Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"It's all rigged" says U.S. Senator on hot mic

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was caught on camera complaining that the Senate's lame-duck session is "all rigged."

Bennet didn't know a C-SPAN microphone would pick up his comments just after the Senate voted against banning earmarks. He said,
"I mean, the whole conversation is rigged... The fact that we don't get to conversation before the break about what we're gonna do in the lame duck... It's just rigged."
Watch the video here.

8 million Americans quit using credit cards last year

Some didn't do it voluntarily, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. The banks shut down Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover cards because people fell behind in their payments. Others stopped using credit cards because cardholders aren't buying as much or are paying down their balances.

The decline in credit card usage is steep. It fell 11 percent -- from 70 million to 62 million -- in the July-to-September period in 2010 from the same period in 2009.

Either way, consumers are stressed, said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit. Becker told the Associated Prss that carrying a credit card balance before the recession was more of a lifestyle decision reflecting spending choices.
Now it's out of necessity. In times of financial distress, nobody wants to carry a balance. Where people can afford to pay things down, they do.
Here's one reason people are feeling poorer (in addition to high unemployment and declining wages): housing prices are still falling.  The Census Bureau reported that prices for new homes fell a whopping 13.9 percent from September to October.


What happens to you if the tax cuts expire?

Never mind the "will they or won't they?" chatter in Washington about letting the Bush tax cuts expire. The real question for most Americans is how much more will they pay if Congress fails to do anything. Americans for Tax Reform has the answer. First,
everyone who pays taxes will see a tax hike in their first paycheck of the year.
Here's how much:
  • If you're in the 10 percent bracket, you'll be taxed at 15 percent.
  • The 25 percent bracket rises to 28 percent
  • The 28 percent bracket rises to 31 percent
  • The 33 percent bracket rises to 36 percen
  • The 35 percent bracket rises to 39.6 percent
And, says ATR, the marriage penalty will return, the child tax credit will be halved from $1,000 to $500 per child and the dependent care tax credit will be cut.
Further, the capital gains tax will increase from 15 percent to 20 percent. The top dividends tax will increase from 15 percent to 39.6 percent.

Shorting truck drivers' pay with a computer program

Some men will rob you with a six gun, some with a computer software program. Truck drivers at Phoenix-based Swift Transportation Corp. have filed a class-action suit against the company for routinely shorting their pay.

Truckinginfo.com reports that drivers claim the company used a software program to calculate mileage, and that it underpaid drivers by 7 percent to 10 percent.

Court documents state that Swift's manager of contract finance from 1998-02 admitted the software consistently underreported the mileage that drivers actually log.

The Maricopa County Superior Court certified the case as a class-action suit earlier this month. The suit includes all employee drivers who worked for Swift on or after Jan. 30, 1998, or contracted with Swift as owner-operator drivers on or after the same date, and were compensated according to the number of miles driven.

Today's Teamster News 11.30.10

FedEx closing area facility, eliminating 222 jobs   The Pulse-Journal   ...Closing the (Ohio) facility is part of a national realignment of FedEx Freight to integrate FedEx National LTL... Teamsters call for dismissal of ABF lawsuit about YRC concessions  IBT
Teamsters, Continental Reach Tentative Agreement For Fleet Service Workers  IBT
Amid Deficit Fears, Obama Freezes Pay  New York Times
NJ must pay $271M for killing tunnel Associated Press ... New Jersey owes the federal government more than $271 million after canceling a rail tunnel connecting the state with New York...
Holder Says U.S. Is Conducting `Very Serious' Investigation of Wall Street  Bloomberg ...U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed today that the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation related to trading on Wall Street...
Food Banks Bracing for End of Extended Unemployment Benefits  Huffington Post

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tentative agreement for Continental, Teamsters

This just in: The Teamsters and United Continental Holdings (the new parent of Continental and United airlines) reached agreement on a first contract that includes job security language and four pay hikes over the next 2-1/2 years for Continental fleet service workers. The contract, if ratified, will cover 7,600 new Teamsters who perform essential work at airports, including handling baggage, moving cargo and directing jets to the terminal gates.

Continental's fleet service workers voted overwhelmingly to join the Teamsters on Feb. 12 this year.

General President Hoffa called it a solid agreement that sets the union up well for the merger process. Gary Welch, a 14-year fleet service worker based in Houston, served on the Teamsters Negotiating Committee. He said achieving a good first contract after five months is "impressive and unusual."

According to the IBT, the 30-month contract is retroactive to July 1, 2010. It includes 10.5 percent in guaranteed raises compounded over the life of the contract, strong job-security language, profit sharing, shift-dirrectial pay, longevity premium increases ang better displacement and grievance procedures.

Buy American, Don't Buy Toxic Toys for the Holidays

Here are some gift ideas for the holidays: Reebok NFL jerseys, Ballpark Classics tabletop baseball games, the Tedco gyroscope from Small World Toys, a Dirt King Tricycle or an All American Clothing denim jacket. They're all products made in America.

Here are some things you probably shouldn't buy: Great Shape Barbie, Spongebob Squarepants Switch 'em Up Spongbob Posable Pal, Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer Ice Skater or Disney Princess Royal Giggles Cinderella. They're all toys that have tested positive for the presence of toxic chemicals and sold by Toys R Us. In fact, most toys tested from Toys R Us were apparently made of PVC, which can cause health problems in children.

So you might want to avoid Toys R Us and seek out American-made products. There are several good websites that recommend American-made products, including BuyAmericanMart, BuyAmerican.com and All American Clothing. Check them out.

Town fights back against corporate move to Mexico

A feisty Massachusetts city wants to use the power of eminent domain to prevent a company from moving 100 union jobs to nonunion plants in Mexico and California.
(Photo by Mike Gay/Taunton Gazette)

Taunton, Mass., is an old industrial city of 54,000 with 8.7 percent unemployment. It is home to Haskon Aerospace, which makes silicone-rubber seals and gaskets for military planes and commercial planes. Haskon's parent, Esterline Technologies, made profit of $120 million last year; its CEO, Roger Cremin, took home $6,731,506, according to CEO Paywatch.

Earlier this year, Esterline said it would close the plant, which had made money and provided good jobs in Taunton for 80 years. United Electrical (UE) workers Local 204 looked into buying the plant themselves. At first, Esterline agreed to sell the equipment to the union. Reports Naked Capitalist:
Here’s where it gets ugly. Esterline had given the union, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union, the right of first refusal to buy the facility and operate it itself. But the company decided to renege on the deal when the union had to insist that the company obey Massachusetts law and pay for three months of medical care after employees were let go. Esterline started dealing in bad faith, and said it would cut the already-agreed-upon severance package by $143,000. That’s not kosher; it’s called “regressive bargaining” and the unions have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.
UE's Northeastern district president Peter Knowlton told In These Times.
"They've rebuffed everything we proposed to save the jobs...Initially, Esterline gave us the right of first refusal on buying the equipment, but then they reneged on that...They also promised a list of all the equipment, but they reneged on that, too. "
The Taunton Gazette reports that Haskon workers' last day on the job came Tuesday, Oct. 26, despite the company having previously told them they had until that Saturday to clear out their lockers. The union is still trying to buy the equipment (the company doesn't own the building).
But Esterline says it needs to be compensated for the $143,000 in severance costs (2 percent of the CEO's  take-home pay). It scheduled an auction for its equipment. Then Taunton struck back. Last week, the city council made a preliminary commitment to take the factory under its powers of eminent domain, which allow governments to take control of private property for the public good.
More developments are expected this week. Stay tuned.

Today's Teamster News 11.28.10

Marketers Discover Trucks Can Deliver More Than Food  New York Times   ...Food trucks selling things like falafels and waffles have grown in popularity ... and advertisers now see them as a vehicle for delivering their message directly to consumers.
Don't Just Tell Us. Show Us That You Can Foreclose.  New York Times   ...one question at the heart of the foreclosure mess refuses to go away: whether institutions trying to take back a property can prove they even have the right to foreclose at all...
Black Friday Sales Rise 0.3 % as Shoppers Await Better Deals  Bloomberg News
The recent improvement in economic news  Calculated Risk   ...Trucking and rail traffic improved in October...
CBO: Recovery Act Raised GDP and Lowered Unemployment But Effects Are "Expected to Wane"  ThinkProgress

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today's Teamster News 11.27.10

Second mortgages trip up short sales  Wall Street Journal
CBS Joins the Attack On Social Security  Dean Baker
Winning the Class War  New York Times   ...Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy...
UPS Fights "Fire with Fire" to Fill Pension Gap: Credit Markets  Bloomberg Business Week   ...Companies facing the biggest pension deficit since at least 1994 are selling bonds at the fastest pace in more than seven years to plug the hole...
Upset port truckers set to rally today in Delta  The Delta Optimist   ...Hundreds expected to protest rate undercutting...
Study Assesses Effectiveness of Mandatory Blood Alcohol Testing Programs  Press Release  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Today's Teamster News 11.26.10

Christmas Fight! Teamsters vs. Toys R Us Babies R Us Black Friday Deals   Health News California   ...Just in time for Black Friday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union and an environmental justice group have released a report they commissioned attacking the nation’s biggest toy seller, Toys R Us and Babies R Us, for allegedly selling ‘toxic toys...’
Stop & Shop union members donate gift cards to HN Holiday Fund Gate House News Service   ...Members of the Stop & Shop distribution center union, Teamsters Local 25, in Freetown donated $560 worth of Stop & Shop gift cards this week...
Teamsters call for dismissal of ABF lawsuit about YRC concessions  Kansas City Business News
Amazon.com distribution center attracts "gypsy" workers from across the country  Louisville Courier-Journal   ... Hard-up retirees and unemployed workers with children have converged on this rural town in RVs and campers to spend a few months earning $10 per hour filling orders at an Amazon warehouse...
As American workers suffer, corporate profits rise to historic level  Crooks and Liars

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Today's Teamster News 11.25.10

Light blogging for the next few days. Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Koziara: High-speed rail will encourage job growth LaCrosse Tribune ...The proposed $810 million high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee would create more than 5,000 high-quality jobs to help put our economy back on track...

N.C. unions says they'll support Charlotte's convention bid Charlotte Observer ...Claude Gray, president of Teamsters Local 391 ... said the Teamsters represent about 4,000 drivers in the Charlotte area who would benefit from the influx of convention-goers.

As Chinese workers build the Martin Luther King memorial, a union investigates Washington Post

Partisan rancor follows 5-year contract approval The Intelligencer

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Union songs, compliments Teamsters Local 1

Already sick of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer?" Try some stirring anthems from the labor movement.

The Boston Mailers Union -- Teamsters Local 1 -- has a nifty collection of union songs on its web site, including some you may never have heard. Check them out.

Six days 'til deadline for Labour Photo of the Year

This is the first-ever winner of Labour Start's annual photo contest. It was taken by Robert Day, a branch secretary with the British public sector PCS in Birmingham, England. The photo shows trade unionists marching through Birmingham on April 24, 2008. 

There's still time to enter. Derek Blackadder explains here how to enter and what the contest rules are.

Turn Black Friday Red, White and Blue

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be great days to get out and shop, but they're also depressing reminders that America has lost much of its manufacturing capacity. On Black Friday we encounter substandard consumer goods from overseas, like toxic toys at Toys R Us. Cyber Monday reminds us that we make fewer computers than we did in 1975, when the first personal computer was invented here, and we make exactly zero cell phones.

The loss of our manufacturing base explains why underemployment is at 17 percent and 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

Teamsters General President Hoffa, in today's Huffington Post, says we can turn our country around  -- if we abandon the religion of free trade. He writes,

The mainstream media is almost unanimous in its support for job-killing trade deals, despite massive evidence that they hurt the U.S. economy. They recite the word “protectionism” as if it’s some sort of voodoo spell that will ward off all criticism.
Hoffa doesn't spare his criticism of free trade. Citing Thom Hartmann's terrific new book, "Rebooting the American Economy," he describes how America transformed itself from a small, agrarian nation to an economic powerhouse behind a sturdy wall of protectionism. America was only following the example of Britain, which in the 15th century became a wealthy nation because it protected its textile industry. And protectionism changed South Korea from an exporter of fish and human hair for wigs to an economic power that ships cars, machinery and electronics overseas.

China has had enormous success with its protectionist policies, as any visit to Wal-Mart will demonstrate. Hoffa notes a growing awareness that complaints to the WTO won't stop China from breaking the rules of international trade. Both Hartmann and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission suggest slapping tariffs on China. Hartmann goes even further. He urges government subsidies for emerging industries, and he wants us to withdraw from the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, and, as Hoffa says,
...all the other trade deals that gave American workers the SHAFTA...
Protectionism worked for China and it can work for us. As Hoffa writes,

America has been in plenty of tough spots and each time emerged as a stronger nation. We overcame British tyranny, reconciled after the Civil War, vanquished Hitler and rebuilt our economy after the Great Depression.

Charity begins at Teamsters locals

A message to all you people who like to call us union thugs: Do you know how many hungry people Teamsters are feeding this Thanksgiving? Do you know how many Christmas presentsTeamsters donate for needy children?

Teamsters all over the country are raising money and collecting food and toys for their poor, hungry and unemployed neighbors. Here are just 10 randomly selected charitable activities Teamster locals have given time and money to. There are hundreds more.

Today's Teamster News 11.24.10

Teamsters leader loses layoff arbitration case against Martin County  TCPalm  ...Curley led the revolt against the Public Employees United union in 2007 that resulted in the county's clerical and blue collar workers being represented by Teamsters Local 769. She was later named chief shop steward...
Corporate Profits Hit Record  Wall Street Journal  ...U.S. companies' profits rose in the third quarter to an annual rate of $1.66 trillion, the highest on record, reflecting the divergence between the recovery for the corporate sector and American households...
Record Corporate Profits Are Coming Out of Workers' Hides  Daily Finance   ...between the third quarter of 2009 and the same period on 2010, productivity was up 2.5% as output rose 4.1%, hours worked increased 1.6%, and unit labor costs fell 1.9%...
Barack Obama: Kokomo proves auto bailout worked  Politico   ...The GM stock sale and the revival of the plant, he added, proves that his decision to rescue the industry — decried by Republicans — saved jobs that otherwise would have vanished and triggered Kokomo’s economic rebound...
"Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households"  Economist's View   ... almost 40% of households have been affected either by unemployment, negative home equity, arrears on their mortgage payments, or foreclosure...
Bush Excessive Tax Cuts for Wealthy Go to Help Create Jobs Overseas, Not in America  Buzzflash
Wallets Out, Wall Street Dares to Indulge  New York Times   ...Two years after the onset of the financial crisis, the stock market is recovering and Wall Street’s elite are splurging...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NFL Lockout Threatened--Sign The Petition

NFL owners are planning to lock out players next season unless they agree to unreasonable demands -- like taking away ALL healthcare benefits from players and their families.

American Rights at Work points out that

players risk their lives for the game. An average football player's career lasts only three and a half seasons – but the injuries they face on the job aren't short-lived at all. Tackles, hits, and blocks result in intense physical trauma, impacting players' health, well-being, and medical expenses far into retirement.
Further, a lockout would be disastrous for thousands of working families whose livelihood depends on professional football.  Says American Rights at Work,
If there's no football season, it would impact 150,000 jobs – and cause more than $140 million in lost revenue – in each and every city with an NFL team.
The Teamsters, by the way, have a long history of solidarity with the NFL players. In 1967, the great Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown distributed union cards in an effort to form a Teamsters affiliate. Most recently, the Teamsters and the Players Association delivered two tractor-trailers full of food and supplies to needy families in New Orleans.

You can help support the players by signing a petition urging the NFL owners NOT to lock out the players.

Slideshow: Picketing Monroe Prison

Here's a great slide show of Local 117 Teamsters picketing Monroe Correctional Complex last week in Washington.

Our Teamster brothers and sisters on Nov. 17 were protesting job and program cuts by the Washington State Department of Corrections. Said Local 117's secretary-treasurer, Tracey A. Thompson:
“These reductions, along with the State’s proposals in bargaining, are simply unacceptable. Our members work side-by-side with some of society’s most dangerous criminals. We will not stand idly by and allow the State to dismantle protections that help keep them safe.”

Local 117 also filed a lawsuit against the cuts, and the local news media is picking up the story.

The Everett Herald reported on Sunday
There's a razor-thin line between safe and sorry inside state prisons and Kimberly Nichols thinks it's getting crossed — in the wrong direction. She's the wife of a prison guard at Monroe Correctional Complex and she's been telling anyone who will listen how planned budget cuts will mean less pay and more risk for her husband...
...Convicted sex offenders will get less treatment before release. Education, counseling and chemical dependency programs will be scaled back. There'll be complete lockdowns at some prisons each month. New officers will get less training. There'll be fewer officers on patrol in kitchens where inmates can pocket implements for later use as a weapon.
Watch a video of the action here.

Worker records boss sexually harassing her

A waitress in Queens, N.Y., who'd been sexually harassed by her boss finally recorded him in the act -- with her cellphone. The New York Post reported on the lawsuit she filed against him
Samanta Viskovic, 32, began waitressing at the Oceano Greek Seafood Restaurant in May 2009 and within days was flooded with sexual innuendoes, the suit says.

Athanasios Papaspiros continuously suggested that he was "crazy" for his new employee, who constantly told him "his conduct was unwelcome," reads the suit, filed yesterday in Queens Supreme Court.
When he called her into the storage room and forced a kiss on her, she recorded it for posterity -- and the courts. Listen to it here.

Heavier trucks advocated in more places than Maine and Vermont

Shippers and trucking companies are keeping up the pressure to allow bigger, heavier, longer trucks on the highways. Before the end of the year, Maine and Vermont politicians want Congress to make permanent a "pilot program" allowing heavier trucks in those states.

For a long time now, about 20 states have allowed longer-combination vehicles on their highways. Last time we checked, Idaho, North Dakota and Washington state all let heavy trucks (100,000 pounds or more) on their highways. Politicians in Ontario, Canada, want to make permanent a "pilot program" to allow tractors to pull two 53-foot trailers. The "pilot program" expires on Nov. 30.

Earlier this month, South Carolina changed its permitting rules to let  trucks haul international shipping containers weighing up to 100,000 pounds, according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal. More interesting than the Business Journal's story was J. Stewart's comment:
Ask Ms Florida how well she is doing after being involved in a horrific accident with a loaded refrigerated container (MARESK LINE). A forty foot container stacked inside to the ceiling with avocados toppled over on her Lincoln on I-95 outside Miami. Yes, it was a Florida permitted overweight(95,000lbs)import load. This is just one of hundreds of examples why not to increase the weight on these shipping containers.You'll see much more of this type accident in Carolina when a trucker has to make an emergency maneuver in heavy traffic on I-26 with an over weight box mounted on a junk marine chassis. I know first hand from experience. I have hauled many of these containers to & from the ports loaded with everything from frozen chickens, citrus, forestry products, to being overloaded with hazardous materials. Many scale out at well over the one-hundred thousand pound permit allowed on the highway. Get ready for the roadway carnage brought to you by the ports greedy shipping customers / profit verses your family's life. I have pulled this ocean freight out of the ports since the early seventies (that's when the legal gross weight was (73,280lbs) but then everyone wanted to change that to (80,000). Guess what - these are the same type chassis that were used back thirty-five years ago with no improvement ( actually many of the so-called new chassis are assembled with axle parts over twenty-five years old. They're just refurbished & tagged as a "reconditioned chassis". The chassis owners to this to get around government regulations requiring installation of newer braking systems on brand new factory equipment & without paying federal new heavy vehicle taxes. Allowing overloaded containers is a huge mistake for SC citizens, our roadways, & any trucker who will have to pull this dangerous increase in weight. BTW: When they say permitted for 100,000 gross the shippers will exceed that rating every chance they get just like they do on the 80,000 lb limit now. Check the port records to find out how many container are already over loaded now. This should tell you their track record. I witness even the short twenty footers loaded with 64,000 lb of just inside cargo weight policed by the very same folk that are asking for bigger increases.
The Teamsters have long opposed heavier trucks because they're dangerous, they ruin roads and bridges and they require fewer drivers. General President Hoffa wrote last year that
Highway drivers are never happy to see a 120,000 pound, six-axle rig come barreling along side them at 70 mph. The reason is simple: they’re dangerous.

Today's Teamster News 11.23.10

Christmas Fight: Teamsters vs. Toys R Us  Fox Business News
Cathie Black, as executive pay czar at Coca-Cola, approved hefty perks, compensation for execs  New York Daily News
Union that represents airport screeners urges agency to protect employees  MSNBC   ...TSA workers face verbal abuse from travelers
Woman who told Obama her financial fears has lost her job  Washington Post
Hedge Funds Raided in Probe  Wall Street Journal   ...A three-year insider-trading investigation shifted into high gear Monday as government agents raided the offices of three large hedge funds, sending shock waves through the financial world...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Video: 43 Million Americans on Food Stamps

Yup, you read it right -- just about one in every seven Americans is on food stamps. And despite the so-called end of the recession, food stamp use is up 60 percent since 2007.

Here's a time-lapse video that shows how food stamp usage increased across the U.S.

Time to reach for the Boone's Farm, folks.

Alarming report on China

Every year a new report on China comes out from the  U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission. This year's report will curl your hair.

Dan Slane, the commission chairman, said today that, "The Chinese government quite simply intends to wall off a majority of its economy from international competition.”

Economic Populist pointed out some of the report's highlights.
  • China has forced U.S. corporations to move there and hand over their advanced research and development, technology and manufacturing techniques.
  • China took advantage of the financial crisis to gun after two more market sectors, aircraft manufacturing and alternative energies.
  • China changed its state secrets laws and made them retroactive; in July, a U.S. geologist was sentenced to eight years in prison for buying publicly available geologic reports that Chinese authorities retroactively called "state secrets."
  • Cyber attacks on American companies, to steal intellectual property secrets are originating from China.
Not to mention currency manipulation. The commission says President OBama should slap tariffs on Chinese imports to redress the currency imbalance that's costing so many good American jobs.

Read the whole report here.

Slideshow: Teamster Zookeepers

Teamsters like to say that we represent workers from A to Z -- airline pilots to zookeepers.

Local 727 in Chicago put together a terrific slideshow of the Teamster zookeepers at the Brookfield Zoo. Check it out here.

Are the rich abandoning America?

Tom Ricks thinks rich Americans pretty much don't care about their country. Ricks is a national security reporter who's written a great book about Iraq called "Fiasco."

Ricks points out that the draft ended in the '60s and the Reagan tax cuts began in the '80s. We don't usually compare those two events, he says, but
...we may come to see them together as the moment when the wealthy checked out of America and moved into physical and mental gated communities...
Ricks has an interesting idea: reinstate the draft -- not the old draft, but a draft where you can do something useful for low pay for 18-24 months. Libertarians could choose to do nothing for their country, and in return they would get nothing:

The military option. ...18 months of military service...new conscripts could do a lot of work that currently is outsourced: cutting the grass, cooking the food, taking out the trash, painting the barracks. They would receive minimal pay during their terms of service, but good post-service benefits, such as free tuition at any university in America...

The civilian service option. ...We have lots of other jobs at hand. You do two years of them -- be a teacher's aide at a troubled inner-city school, clean up the cities, bring meals to elderly shut-ins. We might even think about how this force could help rebuild the American infrastructure, crumbling after 30 years of neglect. These national service people would receive post-service benefits essentially similar to what military types get now, with tuition aid.

The libertarian opt-out. ...Here, you opt out of the military and civilian service options. You do nothing for Uncle Sam. In return, you ask for nothing from him. For the rest of your life, no tuition aid, no federal guarantees on your mortgage, no Medicare. Anything we can take you out of, we will. But the door remains open -- if you decide at age 50 that you were wrong, fine, come in and drive a general around for a couple of years.

Trucking industry sneaking heavier-truck bill through Congress

The trucking industry already managed to get a "pilot program" to let 100,000 pound trucks travel on highways in Maine and Vermont (can you say "Nafta highway"?). Now, just as Congress is getting ready to adjourn, they're trying to sneak through an amendment that would make the 100,000-pound limit permanent in those states. And you know that's just the camel's nose under the tent.

It's a terrible idea. The real unemployment rate is somewhere around 17 percent (some say it's closer to 22 percent) and our infrastructure is on the verge of collapse. But most important, bigger, heavier trucks are dangerous. So let's eliminate jobs, since four heavy trucks can carry the same amount as five normal trucks. Let's further destroy our roads and bridges. And let's promote more highway deaths.

General President Hoffa has told Congress what he thinks of heavier trucks:
Lifting truck weight and size limits would turn big rigs into time bombs.
Our good friend Jackie Gillan,  vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said lifting the weight limits would be like loosening airplane-safety standards after a bunch of airline crashes.

Today's Teamster News 11.22.10

Grocery stores, unions agree to tentative contract  HeraldNet.com   ...Allied Employers grocery stores reached a tentative agreement with (UFCW) Locals 21 and 81 and Teamsters Local 38...
Deposition: Countrywide Never Sent Mortgage Notes to Trust; Mortgage-Backed Securities in Question  firedoglake
Think you've read the worst about foreclosures? Read this  Miami Herald
Chris Christie Tells of Apology from President of Teachers Union FoxNation
Cadmium, lead found in drinking glasses  Associated Press

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Today's Teamster News 11.21.10

North Las Vegas council OKs deal with Teamsters for concessions  Las Vegas Review Journal   ...Agreement between city, union keeps 144 jobs...
States Raise Payroll Taxes to Repay Loans  Wall Street Journal  ... State governments are borrowing heavily from the federal government to keep paying unemployment-insurance benefits and  ... most states are raising payroll taxes to pay off the loans...
New Ways Bankers Are Spying on You  Wall Street Journal
Food Stamp Map (VIDEO): Usage Increased Almost 60% Since 2007  Huffington Post
CRS Report Details Dangers of Foreclosure Fraud  firedoglake
Boehner and Congress exempt from TSA procedures  AMERICAblog
Teamster officers, business agents trained on bargaining  IBT

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Roll back this orgy of greed"

Here's a great rant from Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Independent senator from Vermont, compliments (again) of Buzzflash:

"The billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more....
 ...The billionaires and their supporters in Congress are hell-bent on taking us back to the 1920s, and eliminating all traces of social legislation designed to protect working families, the elderly, children and the disabled. No "social contract" for them. They want it all.
They want to privatize or dismantle Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and let the elderly, the sick and the poor fend for themselves.

They want to expand our disastrous trade policies so that corporations can continue throwing American workers out on the street as they outsource jobs to China and other low-wage countries. Some also want to eliminate the minimum wage so that American workers can have the "freedom" to work for $3.00 an hour."
Read the whole thing here.

Hyatt Hotels endanger workers

Women in the U.S. and
Canada helped Hyatt housekeepers
 clean their rooms on Nov 18.

Hyatt ranks dead last among 50 hotel chains for workplace injuries to its housekeeping staff, Buzzflash reports.

But quarterly profits for the company, which is owned by the Pritzker family, just rose sixfold and its stock soared 39 percent this year.

UNITE HERE says Hyatt's injury rate is 50 percent higher than the industry average. And an academic study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine ranked it last among 50 hotels surveyed.
The abysmal record prompted Hyatt housekeepers at twelve hotels in eight different cities to simultaneously file injury complaints a few weeks ago with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA),

reports Carl Finamore,Air Transport Employees, Local Lodge 1781, IAMAW, representative to the San Francisco Labor Council, for Buzzflash. It's the first-ever synchronized OSHA complaint in the private sector.

A big reason for all the injuries: at some Hyatt hotels the housekeepers have to clean 30 rooms a day, an ungodly amount. UNITE HERE says,
that's 15 minutes to make beds, scrub and clean the toilet bowl, bathtub and all bathroom surfaces, dust, vacuum, empty the trash, change linens-among other things.
So if you have to stay at a Hyatt, at the very least be sure to give the housekeeper a generous tip.

Media biased against working people: federal official

This won't come as a surprise to any of us in the labor movement: the mainstream media is so biased against working people that it won't even report on a federal agency.

The Department of Labor says it can't get its message out because of media prejudice against workers, according to People's World.

People's World was reporting on a talk given by Carl Fillichio, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's senior adviser for public affairs and communications, at a meeting of the International Labor Communications Association.

Fillichio said the media elitists failed to report that, since Solis took over, the Department of Labor has hired 720 bilingual grievance personnel, issued the largest OSHA fine in history, and, in a move unprecedented in U.S. history, completely shut down a mine because of worker fatalities.

A good explanation for the media bias against workers can be found in a recent issue of The Nation: the corporate-owned media is drowning in money from corporate-funded campaigns. Says The Nation...
...in the 1990s the average commercial TV station received about 3 percent of its revenues from campaign ads, this year campaign money could account for as much as 20 percent ... thirty-second spots that went for $2,000 in 2008 were jacked up to $5,000 this year... Much of this money will go to stations owned by a handful of Fortune 500 firms...

On top of that, a 30-minute newscast at election time has more political advertising than campaign news.

The last election was the worst-ever because of the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling, which, The Nation says,
...wiped away a century of campaign finance regulations designed to prevent corporations and business alliances from using their immense resources to buy the results that best serve their interests...
The corporate-owned media serves the corporate interests by restricting debate and participation, which, the Nation points out, makes it easier to buy the government. And yet broadcasters receive free monopoly licenses from the government -- under the condition that they serve the public interest. 

The last election cost at least $4 billion in campaign cash. Most of that money went to buy the media. And it's buying our democracy, lock, stock and barrel.

Today's Teamster News 11.20.10

U.S. in Vast Insider Trading Probe  Wall Street Journal  ...The criminal and civil probes ... could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation...
Aggressive lobbying defends mortgage-trading system  Washington Post
Did the Rich  Cause the Deficit?  truthout  A great rant
A Day After Schooling Banksters, "New Documents" Come to Light in Waters Ethics Case  firedoglake  
Unions Yield on Two-Tier Wage Scales to Preserve Jobs  New York Times   ...Even at manufacturing companies that are profitable, union workers are reluctantly agreeing to tiered contracts that create two levels of pay. Sullivan County Teamsters Balk at Wage Freeze  Times Herald-Record

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is your state recovering?

Some states are coming out of the Great Recession faster than others. The economies of Oklahoma and Wyoming, for example, are doing a lot better than Michigan and Nevada. Wonder how your state  is doing? Check out this cool map from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The data is a teensy bit old -- it's from 2009 -- but interesting nonetheless.

Teamster Victories in PA and CO

Two organizing victories to report this week.

Four hundred employees at Vertis Communications’ print and mail production facility in Chalfont, Pa., are now Teamsters.  “Now, being Teamsters, we will have someone standing up for us," said Peter O’Toole, a 15-year Vertis employee. Vertis is a marketing communications company based in Baltimore with facilities in 18 other states.

In Colorado, five groundskeepers joined 25 furniture movers at the Colorado Convention Center to become Teamster members of Local 17. "Wages are an issue, but it is not the overriding issue," said Michael Simeone, secretary-treasurer of Local 17. "The groundskeepers and furniture movers want the protection of a Teamster contract. They want a grievance procedure that the employer would have never given them, otherwise. We are proud and honored that these hardworking employees chose Teamsters Local 17 to represent them."

Money from tax cuts just goes overseas, so....

...why don't we create jobs for Americans instead of giving tax cuts to rich people?
That was the good question blogger Cenk Uygur asked in a recent Huffington Post. He pointed out that cutting taxes for rich people is one of the worst possible ways to create jobs. Plus, he writes,
...if they are creating jobs, it isn't here. The money is flowing out of the country and into developing markets at an incredible rate.
The Bush tax cuts amounted to $1.3 trillion between 2002 and 2008. During that time $1.9 trillion left the U.S. to invest in developing countries.
How about instead of giving the money to the rich and hoping that they create jobs, we just create the jobs! Imagine what we could build and how much good we could do for the country if we used that extra $700 billion to actually hire people directly. Imagine how many jobs that could create. ($700 billion is what the top tier would receive from a tax cut over 10 years).
It might be worth it if we just hired people to do what would otherwise be volunteer work. It might be worth it if we just built a whole new green energy sector. It might be worth it if we just hired an enormous number of teachers to give our kids the best education in the world...
Good thinking.

Patriotic millionaires want their taxes raised

This is rich. No, really.

Forty-seven millionaires asked President Obama to let the Bush tax cuts expire for anyone making more than a million dollars a year. Among the richly blessed who put their country before politics are  Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's, trial lawyer Guy Saperstein, real estate developer Robert Bowditch Jr., publisher Win McCormack and hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt.

They launched a campaign and a website to argue that fiscal responsibility begins with people who can afford it. (That would include members of Congress, more than half of whom are millionaires.)

They sent a letter to Obama that said, in part,
...we are eager to do our fair share. We don’t need more tax cuts, and we understand that cutting our taxes will increase the deficit and the debt burden carried by other taxpayers. The country needs to meet its financial obligations in a just and responsible way.
Joe Conasen at Salon reports that some millionaires scoffed at the project.
At least two airily dismissed the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and above -- which will cost well over $700 billion over the coming decade -- as "small potatoes." 
One super-rich investor said "anyone who has money is made to feel that they're bad" (our hearts are bleeding).

Check out their "Fiscal Strength" website. It reminds us that during the Great Depression, millionaires' top tax rate was 68 percent. Now it's 35 percent -- and for some, 15 percent.

Today's Teamster News 11.19.10

Were the Bush Tax Cuts Good for Growth?  New York Times   ...Every available piece of evidence seems to suggest that the Bush tax cuts did little to lift growth...
Pot growers portrayed as terror threat  Washington Post   ...officials carrying out a counter-terrorism drill in Northern California Wednesday played out a scenario in which local marijuana growers set off bombs and took over the Shasta Dam...
Prime U.S. Mortgage Foreclosures Hit Record as Unemployment Hurts Finances  Bloomberg News
Chamber of Commerce Has Significantly Reduced Membership  firedoglake
...what was a pretty stolid business coalition has become a front for giant multinationals who launder their campaign and lobbying donations through them....
Hoffa: Hold China Accountable for Cheating  IBT   ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) explaining why the Teamsters believe China is breaking international trade rules in the renewable energy sector...
Amid Electoral Setbacks, Unions Represent Strength (opinion)  Black Star News  Local 237  ...President Greg Floyd writes "we will fight against any proposals that single out public employees..."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

House fails to pass unemployment benefits extension


 Huffpo has the story.
The House of Representatives on Thursday voted down a measure that would have reauthorized extended unemployment insurance for another three months, leaving no clear path forward to prevent the benefits from lapsing as scheduled on Nov. 30.

Without a reauthorization, the Labor Department estimates that two million long-term unemployed will prematurely stop receiving benefits before the end of the year.

Fight wage theft

Some men will rob you with a six-gun, and some will rob you by paying you below the minimum wage.
Some will rob you by refusing to pay overtime.
Some will rob you by forcing you to work off the clock.
Some will rob you by misclassifying you as an independent contractor.
Some will rob you by paying you with a check that bounces.
Some will rob you by not paying you at all.

It happens a lot in this country, and it doesn't just happen to recent immigrants in marginal businesses. Companies that have settled lawsuits or fines for stealing workers' wages include Huntington Bank, Verizon, T Mobile, CVS Pharmacy, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Wackenhut, Intercontinental Hotels, Wal-Mart...it's a long list.

The statistics are horrifying, but not so much as the stories of exploited workers. A poultry plant in Iowa, for example, employed men with disabilities, putting them up in an old schoolhouse and paying them $65 a month. Sometimes their wages amounted to 44 cents an hour.

If you've been caught up in the epidemic of wage theft -- or if you have a sense of decency -- you might want to do something about it.

Today's a good day to start. Interfaith Worker Justice is calling Nov. 18 a National Day of Action. IWJ is holding press conferences, rallies, prayer vigils and marches throughout the country. And the Teamsters are calling on their members and allies to contact members of Congress and ask them to support the Wage Theft Prevention Act, the Fair Playing Field Act, and the Wage Theft Prevention and Community Partnership Act.

You can sign also sign a petition here.

Should the top 1% own most of the U.S.?

Oops, they already do.

That's according to "A Hedge Fund Republic," a great column today by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. It's about income inequality in this country. Kristof had to apologize to banana republics for comparing them with the United States. Apparently, banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana are more equal than the United States. Kristof writes
...inequality in the United States has soared to levels comparable to those in Argentina six decades ago — with 1 percent controlling 24 percent of American income in 2007.

Here's another stunning statistic from our friends at the Economic Policy Institute: The top 1 percent of Americans owns 34 percent of America’s private net worth. 

Oh, and did we mention that 50 million Americans live in hunger?

Lots of Toxic Toys Still Sold at Toys R Us

Toys R Us is STILL selling toys that can cause cancer and brain damage -- even though they promised two years ago to phase out toys containing lead or phthlates. They also promised to offer more toys that aren't made of PVC.

Guess what -- Toys R Us is still selling plenty of toys made of PVC. Chemicals that can cause learning disabilities, cancer and birth defects were found in toys featuring Buzz Lightyear, Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, Batman, Mickey Mouse and more.

You can tell your elected representative in Washington to protect American children by reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act. Here's how.

You might want to mention to your senator or congressman that a report released today said that tests showed seven of nine Toy Story 3 toys were made of PVC. Of 60 randomly chosen toys at Toys R Us, most had chemicals that indicated PVC and only one had a label.  The report lists the toys found to have dangerous chemicals.

Tom Keegel, the Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer, took aim at KKR, the private equity firm that owns Toys R Us. "We don't want you poisoning our kids with toxic toys," he said today in a news conference. "We won't let you profit from poisoning kids at Christmas."

The report was sponsored by the Teamsters Office of Consumer Affairs and  the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

Today's Teamster News 11.18.10

U.S. Inflation Virtually Flat  Wall Street Journal  ...underscoring the weakness in the economy...
China Protests U.S. Green Energy Probe  Wall Street Journal  ...A Chinese trade organization Wednesday said a U.S. government investigation into subsidies China provides for its renewable energy companies was baseless and would hurt China-U.S. cooperation...
Local 25 Stewards Gather for Training in Boston  IBT
Gov.-Elect Cuomo Appoints George Miranda, Greg Floyd To Transition Committees  IBT
CUE-Teamsters Expose Hidden Costs To Employees In UC's Retirement Plan  IBT  ...Lower paid workers shoulder higher share of costs
Important Update on YRCW Change of Operations  IBT   ...several hundred members will be affected...
Midterms Threaten Obama's Rail Plans  New York Times

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Millionaires make up more than half of Congress

What's more, members of Congress got 16 percent richer from 2008 to 2009.  Meanwhile, the rest of us got poorer. U.S. median household income dropped 3 percent to $50,221 during the same period.

The Center for Responsive Politics reported today that 261 members of Congress are millionaires, with eight worth more than $100 million and 55 worth more than $10 million.

How did they manage to get richer during the Great Recession? Reports CNBC,
a significant number of members owned shares of major players in the health-care and financial-services sectors, which were the subject of major reform legislation during the period.
Check out this slide show on the richest members of Congress.

Wonder why insurance premiums are going up?

Maybe it's because insurance companies secretly gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86 million to fight health care reform last year.

Bloomberg reported today that,
The spending reflects the insurers’ attempts to influence the bill after Democrats in Congress and the White House put more focus on regulation of the insurance industry.
The ginormous contribution to the Chamber was revealed in tax returns filed recently.

GOP to jobless: Drop dead

That's the title of a Washington Post column today by Steven Pearlstein. He says congressional Republicans are trying to emasculate the government's role in the economy. For example, two Republican leaders want to take away the Federal Reserve's responsibility for creating jobs. Pearlstein writes,
For too many Republicans, the aim is to ... trash the institutions of government.
Pearlstein doesn't even mention that Congress probably won't extend unemployment benefits. David Dayen at firedoglake reports that it's going to be very, very difficult for the Senate to vote on an extension by the deadline -- which is Friday. Two million people will lose their benefits.

Oh, and 50 million Americans live in hunger, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

It's going to be a long, cold winter for a lot of Americans.

Today's Teamster News 11.17.10

Investing in Driver Health Can Yield Dividends  Truckinginfo.com   ...longhours, hard labor, and on-the-road living make it hard for drivers to take care of their health...
CN workers ratify contracts  Globe and Mail  ...The agreements, which are retroactive to July 23, will provide members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference with wage increases and improvements in benefits....
NLRB Invites Briefs on Nonemployee Access And Employer Discrimination Against Unions  BNA Daily Labor Report   ...(The NLRA asked for briefs on the) question of whether an employer violates the NLRA by refusing to grant nonemployee union representatives access to its premises while permitting other individuals, groups, or organizations to use the employer's premises for their activities.
China's 'State Capitalism' Sparks a Global Backlash  Wall Street Journal   Terrific primer on China's economy...
One Way to Trim Deficit: Cultivate Growth  New York Times  ...If the economy grew one half of a percentage point faster than forecast each year over the next two decades ... the country would have to do roughly 40 to 50 percent less deficit-cutting than it now appears...
Ireland: A Textbook Example of the Dangers of Balanced Budgets and Fiscal Responsibility  Beat the Press

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There's still time to tell Congress to extend unemployment benefits

Congress has just a few days to extend unemployment benefits for millions of jobless Americans. Most Americans want Congress to continue to help unemployed people, and economists believe it will help the economy.

Here's what you can do:
Call your senator today.
Write your senator.
Sign the petition.

Still more hypocrisy from rich people who oppose government spending

This is rich. The Huffington Post reports that the super-wealthy new owners of the Chicago Cubs are launching campaigns against government spending -- at the same time they're asking Illinois taxpayers to pay $300 million to renovate Wrigley Field!

Here's what happened: The Ricketts family recently bought the Chicago Cubs from The Tribune Co. (the travesty of Sam Zell's takeover of Tribune is a whole nother story). The family's daddy, Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade, started an organization called Taxpayers Against Earmarks to fight wasteful government spending and earmarks. He also has a political group called the Ending Spending Fund.

Joe Ricketts has actually said
“I think it’s a crime for our elected officials to borrow money today, to spend money today and push the repayment of that loan out into the future on people who are not even born yet.”

Joe's son Tom is chairman of the Cubs. He wants Illinois taxpayers to assume the risk for hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs for Wrigley Field, which his family owns along with the team.

Renovating Wrigley Field is a worthy goal, not least because it would create much-needed jobs. But in exchange for taxpayer support, the Ricketts family should agree to shut the F* up about wasteful government spending.

Freshman Congressman demands to know where's his health care?

A Maryland doctor named Andy Harris ran for Congress and won on a platform of repealing health care reform.

Here's the kicker: Politico reports that at an orientation for freshmen representatives on Monday, Harris demanded to know why his government-subsidized health care took a month to kick in. Writes Politico, Harris
reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.
“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange....“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide.
The irony, of course, is that what Harris wanted was a public option, which he had strongly opposed -- at least on the campaign trail. As Talking Points Memo points out,
Harris told voters, "the answer to the ever-rising cost of insurance is not the expansion of government-run or government-mandated insurance but, instead, common-sense market based solutions that ensure decisions are made by patients and their doctors."

Here's exactly how multinationals are helping the U.S. economy -- not!

Hard to believe, but there are people out there who claim that U.S. multinationals are supporting the U.S. economy by shipping our jobs overseas. Something about "productivity" and "competitiveness." Yeah right.

Those people haven't had their jobs shipped overseas because the U.S. multinationals are paying them to spread their propaganda here.

But here's a kick-ass chart that shows exactly how hiring workers in Shenzhen and Bangalore kills jobs here.
So next time anyone tells you offshoring jobs is good for our economy, hit them over the head with this:

Today's Teamster News 10.16.10

Rahm Emanual leading in Teamsters mayoral poll  Chicago Sun-Times   ...A poll conducted for Chicago Teamsters Joint Council 25 in the upcoming Chicago mayoral race shows former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel far ahead of his rivals...
City Workers Chip In For Holiday Tradition  Clickon Detroit   ...Teamster members ... pitched in Monday night to bring Christmas back to ... budget-torn ...Romulus, Mich.
Spending Worries Put Jobless Benefits at Risk  Wall Street Journal  ...Congress is unlikely to agree to extend jobless benefits for two million unemployed workers by the time the program begins to lapse in two weeks...
Sam Zell to Bow Out of Tribune  Wall Street Journal   ...Zell said Monday that he doesn't see himself having an operating role in the media company after it exits bankruptcy...
As Payouts Rise, New Tactics by the U.S. Pension Insurer  New York Times   ..Even though the government pension agency made sharply higher payments to retirees of bankrupt companies last year, it is using new legal tools to make hobbled companies carry more of the burden and protect itself...
States Won't be Able to Reroute High-Speed Rail Funding  Washington Post  ...The Obama administration plans to reallocate money designated for high-speed rail (to other states) if the states granted the funds reject them...

Monday, November 15, 2010

It takes guts and persistence to form a union -- and get the roads fixed

Our brother Bobby Thomas in Kansas has the guts and persistence to do at least two remarkable things.

1. He singlehandedly instigated a $3.4 million road reconstruction project by standing on a street corner, alone, for 10 days in the summer of 2007 with a sign that said, “Turn here to drive on an obstacle course.”

2. He helped organize First Student drivers and attendants in Wichita last month. They voted 415-53 to join Teamsters Local 795.

Thomas is a retired 28-year Teamster UPS package car driver who now works for the First Student bus company. He said,
There were some people who never had the Teamsters or union experience like I had in my job at UPS and I related my experiences to them while we were organizing. Words can’t describe how important being in a union is and how I value that. A vote for the Teamsters was a vote for dignity, a vote for improving working conditions and a vote for unity.
Three years ago he was so concerned about driving conditions that he staged his one-man protest. On Day 10, the local news station sent a reporter to interview him. The news report brought attention to the lousy roads.  Recently Thomas joined Wichita's mayor, Carl Brewer, to celebrate the multi-million dollar road improvements along 17th from Grove to Hillside.

Yay. Some good economic news.

Retail sales surged this month, mostly because of strong auto sales, according to The Associated Press.
The Commerce Department reported today that retail sales rose 1.2 percent last month. That was nearly double the gain that had been expected and the largest increase since March.

Tell Congress to extend unemployment benefits

Two million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits next month if Congress doesn't act quickly.

This would be a disaster for families who will have no money for food, rent, gas or clothing. It would also create hardship for half a million people who could lose their jobs because economic activity will decline.  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 500,000 jobs would be saved by extending the unemployment benefits through 2011. Reports EPI,
UI benefits for the long-term unemployed give the economy a particularly big boost because long-term unemployed workers are very unlikely to have any choice but to immediately spend their unemployment benefits. The resulting spending on rent, groceries, and other necessities saves and creates jobs throughout the economy. For this reason, government spending on unemployment insurance benefits during a downturn is recognized by the Congressional Budget office (CBO) as one of the most efficient things that can be done to create new jobs.
Extending unemployment benefits is extremely popular with the American people. Three out of four say it's too soon to cut back on unemployment benefits, according to a poll released today.

Members of Congress are returning to work this week, but they have very little time to act before the Thanksgiving break. Advocates for extending jobless benefits will try to flood the Congressional switchboard tomorrow with calls from people urging them to extend unemployment benefits. You can pitch in through US Action's website.

Or you can sign a petition here .