT&T regional spokeswoman Kelly Starling said negotiations have been ongoing since June...
Why Unions Aren't Uniting Behind Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders  Bloomberg  ...In the failed fight to stop fast track, organized labor spoke—largely—with one voice. The main U.S. union federation, the AFL-CIO, announced a temporary freeze on PAC contributions, and its affiliate unions mostly complied. Unions across the industry spectrum warned Democrats against siding with Obama on trade. Some big unions were quieter than others, but none defected to shield the president. The same can’t be said for labor’s presidential endorsement process...

Social Justice & Other News
Border Jails Facing Bond Defaults as Immigration Boom Goes Bust  Bloomberg  ...ails built to profit from an illegal immigration boom are weighing down the finances of rural counties in the U.S. Sunbelt as border apprehensions slow and the federal government orders the release of more migrants. In Texas, the heart of a jail-building boom over the past decade, nine of 21 counties that created agencies to issue about $1.3 billion in municipal bonds to build privately run correctional facilities largely for migrants have defaulted on their debt...
In St. Louis, Black Youths Bear Brunt of Dysfunctional Justice System  Common Dreams  ...Black kids in St. Louis, Missouri are being disproportionately impacted by unconstitutional and discriminatory miscarriages of justice within the Family Court system, according to a two-year investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. "In short, Black children are subjected to harsher treatment because of their race," the findings report reads...

Friday, July 31, 2015

Workers deserve a share of corporate profits

Big business shouldn't monopolize all the gains.
There was a time many politicians told the public they would benefit from companies earning huge profits. Trickle-down economics, it was called. But even the most deceitful of leaders no longer brings it up. Why? Because it's a big, fat lie.

The people have realized they've been duped. Income inequality is at levels not seen in some 90 years. Big business is taking big bucks to the bank, but few are going back in the wallets of their workers. That's got to change. And the Center for American Progress (CAP) has some ideas how.

A new report released this month says companies need to share more with their employees. It notes the typical workers is almost 60 percent more productive than a worker 25 years ago but has seen only half of their extra work translate into higher wages. While the top 20 percent of families have seen their average worth increase by 120 percent between 1983 and 2010, the middle 20 percent only grew 13 percent, and the bottom fifth saw debts exceed their assets.

It's time for that to change, CAP says:
Broad-based sharing programs—such as granting workers an ownership stake or a share of profits based on workers’ collective performance—can help ensure that workers are rewarded for the wealth they generate. Advocates for these programs refer to this type of sharing by a number of names, including broad-based profit sharing and inclusive capitalism. Collectively, these programs hold the potential not only to benefit workers: Research shows that firms and investors also receive tangible benefits from sharing with their workers.
Calls to revamp this nation's busted economy are getting more frequent. Earlier this year, the Roosevelt Institute released a report of their own written by noted economist Joseph Stiglitz that demanded similar change to revamp the U.S. economic model.

Writing about the document earlier this month in the Huffington Post, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said it provides a blueprint that workers must insist lawmakers adopt:
Working Americans are being tested by the state of today's economy. But it is not one they can pass on their own. Regular people have led the charge in raising awareness about these issues and taking to the streets all across this country to let elected officials know that the minimum wage is too low, Wall Street is making too much and trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership offer too large of a handout for big business at the expense of workers.
This nation needs systematic change. ... It is time for more lawmakers to declare their independence from big banks and corporate cronies who bend their ears and fill their campaign coffers with cash. Their constituents deserve to have members of Congress who hear their concerns and institute policies to make change happen.
It's great that most elected officials now accept the failings of the past. But if workers want justice, they need to to raise their voices and demand it. Otherwise, too many elected officials will continue to serve their corporate cronies instead.

Today's Teamster News 07.31.15

Teamsters
Apple, Yahoo shuttle drivers set to vote on union  USA Today  ...Unions continue to make inroads into  Silicon Valley. Shuttle drivers for Apple, eBay, Yahoo, Zynga and several other Silicon Valley firms are set to vote Saturday on a package for improved wages and benefits. The 160 drivers, most of them employed by Compass Transportation of San Jose, shuttle employees to and from those tech firms, as well as Amtrak, Evernote and Genentech. The drivers sought representation from Teamsters Local 853...
Garda Canada Security Corporation and Teamsters Local 362 reach a new collective agreement  Government of Canada  ...Today, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, congratulated Garda Canada Security Corporation and Teamsters Local 362 on the renewal of their collective agreement. The agreement was reached with assistance from the Labour Program’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The FMCS provides dispute resolution and dispute prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code...
Port Truckers Testify Before Tidelands and Harbor Committee Over Misclassification, Wage Theft  Long Beach Post  ...Stakeholders from the Port of Long Beach (POLB), trucking companies and drivers testified before the Tidelands and Harbor Committee last night to address the misclassification. The idea that the businesses can flourish while paying their drivers as employees was illustrated by Kevin Baddeley, president of Shippers Transport Express (STE) based out of Carson. He said that since converting to an employee model in January and negotiating a union contract with the Teamsters Union shortly after, STE has been stable and its customers happy...
Time running out for Sun Tran negotiations with union  KVOA  ...Sun Tran and the employees’ union, Teamsters Local 104, are still negotiating to avoid a bus strike in Tucson. Their contract expires Friday at midnight. Union members, who are mostly bus drivers, are expected to vote on a new deal Saturday. If the union rejects the contract, a strike may follow. Signs at bus stations warn riders about the negotiations...

Global Labor & Trade
Pacific trade negotiators chase elusive final deal in tough talks  Reuters  ...Pacific Rim trade ministers neared the final spurt of negotiations on an ambitious free trade pact on Thursday, but differences over farm exports and monopoly periods for next-generation drugs kept them short of an elusive final deal. Ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would cut trade barriers and set common standards for 40 percent of the world economy, are meeting in Hawaii to try to hammer out a deal...
Canada Under Pressure as Pacific Trade Talks Slow Over Dairy  Bloomberg   ...Negotiations on a landmark free-trade pact among 12 Pacific nations stumbled as pressure mounted on Canada to soften its stance on limiting dairy imports. After months of demands from nations including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to open its dairy markets as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Canada outlined a proposal during talks in Hawaii that other nations rejected as inadequate, according to two people briefed on the negotiations...
Trade deal threatens affordable healthcare for millions, experts say  Aljazeera  ...Public health groups on Thursday warned that “absurd” patent and data protection clauses pushed by U.S. lawmakers during the final negotiations of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Maui, Hawaii could hike prices for life-saving drugs and stifle innovation. Doctors Without Border (MSF) and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association are most concerned with measures such as the extension of intellectual property rights on drug patents and increased damages for the infringement of patents...
Trade Negotiators Reach Environmental Accord  New York Times  ...Trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific nations reached agreement late Thursday on broad environmental protections for some of the most sensitive, diverse and threatened ecosystems on earth, closing one of the most contentious chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As negotiators struggled to complete the largest regional trade agreement, they pointed to the environmental accord as a clear achievement. It will be controversial. Some environmental groups, like the Sierra Club, insist that it lacks the binding enforcement measures...
Patent Protection for Drugs Puts Pressure on U.S. in Trade Talks  New York Times  ...With 12 nations pressing to conclude the largest regional trade accord ever, United States officials find themselves squeezed between activists pressing to secure access to low-cost pharmaceuticals and Republicans who say Congress will reject a deal without strong patent protections for the drug industry. Negotiators gathered this week in Maui hoping the long-sought accord might be finished by Friday. But dozens of issues remain unresolved on the Trans-Pacific Partnership...
Group Seeks to Expose Cozy Ties Between US Trade Rep and Wall Street  Common Dreams  ...Citing his cozy ties to Wall Street banks, a group dedicated to exposing corruption and corporate influence in Washington, D.C. has submitted an official Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all correspondence between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the 10 largest U.S. financial institutions. Rootstrikers, the grassroots organization behind the FOIA request, has said that because corporate giveaways like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) pose a threat to robust financial regulation in general, "Americans deserve to know"...
Pacific Rim free trade deal comes with high price  Aljazeera  ...On the tropical shores of the island of Maui in Hawaii, 12 Pacific Rim countries are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement behind closed doors. The current meeting in Hawaii between the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Peru, and Vietnam is the latest and possibly final round of negotiations that have been grinding along and evolving for seven years. the deal has drawn critics from various spheres. Among the loudest are analysts concerned by how the deal will affect the availability and price of medicine...
WikiLeaks says US spied on Japanese government, companies  Associated Press  ...WikiLeaks says US spied on Japanese government, companies. The documents include what appear to be five U.S. National Security Agency reports, four of which are marked top-secret, that provide intelligence on Japanese positions on international trade and climate change. Three of the apparent NSA reports deal with climate change, and the other two with agricultural trade issues, including U.S. cherry exports to Japan...
Youth unemployment in Italy exceeds 44 percent, 38yr high  RT  ...Youth unemployment has increased to 44.2 percent in June, according to the Italian national statistics office. It’s the highest level since 1977 and about twice the eurozone average. The overall unemployment also increased in June, according to the data published Friday. The upsetting numbers come as the Italian Prime Minister is pursuing economic reforms that the government hopes will make the eurozone's third largest economy dominant in Europe and the world within 20-30 years...
Greek bailout talks shift into higher gear  CBS  ...Greece's talks with its international creditors on a third bailout worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion) shifted into a higher gear on Friday, with lead negotiators from the European Union and International Monetary Fund meeting key ministers in Athens. The talks with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis follow preparatory meetings in the Greek capital this week between lower-level officials on reforming the tax system and labor market regulations...
London’s National Gallery Labor Strike Escalates  Artforum  ...The entire group of union workers currently employed at the National Gallery in London are set to renew their strike this August, according to Sarah Cascone at Artnet. This comes after several other recent periods of labor dispute at the venerable British institution, all over the management’s plans to privatize visitor services at the museum. The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the workers who will be participating, has told the museum of its intentions to strike...

State & Living Wage Battles
Pennsylvania Employers Steal Tens Of Millions Of Dollars From Their Workers In Any Given Week  Think Progress  ...Pennsylvania’s low-wage workers lose between $19 million and $32 million to wage theft in any given week, potentially costing the state’s economy as much as a billion dollars in lost potential consumer spending each year, according to a new analysis by law students from Temple University. The economic analysis is premised on a 2009 study of Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles workers’ experiences of wage theft in various industries...
Michigan Supreme Court Upholds Right-to-Work Law, Takes Workers Back to the Gilded Age  Truthout  ...Republican lawmakers passed the measure in December 2012, making it illegal to require workers to pay union dues or service fees as a condition of employment. Shortly thereafter, public sector employees filed a lawsuit saying they were exempt from the law because their workplaces came under the jurisdiction of the Michigan Civil Service Commission, not private sector employment law. On Wednesday, July 29, the high court, in a 4-3 ruling, rejected the workers' plea. With that, the court completed the transformation of this longtime labor stronghold into an anti-labor regime, reminiscent of the Gilded Age US...
Kansas City Minimum Wage Hike? $15 Hourly Pay Proposed By Missouri Activists  International Business Times  ...Kansas City, Missouri, may see an initiative to increase the city's minimum wage on its November ballot. A group of civil rights organizations has demanded that their petition go to a vote to raise base hourly pay in the city to $15. In turn, business organizations have condemned the move as "job killing" and want to see wages stay at the state-mandated $7.65 per hour...
N.C. attorneys rest their case in federal voting rights trial   Journal Now  ...Attorneys representing North Carolina and Gov. Pat McCrory rested their case this morning after calling six witnesses in a federal trial over the state’s controversial election law. Several groups, including the N.C. NAACP and the U.S. Department of Justice, are suing the state and McCrory over House Bill 589, which became law in 2013. House Bill 589 eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced the days of early voting from 17 to 10, got rid of out-of-precinct provisional voting and abolished preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds...
California's Drought and the Politics of Inequality  (opinion) Truthout  ...California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in April, mandating urban centers to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Walking around working-class neighborhoods, one can't help but notice brown lawns and dying plants, which shows how seriously people are taking the task of water conservation. What's striking is who's willing to conserve - and who isn't. Forty-eight percent of wealthier homeowners with incomes above $100,000 a year say it would be "difficult" to conserve water...
Pittsburgh's paid sick leave bill headed to council for vote Monday  Post-Gazette  ...Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor, with broad support from his colleagues, is looking to push through legislation Monday that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave to their employees before the council breaks for its August recess. If it clears that final vote, the bill, put forward July 6, will have gone from introduction to passage in less than a month...

U.S. Labor
Court backs labor board on election rule  The Hill  ...A federal court has upheld federal regulations designed to speed up union elections, dealing a blow to business groups who oppose the rule. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should be allowed to expedite the process by which employees unionize, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C...
NLRB to Rule on Northwestern Football Players’ Bid to Unionize  Wall Street Journal  ...The National Labor Relations Board is expected to decide in coming weeks whether to give labor unions a foothold in college sports, a decision that could have a widespread impact on college athletics. The five-member board of the federal labor agency is weighing whether Northwestern University’s scholarship football players are school employees, as an agency regional director ruled last year, and can therefore unionize...
Verizon strike on pension, health care possible  APP.com  ...Time is ticking down as negotiations between Verizon and its employees’ unions continue. The contract between Verizon and its union workforce, members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, expires at midnight Saturday. Both sides are “very apart on the issues,” said Candice Johnson, a CWA spokeswoman...
UAW, Ford kick off contract talks as auto business booms  NWI.com  ...The United Auto Workers union has kicked off contract talks with Ford, which is one of the Calumet Region's largest employers, with about 5,000 local workers. The UAW, which made deep concessions during the darkest days of the Great Recession, hopes to end a two-tier pay system in which younger workers are paid less than more veteran employees doing the same job...
Hundreds of United Steelworkers members rally downtown  WPXI  ...Hundred of United Steelworkers members and their allies rallied Thursday at the headquarters of Allegheny Technologies Inc. in downtown Pittsburgh. According to a release from the USW, the union is trying to reach agreement on a new contract for more than 2,200 members who work for ATI, a specialty metals and components supplier for the aerospace and defense, medical and industrial industries. Their old contract expired June 30...
Frontier Communications and Communications Workers of America Reach Agreement in Texas and Missouri  MarketWatch  ...Frontier Communications Corporation FTR, and the Communications Workers of America District 6 (CWA) are pleased to announce the signing of an agreement that will benefit CWA-represented employees in Texas and Missouri and Frontier’s future customers in Texas. The agreement is an important step forward in the process to complete Frontier’s planned acquisition of Verizon’s wireline business and assets in Texas, California and Florida...
Companies have found something to give their workers instead of raises  Washington Post  ...Once a staple of the American workplace, the annual raise is turning into a relic of the pre-crisis economy as companies turn to creative — and cheaper — ways to compensate their employees. More businesses are upping their spending on benefits such as one-time bonuses, health care and paid time off, according to recent survey data. Many are rolling out perks such as free gym membership, commuting subsidies, even pet health insurance...
‘She’s Not A Felon, She’s A Human Being': Obama Under Pressure To Ban The Box Before Leaving Office  (opinion) Think Progress  ...If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’ve probably seen the box. Hiring forms commonly require applicants to indicate if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. That little check-box produces some grand societal failures: An estimated 60 to 75 percent of Americans released from prison cannot find work throughout their first year back home...
Bernie Sanders Lobbies for A.F.L.-C.I.O. Endorsement  New York Times  ...Citing his long legislative record and improving performance in opinion polls, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told leaders of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. gathered here on Wednesday that he was best equipped to advance the rights and benefits of organized labor. Although he did not mention his rivals by name, Mr. Sanders, who was one of several candidates to address the organization’s executive council, said he told the group that no one had as clear a regard for the labor movement as he did...
Courting Unions, Hillary Clinton Says She Didn't Work on Trans-Pacific Partnership   Bloomberg  ...Hillary Clinton appeared to take another step away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday, telling reporters that she didn’t work on the controversial trade deal while serving as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. The Democratic presidential front-runner, who advocated for a multi-lateral Asia trade agreement as a member of Obama's administration but has pointedly refused to endorse the results as a candidate to succeed her old boss, walked a careful semantic line following a private meeting with the AFL-CIO executive council...
U.S. employment costs post smallest gain on record in second-quarter  Reuters  ...U.S. labor costs in the second quarter recorded their smallest increase in 33 years amid tepid gains in the private sector, but it likely was a temporary setback against the backdrop of diminishing labor market slack. The unexpectedly smaller rise reported by the Labor Department on Friday will probably not dampen speculation that the Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates later this year...
To get a fair share, sharing-economy workers must unionize  (opinion) Aljazeera   ...Uber’s disruption of the cab industry has been welcomed by nearly everyone except those who rely on the cab industry for their livelihoods. It’s arguably made on-demand car rides easier, cleaner, safer, more accessible and, in some cases, even cheaper. The high prices of regulated taxi medallions have kept a small number of bosses in control, while drivers pay high gate fees in order to access their cars and wages. Uber is right that the traditional system is not well suited to drivers’ or customers’ needs. But the new boss is not so different from the old boss...

Social Justice & Other News
U.S. austerity was even worse than we thought, data suggest  Washington Post  ...The economy of the years between 2011 and 2014 was even more mediocre than previously recognized, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. State and local governments spent less than the bureau realized throughout the interval, as did the federal government last year. When government spends less, its public employees, contractors and suppliers are all stretched. They have less to live on, and less money to spend in the rest of the economy...
Court Rules Police Need a Warrant to Access Location Data From Your Cellphone  Slate  ...In an order released Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Lucy Koh found that Fourth Amendment protections extend to location data generated by cellphones. Ruling against the federal government, Koh affirmed that law enforcement agencies must seek a warrant before acquiring historical location data produced by a cellphone...
Will Prosecutors Charge Officers Who Lied to Protect Ray Tensing After He Fatally Shot Sam Dubose?  Democracy Now  ...Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been released on a $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to the murder of Sam Dubose. Tensing, who is white, fatally shot the 43-year-old African-American man on July 19 after stopping him for not having a front license plate. Two additional officers, Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt, have been placed on administrative leave...
Protesters Forcibly Removed by Police As Arctic Drilling Ship Escapes Blockade  Common Dreams  ...Ending a nearly two-day standoff, Greenpeace activists who had successfully blocked passage of a Shell Oil drilling vessel were dramatically removed from their positions on the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, Oregon on Thurdsay evening as a special team of law enforcement officers cut them away to allow passage of the ship...
House takes off for August vacation before looking at highway, transit bill  NY Daily News  ...Congress is hitting the road without fixing our highways. House members took off for their extended August vacation before taking a look at the Senate’s newly passed long-term transportation bill, adding one more touchy issue for lawmakers to grapple with in a busy fall session. The long-overdue bill passed the Senate on Thursday with heavy bipartisan support, getting 65 votes for the $350 billion package, which would make changes to highway, transit, railroad and auto safety programs for six years...
Trump's immigration plan would cost hundreds of billions of dollars  CNN  ...According to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report, the average cost of fencing per mile is around $2.8 million to $3.9 million for the easiest-to-install and least expensive urban fencing. "You don't necessarily get a lot of bang for your buck," said Tom Wong, an assistant professor of Political Science at University of California, San Diego. Rosenblum and Wong explained that a wall would primarily just slow the process of crossing the border, especially in more rural areas...
UN Report Card Gives US 'Failing Grade' on Human Rights  Common Dreams  ...A United Nations committee of independent monitors this week released a damning assessment of human rights in the United States, showing an overall dismal performance on issues from Guantanamo Bay detentions to mass surveillance to accountability for past atrocities—earning what the U.S. Human Rights Network called a "failing grade." The findings prompted immediate condemnation from human rights and social justice organizations based in the U.S., including the Dream Defenders, who joined a civil society delegation to Geneva last year to urge the repeal of "Stand Your Ground" laws...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Some in Congress set sights on union movement

Anti-union lawmakers are at it again. Not satisfied with ever-growing income inequality in the U.S. and huge corporate profits, several members of Congress are looking to further squeeze hardworking Americans by making it harder to organize and easier to shut unions down.

The Hill describes the effort as a retread of previous attempts to curtail union activity, including the ability to make political donations:
The bill is the latest shot fired in the bitter battle between the Obama administration and Republicans over labor policy. Hatch introduced the legislation in 2012, but to little avail. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, he's hoping for more success this time around.
It boggles the mind what these lawmakers are trying to do with such efforts. They always start by saying they're not against unions, but such efforts would gut them by making them poor and powerless, thus rendering them obsolete. Of course, that is the real plan behind such legislation.

Need proof of what the job market looks like when union membership is driven down? Head south to America's Sunbelt, and you will find a virulent strain of anti-unionism led by state and local leaders even in the wake of falling wages. Companies may have relocated there, but there not driving up income, only their own profits.

Unfortunately, some in the Midwest have bought into the big business hype, as The American Prospect outlines:
In the last three years, the Republican governors and legislatures of such onetime union bastions as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin have joined the South in enacting “right to work” laws intended to reduce union membership. Since these laws cover only private-sector unions, and thus have no effect on the labor costs of government employees, the Republicans’ initial motivation was almost entirely political: Diminishing unions weakened institutions that generally campaigned for Democrats. But in recent months, bills to lower wages for construction workers on public projects have been moving through the legislatures in those three states, and the Michigan legislature has passed a bill forbidding cities from setting their own minimum-wage standards—all measures designed to hit workers’ pocketbooks. Moreover, laws designed to depress minority, millennial, and Democratic voting by requiring voters to present particular kinds of photo identification have been enacted not only by eight of the eleven once-Confederate states, but by Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin as well. Like the pre-1861 slaveholding elites, today’s Republicans appear increasingly dedicated to Southernizing the North.
Workers and elected officials shouldn't be fooled by these efforts. RTW and this latest congressional effort are frauds. They drive down wages for everyday Americans. Union jobs pay $200 more a week on average. When unions are strong, America is stronger.