Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Links 08/31/10

Paterson to sign domestic workers rights law wcax.com ...The nation's first extensive domestic workers rights measure will become law in New York today.

Pact between KC hospital, unions can stand, labor board says The Kansas City Star ...A federal agency has dismissed complaints against the owner of Research Medical Center and two unions...

Investigation reveals undocumented workers, unsafe conditions in oil spill cleanup The Michigan Messenger ...The workers are expected to work 12 to 14 hour shifts, seven days a week, for which they receive $800 a week — in cash — a hotel room, and food while on the job sites.

Striking garbage workers paid overtime to catch up San Jose Mercury News ...Allied Waste employees were paid overtime for catching up on San Mateo County garbage pickups they missed because of a strike last week.

Teamsters Union Protests Coca Cola's Labor Practices, as Company Shutters Plants Huffington Post ...the company is now facing growing labor conflicts here in the United States.

Workers rate safety most important workplace issue in new Labor Day study R&D Magazine ...More than eight of ten workers -- 85 percent -- rate workplace safety first in importance among labor standards...

Monday, August 30, 2010

No, This Isn't a Man Bites Dog Story

This may be news to some people, but not to us: Every day, unionized companies in the United States are thriving and innovating.

Every Labor Day, American Rights at Work puts together a list of companies that work well with their unions. This year's list features eight companies that pioneer solutions to environmental challenges.

They're actually doing pretty interesting stuff.

Late in the '90s, for example, Gerding/Edlen redeveloped an old industrial section of Portland, Ore. The green builder saved a 100-year-old brewery, used union labor and incorporated a lot of sustainable design -- recycled materials, natural lighting, photovoltaic panels and high efficiency envelopes and mechanical systems. Now they're working on projects that produce zero net carbon emissions (and union jobs).

Here's an employer a union member can love: Butch Johnson. He bought the bankrupt Flambeau River Papers mill in Park Falls, Wis., and rehired nearly all of the mill's 300 workers, honoring their union contract. Flambeau produces premium recycled paper and is building a biofuels plant to power the mill.

Or how about the company that grows the best tasting tomato (according to the American Culinary Institute)? Eurofresh grows tomatoes and cucumbers at a giant greenhouse complex in Arizona. It pays workers 65 percent more than non-union agricultural workers, along with health benefits that have no premium costs. The greenhouses are safer than open fields and the vegetables meet high standards of food safety.

United Streetcar is bring unionized streetcar manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Last year the company made the first U.S.-produced streetcar in 60 years for Portland, Ore. They honor union contracts and mostly use components made in the U.S.

Read more here.

Links 08/30/10

Striking Coke workers left without health care KOMO-TV ...Teamsters ...and their families find themselves in a scary spot without health benefits.

Century City janitors' strike spotlights workers' plight Los Angeles Times ...16 of the janitors who clean the high-rises that are home to some of the world's richest talent agencies, financial service companies and law firms were laid off.

Technical workers at Genesys Regional Medical Center reject contract; hospital prepares for a strike Flint Journal ...It’s almost official: the strike is on.

Free market has turned us into 'Matrix' drones The Independent ...A leading economist has likened the nation's acceptance of free-market capitalism to that of the brainwashed characters in the film The Matrix...

Wal-Mart suit over sex bias carries high stakes New York Times ...just a third of Wal-Mart’s managers were women, even though two-thirds of its employees were.

China Defends Control of Rare Earth Exports as Move to Protect Environment Bloomberg ...China defended its controls on exports of rare earth...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Teamster organizing victory

Local 386 organized 613 CVS distribution workers in Patterson, Calif.

Organizer Omar Lockyear:

"If it wasn’t for the people at CVS who felt so passionate about getting organized, I guarantee this never would have happened...It was a very emotional vote, with lots of tears of joy once it was over.

“I’m proud of everyone over there that stood up for what they deserved.”

Links 08/27/10

For Workers Who Find Jobs, Lower Wages Wall Street Journal ... 55% of those who did find work were earning less than before.

A Thriving Industry Built on Low-Compensated Temp Workers New York Times ...thousands of workers in the Chicago area’s massive warehouse complexes ... are laid off and rehired every few months by temporary-staffing agencies.

Sarah Palin Will "Go Down in History like McCarthy," Says Labor Leader CBS News ...Trumka complains about Palin railing against "union thugs" despite the fact that her husband is in a union.

States Press Workers on Health Care Wall Street Journal ...Kentucky, Connecticut and Texas... join a growing number of governments that have cut health benefits in recent years without major challenges.

American Will Fight Record FAA Fine Wall Street Journal ...American Airlines vowed to fight a proposed $24.2 million federal penalty alleging intentional maintenance violations on some 280 jetliners.

Tea Party Rocks Primaries Rolling Stone ...this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Social Security: "Like a Milk Cow with 310 Million Tits"

The source of that comment, sadly, is not just some wingnut off the street. It's former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, the co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission. He has suggested the deficit commission will recommend cutting back Social Security to reduce the deficit.

CBS News reported that Simpson wrote the offensive comment in an e-mail to Ashley Carson, the executive director of the Older Women's League. Simpson wrote Carson that he spent many years trying to stabilize Social Security. However, he wrote,
"Yes, I've made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know 'em too. It's the same with any system in America. We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

Dean Baker points out that Simpson is not only crude but clueless. Baker says

Simpson seemed surprised by what should have been old hat to anyone familiar with the policy debate on Social Security.


Simpson's public remarks also seem to show very little knowledge of the financial situation of the elderly or near elderly.

Baker notes Simpson doesn't realize that the baby-boomers nearing retirement have had most of their savings wiped out by the collpase of the housing bubble and the stock market.

And finally, Baker points out that Simpson doesn't seem to have a clue as to the type of work that most older people are doing.

While it is possible for senators to continue in their jobs late in life, nearly half of older workers have jobs that are either physically demanding or require they work in difficult conditions.

Here's what you need to know about Social Security: The shortfall is relatively small and far into the future.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote a letter on Wednesday asking President Obama to fire Simpson from the commission.
“While there are honest differences of opinion as to how best to tackle this growing problem, we should all be in agreement that everyon working in this area – especially someone in as important a position as the co-chair of your National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – has a responsibility to be as serious, deliberate, and sober as the challenges we face."

Yesterday, The New York Times reports Simpson isn't going anywhere.


Links 08/26/10

Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Hear Bias Suit New York Times ...Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history.

Housing Market Plunged in July, Fueling Anxiety New York Times ...Housing sales in July plunged 25.5 percent below the level of a year ago...

Despite Reform, Banks Have Room for Risky Deals New York Times ...financial regulation...will not stop banks from making bets that some critics deem risky...

SEC backs labor on corporate board votes Washington Times ...The Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday handed labor and social-activist groups a big victory by approving rules making it easier for them to put allies on corporate boards...

Should a Union-Busting Company Build the MLK Memorial? Washington City Paper ... the United Construction Workers union ...says Dulles, Va.-based Southland Concrete—which is doing the concrete work for the $120 million project—has by far the most complaints from its workers.

Construction workers win $2.2 million settlement Associated Press ...state Attorney General Jerry Brown says investigators uncovered a years-long scheme at Country Builders, Inc. to cheat employees and evade workers' compensation costs.

GOP seizes on private-public pay gap as a midterm election issue The Hill ...Federal workers have become a new flashpoint in the fight between Republicans and Democrats on the economy.

Court Hears Effort to Delay Dollar Thrifty Buyout Vote New York Times ...Shareholders of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group asked a judge on Wednesday to delay a vote on the company’s $1.2 billion sale to Hertz Global Holdings, contending that the board had failed to consider a higher offer from the Avis Budget Group.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Teamsters strike Waste Management in California

Local 350 in Daly City on strike to protest unfair labor practices; 500 Teamsters honoring the picket line.

Why do they want to drive down our wages and hurt our community?

That's the question asked by Michael LeBerf, president of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union's Local 220, in Williamson, N.Y.

Local 220 workers are striking the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, which owns the Mott's factory that employs them. Though Dr. Pepper Snapple earned $555 million last year, management demanded wage cuts of $1.50 an hour, elimination of pensions for new employees, a 20 percent cut in their 401(k) plans and increased health insurance costs.

Michael Winship writes about the workers' plight in the Huffington Post. Ever since the family-owned Mott's was taken over by Dr. Pepper Snapple, he writes,

...the family spirit at the factory that once included an effective worker-management safety committee, Christmas parties, Easter hams and company picnics has been destroyed. Corporate greed, they say, has marched in with a vengeance.

The company's response to the strike: workers are overpaid and living beyond their means. CEO Larry Young, of course, saw his salary rise 113 percent over the last three years to $6.5 million

Read it and weep.

Links 08/25/10

Big Unions to Pool Money for Fall Elections Wall Street Journal ...The AFL-CIO and SEIU plan to target elections in 26 states, all but five of which they consider battleground territory, including California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Our Blue-Collar Great Depression Wall Street Journal ...the current Great Recession for younger blue-collar workers feels more like a depression—with no end in sight.

Let Congress Fix the Multi-Employer Pensions It Broke Wall Street Journal ... Your article attributes widespread underfunding to mismanagement and failure to negotiate adequate contributions; our research proved unequivocally that the market crash was to blame.

As midterms loom, Democrats work to shore up faltering recovery Washington Post ...the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office affirmed that view of the stimulus package, estimating that it added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of this year and may have prevented the nation from lapsing into recession.

Biden slams GOP's economic plan Politico "...For eight years before we arrived, Mr. Boehner and his party ran this economy and the middle class into the ground,” Biden said. “They took the $237 billion surplus they inherited from the Clinton Administration and left us with a $1.3 trillion deficit, and, in the process, quadrupled the national debt – all before we had turned on the lights in the West Wing.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Washington Post Invents Debate Over "Free Trade"

The peerless Dean Baker points out that the Korean trade deal doesn't free trade. Many trade barriers remain, and some -- like patent and copyright protections -- are increased. He writes

...the trade agenda of the United States had been about reducing barriers to trade in manufactured goods with the purpose of putting non-college educated workers in direct competition with much lower paid workers in other countries.

Baker has a better description of the Korea trade deal: "one-sided protectionism."

Amen, brother.

Links 08/24/10

Give Labor Its Day (editorial) America ...Labor holds the key to the nation’s future global competitiveness, its standard of living and the health of its democracy.

Teamsters: CCE workers to vote Oct. 7 Atlanta Journal-Constitution ...workers at Coca-Cola Enterprises facilities in College Park and Marietta will vote Oct. 7 on whether to be represented by the union.

Coca-Cola Employees in Bremerton Go On Strike Kitsap Sun ...the company wants to cease contributions to retiree health-care coverage, increase employee insurance premiums 800 percent and close facilities in other parts of the state.

Workers hustled in pension game (opinion) The Journal-Standard ...Why is the worker’s future tied to the whims of the stock market, but the bankers’ bonuses, golden parachutes, and outrageous salaries are guaranteed?

A Record Number Of Workers Could Be Burning Away Retirement Savings Just To Survive Business Insider ...according to Fidelity, the Boston-based investment management giant, record numbers of its clients have been withdrawing money from 401(k) retirement plans.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Links 08/12/10

Employers Moving Slowly to Fill Jobs Wall Street Journal ...Even as jobs remain scarce, employers are being unusually slow to fill positions—a problematic trend at a time when 4.3% of the labor force has been out of work for more than six months.

Troubles Abroad Adds to Worries for US Economy New York Times ...While the economy is growing again, it is growing too slowly to create many jobs or to increase household incomes.

U.S. Plans More Aid for Jobless Homeowners New York Times ...the Obama administration on Wednesday pumped $3 billion into programs intended to stop the unemployed from losing their homes.

Turnaround Continues at G.M. With Strong Quarter New York Times ...The quarterly profit marked G.M.’s strongest financial performance since 2004...

Union Official To Leave Two Posts New York Times ...Anna Burger announced Wednesday that she was retiring from her positions as secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union and chairwoman of Change to Win.

Survey: Workers Concerned About Social Security’s Future U.S. News & World Report

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Links 08/11/10

Fed Sees Recovery Slowing Wall Street Journal ...the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee said the recovery "has slowed in recent months," and that the "pace of economic recovery is likely to be more modest in the near term than had been anticipated."

President Obama signs $26 billion jobs bill to aid state payrolls Washington Post ...President Obama approved a final spurt of spending Tuesday to shore up the sluggish recovery.

The Horror Show New York Times ...The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed.

California Unions Take Pay Protest to Movies New York Times ...The workers, scheduled by the governor to be on unpaid leave on Friday, say they will demonstrate outside theaters across the state showing the new action thriller “The Expendables,” which features a rare cameo by the actor turned governor.

Productivity falls for 1st time in year Los Angeles Times ...The reversal suggests that employers looking to increase output may need to hire more workers, a boon for the sluggish job market.

Colorado Democrats Choose Incumbent Senator Bennet Wall Street Journal ...Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet survived a tough primary fight to win his party's nomination Tuesday, bucking the anti-incumbent tide that has been rumbling across the nation.

Arizona anti-union measure nears Nov. 2 ballot The Arizona Republic ...Lawmakers on Tuesday advanced an anti-union measure toward the Nov. 2 .

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Links 08/10/10

KKR Shelves Offering Wall Street Journal ...KKR & Co. said it dropped plans to raise $500 million in a stock offering, a setback for the firm as it begins life as a company publicly traded...

House moves to help teachers, public workers Associated Press ...House Democrats are convening an emergency session to pass a bill aimed at saving hundreds of thousands of teachers and other public workers from unemployment.

Americans Afraid to Take Full Vacations ABC ...only 57 percent of people here are taking all of their vacation time.

Boomers wanting to work past retirement age find limited options USA Today ...Jobs are scarce and many employers aren't willing to hire older workers.

China Trade Surplus Widened in July Wall Street Journal China's trade surplus for July widened to its highest level in a year and a half,

Monday, August 9, 2010

Links 08/09/10

House returns from summer break to pass state-funding bill CNN ...The House of Representatives will be back in session this week to take up a $26 billion bill designed, in part, to help avoid teacher layoffs.

Arizona legislature takes aim at union organizing Arizona Daily Star ...State lawmakers return to the Capitol today in hopes of quickly approving a ballot measure aimed at the ability of unions to organize.

The latest jobs report shows even temp workers are at risk Daily Finance ...After adding temp jobs every month since September, the number of temporary workers fell to a loss of 5,600 jobs last month.

As the Economy Slows New York Times ...a slowdown is well under way. The odds of renewed recession remain uncomfortably high. ..

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fair and balanced?

In case you haven't been paying attention to the noxious outpourings of wingnut media personalities, Media Matters does a great job documenting attacks on unions, starting with Glenn Beck.

Beck says unions have "raped" police and fire fighters. On the August 4 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck said of unions: "Look what they've done to the police and firemen. They've raped these guys.

Gretchen Carlson says it's expensive to live in New York City because of unions:

On the August 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asserted that the cost of living in New York City, California, and Honolulu is "so expensive" "because of union pensions; because of raising costs for other things; for raising taxes along the way for schools."

Rush Limbaugh says union leaders are communists:

On the March 4 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh said, "The union heads -- the leaders of these unions -- essentially are communists."

Here's what these people are: hand puppets for the super-wealthy capitalist elite.

Links 08/06/10

Another Obama economic advisor steps down Los Angeles Times ...Romer...had called for a larger economic stimulus than the $787-billion package that Obama ultimately embraced.

Jobless claims rise 19,000 to 479,000 Marketwatch ...the July average of 458,000 is consistent with a labor market under a significant amount of stress," economist Neil Dutta of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch wrote.

Ford Receives Export Loan Guarantee Wall Street Journal ...Ford plans to invest $450 million to produce a new hybrid and plug-in hybrid at its Michigan Assembly Plant beginning in 2012, creating 1,000 jobs. In Chicago, the company is investing $400 million and adding 1,200 jobs amid plans to begin production of its fuel-efficient 2011 Ford Explorer later this year.

Senate Votes $26 Billion for States and Schools New York Times ...The Senate on Thursday approved $26 billion in aid to states and school districts to prevent the layoffs of tens of thousands of teachers and government workers.

$16 Million Fine for Conn. Power Plant Associated Press ... The nation's top workplace safety agency imposed $16.6 million in fines Thursday against companies involved in a power plant blast that killed six workers and injured 50 others.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Links 08/05/10

Job Growth Remains Weak in Private Sector Wall Street Journal ...employers remain reluctant to hire amid weak economic growth...

Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Climb to 3-Month High Bloomberg ...firings remain elevated as the recovery moderated.

Remembering Lives Lost in a Warehouse Rampage New York Times ...Husbands and fathers, even a grandfather among them, they had collectively held their jobs for well over a century at a family-owned business that had been remarkably stable.

Aid package aimed at saving state jobs passes key hurdle in Senate Washington Post ...An emergency plan to save the jobs of tens of thousands of public school teachers and other government workers overcame a key Senate hurdle Wednesday...

Ford says UAW deals bring work back to its plants Associated Press ...Ford said it has already brought about 1,340 jobs into 24 of its plants, assembling parts that otherwise would have been made by outside companies.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Links 08/04/10

Ensuring Another 75 Years of Social Security Huffington Post ...there is one federal program that has remained consistently popular since it was first signed into law 75 years ago this month: Social Security.

Obama Courts Labor Support for Trade Deal Wall Street Journal ...The Obama administration is promising labor unions that it will enforce a range of worker protections in new trade pacts in an effort to win labor's support of a revised South Korea free-trade agreement.

Smoother Ride for Auto-Parts Makers Wall Street Journal ...Now, the U.S.-based automotive suppliers are not only doing better, but they are profitable, their stocks are surging, they are hiring...

Dollar Thrifty Rejects Avis Bid Reuters

More Workers Face Pay Cuts, Not Furloughs New York Times ...Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are squeezing their employees to work the same amount for less money in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs.

Rolling Museum Casts Light on Current-Day Forced Labor New York Times ...Institutionalized slavery may have largely gone by the wayside in the United States around 1865, but that does not mean it has entirely vanished.

Top state court keeps union proposition off November ballot Arizona Daily Sun ...Arizonans won't be able to vote in November to make it harder for unions to organize, at least not unless legislators fix it -- and quickly.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Links 08/03/10

Factory Growth Slows Around World Wall Street Journal ...Growth in manufacturing activity slowed in many of the world's major economies in July, underscoring concerns about the recovery's strength for the rest of this year.

99 Weeks Later, Jobless Have Only Desperation New York Times ...In June, with long-term unemployment at record levels, about 1.4 million people were out of work for 99 weeks or more.

The truth about PLAs Boston Globe PLAs ... have been used on large public projects as well as private buildings ... where owners seek a level of comfort regarding scheduling, training, workforce diversity, productivity, uninterrupted work progress, and known costs.

UAW seeks easier union organizing among foreign automakers The Detroit News ... United Auto Workers President Bob King wants foreign automakers to sign written agreements, allowing workers to organize members.

Sen. Casey introduces bill to guarantee direct care workers fair pay The Daily Review ... U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said he believes direct-care workers such as home-care aides and nursing assistants often do not get the pay and the respect they deserve for the work they do.

Free dental care draws thousands to outdoor clinic in rural Virginia Washington Post ...Growing up as the children of union miners, the Honakers, like many of their neighbors, received good dental care. But many of the mines have closed, and the jobs and benefits have disappeared.