Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ruh-roh: Economy sliding into recession?

That's what Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge is saying.

On Friday, the government revised its Gross Domestic Product figures downward from 1.3 percent to 1 percent for the second quarter. Further, GDP has dropped 1.5 percent year-over-year, which for the past 63 years has indicated a recession is coming. Here's Durden's argument in GeekSpeak:
...the most important event (Friday) from an economic standpoint was the first GDP revision Q2, which dropped from preliminary 1.3% to a sub stall speed, in real terms, 1.0%. What is just as important is that as the following chart from Bloomberg demonstrates, the YoY change in real GDP, which is now at 1.5%, is a slam dunk indicator of recession: "Since 1948, every time the four-quarter change has fallen below 2 percent, the economy has entered a recession. It’s hard to argue against an indicator with such a long history of accuracy."
Durden further argues that the unemployment rate will rise. Other economists -- Martin Wolf and Nourel Roubini to name a few -- are equally gloomy. Here's Roubini on what we should do:
We certainly need another fiscal stimulus. Much stronger than the one we had before. The one we had before was not enough. Congress is controlled by the Republicans and they’re going to vote against Obama in the realm of fiscal austerity. If things get worse, it’s only to their political benefit.
[The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009] was effective in the sense that the recession could have turned into a Great Depression. Things would have been much worse without it, so it was very effective in the sense of preventing a Great Depression, but it was not significant enough. With millions of unemployed construction workers, we need a trillion dollar, five-year program just for infrastructure, but it’s not politically feasible and that’s why there will be a fiscal drag and we will have a recession.

This is what we union thugs did 31 years ago in Poland

We brought down communism. tells us on Aug. 31, 1980,
...representatives of the communist government of Poland agree to the demands of striking shipyard workers in the city of Gdansk. Former electrician Lech Walesa led the striking workers, who went on to form Solidarity, the first independent labor union to develop in a Soviet bloc nation.
Read more here.

Each Verizon customer pays more in federal taxes than the entire company does

This'll make your blood boil.

Twenty-five of the 100 highest-paid CEOs took home more money than their companies paid to the U.S. government in taxes.

You just have to wonder: How many private jets and French chateaus do these people need, anyway?

The Institute for Policy Studies put out a study today showing just how wildly out of control two things have gotten: 1. CEO pay. 2. Corporate tax dodging.

Reports IPS,
We researched the 100 U.S. corporations that shelled out the most last year in CEO compensation. At 25 of these corporate giants, we found, the bill for chief executive compensation actually ran higher than the company's entire federal corporate income tax bill.
...This contrast shows up starkly in the 2010 ratio between average worker and average CEO compensation. In 2009, we calculate, major corporate CEOs took home 263 times the pay of America's average workers. Last year, this gap leaped to 325-to-1.
Among the nation's top firms, the S&P 500, CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304, up 27.8 percent over 2009. Average worker pay in 2010? That finished up at $33,121, up just 3.3 percent over the year before.
Here are 10 of the miscreants:
John Faraci at International Paper: $12.3 million
John Strangfeld at Prudential: $16.2 million
Jeff Immelt at GE: $15.2 million
Ivan Seidenberg at Verizon: $18.1 million (and we love this little detail: every Verizon phone customer paid more in federal telephone excise taxes than Verizon paid in federal income taxes)
Robert Kelly at Bank of New York Mellon: $19.4 million
Jim McNerney at Boeing: $13.8 million
Brian Duperreault at Marsh & McLennan: $14 million
John Lundgren at Stanley Black & Decker: $32.6 million (AND he's laying off 4,000 workers)
Aubrey McLendon at Chesapeake Energy: $21 million
John Donahoe at eBay: $12.4 million
Read the whole thing here.

Here's what you can do about it: Sign IPS's petition to Congress to pass the Stop Tax Havens Abuse Act.

WI Labor Council backs down on Labor Day parade

Late Tuesday night, the Marathon County Labor Council reversed itself and announced that Republican politicians would be allowed in the Wausau Labor Day parade. One of those Republicans is U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, featured in the above video whining about his meager $174,000-a-year salary.

The mayor of Wausau, Jim Tipple, had said the city wouldn't help pay for the parade if Republicans were excluded.

Randy Radtke, president of the Labor Council, put out this statement:
Labor Day is meant to celebrate the accomplishments of labor for the citizens of our country: things like better workplace safety, some retirement security through Social Security, higher pay, and some time off so workers can spend it with their families. These things have raised workplace conditions at union and non-union companies alike, and collective bargaining helps keep them strong.
We didn't start this fight in Wisconsin, but were responding to anti-worker positions and policies supported by local Republican politicians, including those who have complained about not being invited. With the track records that Pam Galloway, Sean Duffy, Scott Walker, and Jerry Petrowski have all put together this year, they should be ashamed to even show their faces at a Labor Day parade.
Just like we'd hoped, our decision has stimulated a great debate in our community about the meaning of Labor Day. But because we don't want to wind up having community groups and school bands affected in the process, we will let everyone march and hope these Republican politicians finally take away some lessons about what Labor Day really means. We know their actions and voting records speak more loudly than waving at any parade.
We have had countless offers from across our area pour in to help pay for parade costs. While we thank everyone for your generosity, we urge you instead to use it to support charities that are helping working class people who may be laid off or struggling due to the difficult economy.

Today's Teamster News 08.31.11

USW Local 6787 asks Chamber to oppose right to work legislation  Chesterton Tribune   ...Local 6787 President Paul Gipson states in a letter to the Chamber dated Aug. 26, “Without the benefits of our union, the purchases we make at your establishments may not be possible...”
Ohio Referendum on Union Restrictions Is a Go After Kasich’s Gambit Fails  Bloomberg   ...Ohio voters will decide whether to keep a law limiting collective bargaining for public employees after efforts by Ohio Governor John Kasich to strike a deal to get the measure off the ballot failed...
Top union official blasts Gov. Christie for requiring state employees to report to work  Newark Star Ledger   ...Employees trying to make their way into Trenton today found some of the main arteries into the city closed from flooding, backing up traffic for miles...
Anti-union laws reach Pennsylvania  DailyKos   ...there are 4 bills stuck in committee, 3 in the house, 1 in the senate. These bills, if they pass will strike at the very heart of labor rights in Pennsylvania...
Walker policies will force providers out of business (opinion)  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...On Aug. 19, thousands of small businesses in Wisconsin received a letter from Gov. Scott Walker's Department of Children and Families informing them of new state regulations that will threaten their fiscal stability...
Thousands of public employees laid off in 2010  Reuters   ...Local and state governments axed more than 200,000 jobs in 2010, according to U.S. Census data released on Tuesday that showed the growing threat of public employee layoffs to the economic recovery...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Constituents corner congressman in NY (video)

Rep. Chris Gibson, a New York Republican, is no match for his constituents at a recent town hall meeting. His constituents just wanted him to consider raising taxes on the people who can best afford it.

Gibson signed the Grover Norquist pledge to oppose tax hikes. His constituents wanted to know if he was representing them or Grover Norquist.


Rick Perry. There he goes again.

Wonder what products he uses?
Gov. Goodhair is, um, dissembling about Social Security again.  Here's exactly what he said over the weekend, according to the Houston Chronicle:
It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they're working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie. It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can't do that to them.
Never mind that Rick Perry wouldn't know a Ponzi scheme if he fell over one. To help him understand the difference, Mother Jones came up with a great diagram.

The Strengthen Social Security campaign has a few choice words for the Texas governor as well. Here are the best ones:
Social Security is the opposite of a Ponzi scheme, which is a fraud, a deceptive promise made by a swindler that investors will reap huge returns. Social Security is a promise by the United States government, and a set of protections earned by working persons, that insures against lost earnings resulting from severe disability, retirement and death. And it delivers on that promise, which is why it is America’s most successful and popular federal program.
Like any system, Social Security can experience problems, but it can never go bankrupt. Its major source of income is from the contributions of workers and employers; as long as there are workers, Social Security will have income. Even if Congress took no action, Social Security can pay 100 percent of promised benefits for the next 25 years and more than three-quarters of benefits after that.

Is psychological oppression keeping us off the streets?

Bullying and intimidation run rampant through right-wing cable television, news media, blogosphere and tweetosphere. (Illegal wiretapping as well, but that's another story.) Here are just a few examples of the nasty insults that are so typical of the anti-worker attack machine:

From Media Matters:
In an August 27 Gateway Pundit post, Jim Hoft wrote:
In his Weekly Address Barack Obama today urged Americans to continue to transform 9-11 into a day of community service and soup kitchens...
This is what you get when you elect a radical socialist as president.
Forget about the terrorists -- go serve soup.
(Never mind that President George Bush did the exact same thing.)

Here's Rush Limbaugh, always a reliable source of dishonest vitriol:
The hysterical reporting on Irene? They couldn’t wait for this storm. Obama — I’ll guarantee you this. I’ll guarantee you that Obama was hoping this was going to be a disaster and another excuse for his failing economy.
A vicious little lie from the tweetosphere about a bland New York Times interview with departing NLRB chair Wilma Liebman:
@unbiased610: Outgoing NLRB Chair Hypocritcally Uses Vitriol To Complain About Vitriol #tcot #LUR #unions #1u
Or this charming tweet:
@joeerato: #Union thugs still upset that @govwalker 's plan is working #WI #WIUnion #ScottWalker
This brings us to a frequent comment on the Teamsters Facebook page, a variation on the question, "Why aren't we taking to the streets to fight these relentless attacks on the middle class?"

We wonder if it isn't because of deliberate, relentless psychological intimidation underwritten by the corporate CEOs and the Wall Street billionaires. Back in March, Stuart Bramhall suggested the same thing. As the Egyptian protests raged, Bramhall wrote,
Over the past three decades, such collective action has been rare in the US. Americans from all walks of life seem much more reluctant than their foreign counterparts to join any community groups or organizations, much less unions or political causes. This, I believe, relates mainly to constant bombardment (mainly via the media) with highly sophisticated political messaging prompting Americans to see themselves as “consumers” rather than engaged citizens in a participatory democracy. Wall Street has created an entire industry – the public relations industry – around creating such messages. Ironically, as the late Alex Carey describes in Taking the Risk Out of Democracy (, the original purpose of “pubic relations” was to discredit union organizing and strikes and simultaneously undermine strong pro-worker sentiment among the American public.
We think there might be something to that....

It's past time to put America back to work

A guest post from the peerless Bob Herbert:

The biggest domestic policy failure has been the refusal of top officials in the White House and in Congress to recognize the severity of the employment crisis that has settled like a plague over American workers.

There is no longer any excuse for believing that the Great Recession and its aftermath was a more or less typical economic downturn to be followed by a robust recovery. That’s a pipedream. What we are experiencing is an economic disaster, the worst reversal to hit the U.S. since the 1930s. The human suffering is profound. Some 14 million Americans are officially counted as unemployed. Nearly half have been out of work for six months or more, and many have been jobless for a year or two or longer.

Poverty is once again on the march, moving like Patton’s Third Army through communities that had never had more than a tenuous hold on the American dream. The few jobs now being created too often pay a pittance, the minimum wage or just above, not nearly enough to pry open the doors to a middle class standard of living.

Starved of tax revenues, the federal budget is submerged in a vast ocean of red ink. One of the tragic results is that social services are under furious attack at the same time that the need for such services has grown enormously. If dramatic steps are not soon taken to put millions of jobless Americans back to work, the quality of life for much, if not most, of the population will be irreparably damaged. The American dream itself is at risk.

Politicians have given little more than lip service to this terrible turn of events. If there was but one message that I would try to get through to the nation’s leadership, it is that we cannot begin to get the United States back on track until we begin to put our people back to work.

And there is so much work to be done. Start with the crying need to rebuild the nation’s aging, deteriorating infrastructure – its bridges and highways, airports and air traffic control systems, its sewer and wastewater treatment facilities, the electrical grid, inland waterways, public transportation systems, levees and floodwalls and ports and dams, and on and on. Lawrence Summers, until recently President Obama’s top economic adviser, has pointed out that 75 percent of America’s public schools have structural deficiencies. Twelve percent of the nation’s bridges have been rated structurally deficient and another 15 percent are functionally obsolete.

Three to four trillion dollars worth of improvements will be needed over the next decade just to bring the infrastructure into a reasonable state of repair. Meanwhile, we’ve got legions of unemployed construction workers, manufacturing workers, engineers and others who are ready and eager to step into the breach, to take on jobs ranging from infrastructure maintenance and repair to infrastructure design and new construction. It shouldn’t require a genius to put together those two gigantic pieces of America’s economic puzzle – infrastructure and unemployment.

Yes, it would be expensive. But the money spent would be an investment designed to bring about a stronger, more stable economic environment. Putting people to work bolsters the economy and the newly-employed workers begin paying taxes again. Improving the infrastructure would make American industry much more competitive overall, and would spawn new industries. Creation of a national infrastructure bank that would use government funds to leverage additional investments from the private sector to finance projects of national importance would lead to extraordinary longterm benefits.

But even rebuilding the infrastructure is not enough. The employment crisis facing the U.S. is enormous and is taking a particularly harsh toll on the less well-educated members of the society. We need to take our cue from Franklin Roosevelt who understood during the Depression that nothing short of a federal jobs program was essential. The two-pronged goal was to alleviate the suffering of the unemployed and, as the workers began spending their wages, improve the economy.

Roosevelt put millions of Americans to work, including artists, writers, photographers and musicians. It was an unprecedented undertaking, and it worked.

We need a public jobs program in America now. A number of approaches have been offered, including a particularly thoughtful and comprehensive proposal prepared for Demos by Philip Harvey, a professor of law and economics at Rutgers University. The idea is simple: “Create jobs for the unemployed directly and immediately in public employment programs that produce useful goods and services for the public’s benefit.”
As Harvey’s report explains:
“When jobs program participants spend their wages, and program administrators purchase materials and supplies for program projects, the benefits delivered in the first instance to unemployed workers trickle up to the private sector, inducing private sector job creation that supplements the immediate employment effect of the job creation program itself.”
A crucial aspect of the program is that it would begin to fill the demand gap that is hampering the economic recovery. With so many millions of people out of work, the demand for goods and services is diminished. Consumers are tapped out. Private businesses are not hiring workers because the demand is not there for the additional goods and services they would be producing.

Direct job creation would put people to work quickly, without having to wait many long months, or possibly years, for the economy to fully recover. The money from their paychecks would be pumped immediately into the economy.

Like infrastructure spending, a carefully crafted direct jobs plan would be an investment that would be repaid many times over, just as investments in Hoover Dam, rural electrification, the Works Progress Administration and the G.I. Bill delivered enormous longterm benefits to the society.

F.D.R., in his first inaugural address, told a worried nation that “our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” It was a task, he insisted, that should be treated “as we would treat the emergency of a war.”

The question today, in one of our darkest economic hours, is whether we’re smart enough to heed that essential lesson of history.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in Canada!

Let's give a big welcome to our 54 new brothers and sisters who became members of Teamsters Local 879 in Hamilton, Ontario. They work at Halton Recycling Burlington, also known as Emterra.

Teamsters Canada tells us a vote was held on Aug. 20 by the Ontario Labour Board. The votes were counted that afternoon, and a whopping 80 percent of the workers voted for the Teamsters.

John McCann, president of Local 879, offered praise, pride and a promise to negotiate a good contract.
Danny Mitchell, our business agent, and Jim Killey, who took care of the organizing, did an incredible job. We are very proud to welcome these new members and we are looking forward to negotiate a good contract that will reflect their dedication and hard work.
Teamsters Canada (in case you didn't know) represents 125,000 members in all trades.

WI Labor Day War escalates

Sean Duffy didn't march in this parade.

You may recall that the Marathon County Labor Council recently told anti-worker lawmakers -- including household-budget-challenged U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy -- that they couldn't march in the Wausau Labor Day parade.

Marathon County Labor Council President Randy Radtke explained why:
I don't like when politicians try to use us, use our event, for their personal gain. And that's pretty much what they're doing. The Republican politicians in our area don't side with us, but now they want to make it look like they're on our side.
Duffy told Fox News he hopes the Labor Council will reconsider next year:
It's been a little contentious in Wisconsin, but we all just went through a whole recall election and the folks in Wausau, they're sick of partisanship. They want to see people start working together. They want to see all the bickering set aside.
I think in Wisconsin it has become so divisive, we have to start working to bridge that divide and this doesn't go to that end. We almost have to laugh at it. (Italics added.)
Well, that should make some heads explode in Wisconsin. Laugh at the destruction of labor unions? Laugh at 13 percent pay cuts for government workers? Laugh at rising joblessness due to budget cuts?

The mayor of Wausau has told the Labor Council that they risk losing the city's financial support for the parade. Reports the Wausau Daily Herald,
The decision to bar GOP lawmakers might mean parade organizers will lose financial support typically provided by the city of Wausau.
According to a statement issued Monday afternoon by Mayor Jim Tipple's office, the city would require the labor council to reimburse all expenses unless the decision to prohibit a GOP presence is reversed. Tipple said he didn't have an estimate of what an insurance premium, stage setup and takedown, and traffic control by Wausau police officers would cost.

Here's some reaction from the tweetosphere:
@madturtle65: #wiunion Labor....having the GOP at your parade is an opportunity.They say they want to march with you. Let them and dont let them forget.
@all_a_twitt_r: You wouldn't honor Michelle Bachmann at a gay pride parade. Why honor anti-labor legislators at a LABOR Day parade? #wiunion RT@BattiestGrrl
@muttmutt: I would contribute $20 2 keep the GOP out of the parade. Would you? MT @BenFroland: #wiunion #wirecall
And here's a message to Rep. Duffy from Free Wisconsin in the blogosphere:
Why would you expect to make a presence at a celebration of all you vehemently oppose? Where were you when organized Labor’s parade moved around the Capitol Square in Madison? Where was your voice of support for Labor when Walker refused to negotiate back in February? Where were you when public workers and teachers were being vilified and shamed by your party for being the one and only road block to balancing the State budget?

No. We do not invite you to our parade. You have not earned the respect of the working families of Wisconsin. Your policies and legislation are hurting the families, children, and seniors of this State. You are part of the cause of real pain in peoples lives. Your presence in a parade for the celebration of Labor would be little more than a mockery; a slap in the face to thousands who have struggled and died to create a middle class whose salaries and benefits you work to cut and crush with each wag of your tongue.  
Right on, brother.

FL correctional officers speak out (video)

Penny Reeder, a correctional officer, and Kimberly Schultz, a correctional probation specialist, tell the Teamsters Women's Conference about their struggles with the Florida prison system.

And while we're at it, here's a terrific letter to the editor inviting Gov. Pink Slip Rick Scott to walk a day in a correctional officers' shoes.
Try this, Governor: Work a day on the recreation field in a correctional officer's uniform with maybe one other officer on the other side of the field. Many inmates may be armed with "shanks." You won't have anything but a radio due to budget restraints.
Walk in prison employees' shoes, Gov. Scott. Maybe help quell a major disturbance with little help due to lack of staff.
Scott thinks going private will save the taxpayers' money. Anyone who thinks this needs to be kicked out of office. Private prisons make their money from the state; that's us taxpayers.

House GOP: On the road to national failure

We are awash in depressing news this morning about the ill intentions of the troglodyte Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who resembles nothing so much as a baby with a nail gun, has announced the extremist Republicans this fall will try to kill environmental and labor regulations while pushing tax cuts for businesses.

Let's just get this out of the way: If Cantor doesn't like regulations, he should go to Somalia. We'd see how well he fares on his own in a country with no central government. We think the warlords would make quick work of the Virginia Republican once he's shed of his hangers-on, coatholders, hacks, Tea Party acolytes, bag men and talking-point dispensers.

And about those tax cuts for business: If they're so wonderful, then why does GE report so much of its income in countries with higher tax rates than the U.S.? As David Cay Johnson points out,
Washington politicians say high corporate tax rates are driving U.S. companies to invest offshore where tax rates are lower. But that is not General Electric’s experience.
GE’s disclosures show that over the last decade it paid much lower tax rates in America than offshore, just the opposite of the Washington political mantra. Even more puzzling, the U.S. corporate giant chooses to take more of its profits in other lands despite the higher tax rates there.
Given that GE has a roughly 1,000-person tax department dedicated to paying as little as possible in taxes, what the disclosures show is that something other than tax policy is driving GE’s business decisions. 
You would think Cantor understands that regulations are important to prevent things like, oh, nuclear meltdowns -- especially after last week's earthquake may have damaged the North Anna nuclear power plant in his district.

But Cantor can only recite from memos written by corporations that pay for his political campaigns because they want to loot the government. Solving America's real problems just isn't on the agenda.

Well, here's something we think extremist House Republicans like Cantor should memorize. It's from James K. Galbraith's book, The Predator State, and it describes what increasingly appears to be our road to national failure:
Where the reactionary branches of business, the worst polluters, the flagrant monopolists, the technological footdraggers, are given control over the system and capital markets reward them, their more progressive counterparts will eventually give up, disappear or move away. Bad business practices will drive out good. Ultimately the country will become a repository of the worst business practices and correspondingly unable to assert leadership in the world economy at large.

Today's Teamster News 08.30.11

Kasich To Give Public Money To Private Groups Supporting His Agenda  ProgressOhio   ...Gov. John Kasich is finalizing plans today to funnel public money to private groups that support Senate Bill 5. And a new analysis shows these groups and their affiliates have donated nearly a half-million dollars to pro-SB 5 candidates and causes...
Pro-SB 5 campaign has work cut out  Columbus Dispatch   ...The key question now is whether the coalition of Democrats and union supporters pushing for a repeal can keep those signees in their camp and get them to show up to vote in November...
Republican Politicians Banned From Labor Day Parade In Wisconsin  Huffington Post   ... A group of Wisconsin union officials has voted to ban Republican politicians from a local Labor Day parade...
Pay cut tied to state employee health care ruled unconstitutional  Detroit Free Press   ...Affirming a lower court decision out of Ingham County, the three-judge appellate panel said the deduction, enacted by the Legislature and former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, illegally bypassed the state Civil Service Commission, which has primary jurisdiction over state employee compensation...
Union protests company CEO who backs right-to-work bill  Boston Globe   ...Around 20 union members protested today outside the office of Fred Kfoury Jr., president and CEO of Central Paper Products in Manchester, N.H., who appeared in a pro-Mitt Romney video supporting right-to-work legislation...
NYC workers fight for 40-hour week  Crain's New York Business   ...Now that manufacturing jobs have been replaced by retail and other service positions, workers are again fighting for a 40-hour week. Only this time, the battle has been turned upside down...
Most Referendums Since 1998 Give U.S. Voters a Chance to Reject State Laws  Bloomberg   ...Citizen-initiated ballot measures are one response to polarized statehouses, where laws pass by slim margins along party lines...

Monday, August 29, 2011

WI Dem rep goes behind enemy lines at ALEC confab

Mark Pocan is a Democratic state representative from Madison, Wisc. As such, he's entitled to be a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, also known as a legislative roach motel. ALEC is a corporate front groups that pretends to be an open and transparent membership organization (it isn't). It exists to pass legislation that's friendly to giant corporations like Koch Industries and private prison companies. 

Pocan went behind enemy lines at ALEC's convention in New Orleans earlier this month. He explains why in this video -- and what we can expect for the fall.

Rick Perry's "dead peasant insurance" scheme on teachers

If you saw Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story," you'll probably remember Walmart's dead peasant insurance scheme. The company took life insurance policies out on its workers and collected when they died.

A lot of companies do it. Walt Disney, Procter & Gamble and Hershey Foods (no shock there) are among the many companies believed to have bought dead peasant insurance. They do it to avoid paying taxes (no shock there, either) because the government doesn't tax insurance premiums or death benefits.

McLanahan Myers Espey, a law firm, explains how the term came about:
Winn Dixie Stores bought life insurance policies on approximately 36,000 of its employees, without their knowledge or consent, and named itself as the policies’ beneficiary. The insurance brokerage firm that placed the policies prepared two memos describing the deceased employees as “Dead Peasants.” These memos were part of the court’s record in a lawsuit in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that Winn-Dixie’s policies were a sham transaction for federal income tax purposes. The memos were later used by reporters.
Turns out Gov. Goodhair Rick Perry was trying to take out dead peasant insuance on retired Texas teachers. The Huffington Post reports that in 2003,
...the Perry administration wanted to help Wall Street investors gamble on how long retired Texas teachers would live. Perry was promising the state big money in exchange for helping Swiss banking giant UBS set up a business of teacher death speculation.
All they had to do was convince retirees to let UBS buy life insurance policies on them. When the retirees died, those policies would pay out benefits to Wall Street speculators, and the state, supposedly, would get paid for arranging the bets. The families of the deceased former teachers would get nothing.
It's actually a teensy bit more complicated than that even. AMERICAblog explains how it would have worked:
...(Perry) tried to create what sounds like derivatives — insurance-policy-backed bets — on the deaths of elderly Texas teachers.

Shares in those bets would then be sold to the giant European bank UBS, who would market them as investments. Perry and Texas would get a kind of "finder's fee" or creator's fee. UBS would get commissions on the sale. UBS hack Phil Gramm (of Gramm-Leach-Bliley) would get a fee for coming up with the scheme in the first place and pulling it off for his client.
And the investors would see cash if and when these elderly teachers triggering insurance payouts by joining the "choir invisible." To sweeten (hasten) the deal, Perry simultaneously proposed reducing health insurance coverage for these teachers. It came apart when the teachers refused to sign up.
Can't imagine why the teachers wouldn't go for it. 

Whoa! Bachman would lower minimum wage to cost of overseas labor

Why not just repeal the 13th amendment while you're at it (that's the one that abolishes slavery)?

Here's the Associated Press:
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said Friday she wouldn't rule out changes to the federal minimum wage as a way to lower the cost of doing business and lure corporations back to the United States.
The Minnesota congresswoman told supporters at a packed sandwich shop that the corporate income tax needs to be reduced because companies are moving to other countries to save money. She was later asked by a reporter whether changes to the minimum wage should also be considered to balance the cost of labor here and overseas.
"I'm not married to anything. I'm not saying that's where I'm going to go," she said.
That's rich, coming from someone who spent $4,700 on her hair and makeup in less than six weeks after she declared she was running for president.

Look, there's only one reason someone like Michele Bachmann can even consider running for president: she's carrying water for extremist billionaires who would just love to pay their workers pennies an hour. Like the Koch brothers.  Reports Mother Jones,
In late May, KochPAC, as Koch Industries' PAC is known, donated $10,000 in one day to Bachmann-linked committees—$5,000 to her 2012 congressional re-election committee and $5,000 to her political action committee, MICHELE PAC... The two checks weren't KochPAC's first contributions to Bachmann. According to federal campaign records, the committee has given $25,000 to the Minnesota congresswoman since 2006, excluding the May donation.
Bachmann actually signed a nutty pledge in Iowa that says African-Americans were better off under slavery than they are under President Obama. So, well, maybe she will decide to advocate repeal of the 13th amendment. If we all worked for free, then we'd have full employment.

Another congressman MIA this August

Rep. Michael Grimm just loves Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker for weakening unions. His constituents, not so much. The Staten Island Republican hasn't been seen during the August recess, and Staten Islanders aren't pleased.

Grimm must have flunked history because he thinks the way to repair the economy is to cut government spending. But that didn't stop him from sending out a press release yesterday praising local officials for getting a second back-up generator for Staten Island Medical Center during Hurricane Irene. As an irate SIBob points out,
This man, who advocated for a balanced-budget amendment for the federal government, and drastic cuts prior to the agreement on raising the debt ceiling, is anything but a supporter of increased equipment purchases for our local infrastructure.
In fact, if he had his way, our ability to support rescue efforts would be seriously curtailed. Rescue equipment, rescue workers, and yes, back-up generators, cost money. We couldn’t support these services without adequate financial backing. So, for this phony to praise local politicians, while he does everything in his power to pull the rug out from under them, is the ultimate act of hypocrisy.

Scott Walker STILL can't go anywhere (video)

Certainly not to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Walker once again was greeted by protesters on his way to give a speech. Or, as one Facebooker commented on the "540,000 To See Scott Walker Out of WI, January 2012" Facebook page, he wasn't really giving a speech:
uuumm don't they really mean to say that Scott Walker repeated some more ALEC talking points at what appeared to be a speech but was really just another opportunity to try to fool the public

Today's Teamster News 08.29.11

Walker tells students to take a (tuition) hike  The UWM Post   ...UW-Milwaukee undergraduates and faculty will bear the brunt of Governor Scott Walker’s controversial biennial budget cuts to the UW System this semester, paying 51 percent of the $16.8 million dollars lost annually in state revenue...
Gov. John Kasich's administration moves closer to privatizing lottery  Clevelan Plain Dealer   ...The administration plans to hire a consultant to look at the nuts and bolts of converting the $2.6 billion lottery into a quasi-government agency and determine its value...
Where are all the jobs LePage was going to create? (opinion)  Kennebec Journal   ...Gov. Paul LePage has hired an expensive New York lawyer to negotiate the contract with the union. The union has put forth in good faith cost-savings measures only to have this administration turn them down...
Farmworkers trek through valley on way to Sacramento  The Modesto Bee   ...The march started in Madera on Tuesday and will reach the capital on Sept. 4. A small group is doing the entire route, but bigger crowds are expected for various segments...
NLRB chairwoman departs; political fights loom for labor panel  The Hill   ...Without new people to fill those seats, the five-member board will be down to just two – not enough to have the legal authority to issue decisions, due to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling...
The case of the US jobless recovery: Assertive management meets the double hangover  VoxEU   ...The US is missing millions of jobs. This column argues that the total is 10.4 million. It claims that 3 million of these can be traced to the weakened bargaining position of labour and the growing assertiveness of management in slashing costs to maintain share prices...   

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today's Teamster News 08.28.11

Would governor recall be a package deal?  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...In a possible recall election, are Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch a package deal or separate tickets? far there's no official answer...
U.S. companies bid to guide Ohio in any turnpike deal  WKSU   ...Companies across the country are bidding to develop the plan the state may use if it decides to privatize the Ohio Turnpike...
Indiana considers first schools takeover  WBEZ   ...Board members are expected to hear State Superintendent Tony Bennett recommend that five academically poor-performing schools have management, and possibly many teachers, replaced by the state beginning next year. Teachers union contracts would be nullified as well...
Rick Scott's Missing-Emails Situation Is Getting Fishy  Broward Palm Beach New Times   ...Gov. Rick Scott's magically deleted email debacle is starting to sound a bit ridiculous already, even though he's ordered an "investigation" by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement...
As Rick Perry ascends, dreams of President Chris Christie fade  Newark Star Ledger   ...Could it be that the long flirtation is coming to an end, that the dreams of a President Chris Christie must now be put on ice until 2016?...
Manufacturing in the valleys: Getting back on track  Roanoke Times   ...a   company that builds things is hiring. FreightCar America, at its Roanoke   factory, this past week announced a big order and plans to hire about   200 people...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

'I put my money on the power of the people' (Latest Walker protest video)

It's out! Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker went to a Catholic school in Milwaukee yesterday to read to third-graders (weren't they lucky). A very energetic, 500-person protest unfolded outside. You'll get a sense of it from the video.

DailyKos has a great post about the rally, which included one arrest:
There were people from various labor groups, but mostly just citizens like me: people sick of being pushed around, and sick of being told that we don't matter, that we are "the loud minority" with no voice worth hearing...We continued to chant and sing, waiting for Walker to leave out the back way. His handlers rushed him to his awaiting limo, and they zoomed away, amid a very tense climate of dissent....
It feels to me that we are now in a third phase of the movement. The first was centered in Madison and Capitol Square. The second was the recall campaign and elections. Our current phase is unfolding. It is more tense, and more intense. It feels less patient, it feels more fed up. It also has a feeling of confidence. We have learned a lot in the last six months. We know how to create media events, how to protect each other, and how to work together. Our songs are louder, our chants more rhythmic. We are mixing the streets, the social networks and the few institutions of power that we have access to...
It is hard to predict long term outcomes, but judging by what I experienced this afternoon, I put my money on the power of the people. We've got the feets and we've got the streets.
Read the whole thing here.

Workers get their protest on in NY, WI, CA, IL, MN

Teamsters protest Sotheby's in New York City.
"It's been the worst decade for American workers in a century. That hardly calls for a celebration."

That's what former Labor Secretary Robert Reich said in his blog.
According to Commerce Department data, private-sector wage gains over the last decade have even lagged behind wage gains during the decade of the Great Depression (4 percent over the last ten years, adjusted for inflation, versus 5 percent from 1929 to 1939...
Perhaps there would still be something to celebrate on Labor Day if government was coming to the rescue. But Washington is paralyzed, the President seems unwilling or unable to take on labor-bashing Republicans, and several Republican governors are mounting direct assaults on organized labor (see Indiana, Ohio, Maine, and Wisconsin, for example).
So let’s bag the picnics and parades this Labor Day. American workers should march in protest. They’re getting the worst deal they’ve had since before Labor Day was invented – and the economy is suffering as a result.
Plenty of workers are protesting, actually. Teamsters rallied in New York City yesterday outside of Sotheby's, the highly profitable auction house that locked out our brothers and sisters from Local 814.

They've got their protest on in Wisconsin, as well. There was Thursday's "We Won't Pay For Your Crisis" rally at the Statehouse and the week-long occupation of premium wine enthusiast Paul Ryan's Kenosha office. That protest spread to Ryan's other three office. And hundreds protested against Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker on Friday. 

Poorly paid workers marched yesterday along Chicago's tony Magnificent Mile. Reports the Associated Press:
Low-wage Illinois workers and their advocates marched along north Michigan Avenue Thursday morning to campaign for an increase in minimum wage...

The march was sponsored by Raise Illinois (which) ... wants Illinois lawmakers to increase the minimum wage from the current $8.25 an hour gradually over four years to more than $10.
And let's not forget the United Farmworkers march that's going on right now. Farmworkers are on a 13 day, 200 mile march to Sacramento to press for enactment of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act and the right to be paid overtime after 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. (Teamsters will be joining them along the way.)

And then there are the Members of Congress who don't hold Town Hall meetings to talk to their constituents. All over the country, protests are held outside their offices. And if they've been voting against workers, their Town Hall meetings tend to erupt into chaos, as Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack found out to his sorrow.

Today's Teamster News 08.27.11

Teamsters Joins AFL-CIO to Blast Obama as Timid  US News & World Report   ...The Teamsters today joined the AFL-CIO in demanding that President Obama stop caving in to the GOP and offer a new jobs program that he will fight for...
Rep. Duffy not allowed in Labor Day parade in Wausau   ...The parade is sponsored by the Marathon County Labor Council...
Protesters return to the Capitol  Superior Telegram   ...Wisconsin's capitol city is home this week to a national Democracy Convention...
SB5 supporters should pay attention to history (opinion)  Newark Advocate   ...Supporters of Senate Bill 5, which would gut public employee collective bargaining, might have taken heed of the experience of those who supported a "right to work" amendment to the Ohio Constitution that was placed on the ballot in 1958...
Scott prepares, serves meals at Orlando elementary  Orlando Sentinel   ...In his first visit to a traditional public school since taking office in January, Gov. Rick Scott this morning donned an apron and gloves to prepare and serve meals to students at Audubon Park Elementary School in Orlando...
Prison privatization to proceed despite resignation of Ed Buss  Orlando Sentinel   ...several obstacles still stand in the way of the plan mandated by the Legislature earlier this year ... Scott has even expressed concern that it might not save money, meaning the project would be axed...
State in recession, report says; experts differ  The Journal Gazette   ...Indiana is one of 12 states in "recessionary territory," according to a controversial Wells Fargo report...
U.S. investigating work conditions for foreign students at Hershey warehouse   ...At the same time, the organizations responsible for employing the students were seeking to resolve a standoff with them by offering a week's paid vacation and cultural-enhancing day trips to Philadelphia, Amish country, and Gettysburg...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene can't keep Teamster women away from NYC conference

Teamster women are a special breed, and no hurricane was going to keep them away from the annual women's conference in New York City.

Our sister Melody Campbell from Local 377 in Youngstown, Ohio, captured the spirit of the event in a Teamster Women Facebook posting:
Look Out New York, Teamster Women are arriving and will sweep the city! Can not wait to get there and meet all of the On-Line Sisters!
Right now, Teamster women are joining New York Local 814 for a rally at Sotheby's, which locked out its employees during contract negotiations. Said Julian Tysch, a locked-out Sotheby's art handler:
We are responsible for shipping, receiving, unpacking, assembling, and installing exhibitions of artwork and antiques valued in the millions of dollars. With profits over $100 million in the last quarter alone, I don’t understand why Sotheby’s would make such a bad decision to outsource this sensitive work and kick us to the curb for no reason.
Earlier, Sue Mauren, secretary-treasurer of Local 320  in Minneapolis, spoke to the 800-plus Teamsters at the conference.
Winning the war on workers is about fighing back. We need to fight back by demanding a bailout for American workers, a real jobs program, pension protection and a moratorium on home foreclosures. Sisters and brothers, we need to work harder than ever before and we need solidarity more than ever before. We need to support our union more than ever before. Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Wisconsin in what can only be called an uprising of workers. Teamster brothers and sisters coming together to unite and fight the war on workers -- this is what democracy looks like.

Protests return to WI statehouse (video)

Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin put on an awesome protest yesterday in Madison. They called it the "We Won't Pay For Your Crisis" rally.  It was the day that Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's 13 percent pay cut took effect for government workers.

First they marched to the Capitol behind bagpipes and drums. (There's a cool video of the march here, but be forewarned: It's 13 minutes long.) Then they made a righteous noise inside the Rotunda.

Reports The Progressive,
...about 1,000 people massed in front of the capitol at 5:00 p.m. to protest the fact that Walker’s cuts in take-home pay were actually taking effect today.

Bill Franks, a senior steward for AFT-Wisconsin, told those in the crowd to back their unions.

“We’re going to redemocratize Wisconsin,” Franks said, to loud applause. “The dogs of recall are on the governor’s tail. I say it’s time to release the hounds.”

Labor troubadour Anne Feeney, bald from her fight with cancer, gamely led the crowd in her signature song, “War on the Workers.” She told the crowd: “The world is watching you, Wisconsin. It’s time to send Scott Walker packing and give Wisconsin back to the people.”
Thirteen were arrested. Reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
Several hundred chanting, cheering protesters entered the Capitol rotunda Thursday around the 6 p.m. closing time.
An hour later Capitol Police carried thirteen of them away and arrested them -- the largest number of arrests in weeks if not months.
Most of the protesters left around 6:30 p.m. at the urging of police. Officers sought to close the building and enforce a Dane County judge's order from earlier this year that the building be cleared of the public after its business was done for the day.
Twelve adults and one youth were arrested on charges of unlawful assembly, with some facing additional charges of resisting arrest and obstructing an officer, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs said.
We're expecting more protests behind the Cheddar Curtain tomorrow. @AnonyMissBadger:tweets:
#wiunion Are you ready to get your protest on? Tomorrow. 4:30. There will be bagpipes. #wiprotest #WI

Hundreds protest Walker today in Millwaukee

The latest Walker protest gets undeway.

We're hearing hundreds of Wisconsinites are protesting Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker today in Riverwest, a neighborhood of Milwaukee.

Walker was scheduled to read to third graders at the Messmer Catholic Preparatory School. Apparently someone superglued the locks to the door last night (not cool).

We're not learning much from the twittersphere yet, but this is what we're getting:
@wisaflcio: This is what democracy looks like #WIunion
@good_graces:  Protesting the governor speaking in my neighborhood, and every SINGLE person was someone I recognize. My neighborhood is amazing. #wiunion
@W14US: A lot of neighborhood children here. Thanks for the teachable moments
@GovWalker #wiunion #recallwalker #democracyaddicts
@wisaflcio: Hundreds protesting Walker in Riverwest #WIunion
@peter_rickman: Bigass crowd to protest #Walker. 500+ #wiunion #RecallWalker
We can't wait for the video.

All 4 Paul Ryan offices under occupation or protest...

...even as hundreds protest Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker.

Here's the latest on the protests at the offices of premium wine enthusiast Paul Ryan, thanks to Wisconsin Jobs Now:
After being kicked out yesterday, permanently, activists in Paul Ryan’s district decided to come together and have retaken the Kenosha office. They once again decided enough was enough – and, fed up with the runaround, they marched back in the office and demanded to know why he isn’t holding FREE and public town halls.
@WiscJobsNow also tweeted:
Cops in Kenosha refuse to arrest protesters or issue tickets. just filmed activists & read them warnings. #WhereIsPaulRyan
Ryan's jobless constituents are also protesting in Racine, Janesville and Lake Geneva. Wisconsin Jobs Now tells us
Day 6 of the “Where Is Paul Ryan” Protest continues. This is Janesville’s second day of hitting the streets, but they’re staying strong. 
 Here's a picture of the Janesville protesters:

Keep up the great work, Cheeseheads! We'll post separately about the bigass Scott Walker protest going on now.

ProgressOhio sues to block OH prison privatization

Corporate stooge Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to privatize five Ohio prisons.
He won't if ProgressOhio gets its way.

Yesterday, ProgressOhio went to court and sued to prevent Kasich from selling taxpayer property to private prison companies. These prison companies will not only gouge the government, they will lobby for laws to put more nonviolent offenders in their cages.

Here's what Brian Rothenberg, executive director of ProgressOhio, had to say about the lawsuit:
...we believe strongly that this case preserves a safe environment for these communities that house dangerous felons and preserves good jobs in an Ohio economy wracked by income deflation. In effect this action protects both safety and economic security for Ohio communities whose residents would see profit over safety and layoffs and pay cuts that will devastate consumer spending.
Clearly these provisions both violate the single subject law of the Ohio Constitution, deprive Ohioans of the right to a citizen veto and violates the Constitutional prohibition of the state in using its full faith and credit to invest its assets in a private corporation.
Here are a few things you need to know about prison privatizaton, courtesy of Dissenting Leftist:
Wells Fargo owns 4 million shares in the Geo Group, the second largest private prison corporation in America, and 50,000 shares in the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison corporation in the country. These shares combined are valued at more than $120 million...
Companies such as the Geo Group and CCA do not earn their money by providing goods or services to customers. Rather, they make their money solely from the government, and solely for locking human beings in cages, mostly for non-violent offenses. Further, these companies actively lobby for unjust laws, largely using the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporatist conservative political group.
We've had plenty to say about the Koch-funded legislative roach motel known as ALEC in the past few weeks. It's a big reason why these Governors Gone Wild don't seem to have an original thought in their heads. They just do whatever ALEC tells them to do.

Here's a good summary of the kinds of laws ALEC pushes in order to fill the prisons and the pockets of the prison profiteers, thanks to Bob Sloan and Mike Elk at the Nation:
ALEC helped pioneer some of the toughest sentencing laws on the books today, like mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, “three strikes” laws, and “truth in sentencing” laws. In 1995 alone, ALEC’s Truth in Sentencing Act was signed into law in twenty-five states. (Then State Rep. Scott Walker was an ALEC member when he sponsored Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing laws and, according to PR Watch, used its statistics to make the case for the law.) ...
ALEC arranged secret meetings between Arizona’s state legislators and CCA to draft what became SB 1070, Arizona’s notorious immigration law, to keep CCA prisons flush with immigrant detainees.
You wonder how these people sleep at night.

Watch Hoffa on "Morning Joe"

Our general president made it pretty clear organized labor wants President Obama to fight harder for working families. Watch him on "Morning Joe."

Help find this missing WI trucker

We understand that if you're sitting at a computer reading this blog, you're probably not driving a motor vehicle. But maybe you will be soon. Trucker's Voice asked us to pass along this message about finding a missing trucker. We're happy to help. Here's the message:
Heim Trucking Co Denmark, WI 54208 has a missing driver, truck, load and trailer.
Driver is Donald F. Badora 66 years old
Tractor is a 2003 flat top single bunk Peterbuilt model 379 Dark Maroon with Black fenders long wheel base. License Plate is 2953 unit #164
Trailer is a 1996 Great Dane Spread Axle Refrigerated with a TK unit on it the trailer has a blue unit and top and bottom rails painted. License plate ST20306 unit 50T
The load is cheddar block cheese.
The driver was last heard from Eastbound on I-90 by Spokane, WA
The Idaho and MT police departments issued an attempt to locate order.
Mike Heim
OOIDA number 200251

Today's Teamster News 08.26.11

GOP leader says no chance Ohio legislature will repeal controversial collective bargaining law  Cleveland Plain Dealer   ...Ohio Republican leaders have no plans to scrap a controversial collective bargaining law as a way to kick-start a compromise with the public sector unions trying to repeal it...
Rally at Camp's office focuses on jobs  Midland Daily News   ...Representatives of We Are The People rallied outside U.S. Rep. Dave Camp's office in Midland on Tuesday, calling on Camp to support job creation and public services...
What's Next for Wisconsin's Unions?  Milwaukee Express   ...those in organized labor say that they are determined to continue fighting for Wisconsin's workers, no matter how they're organized...
Greer: Suspension of wage law would be benefit (opinion)   ...State Reps. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) and Bill White (R-Joplin) are considering legislation that would suspend Missouri's so-called "prevailing wage" law for reconstruction projects in tornado-devastated Joplin and flood-ravaged Maryland Heights...
Legislators, take note: Expanding industries favor right-to-work (opinion) News-Sentinel   ...In 2012, it will return with a vengeance, and this time Democrats can't avoid it. Right-to-work has been promised a full public airing...
Rally highlights need for jobs in the region (With Video)  Delaware County Daily Times   ...Dan Haney rolled up to the Media Courthouse on Tuesday morning in an SUV depicting the face of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., beside the question “Where are the jobs?”...
Millionaires and Billionaires in France ask for a Tax Increase, and More  truthout   ...The French government just introduced a new debt reduction package that includes a 3% income tax increase on people making more than $720,000 a year...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FL prisons chief ousted over privatization

Sacrificial lamb Ed Buss.
Talk about shooting the messenger.

Florida Gov. Pink Slip Rick Scott canned his corrections chief after only six months on the job. Ed Buss had warned him about the high cost of privatizing nearly a third of the state's prisons. Apparently that was something Pink Slip Rick didn't want to hear.

The Orlando Sentinel reported
Last week, Scott and the Legislature were embarrassed by reports that privatizing prisons in South Florida – which the Legislature ordered – would cost $24 million in benefits that would have to be paid to prison personnel who would lose their jobs; internal emails indicated Buss’ staff had warned legislators of this cost, but it was apparently disregarded.
Buss had an excellent reputation before he lost his mind and went to work for Scott. Again, according to the Sentinel,
He was praised as one of the nation's top prison administrators when Scott hired him away from his Indiana prisons chief job in December to head the nation's third-largest prison system. Buss had earned a reputation as a reformer and cost-cutter in Indiana but seemed to have problems handling the politics of the higher-profile Florida job and the scrutiny of legislators, the media and groups on both sides of the privatization effort...
State Sen. Mike Fasano said recently he would hold hearings on revelations that the privatization of 29 prisons in the southern part of the state would come with $25 million in costs related to the departure of agency employees, such as unused vacation and sick time.
There’s no doubt that Scott and some of the state’s lawmakers have been influenced by corporate front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a conduit between lawmakers and corporations to craft model legislation. Two gigundo prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, sit on ALEC's board, which explains why ALEC aggressively promotes prison privatization along with locking up as many human beings as possible. This may be good for corporate interests, but it’s bad for Florida.

Teamsters, by the way, are fighting Pink Slip Rick and the Florida Legislature’s decision to privatize prisons in 18 southern counties. It's a move that could result in the loss of up to 4,000 correctional officer jobs within the Florida Department of Corrections, the third largest prison system in the nation.

WI jobless protest at all 4 of Ryan's offices

Ryan's Mobile Constituent Office (the RV) in Lake Geneva
Premium wine enthusiast Paul Ryan's unemployed constituents have taken their protest from Kenosha and Racine to Janesville and Lake Geneva. Wisconsin Jobs Now reports
The “Where is Paul Ryan?” movement continues to grow every single day. On Tuesday it expanded to Racine, but yesterday it expanded to Janesville and Lake Geneva as well. Now, literally every single Paul Ryan constituent office in Wisconsin is under protest or occupation, or both!
Click here for pictures of the protests.

firedoglake gives props to what it calls the Jobs Movement:
Since Ryan’s constituents couldn’t directly question Ryan about his radical budget ideas or his plan to end Medicare without paying 15 dollars, they showed up at his offices.
This has not pleased Ryan or his staffers. They threatened to call the cops on protesters on two occasions, and had police remove protesters at least once. They restricted the use of cameras. They restricted parking. And now, as you can see above, they shut down the offices in Kenosha to foot traffic and forced the public out of the building. Police personnel are protecting the building.

This direct action is also spreading across the country. Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) was hounded into holding a free town hall in the district’s biggest population center of Duluth, after being confronted by activists (he’s holding it at the Duluth Airport, where you still have to pay for parking, of course). An unemployed man has been picketing in front of Sen. Pat Toomey’s events and demanding an open meeting between Toomey and unemployed residents in Pennsylvania; he may soon get his wish.
The use of direct pressure for good jobs now is impressive, and offers at least a chance to change the conversation around the economy
There's a hilarious video of the bedlam at Cravaack's airport Town Hall meeting, but TeamsterNation has to catch a train so we'll post it later.
There was also a protest today of Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, which we'll check in on later.

Walker tweeting for cash (video)

You've heard about dialing for dollars? Well, now Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is tweeting for cash -- campaign cash. Expecting a recall, he's cozying up to his corporate cronies for what is likely to be boatloads of dark money.

John Nichols, a longtime political observer in Wisconsin, has this take on a potential recall in Wisconsin:
Democrats won the overall majority of votes cast in the nine districts, with roughly 243,000 votes statewide to 239,000 for the Republicans. That’s a narrow margin but remember that Governor Walker won these districts in 2010, and that Republican Senate candidates easily won six of them in 2008...
In addition to the recalls, Wisconsin had one other competitive state legislative election this year: a May contest to fill the state Assembly seat of Republican Mike Huebsch, who left the legislature to become Governor Walker’s chief appointee (as secretary of the state Department of Administration). The western Wisconsin seat, representing a traditionally Republican district that Huebsch held with little serious opposition for sixteen years, was won after an intense contest by a Democrat. Factor this in and Wisconsin Democrats have, since May, flipped three GOP legislative seats. Republicans have flipped no Democratic seats.
So it is that, for all the talk of Republican “wins” this year, the reality is that the Democrats have the far better record of winning competitive races. That’s a significant shift from 2010, when the Republicans had the advantage.

Let's not forget MLK was a champion of justice and jobs

The new Martin Luther King monument on the National Mall. It's three stories tall.

News coverage of the new Martin Luther King monument in Washington is already focusing on his struggle for racial equality. We hope at least a few journalists report that King also led the fight for decent jobs -- not as an afterthought or add-on, but as a fundamental goal.

The monument will be ceremonially unveiled on Sunday, Aug. 28, the anniversary of King's March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. As Algernon Austin from the Economic Policy Institute so eloquently wrote,

...the National Mall will house a memorial to a man who never held the nation’s highest office but brought it closer to its highest ideals.

Together with the national celebration of his birthday, the commemoration of the march and the quotation of his speeches, the new memorial ensures that Dr. King will be remembered. But will he be remembered rightly, not only as the subject of a monument but also as the leader of a movement for “jobs and freedom”?

Dr. King’s commitment to jobs and justice lasted a lifetime and cost him his life. During his last year on earth, Dr. King organized a “Poor People’s Campaign” for economic opportunity for all Americans. And he was assassinated while supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.
This is a history lesson that Teamsters know well. In fact the Teamsters National Black Caucus was reminded of it just recently by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat. Conyers told the latest TNBC gathering that labor rights and civil rights go hand in hand.

Rep. John Conyers
Conyers was born into a union family, is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the only congressman present at King’s funeral. (James R. Hoffa was there too.) Perhaps Conyers’ greatest contribution to history, though, is the legislation he introduced to make King’s birthday a national holiday.

Conyers, referring to the photos of King hanging on the meeting room walls, said,
When I see Martin’s picture here, I know that you understand the struggle goes on. It has just taken a different form. Governors across the country are working in what I call an unholy conspiracy. You cannot take working people out of the political equation. We need workers and we need unions.

Welcome to Food Stamp Nation. Yup, it's us.

There are now 46 million people in America who use food stamps, 34 percent more than two years ago and 74 percent more than four years ago.

That's one out of every five Americans. It is a scandal and a tragedy. It is also a direct result of the corporate war on workers. Many Target and Walmart employees, for example, use food stamps.

Low pay forces a lot of people to accept government help. Forty percent of the people who use food stamps are in families where at least one person has a job. Reports Reuters,
In some parts of the country, shoppers using food stamps have almost become the norm. In May 2011, a third of all people in Alabama were on food stamps -- though part of that was because of emergency assistance after communities were destroyed by a series of destructive tornadoes. Washington D.C., Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon and Tennessee all had about a fifth of their population on food stamps that month...
Over the past 20 years, the characteristics of the program's recipients have changed. In 1989, a higher percentage were on benefits than working, but as of 2009 a higher percentage had earned income...
And that's only likely to get worse: So far in the recovery, jobs growth has been concentrated in lower-wage occupations, with minimal growth in middle-income wages as many higher-paid blue collar jobs have disappeared.
And 6 percent of the 72.9 million Americans paid by the hour received wages at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2010. That's up from 4.9 percent in 2009, and 3 percent in 2002, according to government data.
What's even more disgusting is that extremist politicians are now considering cutting the budget for food stamps even as they refuse to consider raising taxes on the wealthy. According to Reuters,
Republican leaders in the House of Representatives propose changing the program so that the funding is through a "block grant" to the states, rather than allowing it to grow automatically when needed due to an emergency, such as a natural disaster or economic crisis.
And Karl Rove, for example, just penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying, is Mr. Boehner's challenge to make certain Congress doesn't substitute more spending on food stamps and unemployment benefits for measures that will actually spur job creation and economic growth...
Makes you want to hurl -- if you're lucky enough to have something in your stomach.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in WI

Let's give a warm Teamster welcome to our 412 new brothers and sisters from behind the Cheddar Curtain. They all work at Nestle USA in Burlington, Wisc., and now they're proud members of Local 200 in Milwaukee.

This is the second major organizing victory for the Teamsters this week. Yesterday, we announced a thousand UPS Freight clerks had signed authorization cards to become Teamsters

Below is a picture of our victorious brothers and sisters from Local 200: Joan Mouw, Kris Pellman, Jackie Morrow, Tom Millonzi (secretary-treasurer), Tom Bennett (president), Randy Monroe and Jeff Bandur.

Way to go!