Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Woot! More corporations leave ALEC in stampede out the door

ALEC, the secretive lobbying shop that pretends to be a charity, continues to lose members this week as several more corporations cut ties to the troubled organization.

The Center for Media and Democracy reports,
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., Occidental Petroleum, International Paper, and Overstock.com are the latest corporations to say they have left the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) after a wave of technology companies led by Google and Facebook announced their departures last week...
Corporations that have publicly cut ties to ALEC since CMD launched ALECexposed.org in July 2011 include Fortune 500 firms such as General Motors, General Electric, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Kraft Foods, Coke, and Pepsi. ALEC spent years pushing controverisal Stand Your Ground gun laws and bills to make it harder for Americans to vote before trying to distance itself from that legacy.
Occidental Petroleum's departure is a big deal.  It's the first major oil company to leave ALEC. An Occidental spokesperson said the company didn't want to be associated with ALEC's position on climate change or environmental regulation. Investors had pressured the company to drop ALEC especially because of its opposition to sustainable energy at the state level.

The last two weeks have been horrible for ALEC, as its members stampeded toward the door. Corporations don't want to be associated with the notorious Koch brothers, nor do they want their customers believing they meet behind closed doors with elected officials. They certainly don't want the public to think they support ALEC's agenda: lowering wages, eradicating public education, weakening workers' rights, killing jobs, suppressing voting and rolling back consumer and environmental protections.

Teamsters played a big part in putting ALEC on the ropes. We've worked hard to tell people how ALEC is destroying America's democracy by arranging secret meetings between corporations and state lawmakers. Our work over the past few years paid off, as nearly 100 corporate members of ALEC have severed their relationship with the organization.

We're not sure of the exact reasons for the departures of News Corp., (which owns FOX News), International Paper and Overstock.com. But it's clear that ALEC has become an undesirable bedfellow.

Heh-heh.


Today's Teamster News 09.30.14

Teamster News
Gov. Brown Signs Protections For Temp Workers Into Law  teamster.org   ...Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1897 into law Sunday. The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015, will hold companies accountable for serious violations of the rights of workers on their premises that are committed by their own labor suppliers...
Teach-in this weekend about Bill Gates' burning, radioactive landfill in Missouri  TeamsterNation   ...There's only one place in the country where a landfill fire smolders hundreds of away a nuclear dump site, and there are hundreds of Teamsters families living near it...
Parents, Health Officials Search For Answers About Sick Kids  St. Louis Post-Dispatch   ...Kirbi Pemberton pulled her 7-year-old daughter out of Rose Acres Elementary School in Maryland Heights this year over her concerns about potential health risks from the nearby radioactive West Lake Landfill...
Woot! Local 117 Teamsters ratify Fred Meyer contract!  TeamsterNation   ...Great news from Washington State, where our brothers and sisters from Teamsters Local 117 voted on Saturday to ratify a contract with Fred Meyer, a subsidiary of Kroger, Inc. They stood together and bargained a contract that maintains affordable health care and protects members against subcontracting...
Teamsters win arbitration award giving Corrections’ employees 9.8% raises over two years  The News Tribune   ...The ruling in favor of the Teamsters provides pay raises of 5.5 percent in July 2015 and another 4.3 percent in 2016 — with additional raises of 2.5 percent for select positions. About 6,000 employees at the Department of Corrections are covered by the Teamsters contract...
Trade
History’s largest trade agreements are being negotiated in secret  Aljazeera America   ...For the past four years, Froman and Selig have headed the U.S. team of unelected representatives secretly negotiating history’s two biggest trade agreements. If both treaties — drafted on behalf of 1.6 billion people — are approved, they will regulate almost three-quarters of all trade and investment in the world. The deals would void national legislation on environmental policy, labor rights, financial regulation and intellectual property...
Voters Will Oppose Politicians Who Support “NAFTA-Style” Trade Deals  Trade Reform   ...the polling overwhelmingly shows that the public “gets it” that these “trade” agreements have been used to send jobs out of the country and force wages down...
China's Tech Factories Turn To Student Labor  Wall Street Journal   ...Schools send thousands of teenagers here to put together electronic devices for some of the world's largest brands. Many students say they are given no choice. "I was suddenly told I had to spend the summer making computers or I couldn't graduate," said a 16-year-old girl surnamed Xiao...
State Battles
Early voting in Ohio blocked (UPDATED)  SCOTUS Blog   ...With just sixteen hours before polling stations were to open in Ohio, the Supreme Court on Monday afternoon blocked voters from beginning tomorrow to cast their ballots in this year’s general election...
Large Oil Company Bolts From ALEC  National Journal   ...Occidental Petroleum sent a letter Friday to an investment-management company indicating its intention to sever ties with ALEC, a conservative coalition of state legislators and major corporations that actively opposes environmental regulations...
Expedia under fire over membership to rightwing lobby group Alec  Guardian   ...Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company, has declined to follow the lead of other big internet firms, instead choosing to remain a member of a controversial rightwing lobby group that works against climate change legislation...
Silicon Valley's Done With American Legislative Exchange Council  U.S. News   ...ALEC takes a conservative, national political approach down to the state level through model bills that do the bidding of big, corporate interests which provide the funding. ALEC bills are generally promoted word for word at the state level by GOP legislators on issues ranging from information technology to renewable energy...
45 Million Americans Still Stuck Below Poverty Line: Census  Huffington Post   ...Median household income barely budged last year, edging up to $51,939 from $51,759 in 2012, the Census Bureau noted separately. Median income is still far from the $56,436 in 2007 and the all-time high of $56,895 in 1999...
Taxis In Washington DC Losing Their Identity With Modern Makeover As Drivers Compete With Car-Sharing App Uber  ABC News   ...The car-sharing service launched in San Francisco in 2010 has since gone global, invariably causing a chorus of complaint and sparking legal challenges from local cab industries...
Arguments Set This Week In Arkansas Voter ID Case  Times Record   ...Arkansas’ highest court is set to take up a case this week that could decide whether the state’s voters will be required to show photo identification at the polls in the November election...
War On Workers
FAA Approves Drone Use For Hollywood Productions, Sets Guidelines – Update  Deadline Hollywood   ...The FAA has approved the limited use of drones as camera platforms for film and TV productions, opening the skies to swarms of small, camera-mounted planes and mini-helicopters over film locations across the country. Unmanned aerial cameras are legal elsewhere in the world, but have been prohibited for commercial use in the U.S. until now...
Finally, the Truth About the A.I.G. Bailout (opinion)  New York Times   ...the government has never provided a plausible explanation for why the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which had enormous leverage over banks like Goldman thanks to its role as their regulator, didn’t lean on them to accept less than 100 cents on the dollar in their payouts from A.I.G...
Almost Three-Quarters Of Big Companies To Increase Outsourcing  Computer Weekly   ...Almost three quarters of global businesses will increase their investment in outsourced services, according to research by KPMG. The research also indicates that more firms are taking advantage of global delivery models including functions such as finance, procurement and HR delivered centrally, often offshore...
Philadelphia zoo worker killed after being pinned under golf cart, report says  South Jersey Times   ...The 57-year-old employee became trapped under the cart around 11 a.m. at the zoo, located on West Girdard Avenue. He was then taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he died, according to the report...
Trump Seeks Pact To End Union Pension To Save Atlantic City Casino  Reuters   ...Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc is seeking to impose a new contract on its unionized workers and end pension contributions as part of a plan backed by billionaire Carl Icahn to save the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey...
Miscellaneous
NTSB: Truck showed no signs of trying to avoid North Texas softball team's bus  Dallas Morning News   ...National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Sunday that the truck drove through the median for 820 feet on a shallow angle before colliding with the bus. It did not brake or appear to take any action to avoid the crash. They found no apparent problems with the truck’s brakes...
Walmart Faults Tracy Morgan for Not Wearing Seatbelt During Car Accident (Exclusive)  Hollywood Reporter   ...Among nine affirmative defenses, Walmart says that injuries "were caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs' failure to properly wear an appropriate available seatbelt restraint device."...
Will More Coal, Oil Trains Rumble Through Northwest?  Public News Service   ...About two dozen projects have been proposed in the past two years to move the Northwest toward becoming a transportation hub for coal, oil and gas to Asia...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Teamsters praise California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing temp worker-protection bill

California just took a step toward ending the abuse of temporary workers -- like those at Taylor Farms who want to become Teamsters.

On Sunday night, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that will hold employers responsible when their subcontracted temp agencies endanger or underpay workers. 

California Teamsters, along with Taylor Farms workers, pushed hard for the bill.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said,
Today marks a new era for worker protection in California. No longer can employers hide behind unscrupulous labor contractors. Workers, no matter if they are temporary or permanent, can hold companies who profit from their labor accountable for violations in the workplace.
Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post credited the Teamsters:
The Teamsters, in particular, lobbied hard for the new measure, largely through a public campaign against Taylor Farms, a food processor in Tracy, California, that supplies to companies like McDonald's, KFC and Subway. Most of Taylor Farms' laborers are temp workers, not direct employees...
The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will make it easier to punish companies like Taylor Farms and other warehousing and food processing companies that cut costs by hiring low-paid temp workers.
The law's passage marks a significant win for labor groups that are organizing workers in temp-heavy industries. As HuffPost reported in 2011, Southern California's Inland Empire is home to a sprawling retail distribution nexus, where staffing agencies provide warehouses with low-wage temp workers who frequently cite unsafe working conditions and wage theft. Worker advocates have been clamoring for larger companies to be held responsible alongside their subcontractors when the law is broken. 
 Way to go!

Teach-in this weekend about Bill Gates' burning, radioactive landfill in Missouri



There's only one place in the country where a landfill fire smolders next to a nuclear dump site, and more than a thousand Teamster families live near it.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the dominant shareholder in Republic Services Inc., the company that owns the West Lake Landfill burning in Bridgeton, Mo.

The Teamsters Union along with other groups will hold a public teach-in on Saturday about the threats of the West Lake Landfill Superfund site in Bridgeton. They will demand institutional support for health and safety protections from Republic Services, Bill and Melinda Gates, elected officials and the Environmental Protection Agency..

The teach-in will spread awareness of the environmental catastrophe at the West Lake Landfill. Discussions will be held on how to best keep area residents safe from the underground fire and uncontained buried nuclear wastes.

Lois Gibbs will be there as well. She is a mom who helped organize her community to fight for the health and wellness of their children after government officials allowed a school to be built on top of a toxic waste site in Love Canal, N.Y. Ms. Gibbs will be in St. Louis to discuss her journey from seeking the American dream to becoming the founder and executive director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

Sponsors of Saturday’s event include the Teamsters, Just Moms STL, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Franciscan Sisters of Mary and other supporting organizations.

Read more about the teach-in here. It's in Maryland Heights, Mo., on Oct. 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you're interested in attending, click here. If you can't make the teach-in, you can sign a petition asking Bill Gates to put out the fire and evacuate families living near the dangerous landfill. Just click here.

Woot! Local 117 Teamsters ratify Fred Meyer contract!


Great news from Washington State, where our brothers and sisters from Teamsters Local 117 voted on Saturday to ratify a contract with Fred Meyer, a subsidiary of Kroger, Inc. They stood together and bargained a contract that maintains affordable health care and protects members against subcontracting.

We got the news on Twitter:
Congrats! to warehouse workers at Fred Meyer who have just voted to ratify a new 3-yr contract! @Teamsters
The contract covers 388 warehouse workers at the company’s grocery distribution center in Puyallup.
The contract ratification vote is especially sweet because of the fight to get it. Teamsters at Fred Meyer worked without a contract for five weeks. Talks broke off on Sept.10, and Teamsters and allies passed out leaflets describing their concerns at Fred Meyer stores in four states. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters authorized strike support for the Fred Meyer workers.

Tracey Thompson, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 117, issued a statement:
When Fred Meyer intimidates workers, threatens to outsource their jobs, or insists on degrading their medical coverage, it harms the entire community.
A federal mediator stepped in, and the union and the company reached agreement on Monday, Sept. 22.

It all goes to show,
United we bargain, divided we beg.



Today's Teamster News 09.29.14

Trade
TPP deadline moves again  Radio New Zealand   ...Another self-imposed deadline to agree a Pacific-wide trade deal appears to be crumbling...
Study Confirms: Offshoring Sucks  Economic Populist   ...ever since Bill Clinton granted permanent normal trade relations to the China, the U.S has lost over 64,000 manufacturing firms and at least 5.8 million manufacturing jobs...
CAFTA and the Forced Migration Crisis  Public Citizen   ... The deal appears to have actually contributed to the economic instability feeding the region’s increase in violence and forced migration...
State Battles
Jerry Brown signs subcontractor bill  The Sacramento Bee   ...In a major victory for California labor unions, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he has signed legislation that will hold businesses liable when subcontractors violate wage, workplace safety or workers’ compensation rules...
LA Hotel Workers Win $15.37 Minimum Wage: a New Day for Labor in the United States?  Economic Policy Institute   ...The LA County AFL-CIO, UNITE HERE Local 11 (the LA area union of hospitality workers), and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which led the campaign, don’t intend to rest on their laurels and will push for an across-the-board minimum wage increase to $13.25 an hour, far above the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour...
Thank Goodness Wisconsin Turned Down High Speed Rail!  Econbrowser   ...We find that sales and measured productivity rose substantially for firms near the new (high speed rail) stations after the opening...
Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin slows updates of building and safety codes  The Cap Times   ...DuPont, a lobbyist representing the Alliance for Regulatory Coordination, a consortium of more than a dozen state industry and public safety groups, warned Ross that failure to do so “can negatively impact both public safety and the economy in Wisconsin because products and designs offered across the nation most often reflect the newest national model regulations...”
War on Workers
Watchdog presses SEC for CEO pay disclosure  The Hill   ...The Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) slammed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday for dragging its feet on the CEO pay disclosure rule amid pressure from business groups to scrap it...
Hong Kong Protesters Defy Officials’ Call to Disperse  New York Times   ...The continued public resistance underscored the difficulties that the Hong Kong government faces in defusing widespread anger that erupted on Sunday, after the police used tear gas, pepper spray and batons to break up a three-day sit-in by students and other residents demanding democratic elections in the semiautonomous Chinese territory...
Court to Weigh Political-Contribution Ban for Government Contractors  Wall Street Journal   ...A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday will consider a fresh challenge to campaign-finance rules, this time a 74-year-old law prohibiting government contractors from making political contributions tied to federal elections...
'Why They Hate Us': A Rant Against U.S. Before Attack on Chicago Air Traffic Hub  Bloomberg   ...The man charged with setting fire to a Chicago-area air-traffic facility, paralyzing travel through the city’s two major airports, was consumed by the U.S. government’s “immoral and unethical acts,” according to a Facebook message under his name. The posting, which includes references to being under the influence of drugs, calls government workers “lazy and useless” and said the government “would rather take care of itself and the money in the world, definitely not its people.”...
Construction worker killed in Rockdale County wreck  Atlanta Journal-Constitution   ...A construction worker died Saturday night in Rockdale County after being trapped underneath a dump truck...


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today's Teamster News 09.28.14

Teamsters
East Bridgewater DPW workers align with Teamsters  The Enterprise   ... Fourteen members of the town’s Department of Public Works have secured their first three-year contract with Teamsters Local 653, after changing union affiliations last year...
Trade
Despite Bold Japan Trade Pledges, U.S. Still Wonders: ‘Where’s the Beef?’  Wall Street Journal   ...Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began and ended a trip to New York this week with bold pledges to help advance stalled talks on an ambitious pan-Pacific free-trade pact. But mid-week, his chief negotiator walked out of a Washington session with his American counterpart, after U.S. officials accused Tokyo of moving too timidly on opening up Japan’s agriculture market, leaving the agreement’s fate as uncertain as ever...
Want To Find Out Where Your Fruit Was Grown? Good Luck.  Trade Reform   ...What’s required by law in terms of transparency in produce sourcing is minimal: Only country of origin need be shared. Any information shared publicly beyond that is entirely voluntary...
State Battles
5 Tech Companies That Surprisingly STILL Fund ALEC  Common Cause   ...eBay remains a member and funder of ALEC; its biggest competitor, Amazon, cut ties with the organization in 2012...
Court urged to let Ohioans vote early  SCOTUS Blog   ...Arguing that early voting is necessary to continue to deal with the “unprecedented disaster” at the polls in Ohio in 2004, several civil rights advocacy groups urged the Supreme Court on Saturday to permit Ohioans to start casting their ballots next Tuesday for this year’s general election...
Blame Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts for revenue woes in Kansas (opinion)  Kansas City Star   ...the excessive, Brownback-supported tax cuts were to blame for much of the state’s lower-than-predicted revenues...
War on Workers
Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car  New York Times   ...Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car's dashboard that prevented her car from starting...  
Walmart Targets The Poor With New Checking Accounts  Huffington Post   ...Walmart needs that money. Sales at U.S. stores open a year, an important retail metric, have been flat or negative for six straight quarters. Food stamp cuts in November hurt the company's bottom line, executives said...
Worker dies at Moncure wood products company  The State   ...Authorities with the Chatham County Sheriff's Office say a worker at a wood products company died when a piece of machinery fell on him...
Miscellaneous
Team bus/truck collision leaves 4 dead and more than 15 injured  NewsOK   ...Four members of a Texas college softball team are dead after a tractor-trailer crossed over the center median on Interstate 35 and collided with the team’s van Friday night just south of Turner Falls...