Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wal-Mart shoppers running out of money

This should come as no surprise to anyone: Wal-Mart's CEO said the retailer's customers are running out of money.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) averages about 140 million shoppers each week in its U.S. stores and is considered a barometer of the health of consumers and the economy. Unfortunately, according to CEO Mike Duke, that health is still declining. "We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact." Lately, they're "running out of money" at a faster clip.
This is known as being hoisted by your own petard. Wal-Mart's predatory behavior impoverishes the communities it inhabits, its global suppliers and its own employees. So when you make a whole bunch of people poorer, OF COURSE your customers are going to buy fewer products.

As Wal-Mart Watch tells us,
From small businesses to major chains, all grocery and retail establishments that compete with Walmart are impacted by the company. Competitors are often forced to lower wages and standards. By using a model based on low-wages, high-efficiency transportation, and imported goods, Walmart has a history of destroying once thriving downtowns across rural America.

Donald Trump and David Koch

Here they are together at a party in the Hamptons, we're told. Apparently the photo was downloaded from Twitter.  Political News said it best: You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps.

A proud day for Memphis sanitation workers

This picture tells quite a story: The leaders of the Memphis sanitation workers strike met with President Obama yesterday at the White House.

Today's Teamster News 04.30.11

Plan to Protect 25,000 YRCW Freight Jobs Clears Important Financial Hurdle
IBT   ...The Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (TNFINC), along with lenders and the Teamster multi-employer pension funds, has entered into definitive agreements to move forward with the planned restructuring of YRCW...
Walker plan brings warning from USDA  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to privatize work determining who is eligible for food assistance in the state would violate federal law and could expose the state to a loss of more than $20 million in federal money, federal officials say...
Republican Budget Booed, Jeered by Angry Voters   ...Republican Congressman Paul Ryan was jeered and booed by angry voters as he tried to explain the GOP budget of which he is the architect...
Petitions out to repeal SB 5  Record Herald   ...The grassroots coalition, "We Are Ohio," is in the midst of gathering thousands of signatures across the state, including here locally, in an attempt to repeal Senate Bill 5...
Defending Boeing, Pam Bondi Stands Up for Right to Work  Sunshine State News   ...State Attorney General Pam Bondi joined eight Republican attorneys general from other states Thursday to oppose a National Labor Relations Board complaint launched last week against the Boeing Co...
Union dues bill rears its head as amendment  Miami Herald   ...A bill to ban public employee unions from using payroll deduction to collect their dues was considered all but dead on Wednesday when Senate leaders couldn’t get the votes to pass it...
Benton Harbor is the new Selma  Michigan Messenger   ...Hundreds of people gathered in Benton Harbor yesterday to protest the Emergency Manager law that has stripped power from the local government...
Michigan House passes business tax cut, levy on pensions  Detroit News   ...A massive tax reform package granting nearly $1.8 billion in business tax breaks ... passed Thursday in the state House, but faces tough scrutiny in the upper chamber...
Brewer vetoes privatization bill for city services  Arizona Capital Times   ...Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would have forced Arizona’s two largest cities to bid out expensive municipal services...
Brewer vetoes bill to cap state spending  Arizona Capital Times   ...By vetoing a bill that would have placed strict limits on how quickly government spending could increase, Gov. Jan Brewer has drawn the ire of conservative tax policy advocates...
Is Massachusetts the next Wisconsin  Washington Post   ...Unions are outraged; conservatives are cheering, but they agree: like Wisconsin, this blue state has launched an assault on unionized public employees. Democrats in the state say they’re both wrong...

Friday, April 29, 2011

This is what we union thugs do in our spare time

We paint houses for low-income people. For free.

Jo Simon got the ball rolling after she opened her gas bill at her home in Clearwater, Fla. The bill included a flier seeking low-income people who needed their houses painted. Simon, head of the Teamsters Local 79 women’s committee and a 17-year UPS Teamster, called to find out how she could help.

TeamsterMagazine reports that Simon ended up gathering a team of 21 Teamsters to help paint a disabled elderly woman's home. The project was part of  the annual "Paint Your Heart Out Clearwater" event, which resulted in 20 low-income people's houses being painted in one day.
Teamsters from as far as Tennessee came to help out. Kelly Andrews, a member of Local 528 in Atlanta and coordinator for the Local 519-sponsored women’s committee, took vacation time and traveled 10 ½ hours from the Chattanooga, Tenn. area. Andrews brought along fellow Teamster women, Sandy Gilliam and Kelly Sims, as well as her 16-year-old son, Sam. Teamsters from Local 79 in Tampa, Fla., Local 528 in Atlanta and Local 519 in Knoxville, Tenn., participated in the project.
“There are a lot of charities that you can make donations to, but you don’t get to see the people that you helped. It uplifted all of our spirits to be a part of this and to see the positive impact we had on such a wonderful woman,” Andrews said.

Financial vultures are circling our cities and towns

Just when you thought Wall Street couldn't get any more avaricious, they do something so shameless it makes your head spin.

You'd think they'd be happy with a $4 trillion taxpayer bailout. But no, looting the federal treasury wasn't enough. Now they're figuring out how to plunder our cities and towns.

Wall Street's stooge in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder, set the stage by passing a financial manager law. The law lets appointees take over entire communities, override local laws, remove elected officials and abrogate union contracts. In the old days that was known as "taxation without representation." Today it's "value for money."

We've reported how Benton Harbor was stripped of its democratic rights. And we've reported how Snyder is building an army of emergency financial managers to take over municipalities across the state.

Today we learn what those eager beavers are thinking. Bloomberg Business Week, in a story called, "Financial Martial Law in Michigan," describes how one financial vulture views struggling municipalities: a chance to add to his loot.  Here a principal from accounting giant Grant Thornton describes a conversation he had with Michigan's treasurer:
"I told Andy Dillon: 'I want to copy your program and take it to other states.' We view this as a business opportunity. We can make a real meaningful difference for a lot of people. There's a nobility in that. If we can get paid for it, that's a good thing, too." -Michael Imber, a principal from the accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton.
Here's more:
"This is the next wave of opportunity," says Scott Eisenberg, president of the Michigan Turnaround Management Assn "People are trying to figure out where the opportunity is. It may not be as emergency managers. It may be as consultants." And then Eisenberg says it—the sentiment that sounds reasonable to some and perverse to others: "This past recession brought forth a level of discipline and accountability and restructuring in the private sector that the public sector has not gone through yet. As a result there's no reason why you wouldn't use professionals to help. Good turnaround professionals will pay for themselves."
The emergency managers' salaries—which range from $150,000 for Stampfler to about $350,000 for Robert Bobb, the head of the Detroit school system—come out of local (or school) budgets. Consultants' fees could run about $150 an hour, estimates Eisenberg, a drop from what they're used to making but still lucrative.
Could it be any more obvious that this is about looting the middle class and not about solving our financial crisis.

MUST SEE: 'Union Town' video by Tom Morello

Ya gotta see this. It's Tom Morello's brand new song about the protests in Madison, and it's terrific.

Don't take our word for it. Here's another positive review from LibraryLinda1 on youtube.
Wow!!! You really captured the spirit of what we are doing here. Thanks! They are now trying to enact restrictions on voting rights . Photo ID (no student IDs), primary election moved to August (vacation time) and you could only file an absentee ballot if you were elderly or handicapped. They must be running scared. Let's hope so.
P.S. Note the Teamsters "Stop the War on Workers" signs peppered throughout the videos!

P.P.S. Morello is donating proceeds from the song to the America Votes Labor Unity Fund, which benefits the unified labor effort to protect the rights of workers.

Today's Teamster News 04.29.11

Benton Harbor protest against emergency manager  WZZM-13   ...Hundreds of people gathered in Benton Harbor Wednesday to protest Michigan's emergency financial manager law...
Black caucus plans federal case against Emergency Manager law  Michigan Messenger   ...The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus is working with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), and others on a lawsuit to challenge Michigan’s Emergency Manager law...
MU says video distorted labor professors’ meaning  Kansas City Star   ...Videos released on the Internet showing two University of Missouri instructors advocating union violence totally distorted their comments, a university official said this afternoon...
Afraid To Face Angry Voters, Rep. Paul Ryan Sneaks Out a Back Door  Crooks and Liars   ...Paul Ryan is flipping out that town hall attendees aren't going to follow his command to "play nice" in front of the media....
Shadow Right Wing Policy Group Holds Summit in Cincinnati  Progress Ohio   ...They meet in secret. They write our laws. And they want us silent...
Teachers union sues Otter, Luna over reform law  Idaho Statesman   ...Members of Idaho's statewide teachers union have filed a lawsuit against the state, the governor and Idaho's public schools chief over a new law that phases out teacher tenure and wipes out collective bargaining over salaries and benefits...
Oregon Unions Put Their Fists in the Air  Willamette Week   ...Raising their fists and chanting, “Good jobs for all, ” about 2,500 Oregon union members and their supporters packed Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square today to protest stagnant job growth and government budget cuts...
Philly schools may cut nearly 1,300 teachers jobs  Associated Press   ...The Philadelphia public schools will have to cut 3,800 jobs—including almost 1,300 teachers—if the governor's planned budget cuts are approved, the district's budget chief said Wednesday...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

WI Dems have way more cash than GOP for recalls

DailyKos brings us the happy news: As of March 21, Wisconsin Democrats have $1.2 million more in cash than their Republican opponents (who, as you recall, voted to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights).

Chris Bowers tells us:
—Almost all of the Democratic money came from small donors on Act Blue....

—The Democratic Party of Wisconsin spent a large amount of money because they are the central organizing hub for the recall petition gathering effort.

—The amount of money the Democratic committees have on hand exceeds the total amount of money all of the incumbent Senators facing recall have on hand
And randy Randy Hopper has $9,844 in debt!

No one should get too comfortable, though. You can bet that outside interests -- the Kochs, the DeVoses, Karl Rove's money machine, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- will funnel plenty of do-re-mi to the incumbent Republicans.

But the Washington Post's Greg Sargent believes the Democrats have the momentum right now. Writes Sargent:
Wow. In a sign that Wisconsin Democrats can still claim momentum in the recall wars, Dems today filed the signatures to trigger a recall election against a sixth Wisconsin GOP state senator — and this time, they filed an astonishing 166 percent of the number required, the highest yet...The enormous amount of signatures collected by Dems could help in the recall battles themselves, since having names and addresses of huge numbers of voters makes getting out the vote far easier.
What continues to be interesting about the organizing success state Dems and labor are having in Wisconsin is that it’s unfolding almost entirely under the radar of the national media, which has largely moved on from this story. And it’s happening outside the Beltway-based power infrastructure of the national Democratic Party.
The final battle lines are all but drawn.

Woo-hoo! 4th Dem recall campaign in WI fails

Fab 14 state Sen. Mark Miller is home free! One group that had until yesterday to file signatures for a recall failed. Today, a second group that had until May 4 to collect signatures gave up. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explains:
There had been a possibility that the group would consolidate with another recall effort against Miller, launched by the Utah-based American Patriot Recall Coalition, and use a May 4 deadline that group had to collect enough signatures. But Horn wrote in an email this morning that volunteers decided not to consolidate with the coalition.
"We did this because we feel that the APRC is a front group for either wrecking conservative causes or for simple money making," he said in the email.
We love this juicy detail about the head of APRC, a man named Dan Baltes, from the Deseret News: He's a huckster who touts himself as a well-connected political strategist and an authority on illegal immigration, but he served 10 years in Idaho prisons for grand theft, forgery and writing bad checks. He also had a domestic violence complaint and a restraining order issued against him in Colorado 10 years ago.

So to recap, six Republican state senators from Wisconsin face recall elections, along with three Democrats. Only one more Democrat and two more Republicans possibly face recall.

You'll get arrested and maced if you ask this wingnut rep. about Medicare

Talking Points Memo has the story:
A constituent arrested at a Florida town hall event in Rep. Allen West's district says she was singled out for political reasons, taken into custody under false pretenses, and maced in jail. And she has video to prove some, if not all, of it.
Nicole Sandler is a progressive radio show host*, and one of West's constituents. At a town hall event Tuesday, West was screening questions ...When he ducked a question about the House GOP plan to phase out Medicare and replace it with a private insurance system, Sandler shouted out a followup.
"I wanted to ask: How does privatizing Medicare make it more efficient? How does adding a profit motive to it make it more efficient? And I want to know the name and telephone number of an insurance company who will sell a policy to... someone who's 75 years old, obese, with high blood pressure..."
Here's what we love about this story: West has the nerve to claim the current "fee for service" system under Medicare leads to fraud. Any guesses whose company paid the highest criminal fine in history for Medicare fraud? That would be Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott.

NM lowers Mexican truck standards at the border

New Mexico's state government is the latest to cave in to the relentless pressure to lower safety standards. And they're the latest to come up with the excuse that "it will make goods cheaper." (Note: We'd rather have good jobs than cheap goods.)

Here's what New Mexico did: pass a law that lets overloaded trucks from Mexico operate within the state's border zone.

Landline Magazine has the story:
...because commercial vehicles in Mexico operate under different weight limits than trucks operating in New Mexico and Texas, some commercial reducible loads must be partially offloaded before crossing through border ports of entry.
The offloaded product must then be reloaded onto a second truck in Mexico before shipment across the border. Rep. Mary Helen Garcia, D-Dona Ana, points out that the process adds significant costs for both Mexican producers and U.S. buyers.
The new law is intended to eliminate the offloading/reloading process and allow affected loads to be delivered directly to warehouses, processing facilities and logistics yards near the border.
Gov. Martinez said the companies importing those products will see reduced costs that will passed onto consumers.
Gov. Susana Martinez, by the way, is a real peach. She illegally fired the entire state labor relations board. Earlier this month the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that what she did was unconstitutional and ordered her to reinstate the board.

Here's what the Democratic Party chairman had to say about her:
In barely more than 100 days in office Susana Martinez has yet again lost in the state supreme court for overstepping her authority. First she was caught making a back-room deal with lobbyists to weaken clean-water protections, now she has been soundly rebuked for attempting to take away employees' rights by dismantling the board assigned to hear worker complaints. Clearly Governor Martinez has a troubling agenda and it appears she is willing to run afoul of state law to do it.
Ever notice how people who want to weaken environmental and safety standards also want to destroy workers' rights?

That's why environmental groups and the Teamsters have joined together in the past to stop the US Department of Transportation from letting dangerous and dirty Mexican trucks have full use of our highways.

You can weigh in here on the latest proposal to open the border. It's easy and it takes hardly any time. Just click on the orange "Submit a comment" button, fill in the blanks and let 'er rip.

12 workers die every day in America

So next time someone tells you work safety rules should be wiped out, throw that statistic in their face.

It's a disgrace that so many people die on the job, and it's a disgrace that Americans are so oblivious to that fact. That's why we celebrate Workers' Memorial Day every April 28.

Teamster President Hoffa reminds us that unions struggled for decades to improve working conditions. It's an issue especially dear to Teamsters' hearts because highway accidents are the leading cause of death on the job. Truck drivers are more likely to die at work than people in any other occupation.

Today, the AFL-CIO reports
In 2009, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,340 workers were killed on the job—an average of 12 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. More than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but this number understates the problem. The true toll of job injuries is two to three times greater—about 8 million to12 million job injuries and illnesses each year.
The good news: President Obama is setting new safety and health standards, increased the job safety budget and hired hundreds of new inspectors.

The bad news: Corporate-backed politicians are trying to block new regulations and slash OSHA's budget.

btw, More great images like the one above can be seen at

Solidarity forever from Local 665

This photo of Teamster Local 665 comes from our sister Lynda Romero, shop steward for New South Parking at San Francisco International Airport. They're displaying red wristbands in support of workers in Wisconsin and throughout the United States. Writes Lynda,
United we stand!

Today's Teamster News 04.28.11

Indiana OKs broadest private school voucher system in US as Daniels mulls White House bid  Associated Press   ...It would allow even middle-class families to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools...
Little evidence found to support claims of voter fraud  Florida Independent  ...Republican legislators pushing new restrictions on groups that register voters and on voters trying to change their addresses at the polls have said the changes are intended to bring integrity to the voting process...
A State Manager Takes Over and Cuts What a City Can’t  New York Times   ...Only four entities in Michigan, including Detroit’s public school system, currently are deemed distressed enough to require oversight by emergency managers. But some economists predict those ranks will grow...
Big Jump In Disapproval For Pennsylvania Governor  Quinnipiac University   ...Pennsylvania voters say 50 - 39 percent that Gov. Corbett's budget-cutting proposals are unfair to people like them...
Angry voters crowd GOP town meetings  CBS   ...constituents from Twin Lakes to Kenosha are being turned away as capacity crowds inside come to praise or condemn the plan Ryan likes to call the "path to prosperity..."
Wisconsin pension system is nation's most solvent, study finds  Green Bay Press Gazette   ...At a Capitol Hill forum Tuesday sponsored by the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, the consensus among panelists was pensions are not to blame for states' fiscal woes...
Advocates: Consumers 'betrayed' by high court ruling on class-action suits  MSNBC  ...Fine print in everyday consumer contracts can include provisions that require Americans to surrender their rights to file class-action lawsuits, the U.S Supreme Court ruled Wednesday...    

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Woo-hoo! In WI, deadline passes for recalls of 2 Dem senators

The Wisconsin State News brings us the happy tidings:
Sen. Spencer Coggs
Organizers have come up short on recall efforts of two Democratic senators targeted after leaving the state in protest of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union bill.

Organizers for the committees to recall Sen. Mark Miller of Monona and Sen. Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee failed to turn in recall petitions by Tuesday's deadline.

Sen. Mark Miller
While efforts to recall Coggs are likely dead, a second recall committee for Miller has a later filing deadline. Miller organizers who missed Tuesday's deadline did not immediately return calls for comment.
Five Republicans and three Democrats so far are facing recall in Wisconsin, though Democrats are challenging the validity of some of the signatures. Tomorrow, Cowardly Rob Cowles will likely get the bad news that he'll face a recall too, as organizers say they'll submit their petitions tomorrow. (He earns the moniker "Cowardly" because he said he'd vote against Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's bill to destroy government worker unions -- and then voted for it.)

NAFTA: Another reason to scrap it

Our friends over at Economy in Crisis raise a good point: Among the many, many reasons to scrap NAFTA is the possibility that Mexico could be a portal for low-wage countries to circumvent U.S. import duties.

Economy in Crisis refers us to Lanka Business Online, which tells us that Sri Lanka is looking to sell its products to the U.S. and Canada through Mexico. LBO says,
Sri Lanka is seeking to access North American markets under the NAFTA trade deal through partnerships with Mexican businesses, minister of industry and commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
"Joint business partnerships between Mexican and Sri Lankan companies will help accessing the difficult North American markets," he was quoted as saying in a statement. ...“The bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Mexico stands at 63 million US dollars..."This is still a small volume and there is much potential between the two countries to enhance it."
Notes Economic Populist:
By moving production to Mexico, Sri Lankan companies could theoretically avoid paying tariffs and other duties at the border because of NAFTA.
That could allow for an influx of cheap goods that could do America’s economy more harm than good.
And of course they could ship the goods in Mexican trucks!

(By the way, have you commented to the U.S. Department of Transportation on why you think opening the border to dangerous Mexican trucks is an insane idea? If you haven't, go here, click on the orange, "Submit a Comment" button, fill in the blanks and let 'er rip. We understand at least a thousand Teamsters have commented, but there are 1.4 million of us!)

VIDEO: What a Kloppenburg recount looks like

This is just the beginning.

China-basher Trump manufactures clothes in Chna

The law of statistical averages states that we will occasionally agree with Donald Trump. And we think he's right about China. Americans should be buying less crap from China and manufacturing more products here.

Trump even proposes a tax on China's products in a video promoting his presidential campaign.

But then The Donald has to go and ruin it all by getting his line of  Donald J. Trump Signature Collection clothing made in China.

Salon has the story:
Donald Trump has emerged in recent years as the nation's foremost China basher, going after the Asian superpower for undervaluing its currency and for taking American manufacturing and jobs. So it's at least ironic -- and at most an example of gross hypocrisy -- that Trump's own line of men's wear, the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection, is manufactured in China.
The writer checked out the Donald J. Trump haberdashery at Macy's in downtown Manhattan. Sure enough, on one of his $69.50 shirts, the label said, "Made in China."

Firefighters turn off spigot to federal candidates

Saying too few Democrats have their backs, the International Association of Firefighters announced they're suspending political contributions to candidates for U.S. Congress and president.

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger pulls no punches. In a statement to his 300,000 members, he says,
Not only are extremist Republicans trying to destroy us -- too few Democrats are standing up and fighting for us.
Over the past two years, politicians from both parties have failed to address our issues in Washington, DC. Now, anti-labor members of Congress and their allies are championing measures that would undermine pension security, tax employer-sponsored health benefits, force newly hired fire fighters into Social Security and attack federal fire fighters. And with no pro-fire fighter legislation likely to be advanced in the 112th Congress – it’s time to take a stand.
Schaitberger explains why the firefighters decided to spend their money on state battles:
...the attacks launched at our members since the November 2010 elections have changed the landscape.
Extreme right-wing conservative and so-called Tea Party politicians are coming after fire fighters, paramedics and all public workers with a vengeance across the United States. They are attempting to take away basic American rights like collective bargaining and your right to negotiate for a good quality of life for your families. They are working to eliminate your pensions and retirement security. They want to silence your voice by gagging you with legislation they call Paycheck Protection. They are taking away the long-held right of dues deductions from paychecks to try to weaken the finances of our union. They want to hurt all unions and drive down wages and benefits with Right-to-Work laws.
Here's the Firefighters Fighting Back page.

VIDEO: Bedlam at Orlando town hall over Medicare cuts

This isn't your Tea Party uprising at a town hall. This is people furious with a Republican congressman, Dan Webster, because he voted to cut taxes for the rich and end Medicare.

Think Progress brings us the video from Orlando, telling us
...for nearly an hour, Webster was peppered with one question after another about his support for ending Medicare, his desire to see tax breaks for the wealthy extended, and his vote to repeal health care reform, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions. For his part, Webster didn’t just avoid the questions by resorting to talking points, as most politicians commonly do. On numerous occasions, Webster simply declined to give an answer to contentious questions altogether, moving on to take a new question instead....

Webster is the latest congressman to face a town hall backlash after his vote in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan. Provisions of the Republican budget, which ends Medicare, slashes Medicaid, and extends tax breaks for the wealthy, is opposed by strong majorities of Americans, including over 7 in 10 Republican voters as well.

Last week, ThinkProgress reported from a town hall in Milton, Wisconsin, where Rep. Ryan’s plan to extend tax breaks for the wealthy earned the congressman a loud chorus of boos from his own constituents. Similar backlash among voters to the Republican budget has played out for other congressmen across the country, including Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Charlie Bass (R-NH), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Robert Dold (R-IL), and Sean Duffy (R-WI).

Today's Teamster News 04.27.11

NLRB will sue Ariz., SD over union laws  Associated Press will move ahead with lawsuits against Arizona and South Dakota over state constitutional amendments that require secret ballot elections to form unions...
With Lockout Lifted for Now, Questions on How to Proceed  New York Times  ...the N.F.L. was stuck in a state of confusion Tuesday, one day after an injunction to stop the six-week-long lockout was issued...
At least 9 Wisconsin state senators face recall  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...In all, three Democrats, and possibly four, have now escaped having signatures filed, and at least three campaigns are still active - against two Republicans and a Democrat...
House votes to restrict unions  Boston Globe   ...the push in Massachusetts was led by Democrats who have traditionally stood with labor to oppose any reduction in workers’ rights...
EFM Harris may use authority to terminate Benton Harbor union contracts   ...EMF Joe Harris said Monday that it is "conceivable" that he will end contracts with union workers...
Ohio GOP lawmakers plan changes to Gov. John Kasich's education budget  Plain Dealer   ...Battered by angry crowds at suburban school district meetings in recent days, House Republican lawmakers will offer up changes Thursday limiting the budgetary pain inflicted on schools by Gov. John Kasich's budget proposal...
Rick Scott's Major Failure: Legislature Won't Eliminate Corporate Income Tax  New Times   ...Florida is undergoing a radical conservative transformation under Gov. Rick Scott, but one of his top proposals seems to be a bridge too far and too soon even for the Republican supermajorities in the state House and Senate...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Woo-hoo! 6th GOP Sen to face recall in WI

This time it's Rob Cowles, one of the eight Republican state senators who not only voted to strip collective bargaining rights from government workers but is eligible for recall. Wisconsin Democrats say they'll submit the signatures on Thursday.

Things are also looking good for recall efforts against Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman. Organizers are planning a rally on Friday.

Here's more good news: Efforts to recall two of the Fab 14 Democrats failed. Monday was the deadline to turn in enough signatures to recall Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee and Sen. Fred Risser of Madison. They didn't make it. 

Sen. Spencer Coggs, another of the Fab 14 senators, may also escape recall. Today is the deadline to submit signatores, and we haven't heard a peep from the anti-Coggs group. 

Oh, and we'll recall Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker in 250 days.

US expands Mexico travel warning

The U.S. State Department has expanded its travel warning for Mexico. The advisory says,
Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents.
One would think highway robbery would be a good reason NOT to enter into a cross-border trucking agreement with Mexico. Why would an American truck driver risk highway robbery? But perhaps that hasn't occurred to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If you'd like to raise the issue with them, click here, click the orange button that says "Submit a Comment," fill in the blanks and write down your objections.

Here's another question: What does it mean when Mexico's federal government cannot keep the nation's highways safe from brazen predators?

Answer:  It means the United States shouldn't open its borders to Mexican trucks.

Meet the think tanks paid to wage war on workers

We've bitched about the Koch brothers trying to destroy the middle class, and the DeVoses for their efforts to get rid of public education. Unfortunately, there are plenty more malanthropists where they come from. Today,  Mother Jones revealed more about the "think tanks" paid by plutocrats to attack workers. Writes Andy Kroll,
Conceived by the same conservative ideologues who helped found the Heritage Foundation, the State Policy Network (SPN) is a little-known umbrella group with deep ties to the national conservative movement. Its mission is simple: to back a constellation of state-level think tanks loosely modeled after Heritage that promote free-market principles and rail against unions, regulation, and tax increases.
Kroll reports the SPN was founded in 1992 by Ronald Reagan pal Thomas Roe—who also served on the Heritage Foundation's board of trustees for two decades. The SPN now has 59 "freedom centers," or affiliated think tanks, in all 50 states. It's funded by the usual suspects.

So when the plutocrats' candidates took over state legislatures and governors' offices in November, they played out a drama scripted by the SPN think tanks.
  • Iowa's double-dipping governor, Terry Branstad used research by SPN's Public Interest Institute as justification for curbing public workers' collective bargaining rights. (It died in the Senate.)
  • Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy, recommended financial martial law, which passed in March. Now Detroit's teachers all have pink slips and Benton Harbor residents are being taxed without representation. 
  • Nevada's Policy Research Institute (NPRI) came up with data to support a bill weakening collective bargaining rights.
  • In California, the Pacific Research Institute puts out reports and op-eds to attack collective bargaining for teachers.
  • In Wisconsin, the MacIver Institute and Wisconsin Policy Research Institute supported fellow Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker; the MacIver Institute even produced a video calling workers who protested in Madison communists and socialists.
  • In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs urged lawmakers in support of a bill to strip collective bargaining rights from government workers. (The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.)
And people made fun of Hillary Clinton for complaining about a "vast right-wing network."

(VIDEO) WI Dem senator's campaign ad

Sen. Dave Hansen in full Teamster mode.
Out-of-state groups may have collected enough signatures to force a recall of our Teamster brother, Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Hansen. Hansen fled the state to prevent a vote on Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's bill to destroy government unions.
Watch Dave Hansen's campaign video here.

Today's Teamster News 04.26.11

Gov. Walker Counting 125 Jobs Created by Doyle Administration   ...Walker ...(is) reportedly counting 125 jobs his predecessor announced last December...
Numerous polls suggest the repeal of SB5 would get significant support  The Daily-Record   ...A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found 54 percent of voters would repeal the law while only 31 percent would vote to keep the legislation...
Time for an uprising in Benton Harbor (opinion)  Chicago Sun-Times   ...Benton Harbor’s residents now live in a dictatorship imposed by a Republican governor famous for his belief that the poor should be punished and the rich rewarded...
Gov. Rick Scott pushes corporate tax cut plan but Senate committee balks  Tampa Bay Times Herald   ..."Is this just kind of an odd time to start this ... during the worst of times instead of the best of times?"...
Boeing flies into South Carolina labor turbulence  Salon   ...last week's decision that Boeing had violated the National Labor Relations Act by moving airline production from a union plant in Washington to a nonunion plant in South Carolina seems, on the face of it, like a pretty big deal...
Teamsters Support Planned Merger of AT&T and T-Mobile  IBT   ...The Teamsters Union supports the joining of these two mobile communications providers as a positive sign that T-Mobile workers will soon enjoy the same protections and bargaining power as the 42,000 unionized workers at AT&T...
Public Workers Have Until May 17 to Make Concessions to Avert Layoffs  Paramus Patch   ...Patrick Guaschino, vice president of Teamsters Local 97, which represents eight of the affected workers, was confident that he could find a solution to save $140,000...

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Tea Partier we can agree with (sort of) (VIDEO)

Thanks again to Think Progress for this interview with South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis, a  member of the Tea Party. Davis says the central political battle isn't about Republicans vs. Democrats, but corporations vs. the individuals. He's mad as hell about corporations hiring lobbyists to get special deals from the government (that's known as predatory capitalism).

And good for Sen. Davis, he knows his history: the Boston Tea Party wasn't about higher taxes, it was about a tax cut for a multinational, the Dutch East India Company. The special favor would have meant the company could have Wal-marted American entrepreneurs out of businesses back in 1773.

Davis is a little nutty on the "free hand of the marketplace" business. We happen to believe that successful entrepreneurship results from a strong middle class and government support. But still, a lot of what he says makes sense.

Who knew?

Union-busting bill killed -- in Mexico

Massive protests and rallies have forced Mexico's Congress to shelve a a union-busting bill. Today, we learn that the bill to strip workers of their rights ran into severe headwinds from Mexico's workers. On Friday, Mexican lawmakers backed off the legislation.

This was one nasty piece of legislation. It would have allowed new categories of temporary and casual employment. It would have allowed subcontracting. It would have reduced the legally required severance payments to laid-off workers. It would have forced workers to produce lists of their colleagues voting to strike.

Here's what the National Union of Workers (UNT) has to say about the bill:
...this is a regressive proposal that attacks the fundamental rights of workers, reinforces the government’s corporativist control over labor organizations, and which, finally, is conceived within the logic of those who think that the only viable offer, given the continuing economic crisis, is to transfer its costs to the workers, deepening the current policy of wage restraint with a partial modification of the labor law that reduces the costs of labor and converts the workers into an easily disposable resource for the benefit of capital.
Supporters say the bill would provide "flexibility." (Where have we heard that before?)

We're glad our union brothers and sisters in Mexico have prevailed, at least for now. But we still don't want Mexico's dangerous trucks traveling our highways.

America's Lost Decade

This is something we working stiffs have known all along: Our economy has been flat on its back for at least the past 10 years. found someone who seems to agree with us. A recent post quotes Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates, a Newport Beach, Calif., investment management firm with some $50 billion under management.
He argues in his monthly newsletter that, contrary to popular belief, the roots of our current malaise predate the financial crisis – and not by a little bit.
Arnott says the U.S. economy actually went off the rails more than a decade ago. What's more, many of us have failed to realize it because the most widely watched economic indicator, gross domestic product, actually tracks consumption, irresponsible or otherwise, rather than real wealth generation...
We are, in a word, considerably poorer than we imagine – something politicians of all stripes should, but probably won't, consider as they grapple with our massive deficit.
"GDP that stems from new debt — mainly deficit spending — is phony: it is debt-financed consumption, not prosperity," Arnott writes.

From the "Maybe You Should Have Thought of That Before" Department

Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told Wisconsin Radio Network that the state's recall frenzy "makes it very hard in a Republic for things to get done.”

WI GOP rep gets huffy with constituents (VIDEO)

Remember Sean Duffy, the congressman who whined that he's struggling on his $174,000-a-year salary? Well, he held a Town Hall meeting in his district last week, and his constituents gave him hell. Seems he was defending his fellow Wisconsin Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan, for trying to kill Medicare, according to Think Progress.

Sean got fed up when one constituent told him his "facts" were based on fraudulent information from the Heritage Foundation, which as we all know by now receives funding from the Koch brothers. Then Sean tried to claim that health care reform cuts $500 billion from Medicare. Another constituent replied that the money wasn't taken out of Medicare, it was used to weed out Medicare fraud (something Duffy's fellow Republican, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, is intimately familiar with).

As Elmer Fudd would say, Widdle Sean got his wump kicked.

Widdle Sean got peeved and told his constituents they could make their own presentation when they held their own Town Hall.

Vewy, vewy nice.

VIDEO: China's empty cities

China surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest manufacturer last year. China is building 10 new cities -- yes, cities -- every year. Unfortunately for China, few people live in them. Watch this video to see China's ghost cities.

Today's Teamster News 04.25.11

Numbers show Walker recall a real prospect  The Capital Times   ...If the pattern were to hold statewide, that would yield roughly 760,000 signatures ... The baseline number of signatures needed to recall Walker ... is 540,208...
Kasich now urging voters to reject local school levies  Plunderbund   ...many school districts have recently announced they would be seeking to put levies on the ballot to help make up for Kasich’s funding cuts...
Documents show a Scott push to shutter Citizens  Sarasota Herald-Tribune   ...Governor Scott's top staff sought to force the 1.3 million property owners who now have a policy from the state-run carrier back into the private market...
Gov. should veto 'Right to Work' (opinion)  Portsmouth Herald   ...The proposed law change is designed simply to weaken workers' ability to bargain for fair wages, benefits and working conditions...
Corbett's reluctance to tax drillers undermines confidence in his leadership  Patriot-News   ...Corbett remains adamant against any sort of severance tax on the Marcellus Shale drillers despite poll after poll that shows the majority of Pennsylvanians favor such a tax...
Self-Employed Hurting Worse Than Workers  Economic Populist   ...a strong economy and a strong middle class with supports for opportunity are what generates entrepreneurship...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mexico's Highway of Death

U.S. DOT's insane plan to open the border to Mexican trucks is ostensibly to promote trade between our two nations.

Read this Washington Post story, though, about how few people are now traveling the once-busy "Highway of Death." It's a major trade route. Or was. Reports the Post:
Highway 101 is not a country road. In normal times, it is the most heavily traveled thoroughfare in the state. The highway funnels trade from the interior of Mexico to the busiest border crossings in the world, with 15 bridges from Tamaulipas into the United States along the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo to Matamoros.
The reason no one wants to drive Highway 101 is that psychotic criminals are dragging people off of buses traveling the road. They rape the women, murder the men and dump them all in mass graves. In the town of San Fernando, 177 bodies have been found -- so far. That's the same place where 72  migrants were slaughtered last year.

Last week, 68 migrants were found in a stash house near the border. They'd been taken from buses or bus stations.

So obviously opening the border will bring absolutely no opportunity to American truck drivers because Mexico is too damn dangerous. That's something you might want to say when you submit your comment to the Department of Transportation about keeping the border closed. Just click here, click on the orange "Submit a comment" button, fill in the blanks and have at them. 

The wages of inequality: crappy schools

Half the population of Rochester, N.Y., lives in poverty. It didn't used to be that way. Xerox and Kodak once provided tens of thousands of good middle-class jobs in Rochester. Now half of Xerox's workforce is overseas. Kodak employed 60,000 people in Rochester 30 years ago; today it employs about 9,000.

Rochester's schools are now terrible. Half the schools failed the academic standards set by the federal government. The city's latest school superintendent found a convenient scapegoat: the teachers' unions.

Balloon Juice offers these scathing comments from Rochester:
Last week, we lost the latest in a list of mediocre scam artist superintendents in our urban school district. This one’s name is Jean-Claude Brizard, who ditched his contract to go run Chicago’s schools. Chicago apparently wasn’t fazed about the Rochester teacher’s union 95% vote of no confidence. As the top-notch local reporter Rachel Barnhart documents, Brizard’s tenure was full of bureaucratic waste, bullshitting about graduation rates, and no real improvement in the school district’s status.
The previous full-time superintendent before Brizard, Clifford Janey, went on to become Michelle Rhee’s predecessor. Janey recently quit his $280K/year post in Newark, a job he got after being fired in DC. Janey’s tenure at Rochester was similar to his experience in DC and Newark: a lot of empty promises about change as graduation rates fell.
I can’t really blame these grifters for running their cons in Rochester, Chicago, Newark and DC, because those places were on a quest for Superintendent Chocolate Jesus. Instead of addressing or even acknowledging the underlying reasons for school failure (structural poverty, no job opportunities, crime, drugs, teen pregancy and neglectful parenting), they put all their hopes into an out-of-town savior who can dream up unrealistic programs with the help of overpaid consultants, giving them asinine names like “Great Expectations”.
Balloon Juice points us to Bill Cala, the former interim superintendent of Rochester City Schools. He gave a terrific speech last year that laid out the real problem facing the schools: inequality. Cala cited research that shows:
Unequal, wealthy countries experienced significantly higher levels of the following problems in their societies:
  • Level of trust
  • Mental Illness (Including drug and alcohol addiction)
  • Life expectancy and infant mortality
  • Obesity
  • Children's educational performance
  • Teenage births
  • Homicides
  • Imprisonment rates
  • Social mobility
Cala points out that the Rochester Metropolitan area is one of the most unequal in the country -- and America is the most unequal of all rich nations. Those statistics, he said,
...represent the significant and essential root causes of the failure of children to succeed in school.
So this begs the question:What on earth does school governance have to do with this social morass? How will a power grab and mythical cost savings through consolidation attack the sickness and devastation in our society fed by national corporate greed that is destroying our children, our families, and the middle class? 
There's a huge irony here, as we watch with horror as Governors Gone Wild attack teachers unions while promoting charter schools and vouchers -- all the while raising taxes on the poor and cutting them for millionaires.

Today's Teamster News 04.24.11

More Questions Of Koch Brothers’ Fingers In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Pie As ‘Jason’ Identity Revealed?  Forbes   ...Is a Koch brothers' lobbyist working on a financial emergency bill for Wisconsin?
Rachel Maddow -- and lots of readers -- comment on Kalamazoo Gazette column on Benton Harbor  Kalamazoo Gazette   ... Benton Harbor's financial manager was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the fight over the park is completely separate from the fight over the financial manager...
Scott won't sign Florida budget without tax cuts  South Florida Times   ...Neither House nor Senate budget bills include the $1.7 billion in corporate income and school property tax cuts Scott has proposed...
Toledoans turn out to help overturn SB 5  WNWO   ... there was a line just to get to the petitions that would give voters the opportunity to repeal Senate Bill 5...
Federal judge nixes request to replace Maine mural  Associated Press   ...U.S. District Judge John Woodcock ruled that Gov. Paul LePage's order to remove the 36-foot-long mural in late March constituted government speech, or the right of government to say what it wishes regardless of the viewpoint expressed...
Are China’s high-speed trains heading off the rails?  Washington Post   ...China’s expanding network of ultramodern high-speed trains has come under growing scrutiny here over costs and because of concerns that builders ignored safety standards in the quest to build faster trains in record time...
A Crack in Wall Street's Defenses  New York Times   ...“Somebody’s got to do something about Wall Street. It is destroying the country."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

MI sen. wants foster kids to buy only used clothes

We're dumbfounded.

Wingnut state Sen. Bruce Caswell proposed forcing foster children to buy clothes only in second-hand stores.

Caswell, a Republican, is a former teacher (bet his students just loved him).

Michigan Public Radio has the story:
He says they should get "gift cards" to be used only at Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift stores.
"I never had anything new," Caswell says. "I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was -- and quite frankly it's true -- once you're out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes."
Maybe he'd just read "Oliver Twist."

These loony billionaires want to destroy public education

The charming DeVoses.
Many Americans despise the Koch brothers because of their tireless efforts to destroy the middle class. But there are other rich families that deserve our derision for the same reason -- the Coors heirs, the Walton heirs, the Mellon heirs. And Michgan's own DeVos family.

Richard DeVos made his billions on a pyramid scheme -- Amway. Now his son Dick and daughter-in-law Betsy are trying to eradicate public education. She is the former chair of Michigan's Republican Party; Dick ran for governor of Michigan in 2006.

According to People for the American Way,
Dick DeVos has used his family's fortune and status to create an intricate national network of non-profits, political action committees and federal groups known as 527's that effectively fund the political arm of the school voucher movement...Nowhere is the impact of the DeVos family fortune greater, though, than in the movement to privatize public education.
Dick DeVos lost the 2006 campaign for governor, in which he said nothing about his support of school vouchers (kind of like Scott Walker saying nothing about destroying unions when he ran for governor of Wisconsin).

DailyKos speculates the DeVoses
...realize that they are better off hiding behind their astro-turf organizations in states where they aren't so well-known...
And so we can just barely see their fingerprints in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin.

Talk to Action exposes their phony grass-roots efforts to "improve" education by -- well, attacking teachers, unions and public schools. Reports Talk to Action:
A new wave of school voucher bills is sweeping the nation...these new bills are largely promoted and funded by the billionaire DeVos family and a core group of wealthy pro-privatization supporters. They include Pennsylvania SB-1, soon coming to a vote in the PA Senate, and the "Vouchers-for-All" bill approved by the Florida Senate Education Committee on April 14. Betsy DeVos is at the helm of organizations that have set the stage for both bills, but you would never know it based on the propaganda being marketed to Pennsylvanians.
Betsy DeVos hid one of her anti-public education groups behind the neutral-sounding name, "All Children Matter" -- until it was fined $5.2 million for illegal campaign funding in Ohio and fined for misconduct in Wisconsin.

"All Children Matter" became "American Federation for Children," which (no surprise here) gets Koch money. And "American Federation for Children" campaigned against recall efforts for the eight GOP senators who supported Koch whore  Gov. Scott Walker's attacks on workers.

In Pennsylvania, the DeVoses and fellow Koch whores put vast sums of money behind candidates who support school privatization. Now, Gov. Tom Corbett proposes huge cuts in the state's education budget. The Senate will be voting on SB1, which gives vouchers to poor kids and costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Corbett won't tax gas drilling in Pennsylvania, though, because it would be unpatriotic.

In Indiana, "All Children Matter" put $700,000 into political campaigns, and now they're reaping the rewards. Reports the Journal and Courier,
Legislation to cut tens of millions of dollars from Indiana's public schools over the next two years -- giving it instead to private schools and home-schooled "virtual" students -- was only slightly weakened as a result the Democrats' walkout. Legislation to spend tens of millions more to expand charter schools remains intact as well, even though 80 percent of those schools are currently performing in the bottom 33 percent of all Indiana public schools.
In Florida, school choice is moving through the Legislature with the help of American Federation for Children.  The DeVos's got their tentacles into the Washington, D.C., schools with the recent expansion of a voucher program.

In Ohio, "All Children Matter" still hasn't paid its $5.2 million fine, but TribToday reports
Ohio Gov. John Kasich pushes a $55.5 billion budget proposal that would continue to expand school choice, doubling the number of school vouchers in the state and lifting a cap on community schools.
And just so we're all clear on this, the privatization folks' darling is former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Rhee is now mired in a cheating scandal. (We're not the teensiest bit surprised.)

Oh, and Dick DeVos has a Faceook page. You might want to comment on it.

Today's Teamster News 04.23.11

YRC reports progress in financial restructuring negotiations  Kansas City Star   ...John Lamar, YRC's chief restructuring officer, said in a brief statement the company has been working closely with JP Morgan...the steering committee, the company’s pension funds and the Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee...
Marathon County Supreme Court race recount is set for Wednesday  Wausau Daily Herald   ...The campaigns agreed in court to a hand recount in precincts across 31 counties where electronic machines' memory cartridges are full...
Voters to get opportunity to sign repeal petitions  Toledo Blade   ...opponents of a new law weakening the collective bargaining rights of public employees will ask voters to begin exercising direct democracy Saturday by signing repeal petitions...
Builders of New Homes Seeing No Sign of Recovery  New York Times   ...
The recession hurt a lot of industries, but it knocked the residential construction market to the mat and has kept it there...
Young workers face a dire labor market without a safety net  EPI   ...The unemployment rate for high school graduates under age 25 who were not enrolled in school was 22.5%, compared with 9.3% for college graduates of the same age...
9/11 First Responders To Be Run Through FBI Terrorism Watch List Before Getting Health Care Benefits  TalkingPointsMemo   ...a provision in the James Zadroga 9/11 Health And Compensation law...requires them to be run through the FBI's terrorism watch list...
Minn. GOP House Speaker Backs Off Calling Voting A 'Privilege,' Not A Right  TalkingPointsMemo   ...Kurt Zellers (R), who is strongly pushing for passage of a voter ID law, has now backed away from comments he made in a radio appearance on Wednesday...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Clueless in FL: Slick Rick needs a puppetmaster (link to video)

We knew Slick Rick Scott should have gone to jail instead of ending up as Florida's governor. But we didn't know he was clueless.

The backstory: Floridians are furious that Slick Rick accepted $30 million from BP instead of joining a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against TransOcean for the oil leak that polluted the Gulf of Mexico and killed 11 workers.

So Slick Rick tried to do some damage control by talking to the media via satellite. The production crew left the mic on in between takes to reveal a muddled, aloof governor -- who needed to be coached on why he did the deal with BP!!!

Watch here as WESH pulls the trigger on Slick Rick.
Not only did Scott receive coaching about whether or not Orlando residents vacation in the Panhandle, he also got advice on how to explain why he accepted $30 million in marketing money from BP instead of going after potentially billions from TransOcean.
"Just continue to say that what's best for Florida is to continue to work through the process," an adviser said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Ignore those Koch brothers behind the curtain!

OH Teamsters: cockier, angrier, more of an edge

The race to repeal SB5 is on today at noon, and  Teamsters are in the thick of it.

Almost as soon as the ink is dry on the petitions, thousands of Ohioans will set out to collect signatures on them. A total of 231,149 valid signatures in at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties must be collected in 90 days to put SB5 on the ballot on November. (If you haven't been following, SB5 is the unfair attack on employee rights and worker safety.)

Union members and their allies have been training signature gatherers all over the state. Teamsters Local 436 in Valley View trained 63 Teamsters in one night.

"It went real good," said Brother Fred Crow. Apparently there's a lot to know. "Make sure there are no mistakes," Crow said. "Make sure the signers are registered voters. And if a Teabagger gives you a hard time, smile and act like it's funny."

Local 436 is in Cuyahoga County, where the bulk of the petitions will be signed. Teamsters plan to collect a lot of them.

"We got the best team," Crow said. "We're a little cockier, a little angrier and we've got a little more of an edge."

For information on the repeal effort, go to We Are Ohio's website.

Capes for the jobless in FL?

Dr. Evil Unemployment
What the hell are they smoking in Florida?

The Central Florida workforce development board thought it would be a great idea to hand out 6,000 shiny red superhero capes to unemployed people.

After word got out, the plan was met with widespread derision and scrapped.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:
Dubbed the ‘Cape-A-Bility Challenge,’ it was slated to be part of a public-relations campaign featuring a cartoon character named ‘Dr. Evil Unemployment.’ The capes cost about $14,200 and foam cutouts of ‘Dr. Evil Unemployment’ cost another $2300.
Now there's a request for an investigation. (Must be hard to know where to begin figuring out how something that stupid got started.)

Here's the original Orlando Sentinel story:
The region's federally funded jobs agency is spending more than $73,000 on a media campaign to raise awareness of its services...
To win a cape, a contestant can become a Workforce Central Florida fan on Facebook, take a Facebook quiz — "What Superhero Are You?" — or have a photo taken with a foam cutout of Dr. Evil Unemployment.
Job seekers and employers who participate become eligible to win a $1,000 prize package, featuring gift cards from Visa, Barnes & Noble and the U.S. Postal Service. Job seekers can also win $125 worth of résumé paper. Only two prize packages will be given away.
We note there are 20 "likes" on the agency's Facebook page.  We want to meet those 20 people. 

Today's Teamster News 04.22.11

47,291 public and private jobs to be lost from cuts to education sectors in Ohio  Policy Matters Ohio   ...The $2 billion in cuts to Ohio's primary, secondary and higher education proposed in House Bill 153 for the FY2012-13 budget may have a larger impact than just the direct jobs cut and the weakening of education in Ohio...
Elections overhaul passed by Fla. House  Associated Press   ...The bill's passage follows a string of Republican-led victories this legislative session, including overhauling the state's courts system, easing growth management laws and weakening public employee unions...
State Pension in Perspective  Bangor Daily News   ...Beginning many decades ago, the state did not set aside enough money each year to meet its pension obligations...
Detroit pension systems challenge Emergency Manager law  Michigan Messenger   ...Allowing Emergency Managers to take over pension funds will illegally change collective bargaining agreements and violate the property rights of city workers, they say...
Lynch urges people to fight spending cuts  Manchester Union-Leader   ...Warning of "egregious cuts" in the House-passed state budget, Gov. John Lynch is urging residents to call their state senators and implore them to spend more on human services, higher education, and public safety...
Some at Pa. universities get pay hikes  Lancaster Online   ...While the state universities' lowest paid workers are gearing up to fight a proposed 4 percent pay cut in July, their bosses already are putting extra money in their own pockets...
84 percent oppose Ryan’s Medicare plan  Washington Post   ...Almost 80 percent of Americans oppose Medicare cuts ... The only deficit-reduction option that is popular? Raising taxes on the rich...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

FL unions to pull money from banks

Thanks to the wonderful folks who bring us We Party Patriots for this news item from the Orlando Sentinel:
Central Florida labor leaders said a plan to punish banks that support "union-busting" legislation will cost financial institutions millions and likely spread to other unions around the state.
At a news conference Thursday, unions representing police, firefighters, teachers and white- and blue-collar workers announced they will pull their money from five banks whose executives are affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The banks — Bank of America, PNC, Regions Bank, SunTrust and Wachovia — are each represented on the Florida Chamber's board of directors. The chamber has pushed legislation now moving through the Florida Legislature that would prohibit state and local governments from collecting union dues through payroll deduction.
The unions said they're closing their business accounts with the banks and moving their money to credit unions or community banks. They're advising their members to do the same.

By the way, we'd like to know why military helicopters dropped U.S. Department of Homeland Security SWAT teams onto the roof of Bank of America in Miami on Monday night. They said it was a training exercise.  We certainly hope they weren't training to defend the banks against unions withdrawing their money.

Thank the WI recall volunteers

Take a few minutes to thank the volunteers who gathered recall petition signatures against the Republican senators who voted to end collective bargaining rights for government workers in Wisconsin. Their efforts were truly historic.

Already, petitions have been filed against five senators, Sens. Dan Hanky-Kapanke, randy Randy Hopper, Lex Luther Olsen, Subsidy Sheila Harsdorf and Alberta (not so) Darling. More recalls are expected to follow for the three remaining senators, Sens. Glenn Grothman, Robert Cowles and Mary Lazich.

Send your thank you here and see what appreciative people across the country have to say.

Mary Ann from Sheboygan, Wis., writes:
Thank you for fighting back. You may well be instrumental in saving our Democracy from becoming a Corpocracy. Last but not least, we will need the votes to complete this mission. Ever Onward!!!!
Jediah White from Madison, Wis., says:
Thank you so much for your willingness to take action, despite all the reasons it would be safer, easier, and less controversial not to. Please keep fighting the good fight!
Richard Bunker from Jenkintown, Pa., writes:
Thank you so much for giving your time and energy to this cause. We can't put up with the government giving huge tax breaks to big corporations, then trying to extract the money from teachers. Way to go!
We'd like to thank our Teamster brothers and sisters in Wisconsin!

'I make six figures, but I'm not rich'

We’re not sure when owning three homes, a yacht, and thoroughbred racehorses became the new middle class, but that’s apparently what America’s richest citizens are calling it.

America’s wealthiest citizens don’t realize they’re wealthy. (You’d think the extra zeros at the end of their paycheck would be the clue in).

According to Catherine Rampell, a New York Times blogger, “most upper-income earners (the 6 percent of Americans in households earning over $250,000) do not see themselves as being part of the upper-income bracket.”

Rampell relies on information gathered from Gallup polls to further illustrate her point, which can be read here.

(By the way, 6 percent of these rich people think their own taxes are too low. But 30 percent think rich people's taxes are too low. Go figure.)

WI Dems to challenge GOP recall 'racket'

We've known for quite some time that corporate front groups will break the law to put their pet issues (like destroying the middle class) on the ballot. A group dedicated to weeding out ballot fraud, The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, reports they're hearing more and more complaints about abuses in signature gathering.

Wisconsin Republicans are no exception. The GOP claims they have enough signatures to recall three of the Fab 14 Democrats who fled the state to prevent anti-worker legislation being passed. Democrats aren't so sure the signatures are legitimate. Talking Points Memo reports that today,
...state Dem chair Mike Tate and attorney Jeremy Levinson predicted that they would able to successfully challenge the validity of much of the signature-gathering effort by Republicans -- which Tate repeatedly called a "racket."
"At the heart of the Republican effort from the start was a mercenary spirit that naturally used deception and fraud to gain signatures," charged Tate. "In the coming days, you will see affidavits from citizens in these targeted districts who were deceived into signing petitions by the Republican roadies who often refused to identify themselves by their real names."

In particular, Tate said that the Republicans brought in paid signature gatherers from out of state, who were paid on a per-signature basis...
That would be illegal in Wisconsin.

The Democrats said they have examples of signature-gatherers lying about the petitions they were circulating. Some people were asked to sign "support Dave Hansen" petitions, when they were actually being asked to sign "recall Dave Hansen" petitions.

Democrats also said they used in-state volunteers to circulate petitions. (We know our Teamster brothers in Wisconsin were busy gathering signatures.)

BISC describes how the signature-gathering racket works:
1. First the firms will move into a state and hire subcontractors (over whom the firms maintain little or no oversight) to run the signature gathering process.
2. Then these subcontractors hire nomadic signature gatherers who migrate from one state to another, chasing whichever petitions promise the greatest payday.
3. The mercenaries flood a state, at best ignorant of the state's laws governing signature collection, or at worst, actively choosing to ignore those laws.
4. These migrant signature gatherers routinely use false names or addresses and are almost impossible to track once they leave the state.
firedoglake reminds us that Republicans challenged signatures gathered by Democrats to recall Dan Hanky-Kapanke:
Republicans have already filed a complaint in the recall of Dan Kapanke, to which Democrats submitted a rebuttal here. There’s a pretty streamlined process for these charges and counter-charges through the Government Accountability Board, which was largely appointed by the previous Democratic Governor, Jim Doyle. So hopefully they will properly wade through all this.
Hopefully indeed.