Monday, January 31, 2011

Mexico treats unions like crap

So we should reward Mexico by opening the border to their trucks?

Here's the story:

Last week, a U.S. Steelworker representative was arrested by Mexican border officials. He was on his way to meet with attorneys for Los Mineros, the Mexican mineworkers’ union. The steelworkers have been supporting the mineworkers, who've been striking for nearly four years against Grupo Mexico at a copper mine in the northern state of Sonora. According to the USW:
Manny Armenta, a USW sub-district director in Albuquerque, NM, was arrested ....At about 2 p.m. (MST), a customs officer stopped Armenta’s car, which is leased by the union, accusing him of driving a stolen vehicle. Armenta presented documentation to no avail. After searching the vehicle with dogs, the officer attempted to extort a “fine” of 185,000 pesos (about $15,000). When Armenta refused to pay he was arrested, detained overnight, and released early Tuesday, Jan. 25 after posting a bond of 80,000 pesos (about $7,750).

Amenta’s car was impounded and it has not been returned. Armenta’s wallet was taken from him in the arrest, but later returned, minus $700 in cash.
The steelworkers' president, Leo Gerard, said the Mexican government arrested Armenta because he was trying to intimidate the USW copper miners from exercising their right to collective bargaining and showing solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Mexico.

The Mexican government, led by Felipe Calderon government, has a history of hostility toward working people. According to Labor Notes, the government in 2009 seized the
Central Light and Power Company of Mexico, which provides electricity to Mexico City and several states in central Mexico. The government of President Felipe Calderón announced that the company would be liquidated and all its approximately 45,000 workers fired, which would mean the destruction of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME). Another 20,000 retirees are also now severed from their former employer and their union. The government’s action directly affects at least 250,000 workers and their families in the Federal District and states neighboring the capital.

Labor Notes reported that the action was unsurprising, given Calderon's record toward unions.

Still another reason to close the border to dangerous Mexican trucks.

Stimulus-funded sheriffs guard Kochs from protesters

The mainstream media actually sent reporters to cover the rally against the Koch brothers' annual secret meeting in Southern California yesterday. The New York Times  typically explained the union-busting billionaires's event as "liberals" protesting "conservatives." (Note to the mainstream media: you don't have to be liberal to be alarmed by the concentrated economic power of billionaires and corporations). 

If you haven't been following, the Kochs, two of the world's richest men, hold a secret meeting every six months with their billionaire friends to plot their political strategy. The Kochs are especially dangerous because of their radical opposition to any governmental safeguards to protect workers or the environment. They've spent at least $100 million trying to have an impact on the courts, the Congress and public opinion -- with remarkable success. Until recently they've kept their influence hidden. Lately, news and blog reports have exposed them and their secret meetings. On Sunday, 1,500 protesters rallied outside the lavish resort where they held the latest get-together.

Here's what the Los Angeles Times reported:
The protestors waved signs condemning "corporate greed," chanted slogans and surged toward a line of helmeted police officers at the entrance to a resort where billionaires Charles and David Koch were holding a retreat for prominent conservative elected officials, major political donors and strategists.

The New York Times offered these details:

Sport utility vehicles with tinted windows shepherded attendees in and out of the complex, and two dozen Riverside County sheriff’s deputies in riot gear, their batons out, guarded the entrance to keep out anyone not registered as a guest.
What the Times neglected, and ThinkProgress noticed, was that the Kochs' meeting attendees were guarded by law enforcement officers who owe their jobs to President Obama's stimulus -- which the Kochs opposed! Lee Fang reported
The Koch gathering was highly guarded by a phalanx of police officers, a helicopter, and even a no-fly zone around the resort. David Dayen, who chronicled much of the demonstration, reported that the city of Rancho Mirage contracts its police force from Riverside County sheriffs. Ironically, Koch’s front groups lobbied aggressively to kill some of the funding for the very sheriffs who worked tirelessly to ensure safety at the event.
The Kochs like to call themselves "libertarian" and advocate for small government. What they really like is small government for everybody else. According to the Observer, the Kochs use free federal land to graze cows; entered into a joint venture with Venezuelan and Italian state-owned companies to build a fertilizer plant; cut down timber on federal lands for a pittance to make paper (you might want to think about switching from their Bounty paper towels); bought a plant that makes ethanol, which is heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers; and built pipelines after the government forcibly seized private property for them.

And that's just for starters.

Solidarity from celebrities on Sun.

We're thrilled by the solidarity our brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors Guild showed last night at the SAG Awards. 

Julianna Margulies received an award for her work playing Alicia Florrick on "The Good Wife" television series. In her acceptance speech, she thanked the Teamsters for digging New York out of the snow. Seriously. This is what she said, according to, USA Today:
"Thank you, New York for keeping us -- and thank you to all the Teamsters who've been digging us out of the snow for the last two weeks."

We'd like to thank Margulies for reminding people that it wasn't the city employees who caused the hole in New York City's budget that caused the layoffs that made it harder to remove the snow over Christmas.

Melissa Leo, who received a "Best Supporting Actress" award for her performance in "The Fighter," also gave a shout out to unions. According to Associated Content, she said
Unions made this country great because it gives the voice to the working people.
Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock won best comedy actor in a series. He also thanked the Teamsters.
Thank you to the Teamsters. When you work in New York and you've got to go to work ... you don't want to take a cab or the subway. It's very nice to have these people to drive us to work every day.

Of course Baldwin said he was compelled to thank the Teamsters. He was just joking, folks.

Teamster killed in WA; local warned of danger

Jayme Biendl
 Our thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Jayme Biendl, our Teamster sister who was killed by an inmate in the Washington State prison where she worked.

Local 117 made the announcement about the 34-year-old corrections officer yesterday:

Officer Biendl, an 8-year veteran of the Department of Corrections, was murdered last night by an inmate in the chapel of the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC).
 Teamsters Correctional Employees across the State have been speaking out for months against the budget cuts that have reduced the size of the staff and programming at prison facilities and put Correctional Employees at risk.
The local held a candlelight vigil last night to mourn her loss.

Last year, Local 117 protested budget cuts that endanger workers.
Local 117 has long been warning that state budget cuts were endangering workers. On Dec. 9, they marched on the Statehouse on behalf of the 6,000 corrections workers. On Nov. 17 they picketed the Monroe prison.

Associated Press reported  that Officer Biendl had said she was worried about being the only guard in the chapel of the prison. inmate serving a life sentence is the primary suspect... She had been strangled with a microphone cord. The male inmate, whose identity has not been released by authorities, was reported missing during a routine count at 9:14 p.m. Saturday. He was found three minutes later in the chapel lobby and told officers he had planned to escape.
Local 117's president, Tracey Thompson told the AP,
...the officer had complained to her union shop steward and prison supervisors about being the sole guard working in the chapel. She worried about being there alone without anyone checking on her, Thompson said.
Just a reminder to everyone that the corrections officers did not cause Washington state's budget problems. We are saddened and angered by the loss of Jayme Biendl.

Today's Teamster News 01.31.11

Inflation in China May Limit U.S. Trade Deficit  New York Times   ...Inflation is starting to slow China’s mighty export machine, as buyers from Western multinational companies balk at higher prices...
Unrest in Egypt Unsettles Global Markets  New York Times   ...the situation in Egypt has the potential to cause more widespread uncertainty, especially if oil and other commodities keep surging or the unrest spreads to more countries in the Middle East...
What’s at Stake in the N.F.L.’s Labor Talks  New York Times   ...In the last two weeks, personalities as disparate as the Pittsburgh Steelers chairman emeritus Dan Rooney and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie aired their concerns about the pace of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, which expires March 3...
State workers fear likely pension fees  Miami Herald   ...Florida is the last state not to require employees to contribute to their own pension, while some states offer free retirement to only a limited class of workers...
Wis. unions gird for cuts from Walker  NECN   ...Forcing concessions from state employees is a popular talking point for Gov. Scott Walker and one that likely will find a central place in his first State of the State speech on Tuesday...
Unethical Predatory Practices  Economy in Crisis   ...The United States is told that it must oblige to its commitment to “free trade,” not because it is in our best interest but because it is in our foreign creditors best interest...
Fight to finish on U.S.-S. Korea trade pact  AFP   ...With US President Barack Obama and his main foes both embracing a trade pact with South Korea, opponents are racing against the clock to regain momentum while supporters are leaving nothing to chance...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

25 arrested at Koch brothers protest

firedoglake reports "well more than a thousand" protesters showed up at the rally to protest the billionaire union-busters confab in Rancho Mirage. Twenty-five people were arrested for trespassing by police who showed up in riot gear.

firedoglake reports:
The Koch Brothers, billionaires who have generously funded conservative and libertarian causes for over a generation – including the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and tea party groups like Americans for Prosperity – put together an annual meeting, typically held in the California desert, with fellow corporate CEOs and conservative operatives, to plan the year ahead. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain were reputed to attend the gathering at the sprawling Rancho Las Palmas resort. The Kochs bought out the entire resort for Saturday and Sunday. Some activists who stayed at the resort Friday night and booked dinners at their restaurants on Saturday had their reservations canceled by the resort, and were given $150 each for their trouble.
The Guardian offers this delightful detail:
As the attendees arrived in their private jets, they were greeted by an airship that circled over the hotel's golf courses and tennis courts bearing the logo: "Koch brothers dirty money."
More to come.

Headed to the Koch rally

Today's the day for the rally against the billionaire Koch brothers, who are holding their semiannual billionares' confab to talk about getting richer at the expense of working people.

The meeting will be at a posh Rancho Mirage resort; the rally will be close by, in the parking lots closest to the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, starting at about 1 pm.  If you can't make the rally, you can watch a panel discussion livestreamed beforehand (sign up here). You can also join the Sierra Club's Facebook campaign against the Kochs here.

Finally, firedoglake is sending some bloggers to the event, and ThinkProgress's Lee Fang will also be there, exposing the billionaires attending the Koch's caucus.

Today's Teamster News 01.30.11

Unions, state battle over worker pay  The News Tribune   ...workers are most likely to see less cash in their paychecks, more unpaid furloughs and bigger out-of-pocket payments for health care premiums and care...
Public Employee Unions: Public Enemy No. 1?  Wall Street Journal   ...public workers are going to feel voters’ anger in their paychecks — and many will lose their jobs. They’re also likely to come under attack politically to an unprecedented degree...
Retirement funds: All state workers will pay for fixes  Columbus Disptach   ...Teachers, law-enforcement officers, state workers and other Ohio public employees must give up more than $16 billion to fix their financially beleaguered pension funds...
Legislators hear appeals for increases, not cuts, in government services  Las Vegas Review-Journal   ...Nevada is experiencing 14.5 percent unemployment, record bankruptcies and a housing foreclosure crisis...
New England Lawmakers Gain Ally for Rail Project  Associated Press   ...A key Republican congressman voiced strong support Friday for the region's high-speed rail aspirations...
Iowa wind energy industry expected to see slow recovery  Eastern Iowa Business   ...Reduced demand for electricity, cheaper natural gas prices, tighter lending in the aftermath of the financial crisis and lack of a federal renewable energy standard slashed the amount of newly-installed U.S. wind turbines in 2010...
A Bank Crisis Whodunit, With Laughs and Tears  New York Times   ...With too-big-to-fail institutions now larger than ever, we are almost certain to go through another episode like 2008 in the no t-too-distant future...
Claims the job market will boom are entirely unsubstantiated  naked capitalism   ...Faith in the US gov’t’s ability to create 2.5 million jobs for the next 5 yrs ... is sorely misplaced...
Banks Get Tough With Municipalities  Wall Street Journal   ...As municipal borrowers look to renegotiate bond deals, banks are drawing a tough line in the refinancing talks...
For Governors, Medicaid Looks Ripe for Slashing  truthout   ...governors from both parties are exercising their remaining options in proposing bone-deep cuts to the program during the fourth consecutive year of brutal economic conditions...
Teamsters Canada Rail Conference leaders meet in Ottawa  CNW Group

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bankster earns $5 bln, pays less taxes than you

ABC has the story:
A huge Wall Street payday is raising questions as to whether the nation's top earners should benefit from tax breaks while so many unemployed Americans continue to struggle. Hedge fund manager John Paulson made more than $5 billion in personal profits last year, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The jaw-dropping figure works out to roughly $159 rolling in every single second.
Most of his profit is considered long-term capital gains, so he'll pay 15 percent in taxes. That's because of a tax loophole that billionaires have fought tooth and nail to keep (and Congress has let them). Most American workers pay income taxes at a rate of about 26 percent (not to mention a slew of state taxes).

What's disturbing is that Paulson apparently didn't make his money by investing in businesses that create jobs. Instead, he made bets on Wall Street, this year on gold.

TeamsterNation did a little google search and learned that $5 billion is about the gross domestic product of an entire nation -- Malawi. In fact it's MORE than the gross domestic product of Grenada, Gambia, Fiji, Barbados or Belize.


Remember: Sun. rally at Koch secret mtg

Just a reminder that if you live in Southern California, you can show your disgust for the union-busting billionaire Koch brothers on Sunday. They're holding their semi-annual secret meeting at a lavish resort in Rancho Mirage.  Purpose of the meeting: figuring out how to get richer by helping the government destroy the middle class.

According to The Guardian, 
...they will share ideas about how to tighten their grip on politics and the judiciary by shaping election campaigns...
What's scary about these billionaires is that last year's Supreme Court Citizens United decision made them more powerful than ever. They can now give unlimited amounts of money -- secretly -- to their favorite politicians (that includes Supreme Court justices, btw). 

Here's what else is scary about them, according to the Sierra Club's Michael Brune in the San Francisco Chronicle:
What's different about the Kochs is that they subscribe to a radical libertarian philosophy that opposes any governmental safeguards to protect people or the environment. It's a grim vision of our country that few Americans would ever subscribe to if they could see it plainly, and yet -- thanks to the brothers' enormous wealth -- it's had an out-sized effect on both our government and our public discourse. It's like a hidden riptide that keeps pulling you out to sea no matter how hard you strike toward the shore.
If you can't go to the rally, you can join the Sierra Club's anti-Koch Facebook campaign here.  And you can watch a livestreamed panel discussion beforehand here

Here are the details of the rally, brought to you by The Desert Sun:

Protesters of the Koch Industries gathering will rally at 1 p.m. Sunday at The River in Rancho Mirage.

The “Uncloaking the Kochs” event will be held in the parking lots closest to the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, where the invite-only Koch event is taking place.

Koch officials have not released any details about the conference.

Officials are planning for as many as 1,000 protesters. Parts of Rancho Las Palmas Drive may be blocked off to accommodate the crowd.

Today's Teamster News 01.29.11

YRC Worldwide Confounds the Skeptics  Motley Fool   ...Shares of YRC Worldwide (Nasdaq: YRCW), a company that I labeled its very own "pocket of weakness" in an otherwise strong industry, have revved up a Navistar-like 24.3% gain in value since I panned them in November...
West Chester FedEx Facility Closing   ...Hundreds of workers lose jobs...
Fedex Finalizing Facility Closure  The Ledger   ...FedEx is winding down operations at a Lakeland trucking facility as part of a consolidation that is eliminating about 160 local jobs...
Settlement a setback for Washam after long dispute with employees (Local 117)  The News Tribune   ...“We got everything we wanted for the group as a whole”...
Farm Bureau urges passages of HB1028   ...The Wayne County Farm Bureau passed a resolution last week urging passage of the Indiana Right to Work Bill (HB1028)...
The right to work, dues free, for all (opinion)  Nashua Telegraph   ...New Hampshire has the opportunity to become the nation’s 23rd “Right to Work” state and should take it...
Police, firefighters would pay more for pensions under City Hall plan  Chicago Tribune   ...The administration's proposal would raise police officers' contributions to their pension plan from 9 percent to 12 percent between 2015 and 2018, and raise firefighters' share from 9.1 percent to 12.1 percent...
Florida lawmakers see big savings in potential pension cuts   ...But many of the employees and retirees who count on the Florida Retirement System see it as survival...
The suburban sunbelt is the scene of terrible poverty  The Economist   ...The especially severe housing bust that ended the breakneck growth of these sunbelt cities has brought with it deprivation on a scale they have never previously encountered and are struggling to address...
Goldman Sachs Gives Blankfein a Big Raise  New York Times   ...Mr. Blankfein’s 2010 compensation comes to $13.2 million...
Inequality in America is worse than in Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen  naked capitalism   ...Egyptian, Tunisian and Yemeni protesters all say that inequality is one of the main reasons they’re protesting...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Young workers, it's up to you

Jobs are scarce and young workers are struggling more than most of us, writes Cory McCray, president of the Young Trade Unionists in Baltimore, Md. He's no whiner, though. McCray says young workers are the ones who will have to stand up, take responsibility and fix the mess their parents made.

Watch the YTU's video or go to their Facebook page. You'll see there's hope for labor.

McCray recently wrote a terrific column, "The plight of young workers in a struggling economy," in which he asks,
...have we really taken the time to understand what the future may hold for the Young Worker - whose unemployment rate has been stated to linger around 20%?
The statistics are frightening: Jobless rates for young men are rising: 20.5 percent for young men, 33.4 percent amont young African-Americans and 21.6 percent for young Asian-Americans. Jobless rates for young women are high and hardly changed: 17.5 percent for young women, 16.2 percent for young Caucasians and 22.1 percent for young Hispanics.  Writes McCray:
For the Young Worker that’s found some type of employment in this bad job market, research shows they’re earning 17.5% less than their counterparts in a good economy.

Research also shows this can have an adverse impact on Young Workers for an amazing seventeen years of their life!
As we deal with underemployment and less benefits than our parents’ generation, we’re at a point in time where businesses are demonizing pensions to institute a new program that I call: “Save your own retirement - 401K slaves.”
The point I’m trying to make is that it is heartbreaking to see my young friends and their families having to deal with this epidemic that is out of our control.
McCray urges young workers to buy American, get trained or educated and fight for the things their parents gave up (like pensions and living wages.) He writes

Young Workers - I challenge you not to fall into a trap and relax - like previous generations have - but to survive, learn and fight such as those who lived through the Great Depression.

We have the power to enact change and stimulate this great country we call America!
Let's hope he's right.


Rally Sunday at Koch secret meeting

This weekend, David and Charles Koch and their billionaire pals are holding their annual secret meeting to figure out how to impoverish more working people. If you live in Southern California, try to get to the rally in Rancho Mirage to protest their loathsome confab. The billionaires' confab itself is at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, but the rally will be from 1:30-3:30 pm at The River parking lot (at the intersection of Rancho Las Palmas Dr. and Bob Hope Dr., opposite 41000 Bob Hope Drive).

If you can't make it to the rally, you can watch a panel discussion beforehand. Sign up to watch it livestreamed here.

ThinkProgress has an update on the agenda of the secret meeting, which is getting less secret by the minute. The billionaires plan to focus on undoing new laws to prevent another global financal meltdown like the one that caused the recession in 2008. They also hope to raise more money this year for their candidates, their anti-union think tanks and their phony grass-roots groups. Reports ThinkProgress:
At last year’s Koch fundraiser, Charles Koch promised to match every dollar committed by attendees. He raised $30 million dollars at the Aspen meeting in 2010, and hopes to do better this year, again matching every dollar raised with one of his own.
Make them stop. Go to the rally if you can. For information, click here.

Obama wants to open the border to this?

Here's still another reason to keep the border closed to Mexican trucks: Two American missionaries were shot in Mexico -- probably because they had an expensive truck.

FoxNews has the story:
Nancy Davis, 59, was hit in the head and died in a Texas hospital Wednesday afternoon, about 90 minutes after the two were shot at in Mexico. Her husband described a frantic scene in which he sped toward the border desperately driving against traffic over a bridge that connects Mexico to the United States.
Does this sound like a place your average U.S. truck driver would want to travel? We think not.

Trade is supposed to be a two-way street. It's hard to understand how President Obama's proposal to open the border to Mexican trucks will benefit America. It will take away American trucker and warehouse jobs, make our highways more dangerous and promote the spread of drug violence.

If you haven't been following this, the Department of Transportation wants to open the border to Mexican trucks with another pilot program. The Teamsters will fight like hell against the plan because it will undermine highway safety, American jobs and border security.

Today's Teamster News 01.28.11

St. Louis County Strike Averted. Here's What Really Happened.  Local 320  ...A lot has been said in the press about the alleged walk out of workers in Virginia.  It is unfortunate that County Administration jumped to this conclusion and spread this falsehood without checking the facts...
Goldman Sachs Got Billions From AIG For Its Own Account, Crisis Panel Finds  Huffington Post   ...The fact that a significant slice of the proceeds secured by Goldman through the AIG bailout landed in its own account--as opposed to those of its clients or business partners-- has not been previously disclosed...
YRC to cut 80 jobs in Akron  Journal of Commerce  ...The jobs affected are at the former Roadway headquarters on Gorge Boulevard. The work will be shifted to Buffalo, N.Y., and YRC's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan...
Weather Shield Contract (Local 662)  WJFW  ...The agreement keeps existing benefits with no across the board wage increase until the summer of 2012...
5 percent pay raise suggested for Polk officials Des Moines Register  ...labor agreements ... are expected to result in roughly 1.5 percent pay increases for employees...
Some Sullivan workers to get layoff notices next week  (Local 445)  Times Herald-Record   ...Legislators huddled for five hours Thursday to decide what positions to cut after labor unions refused to defer raises and longevity payments...
Study finds L.A.'s trash disposal system is wasteful and polluting  Los Angeles Times   ...A labor-backed advocacy group issued a study Wednesday that ... called for the adoption of a franchise process that could bolster recycling rates, provide green jobs and increase city revenue...
Teamsters Toledo Local votes to rejoin AFL-CIO  (Local 20)  Toledo Blade   ...the first time the local union has been under the AFL-CIO’s broader labor umbrella since 1957...
Santa Barbara MTD, Teamsters Union to Enter Into Mediation Over Retirement Benefits  (Local 186)  Noozhawk   ...The agency proposes, as a cost-saving measure, increasing the retirement age for employees to be eligible for full health benefits...
Crowell bill would make Missouri right-to-work state  Southeast Missourian   ...This legislative session, and for the past several years, Crowell has filed legislation that would prohibit union-only workplaces...
How The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce’s Egyptian Affiliate Went To Bat For The Egyptian Dictatorship  ThinkProgress   ...the U.S. Chamber of Commerce maintains a network of foreign affiliates known as Amchams, “which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies...”
Brooksley Born of the FCIC: “We may well still be in a financial crisis”  firedoglake   "...We don’t know how solvent a number of institutions are...”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reminder: Rally against billionare union-busters on Sunday in So-Cal

The Koch brothers' secret billionaires' meeting to plot the destruction of the middle class plan for the 2012 elections is REALLY not so secret any more.

The LA Times and Politico today are both reporting on the rally planned for Sunday near the brothers' secret meeting in Rancho Mirage, Calif. "Koch conference under scrutiny" is the Politico headline. Reports the Times:

Environmentalists, labor union members and liberal activists across Southern California are mounting a protest Sunday in Rancho Mirage against billionaire "tea party" funders Charles and David Koch and their semiannual confab of conservative activists...De Ann McEwan, co-president of the California Nurses Assn., said her union and others were joining the protest because of the Koch brothers' opposition to Social Security and Medicare, which they have cloaked behind "Astroturf front groups."
The California Federation of Labor, a rally sponsor, says the Kochs
...are spending unprecedented amounts of money to elect politicians who will promote greater profits and fewer rules for insurance companies, polluters, banks and mortgage companies. This is a sickness that's tearing apart the fabric of our society and must be stopped.

Politico reported that they raised $25 million at just one luncheon during their secret meeting in Aspen last summer.

Common Cause still has free buses from Los Angeles, Whittier and San Bernadino. Sign up here.

What a difference a governor makes in MN

Minnesota's government workers are getting battered by the same anti-union tsunami that's hitting government workers throughout the U.S.

Maybe even worse. Minnesota Rep. Keith Downey actually says he wants to "strangle the beast" of public worker rolls. (Typical of predatory capitalists, Downey doesn't seem to have any problem with consultants looting the state treasury. That's probably because he was one.)

Led by Downey, the Republicans who now control Minnesota's Legislature recently unleashed a series of anti-union attacks. They want to eliminate about 5,000 state workers' jobs. They want to freeze, if not reduce, wages and benefits. They want to make it easier for the state to fire employees if their contracts expire. They want to freeze teacher pay and limit their right to strike. (Nothing about consultants, though.)

This is why it's important to get out and vote. Teamsters Local 320 in Minneapolis worked hard to elect Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate Mark Dayton as governor, says the local's principal officer, Sue Mauren. Writes Mauren in her blog

Our new DFL governor, Mark Dayton, wasted no time demonstrating why we Teamsters worked so hard to elect him. “I’m really shocked,” he said. “Government is not a beast. Public servants are not beasts. They are fellow citizens . . . extraordinarily dedicated, hard working people, who are striving to make ends meet for their families . . . just as people in the private sector are.” If that ridiculous and destructive bill reaches his desk, count on Mark kill it with his veto pen.
Perhaps the politicians in Minnesota, where the unemployment rate is 7 percent, can focus on creating jobs instead of cutting them.

How unions took the fall for NJ's pension scandals

New Jersey's bombastic governor Chris Christie doesn't like to point fingers at the real perps behind the state's pension fund problems. He prefers to blame government workers instead of bankers and governors. Christie is taking a page from New York Post publisher Rupert Murdoch, who wrongly accused New York City's sanitation workers for slow snow removal over Christmas instead of the city's vacationing (in Bermuda) billionaire mayor.

Here's Christie talking to the Wall Street Journal recently about reforming pensions:
The ultimate reform is to move to a 401(k)-style [public pension] plan that provides transparency to taxpayers while allowing government employees -- not politicians or union bosses -- to control their retirement savings with individual accounts. How to enact such reform in New Jersey? You get a Republican legislature, that's how you do it. I'm dealing in a context where the Democratic Party in my state has been ruled by the public-sector unions.
Christie tipped his hand here, revealing that his fight over pensions is really a fight to eliminate his political enemies -- government unions. And it's nonsense because the government unions weren't the ones with their hands in the state's pension kitty for the last 15 years.

New Jersey's pension problems result from theft, fraud and mismanagement by banks and government officials.  The incomparable Bob Herbert says it all began with former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman's "buy-now, pay-later" economic policy. Fifteen years ago, Herbert predicted that New Jersey would pay the price for Whitman's pension shenanigans.
The pension obligations at some point will come due and future generations will have to meet them. Not only will the money have to be made up, but future taxpayers will be deprived of the income that the money -- if properly invested now -- would be expected to generate.
New Jersey is now at that point. Here's how it got there: Whitman diverted billions of dollars that should have gone into the pension funds to the state budget. Christie did that again last year, by the way. He called the $3.1 billion diversion a "reform."

There was also mismanagement and fraud. Fortune reported on a brilliant move by Whitman that was supposed to save taxpayers $45 billion. It cost them instead. Under Whitman, New Jersey in 1997 sold $2.75 billion of bonds that it paid 7.6 percent interest on. It invested that $2.75 billion in a fund that earned less than 6 percent annually. Banks, not government unions, received income from those transactions. Those transactions wouldn't have happened in the first place if the books hadn't been cooked. (Note: it wasn't the unions that cooked the books.)

firedoglake reported on yet another scandal that cost union retirees $115 million. A New Jersey pension fund overseer named Orin Kramer in 2006

...successfully pushed to shift a huge chunk of the state’s $72 billion pension fund to private money managers rather than state employees. Kramer was the "prime architect of the diversification strategy"  that saw union retirees pick up the tab for $115 million in Lehman Brothers losses on money invested shortly before the firm’s collapse.  (Lehman Brothers, you will recall, is the firm that Ohio's new union-busting governor John Kasich worked for.)
Last year, the SEC accused New Jersey of lying about its pension fund assets. The New York Times reported that the state had diverted billions of dollars from its pension fund for teachers, using "unorthodox transactions authorized by the Legislature and governors from both political parties."

New Jersey settled the case last year without admitting wrongdoing. There was no fine, no accountability. As the Times reported in August, the SEC issued a "cease and desist" order but didn't name
...any individual state officials, nor the bond underwriters and other professionals whose job it was to vouch for the state's financial statements. New Jersey's largest bond underwriters during the period in question include Citigroup, J. P. Morgan Securities, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital...
Actually, it's the unions that are wrongly being held accountable for New Jersey's mess. The Naked Capitalist has some good advice for the Garden State's unions:
...the unions need to find a way to regain the moral high ground. New Jersey, one of the richest states in the US, has mismanaged its way into this mess. That fact needs to be hammered hard, and the unions also need to put forward a realistic plan in which they make concessions provided upper income earners do their part to address the budget shortfalls...
Don't look now, but Christie will probably again veto a proposed tax on the millionaires who benefited from the looting of the state's pension funds.

Today's Teamster News 01.27.11

Lebanon employees seek to unionize (Local 340)  Journal Tribune   ...Town hall employees are considering joining Teamsters Union 340 after cutbacks in hours and a staff layoff last year...
Firefighters OK pact that saves Appleton money (Local 662)  Post Crescent   ...Fourteen other contracts must still come before the council...Teamsters Local 662 represents 264 workers in 10 different units...
N.J. toll collectors prepared to offer millions in concessions to avoid privatization  (Local 97)  The Record   ...Turnpike toll collectors may ...make as much as $14 million or more in concessions – including $2.4 million in salary rollbacks...
Railroads trim payrolls in December  Journal of Commerce   ...The seven largest freight railroads trimmed 642 positions from their combined U.S. workforce in December, for the first reduction since August...
Railroads Post Big Profit Increases, Resume Hiring   Wall Street Journal ...The largest North American railroads hauled more of most everything in the fourth quarter, spurring new hiring...
Montana Files Lawsuit Over Video Late Fees  Associated Press   ...People who didn't return movies to Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery before they closed their doors for good last year may run into credit trouble when looking to take out a mortgage or finance a car...
Illinois Plan for Pensions Questioned  New York Times   ...The Securities and Exchange Commission has said it has a special team devoted to investigating public pensions, and last year it brought its first case ever against a state, accusing New Jersey of securities fraud for claiming to have pension assets that did not really exist...
UPS to close billing center in Des Moines  Des Moines Register   ...The shutdowns are part of a UPS plan ... to reduce U.S. billing centers from 10 to eight...
Keystone link to Gulf finds enough producers  The Globe and Mail   ...TransCanada Corp. has signed up enough customers to proceed with its 150,000 barrel-per-day pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast...
Illinois manufacturers have high hopes after Obama promises access to high-speed rail, infrastructure repair  The Medill Report   ...With a goal of putting 35 million people within a three-hour trip to Chicago, the Midwest High Speed Rail Association advocates building four bullet train routes...
Senate GOP proposing NH public pension reforms  Associated Press   ...Republicans are proposing raising the retirement age for public safety workers...
A Reservist in a New War, Against Foreclosure  New York Times   ...In violation of a law intended to protect active military personnel from creditors, agents of Deutsche Bank foreclosed on his small Michigan house, forcing Sergeant Hurley’s wife, Brandie, and her two young children to move out...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Billionaire union-buster to hold another not-so-secret bash in CA

This weekend, billionaire David Koch is hosting yet another secret meeting of the plutocracy to plot the next elections.

The meeting will be held at Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif., but it won't be as secret as the previous ones. A rally in Rancho Mirage is planned for Sunday by consumer, community, labor, environmental, student, civil liberties, and faith-based groups. They won't be there to praise Koch, his brother Charles, his anti-union think tanks, his phony grass-roots groups or his relentless attempts to destroy the middle class. They'll be there to call him out for spending at least $100 million to roll back worker protections, consumer protections, environmental regulations -- any law or regulation that can get in the way of more profits for his oil company, Koch Industries.

As Peter Dreier writes in yesterday's Huffington Post,
This assault on our well being -- this infectious theft of the American Dream -- is fueled by a handful of big corporations and billionaires like the Koch brothers, who are trying to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans by buying our democracy and taking control of our civic and economic life. The Koch Brothers and their corporate allies are spending unprecedented amounts of money to elect politicians who will promote greater profits and fewer rules for insurance companies, polluters, banks and mortgage companies. This sickness is tearing apart the fabric of our society and must be stopped.
Koch has spent plenty of money (never fully disclosed) to promote right-to-work (for LESS) laws throughout the country. His efforts are bearing fruit as right-to-work (for LESS) lawmakers in Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Montana and Iowa.

Buses will be leaving from all over Southern California for the rally, which will be held from 1 pm to 4 pm at 41-000 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. If you want to go, contact the California Labor Federation.

Looks like the same old, same old on ergonomic injuries

Yup, it's happening again. A U.S. president says "Never mind" on protecting workers from repetitive stress injuries.

Bloomberg reports
The Obama administration on Tuesday withdrew a plan to require more extensive workplace records on ergonomic-related injuries after business groups said the rule might have raised costs to avoid repetitive-stress ailments.
Here's who gets repetitive stress injuries: Bronson Arroyo from pitching for the Cincinnati Reds. Truck drivers from prolonged sitting. Nursing aids from overexertion. Retail grocery clerks from scanning barcodes.
Office workers from typing. Prison guards from unlocking cells by hand. Poultry processors from cutting up chickens.

In fact, ergonomic injuries are the single biggest source of workplace injury and illness. They can cause excruciating pain. They can require surgery. They can cripple.

We know how prevalent these injuries are because there's a form that companies use to track workplace injuries. From 1970 until 2003, that form had a column for ergonomic (or "musculoskeletal") injuries. George W. Bush's OSHA deleted the column in 2003. Recently, Barack Obama's OSHA proposed bringing the column back. The business community went nuts, no doubt because of an abundance of concern for worker safety. So the Obama administration withdrew the plan.

Occupational health guru Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO said she was stunned.
We expected this from the Bush administration, but certainly not the Obama administration. It’s caving in to the concerns of businesses, who don’t want any new rules to protect against workplace injuries.
The Obama administration says it's only withdrawing the rule temporarily. But Seminario is worried.
If this is too much for the Obama administration, we are really concerned about how they are going to proceed on other important safety and health regulations.

They're baaaack: ME, VT senators still trying to make 100K truck limits permanent

Why is it that bad ideas never seem to go away in politics? The bad idea to permanently let 100,000 pound trucks on federal highways in Maine and Vermont is back. Like Nafta, it has the bipartisan support of Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont. And like Nafta, it will kill American jobs.

Collins and Leahy didn't get the weight limit permanently lifted in the last Congress. So now they're trying again. Something about "fairness" because other states raised the limit. TeamsterNation suspects campaign contributions may have something more to do with it.

Four heavy trucks can carry as much as five normal ones. Heavy trucks are dangerous. Heavy trucks destroy our roads and bridges.

My boss, Jim Hoffa, says raising the weight limit would turn big rigs into time bombs.  He's right. This is a bad idea that should go away permanently.

Save Social Security from the muggers

Our friends at the Strengthen Social Security campaign say they were pleased with President Obama's State of the Union speech last night. Here's what Obama said:
To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

TeamsterNation believes that words matter, but in Washington, not so much. As a critic pointed out, Obama promised to close Guantanamo in one year.

Here are some words about Social Security by the incomparable Bob Herbert. They matter because they should inspire people to head toward the barricades in defense of Social Security.
If there’s a better government program than Social Security, I’d like to know what it is.
It has gone a long way toward eliminating poverty among the elderly. Great numbers of them used to live and die in ghastly, Dickensian conditions of extreme want. Without Social Security today, nearly half of all Americans aged 65 or older would be poor. With it, fewer than 10 percent live in poverty.
But Herbert was only warming up:
When you see surveillance videos of some creep mugging an elderly person in an elevator or apartment lobby, the universal reaction is outrage. But when the fat cats and the ideologues want to hack away at the lifeline of Social Security, they are treated somehow as respectable, even enlightened members of the society. We need a reality check. Attacking Social Security is both cruel and unnecessary. It needs to stop.
He notes that there is no Social Security crisis. Potential long-term problems could be fixed easily by raising the cap on payroll taxes so rich people share more of the burden. (Yeah, like that happens in America these days.)  And he points out what needs to be repeated again and again and again:
The folks who want to raise the retirement age and hack away at benefits for ordinary working Americans are inevitably those who have not the least worry about their own retirement. The haves so often get a perverse kick out of bullying the have-nots.
Read the whole thing here.

Still another reason to close the border to Mexican trucks: Weapons trafficking

TeamsterNation just loves it when U.S. safety officials are asked if opening the border would cause Mexico's drug violence to bleed northward. Their response is usually, "Nothing to see here, keep moving, people. Nothing to see."

The New York Times, in a remarkably biased and erroneous story the other day, asked the Texas Department of Public Safety whether opening the border would lead to an increase in human, drug, illicit cash or weapons smuggling. The Texas DPS dismissed the idea, even though it had warned people not to go to Mexico over the holidays because of the violence.

Here's their response to the Times' question:
Nothing to see here
All commercial vehicles, including commercial vehicles operated by Mexican-based carriers, entering the U.S. through commercial border crossings from Mexico are already subject to various types of inspections by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, as well as the Texas D.P.S.
Here's the story today about weapons smuggling from the Arizona Republic:
The seizure of more than 700 guns and the indictments of 34 people announced on Tuesday are further confirmation that Arizona has become an iron highway for weapons into Mexico, according to federal authorities.
Many legal purchases by straw buyers at Arizona gun stores are being financed and orchestrated by Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, federal officials said.
At least the U.S. Attorney for Arizona didn't say "Nothing to see here." Here's what he did say:
This is a huge problem in this state. It is a strange phenomenon...Drug cartels go shopping for their war weapons here in Arizona.
Many of the guns are seized after being used in crimes in the U.S. or Mexico. TeamsterNation is shocked, shocked to learn that border agents, customs officials and law enforcement officers at the border don't find every gun every time.

If you haven't been following this, the Department of Transportation wants to open the border to Mexican trucks with another pilot program. The Teamsters will fight like hell against the plan because it will undermine highway safety, American jobs and border security.

Here's a shock: No evidence that NYC snowplow drivers did anything wrong

There's an old saying, "s**t flows downhill," and it couldn't be more true than in New York City. At the top of the Big Apple's hill are the Wall Street fraudsters who caused the Great Recession. Also at the top: New York's mayor, a multi-billionaire who made his money at Salomon Brothers (now the bailed-out Citigroup) and Bloomberg News. At the bottom of the hill are the government workers who get blamed for -- well, you name it.

Here's how it works: Wall Street's recklessness, corporate mismanagement and regulators' failures caused the economic meltdown. The meltdown caused the recession. The recession caused New York's tax revenues to shrink. The shrinking tax revenues caused the mayor to lay off 400 snowplow drivers. Then it snowed and the billionaire mayor didn't declare a snow emergency quickly enough from his waterfront home in Bermuda. But somehow it ended up being the snowplow drivers' fault that Wall Street wasn't plowed quickly enough! 

FreeRepublic, a hideous blog that you should never read, took aim at the unions:
Various news outlets have reported that leaders of the Service Employees-affiliated Sanitation Officers Association ordered their Teamsters-affiliated work crews to slack off as a protest against recent City Department of Sanitation budget cuts and demotions.
It was obvious that these shameful attacks on New York's sanitation workers were part and parcel of the shameful attacks on unions throughout the country. But it gets better. The attacks on the snowplow drivers started with a crackpot city councilman, Daniel Halloran, who claimed that five city workers told him personally of a deliberate slowdown. His accusation inspired a grand jury investigation (we're still waiting for a grand jury investigation on Wall Street fraud, btw) . And now Halloran, about to face the grand jury, is changing his story. At first he said the workers were told to take off routes and plow major roads slowly. Now he's saying they were "subtly informed there was no need to rush."

According to the New York Times,
Mr. Halloran said he had been visited by two supervisors in the Transportation Department and three workers in the Sanitation Department. But the two transportation supervisors did not back up his story in interviews with investigators, according to two people briefed on the inquiries. And Mr. Halloran has steadfastly refused to reveal the names of the sanitation workers.
We'll settle for a public apology, thank you, from the media outlets that reported flimsy allegations as fact, the mayor who should have been man enough to take the blame and the government officials who wasted taxpayer money on investigating snowplow drivers when they could be investigating crooks on Wall Street.   

Today's Teamster News 01.26.11

HOS comments rolling in to FMCSA  Fleet Owner   ...Trucking stakeholders are not happy with the proposed rulemaking...
Teamster Joint Council 25 Endorses Rahm Emanuel as Chicago Mayor   IBT   ...Teamsters Joint Council 25 endorsed Rahm Emanuel today for Chicago mayor, citing extensive polling that indicates majority support from union members and city residents...
Teamsters And UPS Reach Tentative Agreement In Aircraft Mechanics Contract Negotiations  (Local 2727)  IBT   ...The agreement comes after four years of negotiations...
TransCanada sues to access pipeline land  Argus Leader   ....TransCanada has filed more than a dozen lawsuits to condemn land along the route of its Keystone XL oil pipeline in western South Dakota...
Obama calls for clean energy and high-speed rail in state of the union  The Guardian   ...President Obama dedicated a chunk of his state of the union speech on Tuesday night to greentech and clean energy...
Kansas workers could see 7.5 percent pay cut for the next few months under proposal  Kansas City Star   ...Lawmakers pushing for the reduction said the state had no choice but to cut payrolls to offset steep revenue declines...
Government workers are the new illegal aliens  The Reporter (A spirited defense of public sector workers, despite the offensive headline)
Financial Crisis Was Avoidable, Inquiry Finds  New York Times   ...The 2008 financial crisis was an “avoidable” disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street...
E-mails Suggest Bear Stearns Cheated Clients Out of Billions  The Atlantic Monthly  ...Former Bear Stearns mortgage executives who now run mortgage divisions of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Ally Financial have been accused of cheating and defrauding investors through the mortgage securities they created and sold while at Bear...
BofA's Countrywide sued, accused of massive fraud  Reuters   ...Bank of America Corp's Countrywide mortgage unit has been sued by investors claiming they were victimized in a "massive fraud" when they bought mortgage-backed securities...
U.S. Home Prices Slump Again, Hitting New Lows  New York Times   ...A new slide in housing prices has begun in earnest, with averages in major cities across the country falling to their lowest point in many years...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Union busting, alive and well in Pennsylvania

Unions everywhere are under attack. Public unions are being pitted against private unions, union leaders are being pitted against the rank and file.  Was there ever a time when union solidarity was needed more?

Take Pennsylvania. Longshoremen in Philadelphia/So. Jersey are fighting for their survival because Del Monte chose Holt Logistics stevedoring. According to the Facebook page, Union Longshoremen Fighting for Survival, Holt is a union-busting, low-pay, no-benefits stevedore.

Here's the description of their struggle:
Philadelphia /South Jersey longshoremen are having over 300 of their family sustaining jobs eliminated in a joint venture between third world minded Del Monte and union busting Holt Logistics ! Hopefully someone uncovers the way the Holt family has come to dominate the Phila./South Jersey waterfront . Basically a monopoly by a poverty creating co. is being formed because of a pay-to-play enviorment in this area . It must be stopped and it must be brought to light!
(You can show your solidarity for the members of the International Longshoremen's Association by boycotting Del Monte and posting the image as your facebook profile picture.)

We also learned from one of our brothers at the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way that Pennsylvania's outgoing governor, Democrat Ed Rendell, is joining a union-busting law firm. Here's the message:
He will be returning to the law firm of Ballard, Spahr, Ingersoll, and Rand. This is the firm that SEPTA gives a huge majority of their outside counsel to.

Philadelphia, with a long, proud history of being a "union town" (AFSCME was founded here) has dealt with these people for many years. When municipal workers and transportation workers try to advance their cause, this firm is the first to be called in to stick it to the unions.

The BMWE, much like many other unions, has repeatedly faced this firm in contract negotiations, arbitrations, and other legal arenas for many, many years. These bastards are at the very core of the "sovereign immunity" argument that SEPTIC (sic) has used in their attempts to strip our members of their federal rights under the FELA. At every turn,this firm has been brought in as a tool to go against organized labor and the working class people that they represent. Be forewarned,this firm is mighty and they are not isolated to the Philadelphia area.

...And,by the way -- we now have a new governor of the Commonwealth. You guessed it, a Republican who wants to "trim the fat." Translation : break the unions.

Now you see why it's a commonwealth, all of the wealth is common amongst the ones in power and not so much for the rest of us.
Solidarity, brothers and sisters.

Get the straight story on upcoming Nafta-style trade deals

The House Ways and Means Committee, even as we blog, is holding a hearing on corporate- Nafta style trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. This is one of the first things the new Republican majority wants to get done in Congress. Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan is chairing the hearing, and he thinks trade deals are a great idea. The AP reported
...Camp, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee, told a hearing that completion of the trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama was "a sure-fire way to create American jobs by growing U.S. exports of goods and services."
TeamsterNation prefers to believe the analysis put forth by someone not in the pocket of the multinationals. We look to the Economic Policy Institute, which tells us that trade deals with South Korea and Colombia would cost 214,000 U.S. jobs by 2015.

Public Citizen's Todd Tucker is liveblogging the hearing at firedoglake and he's doing a terrific job. For example, at 10:13 a.m. Tucker reports that Camp is touting his committee’s new “study” showing the U.S. has lost exports to Colombia because we didn't do a trade deal. Tucker knows the real story, which is that U.S. export growth to countries we have Nafta-style trade deals with is SLOWER than export growth to countries we don't have deals with. And he provides a handy link to prove it. (Not to mention that the violence against workers is getting worse in Colombia, not better.)

Read the whole thing here.

Hoffa on The Ed Show: Corporations should sign a Pledge of Allegiance

My boss, Jim Hoffa, has a great idea: Make corporations sign a pledge of allegiance to American workers. Make them promise not to close any more factories.

Hoffa went on The Ed Show last night and said it's time to embarass these corporate titans into reinvesting in America. He thinks if a CEO is named to a White House panel to create jobs, he should at least promise not to send any more jobs overseas. Hoffa said,
If you want to be part of the solution, let's start keeping jobs in America, let's start bringing jobs back.
President Obama recently named Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, to his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Less than  half of GE’s workers are in the U.S. and less than half of its revenues come from its operations in the U.S. Oh, and GE, which runs a huge shadow bank called GE Capital, got a gigantic taxpayer bailout as a result of the financial crisis.

The company has closed 29 plants in the U.S. It used to employ 16,000 workers at its aviation plant in Lynn, Mass. It sent some of those jobs overseas, to places like Thailand and Canada. Now there are only 3,500 GE jobs in Lynn, and GE is sharing sophisticated jet technology with China. So maybe Jeff Immelt can start solving the jobs problem by being the first person to sign the Corporate Pledge of Allegiance.

Still another Teamster organizing victory, this time in NH

Welcome to our 14 new brothers and sisters who work at the Weare, N.H., middle and elementary schools as custodians. They officially became Teamsters on Jan. 20, when the N.H. Public Employee Labor Relations Board certified Local 633 as their bargaining agent.

Weare custodian Tom Murphy knew the benefits of a Teamster contract because he had been a Teamster -- working at another school district and as a UPS driver. Murphy made the first call to the Teamsters to organize. Murphy said
We need to bring up the standards. In my previous job, we did the exact same work, but were better compensated because we were Teamsters. And I look at custodians as just as important as anybody else in the school.
The workers joined the Teamsters seeking job protections, economic fairness and a better work environment. David Laughton, secretary-treasurer of Teamster Joint Council 10 and Local  633, said working people are realizing more than ever the value of having a union to protect their rights and improve their working conditions because economic times are so tight.

Working families in the Granite State need all the solidarity they can get these days. Republicans were voted into the majority of New Hampshire's Great and General Court in November, and some of them are trying to wipe unions from the face of the state. They want to eliminate the minimum wage, pass a right-to-work (for LESS) law and get rid of a law that maintains contracts between employers and employees until another contract is in place. Yeah, that'll create jobs.

The GOP even has a Tea Partier, Jack Kimball, as its new state chairman. TeamsterNation's regular readers will know who Kimball's daddy is: union buster David Koch, the oil and gas billion-heir who finances the Tea Party. Koch's efforts to destroy the middle class were exposed in The New Yorker magazine, and he was subsequently booed at the ballet in New York.

TeamsterNation wishes our new brothers and sisters from Weare the best of luck in their contract negotiations, and urges them to join the fight in Concord against these destructive anti-union proposals. 

Woo hoo! Good guys win one over the U.S. Chamber

TeamsterNation is blown away that the U.S. Supreme Court voted 8-0 AGAINST the U.S. Chamber and the Spanish company it backed and FOR an employee whistleblower. (Yes, you may be wondering why the U.S. Chamber is spending members' dues defending a Spanish company against an American worker. It's because the Chamber's loyalty is to the international plutocracy, not the United States nor the U.S. worker.)

Anyway, we're blown away by the unanimous decision because big corporations have some good friends on the high court.

The New York Times has the story:
Firing a worker’s fiancé in retaliation for a sex discrimination claim filed by the worker is itself unlawful, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday.
Here's what happened: In 2002, Miriam Regalado complained to the EEOC that her employer, North American Stainless, paid her less than her male counterparts and twice demoted her because she's a woman. Her fiancé, who also worked at the company, was fired after the company learned about Regalado's complaint. The fiance sued the company, and the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that he had the right to do so.

North American Stainless, in Ghent, Ky.,  is owned by Spanish-based Acerinox. The U.S. Chamber and other business groups backed the company.

This case matters to more people than you may think. According to the Wall Street Journal,
Earlier this month, the EEOC reported that nearly 100,000 discrimination complaints were filed in the year ended Sept. 30, an all-time high. Retaliation was the most frequently filed charge, at 36,228 complaints, for the first time edging out racial discrimination.
Chalk one up for the good guys!

Today's Teamster News 01.25.11

Unions make gains in state (Local 120)   Pioneer Press   ...As the nation's labor unions saw a decline in membership last year, Minnesota's unions saw an increase...
Regents Discuss Effects of State Budget Cuts and New Admissions Process  (Local 2010)  The Guardian   ...The UC Board of Regents convened ... to discuss ...the possibilities of tuition increases, staff reductions and increased non-resident admissions to combat state budget shortfalls...
Insider Probe Impact Felt by Pension Funds  Wall Street Journal   ...The federal insider-trading probe is being felt beyond the world of hedge funds and "expert network" firms in New York and Silicon Valley...
Railroads Engineer Growth  Journal of Commerce   ...When supply chain logisticians explain why the Pacific Northwest is a key option in their four-corners strategy in North America, they sum up their argument in two words: intermodal rail...
Longtime UPS driver rolls to state trucker safety award  Minneapolis Star-Tribune   ...Charles Ostlund Minnesota's 2010 Truck Driver of the Year...
FedEx starts Deep Frozen Shipping Solution option  Associated Press   ...FedEx Corp. said Monday it started ... to ship temperature-sensitive healthcare products around the world...
Fight Over Oil Sands Pipeline Continues to Heat Up  Wall Street Journal   ...Canada believes that it is fully capable of determining the environmental impacts of oil sands mining on its own, and the US EPA thinks that Canada needs a little push to come to the right decision...
Panel Investigating Financial Crisis Is Said to Refer Cases to Justice Dept.  New York Times   ... a civil investigation would be the most likely outcome of the referrals and that criminal charges were unlikely...
If You Build It, Will They Charge? New York Times   ...Car-charging stations in Tennessee will rely on a mix of solar power and batteries, and some of the energy will flow to and from the grid...
"Zero-Interest Policies as Hidden Subsidies to Banks"  Economists' View   ...The Fed policy drives down the interest rates paid to savers to some small fraction of 1%. At the same time, banks leverage their capital by a factor of 15 or so, thus earning a truly outstanding return from buying Treasuries with costless Fed money or very nearly costless deposits...