Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unions coming back in all the right anti-union places

Voting for that all-important first contract.
Unions are scoring important victories even as union-bashing reaches new lows. Corporate money talks louder than ever in the political arena. Republican presidential candidates have become noisy mouthpieces against working families. (The candidates need that campaign cash, after all, and now the way to get it these days is from billionaires' SuperPACs.)

As John Nichols in the Capital Times notes,
Like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, they are anti-labor extremists whose opposition to free trade unions goes to extremes not seen since Southern segregationists sought to bar unions because of their fear that white workers and people of color were being organized into labor organizations that would threaten Jim Crow.
But despite these attacks -- or probably because of them -- unions are fighting back and winning. Truthout recently wrote about some recent union victories:
...GE and Cablevision workers unionizing after several failed organizing attempts, the end of the bloody Longview Port longshoremen dispute and the State Department issuing new rules governing student guest workers after last summer's strike by young Hershey foreign workers.
This extraordinarily rare string of victories leads me to believe that despite major attacks on workers’ organizing and collective bargaining rights, unions can take advantage of workers' backlash against these attacks and win big victories. They can still organize.
Organizing is only the first step, of course. The next one is to get that first contract. And the next is to ratify it. 

Members of Local 200 in Milwaukee recently did all three in an extraordinary contract ratification. Local 200, of course, knows a thing or two about union bashing, as they've had to endure a year of Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's attacks on working families. A few weeks ago, 421 Nestle's members of Local 200 in Burlington voted for a new contract by a stunning 14-to-1 margin.

Here's what Local 200 had to tell us:
Ready to vote their first ever Teamster contract Nestle workers in Burlington Wisconsin sent a message.
“This is the highest percentage yes vote for a contract and the largest group to participate in over 30 years” said Teamster negotiating team member Darold Lukaszewski.
Local 200 Business representatives Jeff Bandur and Randy Monroe praised the Stewards group with them on the negotiating team.
“It was a pleasure to work with this Steward group through this process” said Jeff. “Their dedication, long hours, and knowledge of the plant, along with knowing the wishes of their co-workers was invaluable.”
Some of the highlights of the new agreement were gains in wages, pension and health care contributions, along with numerous language enhancements.
The contract will run through February 15, 2017.
Congratulations to all the Local 200 Teamsters at Nestle!

Inspiration Wednesday: 'Woke Up This Morning With My Mind on Freedom'

Just because it's Wednesday.

Today's Teamster News 02.29.12

Why banks are reluctant to foreclose on expensive homes  Reuters   ...if a rich person owes a bank somewhere north of a million dollars, the bank is likely to be quite aggressive in attempting to get all of the money it’s owed, rather than simply letting the borrower walk away from their house...
70 Cities Nationwide Stand up to Corporate Greed and ALEC National Day of Action to Resist the Selling Out of the 99%  The Paramus Post   ...On February 29th, concerned citizens, students, and occupiers in over seventy cities across the nation, including Occupy Wall Street (NYC), are standing up to the corporations and legislators involved in American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)...
Michigan Workers Fight Emergency Managers, Plan Constitutional Amendment to Protect Union Rights  Alternet   ...Michigan’s top union leaders are meeting behind closed doors to decide whether to take on the huge fight it would require to amend the state constitution to block right to work, with a ballot initiative this November...
Union seeks restraining order on right-to-work law  Associated Press   ...A federal judge will hear arguments next week on a union's request for a temporary restraining order to stop Indiana from enforcing its new right-to-work law...
Senate reports says Beijing is cheating its way to the top in green technology exports  Manufacture This   ...Senate reports says Beijing is cheating its way to the top in green technology exports...
ATA Trucking index declined in January  Calculated Risk   ...“Last month I said I was surprised by the size of the gain in December. Today, I’m not surprised that tonnage fell on a seasonally adjusted basis in January simply due to the fact that December was so strong,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said...
Crashing the Biennial: Locked-Out Sotheby's Workers Take Their Fight to the Whitney  ArtInfo   ...a group of artists and others involved with Occupy Wall Street will take Teamsters as their dates to the Whitney Biennial's official kickoff party. And not just any Teamsters: specifically, Sotheby's union art handlers, who have been locked out of their jobs since August...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hey Scotty, we're b-a-a-a-ck in WI!

Proud Teamsters Pat Walker and Rob Moss, about a year ago.
A labor-backed tour to "Reclaim Wisconsin" and a gigundo rally in Madison on March 10 will mark the one year anniversary of the Wisconsin uprising against Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's attacks on working families.

Let's hope it marks the beginning of the end for Scotty boy. Wisconsin can't take much more of his "leadership" as the state is hemorrhaging jobs faster than any other state in the country. He is certain to face a recall election and he is certain to fund his campaign with tens of millions of dollars from out-of-state 1 percenters.

Our brothers Pat Walker and Rob Moss from Local 695 will be at the March 10 rally, along with many more of our Teamster brothers and sisters. For more information, click here.

The LaCrosse Tribune reported on the beginning of the "Reclaim Wisconsin" tour on Feb. 15:
Wisconsin labor leaders kicked off a statewide tour Wednesday night in La Crosse to mark the one-year anniversary of a Republican-backed bill that curbed collective bargaining for public workers and call for the ouster of Gov. Scott Walker.
About 150 labor supporters — and half a dozen Walker loyalists — attended the rally in Copeland Park where local public sector workers talked about the impact of the GOP budget reforms.About 150 labor supporters — and half a dozen Walker loyalists — attended the rally in Copeland Park where local public sector workers talked about the impact of the GOP budget reforms. (Um, we take issue with the word "reforms.")
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO tells us more about the Tour:
The “Reclaim Wisconsin” Tour will culminate with statewide candlelight vigils on March 9 and a “Reclaim Wisconsin March” in Madison on Saturday, March 10. These events will mark the one year anniversary of when Gov. Walker and Senate Republicans rammed through the collective bargaining bill illegally in the dead of night.
Under Walker's "reforms," the state has lost jobs. Lots of them. Those red bars below, showing job loss, appear when Walker's budget took effect.

(Thanks to Publius No. 9 for that.) That's why Walker may soon be an ex-Koch whore governor. Here's how the Associated Press sees the recall:
Nowhere are the parties’ contrasting visions on more vivid display than in Wisconsin, where Democrats submitted more than a million petitions in January to recall Walker, whose efforts to slash state worker benefits and end their collective bargaining rights drew fierce protests from union members and other activists.
The special election is expected to take place in June, with a likely primary in May to select a Democrat to challenge Walker. Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a favorite of labor leaders, is expected to run, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is also exploring a race.

Both parties agree that the Wisconsin recall is likely to be the closest governor’s race of the year, and possibly the most expensive.

It isn't the debt, stupid, it's globalization

We live in a time when up is down. Victims of financial crimes are portrayed as the perps. And the biggest financial crime is unfair trade.

Working people in America and Greece (and all over Europe, in fact) are being painted as profligate. The reality is that globalization has so depressed wages -- and the banks have figured out so many ways to siphon money from the poor and middle class -- that people are falling into debt they can't escape from. Today, one in seven Americans is pursued by a debt collection agency.

The story we've heard so often in the U.S. is that Americans bought houses they couldn't afford and then used them as ATMs to buy SUVs. That caused the housing bubble to burst and the poor widdle banks are left with all those bad mortgages.

Trouble is, it isn't true. Americans are borrowing no more now than they did 30 years ago. They have more debt, but that isn't because they've borrowed more.

A new study by two economists, Josh Mason and Arjun Jayadev, shows that Americans borrowed at the same rate or less from 1929 to the present, with the exception of 2000-06. The reason Americans have more debt is that wages and inflation fell while interest rates rose. Interest rates on credit cards, for example, were a lot lower in 1982 than they are now. And that doesn't even account for the fees banks are now charging.

And why are wages falling? Because of globalization.
Greece is also the victim of an economic fable. The story goes that Greece paid too much for a social safety net that it can't afford. The reality is that Greece's economic problems result from its currency integration with the rest of Europe -- aka, "globalization."
As economist Paul Krugman points out in a recent New York Times op-ed,
By introducing a single currency without the institutions needed to make that currency work, Europe effectively reinvented the defects of the gold standard — defects that played a major role in causing and perpetuating the Great Depression.
More specifically, the creation of the euro fostered a false sense of security among private investors, unleashing huge, unsustainable flows of capital into nations all around Europe’s periphery. As a consequence of these inflows, costs and prices rose, manufacturing became uncompetitive, and nations that had roughly balanced trade in 1999 began running large trade deficits instead. Then the music stopped.
If the peripheral nations still had their own currencies, they could and would use devaluation to quickly restore competitiveness. But they don’t, which means that they are in for a long period of mass unemployment and slow, grinding deflation. Their debt crises are mainly a byproduct of this sad prospect, because depressed economies lead to budget deficits and deflation magnifies the burden of debt.

Today's Teamster News 02.28.12

Towards a Creditor State: One in Seven Americans Pursued by Debt Collectors  nakedcapitalism   ...There are now thousands of people legally jailed because they aren’t paying their bills, ie. debtor’s prisons have returned...
Threatened Goldman Japan workers unionize  Japan Times   ...At Goldman Sachs Japan, things became so unusual that some of its staff even took the remarkable step of unionizing after the firm's attempts to force workers to voluntarily resign — and thus sidestep the notoriously tough restrictions on layoffs under Japanese labor law — apparently backfired...
Controversy over Scientology influence clouds future of Pinellas charter school  Tampa Bay Times   ...Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children...
Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma Moonlighting as a Union-Busting Attorney?  We Party Patriots   ...Isn’t “hiring, disciplining, and terminating public employees” union-busting? Isn’t mediation of “employee civil right claims” and “contract disputes” by the House Speaker for a private firm a little bit of an issue?...
Walker Using Out-of-State Tea Party Group to Indirectly Challenge Recall  PR Watch   ..."Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals,” he wrote. “It is profoundly anti-social and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country."...
New York Motor Truck Says 'Fair Play Act' Anything But  Trucking Info New York State between 2002 and 2005, nearly 40,000 employers misclassified more than 700,000 workers...
IATSE and Teamsters picket producers of '1000 Ways to Die'  Los Angeles Times   ...“1000 Ways to Die” has become the latest flash point in an effort by Hollywood's leading unions to extend contracts to the rapidly growing cable TV sector...
Unions reveal 'serious concerns' over National Express' human rights approach  Fresh Business Thinking   ...Over the course of a decade serious concerns have been raised over the negative human rights and labour relations record of National Express Group’s US private school bus transportation subsidiary, Durham School Services...

Monday, February 27, 2012

GA wants to make picketing a felony

Do these look like felons to you?
You read that right. Anti-worker state lawmakers in Georgia want to criminalize our basic right to freedom of speech. They're pushing a bill to impose a $10,000 fine or a year in prison or both for picketing.

Alternet has the story:
In a move that could impact non-labor groups engaged in direct action, picketing, or protest, Georgia's Senate Bill 469 includes felony penalties for "criminal trespass" and, unbelievably, "conspiracy to commit criminal trespass"--the punishment being a $10,000 fine or a year in jail, or possibly both. That this is specifically included in a bill that cracks down on organizations' right to picket outside a workplace or company seems to indicate that a union or other group engaged in picketing could be charged with a crime for the activity of one member who crosses the line.
And in the bill, the line is pretty nebulous. The bill has this to say about what would constitute "unlawful" picketing:
It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in mass picketing at or near any place, including private residences, where a labor dispute exists in such number or manner as to obstruct or interfere with or constitute a threat to obstruct or interfere with the entrance to or egress from any place of employment or the free and uninterrupted use of public roads, streets, highways, railroads, airports, or other ways of travel, transportation, or conveyance.
What's that mean? "Constitute a threat to obstruct or interfere with" could be interpreted pretty broadly, and leaves a lot of discretion up to police on the scene--or to business owners, who could have picketers removed by claiming they presented a "threat."
Every single sponsor of this bill is a member of ALEC, the corporate conspiracy funded by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers to destroy what's left of the middle class. Read more about ALEC here.  Thursday, by the way, is a National Day of Action against ALEC. Look for a direct action near you!

Props to our brothers from Local 728, Eric Robertson and Jim Nichols, are spreading the word about this heinous bill.

Teamsters walk the line in CA, OH, NY and IL today

Today Teamster members of Local 399 are walking the line outside of Original Productions in Burbank, Calif., in solidarity with "1,000 Ways to Die" crew members who were fired for trying to join IATSE. The workers were replaced with scabs.

Today in Burbank.
Original employs a non-union crew to produce -- unbelievably -- "Ice Road Truckers," "Storage Wars" and "Deadliest Catch." The company halted production on the Spike TV series on Feb. 16 when it fired more than two dozen workers for union activity. Local 399's business agent/organizer Steve Dayan explained to Deadline Hollywood,
This is a company that has not communicated with us at all. Our understanding is that Original Productions are crewing up again and that they are going to attempt to shoot again ... This is a company, when it comes to safety, to health benefits, to the people who made their show a success, do not do things the way they should. It is a recipe for abusing people. The bottom line is that’s wrong.
Local 727 Teamsters in Chicago Local 727 are walking the line at a downtown parking garage to tell the public about Hunter Parking's substandard wages and benefits. Hunter recently started running the garage and put eight union member jobs in jeopardy. Local 727 represents more than 3,000 people who work in Chicagoland's parking industry.

Local 727's president, John Coli Jr., said,
Our members have spent years in this garage, building relationships with the patrons. These men and women aren’t just the people who park your car. They are the people you see twice a day, every day, all year long. They are the ones you entrust with one of your most valuable possessions. They are important workers who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Last week in Ohio.
Local 507 Red Cross Teamsters have been walking the line throughout Northeastern Ohio since Valentine's Day. Tammy Lettieri recently wrote a stirring account of their struggle in the Examiner:
These workers are facing losing their medical insurance in 12 days if negotiations do not lead to an agreement. These people believe enough in what they do to risk their insurance, and above that, their jobs. Every worker I have spoke with over the past few days have had a few things in common. They all love their job, they do not want to strike, but they feel that the safety of the donors is at risk until their working conditions improve.
You can watch it on youtube here.

We can't forget Sotheby's art handlers, who've been walking the line on the Upper East Side of New York since they were locked out seven months ago. Tomorrow night they'll be in front of the Whitney Museum to protest Sotheby's sponsorship of its Biennial Exhibit. Today a hoax press release went out claiming that the Whitney had severed ties with Sotheby's because of its treatment of the art handlers. The fake press release said, in part,
The Whitney recognizes that the financial speculation on art taking place in secondary sales of works benefits wealthy investors far more than the artists who created the works, let alone the workers who craft, move, install, maintain, or guard them. The Museum understands the importance of providing working people—including artists who must work second jobs to support their careers—with the livable wages and healthcare for which the Sotheby's art handlers are fighting. Sotheby's actions are a direct attack on the Museum's mission to support and collect the work of living artists. For these reasons, the Whitney cannot allow Sotheby's to tarnish the image of the Biennial any longer.
If only it were real....

We hope we're not overlooking anyone. Stay strong, brothers and sisters.

Pro-union lyrics in new Van Halen hit

Cross-posted from American Rights at Work's Blog at Work:
Van Halen has really got us going. The legendary rock band has reunited with original lead singer David Lee Roth and their first studio album in 14 years has shot to the top of the charts nearly as fast as Eddie Van Halen’s fingers fly up and down the fretboard. We’re jumping for the hit record’s first single, “Tattoo,” which features this great union shout out:
Uncle Danny had a coal tattoo,
he fought for the union, some of us still do.
On my shoulder is the number of the chapter he was in.
That number is forever like the struggle here to win.
In a video interview about the hit single’s lyrics, Roth says he relates to the pride that goes along with being in a union or fighting for one, “What’s more poignant than the union struggle today – you identify [with] that, you join a team, you join a group… when you get a tattoo.”
Roth says that while tattoos can be decorative or celebratory, they can also signify something serious and personal. He goes on to pay tribute to the daily wear and tear on working people by explaining the song’s reference to a “coal tattoo”–the permanent mark left on miners from years of black coal seeping into their pores.
Catch Van Halen on tour now or dance the night away listening to their latest album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” available online and in stores everywhere.
Want to know who else rocks for workers’ rights? Check out our interview with the Street Dogs and our feature on Tom Morello.

Today's Teamster News 02.27.12

April 9-15, 2012 -- 100,000 Americans Will Train for Non-Violent Direct Action  Common Dreams   ...From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country...
Massive Leak Reveals Criminality, Paranoia Among Corporate Titans  The Yes Men   ...Just as Wall Street has at times let slip their fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, these leaks seem to show that corporate power is most afraid of whatever reveals "the larger whole" and "broader issues," i.e. whatever brings systemic criminal behavior to light...
Greece sinks to its knees  The Telegraph   ...“They give many reasons, but a common one is financial problems: the crisis, unemployment, losing their job or being fearful of losing their job, a cut in salary so they cannot afford everyday responsibilities,”...
The lesson for the Europeans is that the US fiscal stimulus worked  billy blog   ...the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has been successful in increasing real GDP growth in the US and reducing the rise in the unemployment rate. Some simple calculations reveal that in the absence of the ARRA US economy would still be in recession. That is, taking a European trajectory...
Thousands form human chain in anti-Putin protest  Associated Press   ...Sunday's protest appeared to have drawn close to the 34,000 people that opposition activists estimated were needed to complete the chain along the Garden Ring, a wide road that makes a loop around the city center...
LSU identifies community conditions related to malnutrition deaths among older adults   ...2,000 to 3,000 people a year die due to malnutrition-related causes in the U.S...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Did deadbeats cause the foreclosure crisis?

Some people sure think so. Here's a comment on an Economic Populist post by a Bank of America employee called "Anonymous Drive-by." He or she was upset that BofA had announced layoffs.
I hope BoA keeps kicking out the deadbeats and minorities that refuse to pay their bills. Because of you low lifes 30,000 of my coworkers are being laid off. Long live BoA
Charming, right? Well, "Anonymous Drive-by" got a boatload of responses from people who'd lost their homes due to BoA's fraud and incompetence. Here are a few horror stories:
We received a approval for short sale program 9/2/11 and were getting ready to sign the paperwork and send back to BOA when we found out that our home was foreclosed on 9/6/11!!!!! BOA quickly responded in letter saying that we actually did not qualify for the program. We have spent over three years trying to get loan mod, that was denied. Then short sale, which according to them was approved, but foreclosed on us anyway. We currently have a lawyer trying to help us with this mess.
I found out one day before my auction sale that I was not approved for a loan modification. Therefore, I had no time to do a short sale. The response from B/A was that I should liquidate but there was not time for me to do that since the sale was the next day. The house did not sell, B/A took the house back and I have until next month to find another place to live.
I and my wife are victims as well. Got our home in 2007 and had trouble with BoA from day one. Our payments were somehow always magically "late" and we would have to pay some fee to make the problem go away. We both had to change jobs and did get a couple of payments behind but they said "no problem, we will do a loan remodification!" Sent us a couple of letters saying we got it and a new payment schedule with the lowered payments. Went along as if there was no problem for 2 years. Then, in January of 2011, they send us a letter telling us we were 9 payments behind when we were current. We tried to solve the problem, to no avail. Over and over, for months. Then, in September, we get a letter from an attorney in St. Louis that the home had been sold at a foreclosure auction in August! In Missouri, you have to notify the homeowner that their home has gone into foreclosure. You have to notify them of an impending foreclosure sale. You have to place an ad in the local paper of a foreclosure sale. BoA skipped every one of these steps and foreclosed on the home without notifying us at all, except when they served us in September of 2011 that we would have to be out of the house by October 12th. We lost our home through no fault of our own.
I am now in a position where BofA is ready to do me in. I to was trying to obtain a MHA package always being told that the investor would not allow a modification. I was stuck in a securitized sub-prime mortgage loan package and sold off to an investor. BofA does not know who the owner of my mortgage is and if they do, they will not tell me. I sent them a 'QWR' for any and all documents that pertained to my loanand they will not and did not comply.

Today's Teamster News 02.26.12

Locked-out workers on 6-state trip Journal Gazette ...Eight locked-out union members have embarked on a six-day, six-state trip designed to increase public awareness of their situation. The travelers represent workers at American Crystal Sugar Co. in North Dakota and Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in Findlay, Ohio, in what they’re calling a “1,000-mile journey for justice.”...
Get a real job! The note with 1 per cent tip left by wealthy banker after $133 lunch as an insult to the 99 per cent Daily Mail ...After dining on a meal at a boutique Newport Beach, California restaurant, the banker left only $1.33 on a $133.54 tab. Adding insult to injury, he gave the server, Breanna, another tip: ‘Get a real job.’...
Workers attack factory Phnom Penh Post ...A fourth day of protests by garment workers in Kampong Cham turned unruly yesterday, as nearly 2,000 workers shattered the windows of their factory with stones...
Have Labour Will Travel Macrobusiness ...governments in developed economies are caught in a vice. To keep the work force in employment, the workers have to be able to compete with much cheaper labour forces in the emerging world. If they try to compete on price, it leads to a Catch 22 — to keep the nation’s standard of living up you have to cut workers’ standard of living...
Length of Unemployment is Worst Since World War II Middle Class Political Economist ...The current average of over 40 weeks is completely unprecedented historically...
Why are Gas Prices Skyrocketing? Economic Populist ...soaring oil prices literally can cripple the entire economy. When will the people override Wall Street and stop this insanity?...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Layoff skunk at 745 Peachtree St.

Looks like AT&T executives are nervous about the Occupation outside their Southeastern headquarters. Maybe they should have thought about that before they decided to lay off 740 people while they're raking in the revenues and the bonuses.

Here's what we union thugs do on our Harleys

JC25 Horsemen, IN Labor Day Parade
We raise money for a local children's hospital and the SPCA.

We also join our brothers and sisters on strike lines and ride in Labor Day parades.

You can read all about the Teamster Horsemen in this post by Scott Samayedny we'll borrow from the Teamster Magazine blog:
The Teamster Horsemen Motorcycle Association is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. I’ve been a member of Teamsters Local 456 for 15 years and a Teamster Horseman for three years.
I personally joined the Teamster Horsemen because I not only love riding my Harley, but I’m a proud Teamster. Our chapter of the Horsemen has been fundraising for our local children’s hospital in the Hudson Valley of New York for the last three years. The hospital is the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a one-of-a-kind hospital just for children. The fundraiser is called the “Go the Distance” walk, which had more than 5,000 participants last year alone.
The next fundraising event is on April 22, 2012. If you can’t join us at the event, you can still help out here.
Our chapter of the Teamster Horsemen also supports the SPCA of Westchester, N.Y. We will be attending a fundraising event with them on April 28, 2012.
I would love any Teamster to join the Teamster Horsemen to get involved in this wonderful experience. Anyone in the Hudson Valley here in New York can contact me to join my chapter, at
Oh, and btw, "thugs" stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys."

'Cut ties to Sotheby's' rally, Part II

We couldn't quite figure out what this photo showed until we were enlightened by our brother Dave Martinez, shop steward for Local 814's art handlers at Sotheby's. The photo accompanied some shots of Teamsters and friends rallying outside of the Museum of Modern Art.

Here's how Dave explained the photo:
So, we stood outside of MOMA and explained to people the lockout situation and how MOMA continues to do business with Sotheby's while we are locked out, etc., and asked them to help Support us by dropping these STOP SELLING AT SOHEBY'S flyers at the information desk. We gave out 120 of them. We sent someone inside to take pictures of them on the desks. When we were done we marched through the lobby chanting Sotheby's UNFAIR - MOMA UNFAIR. It was a very successful Action. The free Friday audience was very receptive.

Today's Teamster News 02.25.12

Romney's Big-Stadium Speech Makes Some Ask: Why Union-Bash In Detroit?  NPR   ..."Taking pot shots at the union doesn't serve either candidate well," said Singelis of Shiners International. Again on Friday in Ford Field, he called Romney's jab at the UAW — "a huge communication error"...
Scott Walker's Koch Connection Goes Bad  The Nation   ...Could Koch really be admitting to a violation for the Internal Revenue Service code that says organizations such as AFP are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office”? It certainly sounded like it...
Anonymous Hacks Private Prison Company Website  Huffington Post   ...Hackers defaced the website for the Florida-based GEO Group, the nation's second-largest operator of private prisons...
Greece: The Epicenter of Global Pillage  Energy Bulletin   ...Greece is the epicenter of what's metastasizing globally. The latest bailout deal highlights out-of-control pillage...
Would We Have Drugged Up Einstein? How Anti-Authoritarianism Is Deemed a Mental Health Problem  Alternet   ...Americans have been increasingly socialized to equate inattention, anger, anxiety, and immobilizing despair with a medical condition, and to seek medical treatment rather than political remedies. What better way to maintain the status quo than to view inattention, anger, anxiety, and depression as biochemical problems of those who are mentally ill rather than normal reactions to an increasingly authoritarian society?...
IATSE, Teamsters set Monday rally for 'Die': Orgs to protest Original Prods. as part of push to unionize TV series  Variety   ...The rally has been set in the wake of producers dismissing about 30 crew members who were attempting to unionize. Teamsters busines rep Steve Dayan said the fired crew members have been replaced...

Friday, February 24, 2012

This is what we union thugs do in our union halls

We run a clothing drive for moms and kids who need clothes and shoes.

We'll let the Teamsters Local 743 Women's Committee describe what they're doing:
Members and supporters are encouraged to donate gently used women's clothing, kids' clothes and shoes to help disadvantaged mothers, girls and working families. Donations will be accepted through April at the Local 743 union hall every Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-noon and 3-5 p.m.
Donations can be dropped at Local 743, 4620 S. Tripp Avenue, Chicago, IL.

All clothing and shoe donations will benefit the Breakthrough Urban Ministries and the Pacific Garden Ministry located in Chicago.
Props to Valeska Coleman and Deidrie Jenkins of Local 743 for making it happen.

Oh and by the way, "thugs" stands for "Those Helpful Union Gals."

Teamsters demand MoMA cut ties to Sotheby's

Our brothers who've been thrown out on the street by Sotheby's are right now standing on the street in front of the prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York, demanding that it cut ties to the auction house because of the way it treats workers.

They've just put out a press release explaining their demands, which we'll quote from here:
The workers who rallied today outside of MoMA are not on strike; Sotheby's kicked them out of their jobs with no paychecks.
The auction house sparked the bitter labor dispute seven months ago when it locked out its 42 art handlers who belong to Teamsters Local 814. Their contract had expired at the end of July 2011. Sotheby's - which grossed $680 million in 2010, its second-most profitable year ever - wants to eliminate the union by demanding all future hires be low-wage temporary workers with no benefits and no collective bargaining rights.
MoMA recently sold several major works of art at Sotheby's, and has a long history of buying and selling with the auction house. This ongoing relationship is a direct contradiction of any claim the museum has to responsible behavior, according to Local 814 President Jason Ide. Ide said,
MoMA has always tried to act justly toward its own employees and been diligent in selecting responsible contractors," said Ide. "But the decision to do business with Sotheby's when it wants to eliminate good jobs just when New Yorkers need them most is very disturbing.
Occupy Wall Street activists have taken up the cause of the 42 art handlers, who lost their health care on Jan. 1, 2012 and are struggling to survive on unemployment. OWS recently dropped a large banner inside the museum that read "Sotheby's End Your Lockout. Hang Art Not Workers."
Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda had this to say:
The kind of reckless, anti-worker practices you see at Sotheby's should not be condoned or supported by leading institutions like MoMA. MoMA should be setting an example for the art world. Until the lockout is ended, all museums, especially those receiving money from New York taxpayers should cease all business with Sotheby's.

Day 11: Teamsters, CWA, Friends, Occupy AT&T in GA

Another tent is up, No. 24, at 745 Peachtree St. in Atlanta. It's the Occupation of the Southeast headquarters of AT&T, which wants to lay off 740 union workers even as it rakes in the dough. The Occupiers, who want to stop the layoffs, brought a surprise to the corporate lobby on Feb. 13. Reports the Huffington Post,
Occupy Atlanta launched a surprise protest against AT&T Monday, staging a sit-in at the communication giant's Southeast headquarters in downtown Atlanta to protest its planned layoffs of hundreds.
...the participants (include) ... retired Communications Workers of America (CWA) members, a Teamster organizer and members of Atlanta Jobs With Justice. They sat as a group in the lobby, each wearing hot-pink hearts made of poster board that read "No Layoffs" and "AT&T Have A Heart."
Yesterday, an interfaith service was held in front of AT&T's building. The American Friends Service Committee reports,
AT&T about 25 leaders of various faith traditions came together to pray, contemplate, and express deep concerns for AT&T’s corporate greed.
Why are they concerned? AT&T made record profits last year, had the resources to compensate their CEO to the tune of 27 million dollars, yet they plan to layoff 740 unionized workers in the south east despite the fact that AT&T customers constantly complain that service is slow.
The interfaith service was held on AT&T property and it appeared that AT&T executive staff didn’t have the nerve to ask folks to leave the grounds; they were of course invited to join, as several AT&T workers did.
AT&T has its own friends in the Georgia Legislature. Alternet reports those friends filed a bill that would make it a felony to picket outside of a workplace, with a punishment of $10,000 or a year in jail or both.

Our brother Eric Robertson (erictheteamster on Twitter), Local 728's political director, told Alternet:
This bill is obviously an attack on working people and anyone who believes in organizing for justice. It undermines civil liberties, and clearly is designed to cripple working peoples' ability to organize and build organizationations to improve their working conditions. Labor, civil rights and community organizations, and our allies are going to have to play hardball to beat this bill.
Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

Today's Teamster News 02.24.12

Union sues to stop Indiana "right-to-work" law  Reuters   ...The suit, filed on Wednesday, claims the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by requiring dues-paying members to furnish free representation to people who refuse to join the union and pay dues, also known as "free riders."...
Political Notebook: Supporters of Right-to-Work amendment trying to rally public support   ...Backers of a proposed Right-to-Work constitutional amendment (in Minnesota) have launched an aggressive campaign to win over supporters in hopes of pressuring enough state senators and representatives to get on board...
Gov. Chris Christie's budget plan would help rich, hurt middle class (opinion)   Newark Star-Ledger   ...(The governor's proposed income tax cut) for the rich, this would be enough for a family vacation in the south of France every year. For the typical middle-class family ... it wouldn’t be enough to buy the kids new shoes...
Corporate Lobby Group Gave Cash Awards to Cantor, 21 State Lawmakers  Common Cause   ...A lobbying group funded by some of the nation's richest corporations appears to have given ethically and perhaps legally dubious cash awards to nearly two dozen state and federal lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Common Cause said today...
Big Banks Squeeze Billions in Profits from Public Budgets  SEIU   ...The banks have already taken as much as $28 billion from state and local governments. Now, during the worst public budget crisis in memory, the big banks seek to collect billions more from toxic deals that local and state governments are trapped into and are forcing layoffs and cuts to services to cover payments to banks...
Teamsters Testify About Workers' Rights Violations at Loomis
IBT   ...Teamsters and legal and security experts testified about workers' rights violations by Loomis, an armored car guard company, before a public hearing at the UC Berkeley Labor Center on Tuesday...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today's Teamster News 02.23.12

The “Can’t Find Workers” Meme  Columbia Journalism Review   ...These young folks don’t want to spend a lot of money and time training to do a specific job they might not get only to get laid off when some private-equity slicks (where the real money’s at) buy out the company and ship the jobs to China...
WikiLeaks: Saudis often warned U.S. about oil speculators  McClatchy   ...Saudi Arabia suspected that "speculation represented approximately $40 of the overall oil price when it was at its height."...
Chinese Open First Car Plant in Europe  Der Spiegel   ...Just as the Japanese and Koreans did decades ago, Chinese automakers are hoping to gain strong positions in the longer term in the Western European and United States markets...
Do-Over Season  New York Times   ...Is there really a chance that the Supreme Court might reconsider Citizens United? A week ago, I wouldn’t have thought so, and I still think it’s an extreme long shot. But a provocative statement last Friday by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer makes this crazy idea worth pondering – which is undoubtedly what the two justices intended...
Wisconsin GOP Attempts to Ram Through Special Interest Mining Bill  PR Watch   ...Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald are pushing for radical changes in Wisconsin’s current mining law to benefit a single out-of-state company...
Clients Continue Exodus as Nuveen Investments Seeks Another Billion Dollar Refinancing, Teamsters Say  IBT   ...As Nuveen Investments seeks to refinance $1.1 billion in debt – just barely a year after the firm's last billion dollar refinancing – the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is urging clients carefully to consider the firms suitability as an asset manager in light of its highly leveraged financial condition, as well as its oversight and control by private equity owners Madison Dearborn Partners...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspiration Wednesday: 'Which Side Are You On?' (video)

Thanks to the Solidarity Singalong for today's 3+ minutes of inspiration.

Talk Like David Koch Day

What will those wild and crazy Badgers think of next? Today is the one-year anniversary of the infamous prank call in which Buffalo Beast blogger Ian Murphy called Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and talked for 10 minutes pretending to be David Koch.

(Come to think of it, it's the one-year anniversary of calling Scott Walker a "Koch whore.")

Most amazing about the call was the way Murphy got through to the governor. According to Murphy,
I called at noon and was quickly transferred to ... Walker’s Chief of Staff Keith Gilkes. He was “expecting my call. 
“David!” he said with an audible smile. 
I politely said hello, not knowing how friendly Gilkes and Koch may be. He was eager to help. 
“I was really hoping to talk directly to Scott,” I said. He said that could be arranged and that I should just leave my number. I explained to Gilkes, “My goddamn maid, Maria, put my phone in the washer. I’d have her deported, but she works for next to nothing.” Gilkes found this amusing. “I’m calling from the VOID—with the VOID, or whatever it’s called. You know, the Snype!” 
“Gotcha,” Gilkes said. “Let me check the schedule here…OK, there’s an opening at 2 o’clock Central Standard Time. Just call this same number and we’ll put you through.”
 The official "Talk Like David Koch Day" Facebook event page suggests
...on the anniversary of that call, be a cruel, heartless, rich bastard and talk like David Koch all day long! "Crush those Bastards" "Fly you out to Cali" "Beautiful" "Goddamn right!" "Bring a baseball bat "
The latter is a reference to the following exchange between "Koch" and Walker at a time when the Statehouse was surrounded by peaceful protesters:
Koch: Bring a baseball bat. That’s what I’d do. 
Walker: I have one in my office; you’d be happy with that. I have a slugger with my name on it. 
Koch: Beautiful.
Then there's this:
Koch: We’ll back you any way we can. What we were thinking about the crowd was, uh, was planting some troublemakers. 
Walker: You know, well, the only problem with that —because we thought about that. The problem—the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this…
Since then, Koch and his brother Charles have been exposed for their attacks on democracy and Walker faces a recall election, tentatively on June 5.

What's disheartening is to think that someone as dumb as Scott Walker can become governor and harm thousands of working families just by sucking up to a cruel, heartless, rich bastard.

The mind boggles.

Today's Teamster News 02.22.12

Margins Widen at U.S. Companies as Wages Lag Behind: Economy  Bloomberg   ...Companies are improving margins and generating profits as wage growth for the American worker lags behind the prices of goods and services...  
Gallup survey shows 'sharp deterioration in job market' in Feburary  The Hill   ...Gallup's mid-month reading, which traditionally previews the government report issued at the end of the month, shows a rise of seven-tenths of a percentage from the 8.3 percent unemployment rate at the end of January...
Jobs scarce, but the stigma stays  McClatchy   ...An advocacy group for workers surveyed online job postings last year and found more than 100 companies that want only applicants who are currently employed...
25% of super PAC money coming from just 5 rich donors  USA Today   ...Five wealthy people, led by Dallas industrialist Harold Simmons and Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, have donated nearly $1 of every $4 flowing to the super PACs raising unlimited money in this year's presidential race...
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson Says He Might Give $100M To Newt Gingrich Or Other Republican  Forbes   ...Adelson could personally fund an entire presidential campaign—say, $1 billion or so—and not even notice...
We need to know who funds these thinktank lobbyists  The Guardian   ...The battle for democracy is becoming a fight against backroom billionaires seeking to shape politics to suit their own interests...
Unions countering GOP with voter campaign  Post-Tribune   ...(Indiana) Labor unions are starting new voter education campaigns in response to right-to-work legislation passed by the General Assembly. “We’re taking the anger and turning it into motivation,”...
Ohio voters may get say on ‘right to work’  Dayton Daily News   ...Ohioans for Workplace Freedom wants to collect the signatures of about 600,000 registered voters in Ohio, said Chris Littleton, a Butler County resident and former president of the conservative Ohio Liberty Council. The organization needs to collect a minimum 386,000 valid signatures, Littleton said...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

12K drug murders in '11. It's why US truckers don't haul freight in Mexico

The Teamsters Union is suing the federal government to end its latest Mexican truck pilot program. We'll submit legal briefs in about three weeks. In the meantime, our prediction that the program would be a dismal failure appears to be accurate. After six months, two trucks and three drivers have made nine -- count 'em, nine -- trips into the U.S. beyond the border zone.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa argued today in The Huffington Post that Mexico's inability to control drug violence is a barrier to trade -- and therefore a violation of Nafta. Here's what he had to say:
The State Department recently warned Americans against taking unnecessary trips to vast, dangerous sections of Mexico. Nearly all the states along the border are awash in violence, and there is no safe road to Mexico City. 
Mexico's 5-year-old narco-war is only getting worse. More than 12,000 people were killed in drug-related violence last year, a 6 percent increase over the previous year. Reports of torture, beheadings and killing of women are up as well. 
Just two weeks ago, Mexican troops announced that they seized 15 tons of methamphetamine near Guadalajara - an amount equal to half the meth seized in 2009 in the entire world. 
That's why U.S. truck drivers don't haul freight south of the border.
Read the whole thing here.

How Seattle port drivers are ripped off by their employers

The recent march for Seattle port drivers. 
In These Times posted a terrific story about the two-week Seattle port drivers strike. To hear the Port of Seattle tell it, the strike didn't have an impact. To hear people who were there tell it, the trucking companies lost a lot of money. According to In These Times, 
...the “cans,” as they’re called, stacked up on ships, in rail yards, and at warehouses. The port’s lifeblood slowed to a crawl. Cargo has to move for shippers and trucking companies to make money. A still container, a waiting ship and an idle truck all mean lost profits. It was clear the strike was costing employers a lot of money.
Here's how port drivers get ripped off: 

  1. The drivers have to lease the tractors from the trucking companies -- but can't use them for anything other than company business. 
  2. Employers punish drivers who refuse overweight loads by denying them work for a few days. If the drivers are stopped by the Highway Patrol for being overweight, they pay the fine. The trucking companies flat-out refuse to give them copies of the manifests.
  3. Employers charge drivers $120 a week for liability insurance, though the freight is already insured by the shippers. If a driver doesn't work for a week, their employers take $120  from future earnings.
Read the whole thing here

Tell AT&T to stop the layoffs

Awaiting arrest outside of AT&T in Atlanta.
Our brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta are fighting against AT&T's layoff of 740 workers, along with CWA, Jobs With Justice and Occupy Atlanta. They've been rallying and staging sit-ins in the lobby. Some even got arrested.

Today, AT&T workers are getting their layoff dates. Last year,  AT&T had record revenues of $127 billion. Their CEO, Randall Stephenson, took home $27 million.

We agree with Occupy Atlanta:

The 1% wants to lower the standard of living for the average American worker, all so that they can pocket some extra cash. We can no longer allow them to squeeze every penny they can out of the 99%. The 99% creates the wealth; it is made on our backs.

Help our brothers and sisters who are getting laid off by AT&T. Email CEO Randall Stephenson at or call Michael Matthews, VP of Labor Relations at (205) 977-0722. Tell them to stop the layoffs.

MN carpenter blasts 'right to freeload' (video)

Anti-worker politicians in Minnesota are proposing a right-to-work-for-less amendment to the state Constitution. Our sister in the video above explains why it's a bad idea.

Here's an IN lawmaker we need to defeat

Bring him down.
State Rep. Robert Morris, a Fort Wayne Republican, voted for Indiana's heinous right-to-work-for-less law. That alone is reason to kick him out of office. Indiana unions are working hard to do just that. Last weekend the AFL-CIO began a series of trainings on mobilizing a workers' army to take back the state.

But back to Morris: Apparently the same twisted thinking that prompted him to vote for a law that will worsen the lives of Indiana's working families also prompted him to declare the Girl Scouts are a radicalized organization that promotes homosexuality.

Yup. The Girl Scouts.

Morris refused to sign a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts of America on its centennial. According to We Party Patriots, his words, the Girl scouts are a “radicalized organization” that supports abortion and promotes the “homosexual lifestyle”: 
Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne, sent a letter to his fellow House Republicans on Saturday explaining why he would be the only member in the House not to endorse the nonbinding resolution. 
He said he did some web-based research and found allegations that the Girl Scouts are a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood, allows transgender females to join and encourages sex. 
Morris also said the fact that First Lady Michelle Obama is honorary president “should give each of us reason to pause before our individual and collective endorsement of the organization.”
When you think about it, though, it's not that big a leap from attacking workers to attacking Girl Scouts. Scary to think who his next target will be.

WI unions make hay off media's dumb mistake

This is not a union banner. This is the state flag of Wisconsin. Here's a clue: The word "Wisconsin." Here's another: "1848," the date Wisconsin became a state. And here's a third: The state seal.

A Politico reporter covering a speech President Obama gave in Wisconsin seemed to miss all those hints. He
reported the state flag was "a flag for the local union, Wisconsin 1848." And he suggested it demonstrated Obama's pro-union bias.

We can hardly blame the reporter. He's part of a Beltway culture that disregards workers, unions and the plight of ordinary people. But as Talking Points Memo reported, AFSCME took advantage of the mistake.
...the gaffe made the rounds among actual union officials in the state and now that the laughter’s subsided, they’ve turned it into a membership drive. 
“When national news blog Politico came to Milwaukee to cover Pres. Obama’s visit, they incorrectly identified the Wisconsin flag as the “flag for the local union, Wisconsin 1848.” Many people got a chuckle at the embarrassing mistake, but we think it really represents something larger,” reads a new AFSCME petition. “So let’s say it loud and say it proud! Join as a charter member of “Wisconsin Local 1848” today. We’ll share up-to-the-minute information on statewide issues that affect us all.”
You can sign the petition here.

Today's Teamster News 02.21.12

America’s last hope: A strong labor movement  Salon   ...Americans give up their individual freedom and democratic voice every single day they walk into work. The workplace is an authoritarian dictatorship, and we accept this as legitimate...
U.S. oil gusher blows out projections  Houston Chronicle   ...many say the booming shale oil fields in Texas and North Dakota and the growth of deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico will allow the nation to cut its reliance on oil imports significantly over the next couple of decades...
Some Doubt a Settlement Will End Mortgage Ills  New York Times   ...Even as government officials prepare to unveil new standards this week for how banks treat millions of Americans facing foreclosure, housing advocates and homeowners are skeptical the rules will be able to do something past efforts have not: provide a beleaguered borrower with one individual to help them navigate the mortgage maze...
Massachusetts Home Seizures Threatened in Loan Case: Mortgages  Bloomberg Business Week   ...The highest court in Massachusetts is poised to rule as soon as this month on a foreclosure case that could lead to a surge in claims from home owners seeking to overturn seizures...
Cooper Tire, drivers of fleet trucks reach deal  Toledo Blade   ...Cooper said the drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 20, gave final approval Saturday. The new contract is a three-year agreement, though terms weren't revealed...
Teamsters union may soon represent employees at Production Engineering   ...Alan Sprague, president of the Teamsters Local 164, confirmed Monday the union has put out a petition to hold an election March 16 at Production Engineering...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Atlanta Teamsters demand AT&T rescind 740 layoffs

AT&T wants to lay off 740 employees, but they won't do it without a fight from Atlanta Teamsters, CWA members, Occupy Atlanta members and Jobs With Justice.

The video above is a raw excerpt from Valentine's Day rally at 675 W. Peachtree Building in Atlanta

Workers Independent News also did a feature about the rally. Teamsters Local 728 President Randy Brown was quoted:
It’s about you and I. Us standing together against the 1 percent that are doing everything they can to look after theirself and doing everything they can to take care of the very top and the corporations. More money, more money, more money.
The full WIN story is here.

According to the AT&T and Corporate Greed Facebook page,
Tomorrow (2/21/12) AT&T workers affected by the layoffs have been summoned to a meeting at 675 West Peachtree street to get their official layoff notice. These meetings are at 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM.
This is devastating news for any worker to receive. Occupy Atlanta, Jobs... with Justice and other allies will be there to support them. There will be a press conference at noon to address AT&Ts greed and to hear the stories of some of the workers who just learned they were laid off.
We need occupiers at the AT&T building to help serve pastries and donuts and to show the AT&T workers that we stand with them.
The event will start at 8:45 AM and go until 2:00 PM. See you there.
We will maintain a presence on the sidewalk at 675 West Peachtree until AT&T rescinds all 740 job layoffs or guarantees that each worker will have wage/benefit protection when they are moved to a new position.
Our Teamster brothers and sisters will be there. Solidarity!

Today's Teamster News 02.20.12

David Koch on Wisconsin: I'm helping Scott Walker  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Koch told the Post ... "If the unions win the recall, there will be no stopping union power..."
Activists end sit-in at Piccolo school  Chicago Tribune   ...Community activists and parents at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School ... ended an overnight campus sit-in Saturday staged to protest a proposed shake-up of faculty and administrators. The group, aided by representatives of Occupy Chicago, began its sit-in Friday evening, with nearly 100 people participating when the demonstration began...
Spain Unions Protest Against Labor-Market Reform  Dow Jones   ...Spanish unions led protests in 57 cities across the country Sunday against the new government's labor-market reform, kicking off what is likely to be a lengthy campaign against the policies of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy...
Federal Reserve Ignores California Concerns, Approves Capital One-ING Direct Merger  California Reinvestment Coalition   ...With the merger approved, Capital One becomes the fifth largest bank in the country with no immediate obligations to reinvest into the communities from which it profits...
The working man's paradise    ...the Germans cut hours while the Americans cut people ... for the last decade the Australian labour market has been so strong that a private approximation of the German kurzabeit system has developed...
Manufacturing Illusions  Information Clearing House   ...The fundamental problem isn’t the decline of American manufacturing, and reviving manufacturing won’t solve it. The problem is the declining power of American workers to share in the gains of the American economy...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today's Teamster News 02.19.20

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture still making it in America  Richmond-Times Dispatch   ...The official had no idea Bassett was on a mission to gather proof that Chinese manufacturers were not playing by the rules, threatening to put a permanent chill on the smokestacks that bore his family's name...
Foxconn Plans to Lift Pay Sharply at Factories in China  New York Times   ...Foxconn said that salaries for many workers would immediately jump by 16 to 25 percent, to about $400 a month, before overtime...
Foreclosure abuse rampant across U.S., experts say  Reuters   ...One of the major problems that has emerged in the foreclosure crisis is that it is far from clear that many lenders foreclosing on properties actually own the loans and have the right to take action against them...
Kill prison privatization? Not so fast, Scott says   ...Gov. Rick Scott ... last week ... told a group of reporters that he is going to explore ways he can privatize prisons unilaterally...
Occupy Our Hearts: Potluck Social and Port of Seattle Truckers Food Drive  Facebook   ...We are also collecting non-perishables for the Teamsters who have risked their livelihoods in order to fight the good fight...
Teamsters' Drive Up Standards Bus Campaign Reaches Milestone 300th Win  IBT   ...The Teamsters' Drive Up Standards campaign to organize private school bus and transit workers nationwide has reached a major milestone, with 300 organizing wins for more than 32,500 workers since the campaign began in 2006...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today's Teamster News 02.18.12

Risking union ire, Romney slams Santorum’s labor votes  Boston Globe   ...“I’ve taken on union bosses before, and I’m happy to take them on again because I happen to believe that you can protect the interests of American taxpayers, and you can protect a great industry like automobiles without having to give in to the UAW [United Auto Workers], and I sure won’t,’’ Romney said Wednesday....
Supreme Court blocks Montana ruling against outside group spending  CNN   ... The Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of a ruling by Montana's highest court that upholds the state's century-long restrictions on independent political spending by outside groups in election campaigns...
Why Inequality Matters: 3 Ways the Mortgage Crisis Has Undermined Our Legal System  New Deal 2.0   ...Banks are demonstrating that if you have enough money and influence, you’re not expected to follow the same laws as everyone else...
Reversing Local Austerity  New York Times   ...we could put well over a million people to work directly, and probably around 3 million once you take other effects into account, without any need to come up with new projects; just transfer enough money to state and local governments to let them return to doing the essential business of government, like educating our children...
Judge denies Walker request for extension  Wisconsin State Journal   ...A judge has denied Gov. Scott Walker's request for a two-week extension to review recall petition signatures...
Teamsters threaten to picket Ford plant as Escape production looms  Louisville Courier-Journal   ...The union fears Ford is going to hire only non-Teamsters drivers at lower wages to prepare new sport utility vehicles for shipment to car dealers...
CP Rail seeks conciliation in contract talks with Teamsters  The Star   ...Canadian Pacific Railway is asking the federal labour minister to appoint a conciliator to help push along talks with its main union...

Friday, February 17, 2012

This congressman will turn your stomach

Yeah, stripping wages from workers. That's patriotic.
Dave Jamieson at Huffington Post has a great story about a disgusting effort by an Indiana (what a surprise) congressman to take money out of workers' already meager paychecks.

Rep. Larry Bucshon of Evansville, Ind., got a snootful of money from the head of the company that owns Evansville, Ind.-based Professional Transportation Inc. (PTI). Bucshon wants to strip PTI's workers of their minimum wage and overtime protections. The company has already been sued for cheating workers out of their wages.

Here's Jamieson:
The change ... would remove wage protections for several thousand "long-haul drivers" who transport railroad crews from worksite to worksite. Many of those drivers work for roughly the minimum wage and sometimes log 60 hours a week, often driving several hundred miles at a time across state lines. The drivers are currently entitled to overtime pay but would lose it under the House bill.

Some of the firms that could benefit from the GOP provision other than PTI include RailCrew Xpress, Renzenberger and Coach America, all of which have faced employee lawsuits over alleged wage violations.
Joseph Cassell, a Wichita, Kan.-based lawyer, has successfully sued PTI and other rail transport companies for violating wage laws. He says exempting the workers from minimum-wage and overtime protections would take money out of an already meager paycheck. Drivers are compensated on a per-mile basis and the pay sometimes doesn’t even work out to minimum wage, according to Cassell.
"These drivers work their butts off," Cassell says. "All you have to have is a clean driving record and pass a drug test. In some cases, they're not even high school graduates. They need work and unfortunately they're willing to work under tough conditions and long hours ... If anybody gets overtime, it should be these people."
"Look, these companies are making money, even if they have to pay overtime," Cassell adds. "They are not hurting."
Bushon is running for re-election, providing another good reason to register to vote in Indiana.

Super PACs: 22 people contributed $67 million

Political campaigns ought to be about repealing Nafta. Bringing good jobs home. Prosecuting Wall Street criminals. Restoring our home values. Lowering the cost of college tuition.

They're not. They're about bad jokes, tax returns and extramarital affairs.

And that's deliberate. The super-wealthy who bankroll anti-worker politicians like Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Mitt Romney don't want anyone talking about restoring the middle class.

The influence of the super-wealthy is only growing. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed a tsunami of political cash from the .000000071%. As Stephen Colbert noted in a recent show,
...half of the money ($67 million) raised by super PACs in 2011 came from just 22 people.
Here's how it works, according to Ari Berman:
Before Citizens United, the maximum amount one person could give to a candidate was $2,500; for a political action committee, $5,000; for a political party committee, $30,800. Now, the sky’s the limit for a super PAC, and even more disturbingly, any donor can give an unlimited contribution to a 501c4 -- outfits defined by the IRS as “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare,” and to make matters worse, that contribution will remain eternally secret. In this way, American politics is descending further into the darkness, with 501c4s quickly gaining influence as “shadow super PACs.”
Disgusted yet? If not, read on about how "social welfare" groups buy our democracy a cost of $24 million, 40% of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt “social welfare” groups. The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, a leading conservative super PAC ... also runs a 501c4 called Crossroads GPS. It’s raised twice as much money as its sister group, all from donations whose sources will remain hidden from American voters. Serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare.
This is exactly why unions are more important than ever. Only through mass mobilization of working families will we get the money out of politics -- and restore the middle class.

IN labor starts massive voter registration drive

This fight isn't over.
Remember we told you that Indiana passed right-to-work-for-less law before -- and then repealed it?

That's exactly what Hoosiers intend to do again. Indiana unions already started to register voters at the Capitol during the protests last month. Now they're continuing.

According to the AFL-CIO,
Indiana Trade Unionists are in a fight for our lives, for our families and it begins with you joining our army of activists.
Our first battle is Massive Voter Registration, we need every one of our members & their communities registered to vote.
Join us for one of several free training sessions around the state to learn how to organize a mobilization effort and how we build the army we need to take back our state!
Click here to find a training near you.