Monday, April 30, 2012

Be Back Soon

Apologies - our blog is down due to technical difficulties; please visit us in a couple days for more Teamster Nation.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today's Teamster Nws 04.30.12

How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes  New York Times   ...with a handful of employees in a small office here in Reno, Apple has done something central to its corporate strategy: it has avoided millions of dollars in taxes in California and 20 other states...
Urban revolution is coming  Salon   ...There’s a parallel here to what happened back in the 1930s. When the stock market crash occurred in 1929, the real big protests didn’t start until 1933, and then you really started to see a mass movement emerging. We may be coming to that stage right now, because the depression, recession, whatever you want to call it, is not over – there’s still mass unemployment, and people are losing their houses left and right, and people are realizing that this is not just a little blip...
FEC Disclosure Loophole Closes On Secret Donors As Court Won't Stay Ruling  Huffington Post   ...A court ruling requiring non-disclosing political groups -- including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity -- to disclose their donors is one step closer to going into effect after a district court refused to stay its ruling in the face of an appeal...
Packers' Star Charles Woodson Defends WI Workers' Freedoms &   ...At a breakfast sponsored by Politico in Washington, DC, Green Bay Packers' star Charles Woodson defends Wisconsin workers' freedoms and rights...
South Bend celebrates Workers' Memorial Day Friday  WNDU   ...Local Labor Chief Tony Flora opened the ceremony with this interesting fact. Just a century ago, 12 people died building the titanic, and they were written off as a cost of business...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today's Teamster News 04.28.12

US economic growth slows to 2.2% rate, official figures show  The Guardian   ...The pace of recovery slowed in the US in the first three months of the year as government spending fell and a build-up in inventories eased...
Spanish economy in "huge crisis" after credit downgrade  Reuters   ...Unemployment shot up to 24 percent in the first quarter, one of the worst jobless figures in the developed world. Retail sales slumped for the twenty-first consecutive month as a recession cuts into consumer spending...
Report: American Corporations Are Adding More Jobs Overseas Than They Are At Home  ThinkProgress   ...Those companies, which include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., WMT +2.70% International Paper Co., Honeywell International Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc., boosted their employment at home by 3.1%, or 113,000 jobs, between 2009 and 2011, the same rate of increase as the nation’s other employers. But they also added more than 333,000 jobs in their far-flung—and faster-growing— foreign operations...
Young men in Mexico say the US no longer offers them a better future  The Guardian   ...Seismic shifts in immigration and demographics leave towns full of young men who once would have dreamed of the US...
Charity Status Of Conservative Group Challenged  NPR   ...The conservative group that has seen some corporate donors flee because of its involvement in pushing for voter ID and stand-your-ground gun laws, has new troubles. Common Cause has filed a complaint with the IRS that the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, violated the limits of its charity tax status...
CP battles with teamsters on pension, demands retraction from Pershing Square  Proactive Investors   ...CP said that discussions with the TCRC regarding changes to the company’s legacy pension plan will continue under the supervision of the conciliator appointed by the Federal Minister of Labour...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Walker's austerity a total failure

For all those who think government doesn't create jobs, we bring you Wisconsin. Frequent liar Gov. Scott Walker claims his "reforms" are working. As the chart shows, his savage job cutting is killing Wisconsin's economy.

Oh, and lookee here, a slowdown in government spending is hurting the national economy. According to the Miami Herald,
The U.S. economy expanded at a sluggish 2.2 percent annual rate from January through March, the government said Friday in a confounding report that spotlighted the continuing challenge of spurring strong growth.
Most forecasters had expected growth in the 2.5 to 3 percent range. The disappointing first-quarter number mirrored the closely watched March jobs report earlier this month, which also fell short by adding only 120,000 jobs after a string of stronger months. 
Although the headline number for the nation's gross domestic product - the sum of goods and services produced in the U.S. economy - came up short of expectations, the report's component parts offered rays of hope. They showed consumption remaining strong in a recovering private sector, while a slowdown in government spending dampened overall growth.
And don't forget what government austerity is doing to Europe (short answer: destroying its economy).

Just sayin'.

UPS worker killed on the job. It's why we mourn the dead and fight for the living.

Memorial services are held today and tomorrow for Michael Rogalle, a 39-year UPS veteran who died on the job in an SUV accident in Lower Manhattan.

He's not the only worker killed at work recently. Twelve people die at work on an average day.  Add in people who die of occupational diseases, and that number goes up to 150.

Do a quick google news search using the words "worker" and "killed" and we guarantee you'll get plenty of results.

That's why we mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.

Today, for example, the New York Daily News reports,
Manhattan crane czar James Lomma, whose greed prosecutors said led to the horrific deaths of two hardhats, was acquitted of manslaughter Thursday by a judge who offered the victims’ families not one word of explanation.
In British Columbia, CTV reports,
A massive explosion and fire at the Lakeland sawmill on Monday evening has claimed a second life.
In New England,
A newlywed and expectant father in New Hampshire was killed by an exploding beer keg. Ben Harris, 26, a worker at the Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth, was filling a plastic keg with air to remove old beer on Tuesday when it burst, peppering him with shrapnel.
The Associated Press reported a Vermont utility worker was killed at work:
53-year-old Russell Callahan was installing high speed internet service Wednesday afternoon when part of the bucket truck he was operating hit a power line. Authorities say he was electrocuted and then fell backward and hit his head. tells us
Nicholas Rutkowski, of Frenchtown, died on the job site Wednesday morning while he worked with a crew of three removing a tree at the Sky Farm nudist club on Allen Road. 
Tomorrow is International Workers Memorial Day and events are planned throughout the world. You can find a worker's memorial event near you here.

TN suppresses vote of former congressman

Thanks to the U.S. Steelworkers for this video about voter suppression in Tennessee. It's one of ALEC's favorite agenda items, part of their plan to turn America's middle class into feudal serfs.

Do you know what your voting rights are in your state? Click here to find out.

Want to fight back? Click here.

Washington Post subsidiary joined ALEC

We always wondered why the Washington Post's editorial page is so horrible. Granted, it features a few good writers, but most of them just spew corporate propaganda. And Post editors never met a job-killing trade deal they didn't love.

Now we know why so many Post columns are so awful. The Washington Post Company owns a for-profit education subsidiary. The newspaper is in a death spiral, and it's likely the Kaplan educational division has become the tail that wags The Washington Post dog.

Now the The Republic Report tells us Kaplan was a member of ALEC last year:
Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC’s Education Task Force. This morning, in an email message to Republic Report, Mark Harrad, Vice President of Communications at Kaplan, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Washington Post Company that includes Kaplan Higher Education, wrote, “A unit of Kaplan was a member of ALEC for a one year period, which ended in August 2011.” 
For-profit colleges are the ultimate special interest. Many receive around 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, more than $30 billion a year, and many charge students sky-high prices. In recent years, it has been fully documented that a large number of these schools have high dropouts rates and dismal job placement, and many have been caught engaging in highly coercive and deceptive recruiting practices. Yet when the bad actions of these predatory schools got publicly exposed, the schools simply used the enormous resources they’ve amassed to hire expensive lobbyists and consultants, and to make campaign contributions to politicians, in order to avoid accountability and keep taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers.
We also learn this about Kaplan from the New York Times:
Over the last decade, Kaplan has moved aggressively into for-profit higher education, acquiring 75 small colleges and starting the huge online Kaplan University. Now, Kaplan higher education revenues eclipse not only the test-prep operations, but all the rest of the Washington Post Company’s operations. And Kaplan’s revenue grew 9 percent during the last quarter to $743.3 million — with higher education revenues more than four times greater than those from test-prep — helping its parent company more than triple its profits. [...] 
According to 2009 data released this summer by the Department of Education, only 28 percent of Kaplan’s students were repaying their student loans. That figure is well below the 45 percent threshold that most programs will need to remain fully eligible for the federal aid on which they rely. By comparison, 44 percent of students at the largest for-profit, the University of Phoenix, were repaying their loans.
The Republic Report notes:
Donald Graham, CEO of the Washington Post Company, lobbied hard against an Obama Administration rule to hold Kaplan and other colleges accountable if their programs left the vast majority of students with insurmountable debt from student loans. The argument that Graham stressed, again and again, was that the proposed rule would harm low-income students. It was never clear how a rule that channeled federal aid toward education programs that actually helped students get training and jobs, and away from programs that ruined their lives, would harm low-income people. But now we know that Kaplan was part of ALEC, which advanced model laws on Stand Your Ground, the provision that could influence the outcome of George Zimmerman’s criminal case for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and on Voter ID, which makes it harder for low-income people, people of color, young people, the elderly, and the disabled to vote. Why did the Washington Post Company, whose CEO proclaimed that Kaplan was committed to aiding the disadvantaged, support through Kaplan an organization that was doing these things?  And why hasn’t the Post disclosed in its coverage of ALEC that its Kaplan division was recently an ALEC member?
We have another question: How on earth could anyone consider The Washington Post "the liberal media?"

Woo-hoo! RTW dead in MN

Right-to-work-for-less has been on life support for weeks in Minnesota, but yesterday it finally died. Minnesota Public Radio tells us:
The Minnesota House tabled a measure that would have let voters decide if union membership and the payment of union dues should be voluntary for all workers. Rep. Mark Buesgens made a motion to send the proposal to the Rules Committee. He told reporters before he took the action that he wanted to get the bill moving again. 
"It's obviously not getting a hearing where it's at," Buesgens told reporters. "It is very important to a large amount of my constituents. In fact, I heard more on this issue in the crowds that I hang around with than a stadium bill." 
Buesgens also told reporters that he believed his motion would be the last chance for the House to vote on the issue this session. 
"If they vote against this procedural motion, they have voted to kill Right-to-work for this session," he said. 
The House voted 118-9 to table the bill.

Today's Teamster News 04.27.12

Federal Reserve's FOMC Says Less Economic Growth for 2013-2014  Economic Populist   ... there just appears to be no more quantitative easing and beyond concerns about European sovereign debt, it appears the #1 problem America has is the piss poor jobs market in the United States...
10 Big Businesses That Barely Pay Taxes  Tax Justice Network   ...While the average American may be shelling out thousands of dollars each year in taxes to the federal government, many businesses are paying incredibly low tax rates, or none at all, despite raking in hundreds of millions in profits...
The Jobs Recovery By Industry  The Big Picture   ...The Leisure & Hospitality and Mining industry have recovered all the jobs losses, and then some.  The recovery has produced 1.25 million Professional Service jobs, almost 83 percent of those lost during the recession. Manufacturing has recovered only 21 percent of jobs losses, financial services 11 percent, retail and wholesale trade around 25 percent,  with construction faring the worst in the private sector, recovering only 1.1 percent of the 1.95 million job lost during the housing bust led recession...
Wisconsin bleeding jobs, as Gov. Scott Walker fights for his  Christian Science Monitor   ...While Wisconsin Gov, Scott Walker (R) fights to keep his job in a recall election scheduled for June, he is being forced to confront a harsh reality in his state: It lost more jobs during the past 12 months than any other state in the United States...
Teamster Funeral Directors Help Give Morgue Bodies Proper Burials  Local 727   ... Teamsters Local 727 funeral directors are volunteering their time -- and hearses -- to give proper burials to 300 bodies that have been held at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office..,  
Canadian Pacific Railway workers OK strike action to back contract demands  Canadian Press   ...The Teamsters union says workers voted 95 per cent in favour of strike action if necessary...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Huge MI protest of GE's failure to pay taxes

The 99% Spring created some agita for GE at its annual shareholders meeting in Detroit yesterday. A ton of protesters made a ruckus outside while 100 people disrupted the meeting inside. Reuters reports:

Nearly 100 protesters affiliated with the "99 Percent" populist movement disrupted General Electric Co's annual shareholders' meeting on Wednesday in an attack on the largest U.S. conglomerate's low tax rate. 
The demonstrators, who began chanting "Pay Your Fair Share" when the meeting began, were quickly ushered out of the meeting -- held in the Detroit building that houses General Motors Co's headquarters -- but could still be heard chanting protests as the meeting got underway... 
The protesters were part of the "99 Percent" movement, an offshoot of last year's Occupy Wall Street protests. Both are loosely organized around the idea that the U.S. economy no longer serves the needs of most Americans. The "99 Percent" moniker contrasts the average citizen to the nation's wealthiest... 
Taxes are a particularly thorny issue in Detroit, which is facing a severe budget crisis that is leading to sharp cuts in municipal services. 
"We're hoping that huge corporations realize they have to pay their fair share. All of our services need to be paid for, and you have places like GE and Wells Fargo that don't," said Greg Lyons, 40, of Toledo, Ohio. "Citizens pay taxes and if corporations want to be citizens, they better start paying up."
The 99% Spring is targeting shareholder meetings. Yesterday, people were arrested at Well Fargo's annual meeting. Bloomberg reported,

Wells Fargo & Co. shareholders needed police help to enter the bank's annual meeting yesterday in San Francisco as at least 500 people gathered to protest the company's lending and foreclosures. 
Sounds from the street wafted up to the 15th floor of the Merchants Exchange Building across from Wells Fargo's headquarters in the city's financial district, where Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf was interrupted at least four times by shouting. About two dozen were arrested as protesters chained themselves together to block an entrance and others made it inside, chanting as police cleared paths for attendees.
Stay tuned. There'll be lots more of this.

Stephen Colbert calls out David Koch

Time Magazine honored 100 people it deemed "most influential" earlier this week. Comedian Stephen Colbert was one of the honorees, and we fortunately have a transcript of his remarks. (Unfortunately, no video has surfaced.) We thought we'd share what he had to say about one of the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers:
Of course, all of us should be honored to be listed on the TIME 100 alongside the two men who will be slugging it out in the fall:  President Obama, and the man who would defeat him, David Koch. 
Give it up everybody.  David Koch. 
Little known fact -- David, nice to see you again, sir. 
Little known fact, David's brother Charles Koch is actually even more influential.  Charles pledged $40 million to defeat President Obama, David only $20 million.  That's kind of cheap, Dave. 
Sure, he's all for buying the elections, but when the bill for democracy comes up, Dave's always in the men's room.  I'm sorry, I must have left Wisconsin in my other coat. 
I was particularly excited to meet David Koch earlier tonight because I have a Super PAC, Colbert Super PAC, and I am -- thank you, thank you -- and I am happy to announce Mr. Koch has pledged $5 million to my Super PAC.  And the great thing is, thanks to federal election law, there's no way for you to ever know whether that's a joke. 
By the way, if David Koch likes his waiter tonight, he will be your next congressman.

Teamster astronaut (yup) running for Congress in CA

A former member of Local 601 who rose from the fields of California to a flight on the International Space Shuttle is running for Congress in California. As Joint Council 7 tells us,
Jose Hernandez is not just a former astronaut and current candidate for Congress; he also used to be a member of Local 601 and credits the Teamsters with giving him a headstart on his successful career. 
Hernandez says he spent four summers working in the canneries while studying at the University of the Pacific. “I went from a job that paid minimum wage to a union job paying $12 an hour plus benefits,” he recalls. “That was big money in those days and helped pay my tuition and keep me in school. It wouldn’t have been possible without the Teamsters Union.” 
A candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the newly formed 10th District, Hernandez met on Dec 13, 2011 with Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise and several Teamster officials seeking their endorsement.The district includes Modesto, Patterson, Tracy, Manteca, Escalon and Riverbank.
Considered the Democratic front-runner, Jose faces a June 5 primary and then (probably) a well-funded Republican opponent.

He has an inspirational story to tell. We learn from his campaign website:
Jose Hernandez was born in French Camp, California in 1962. For much of his childhood, Jose worked side by side with his parents and siblings picking crops across the San Joaquin Valley. Despite their humble beginnings, Jose’s parents always stressed to their children the importance of education and the need to work hard to achieve their dreams. After hard days in the field, Jose’s father warned his children that without an education, they would continue to work in the fields, and their future would be “on their hands.”
At the age of 9, Jose watched in amazement as Apollo 17 brought men to the moon. From that day, Jose was determined to do whatever it took to become an astronaut. With the support of his parents he laid out a roadmap for getting from the fields to the stars.   In high school he participated in Upward Bound, a program designed to give disadvantaged youth help with math and science, graduating from the University of the Pacific with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and eventually a Master’s Degree in Engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara. 
Jose went on to become an engineer at the prestigious Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.  In his time atLivermore, Jose was recognized for his work helping to develop a way to turn Cold War technology into the first full-field digital mammography imaging system, which has become an invaluable tool in increasing the early detection of breast cancer. 
Jose was also nationally recognized for his work on behalf of both the Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy on Russian nuclear non-proliferation issues.  An issue that continues to be important to him today. 
Becoming an astronaut was not automatic. Jose applied to NASA 12 times and after failing the make the cut, he strove to improve himself, received his pilot’s license, became a master SCUBA diver, and learned to speak conversational Russian.
Pretty impressive, eh?

Today's Teamster News 04.26.12

Orders for U.S. Goods Decrease by the Most in Three Years  Bloomberg   ...Slowdowns in Europe and China may limit exports, while business investment cools after the strongest 10-quarter performance in a decade, leading to a slowdown in manufacturing...
Greek anger keeps German tourists away  Reuters   ...German tourists are in short supply in Greece these days, frightened away by reports of visceral anti-German sentiment in some places, fears of being stranded by strikes and television images of fiery anti-austerity riots...
Shareholders Revolt: Are Wall Street's CEOs Worth Their Pay?  Forbes   ...The CEOs of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had a total compensation of more than $80 million in 2011–a year where the last thing you wanted to touch was a financial stock...
Reprehensible Behavior a Cornerstone of its Business Model  Financial Armageddon   ...Although I (and many others) have long been critics of Wall Street's incredibly sleazy, recklessly psychopathic, and relentlessly self-destructive underbelly, there is another corner of the financial services industry that seems to have made reprehensible behavior a cornerstone of its business model...the insurance industry seems intent on making Congress look like a bastion of honesty and ethical behavior...
Investigative Report: Koch Industries and the Wisconsin Judiciary  Badger Democracy   ...With the help of methodical and systematic co-opting of academicians and institutions, Koch influence came to Wisconsin, still under the radar in 2009 – with a little help from a “non-partisan” judge…from Waukesha County...
Pennsylvania Primary: Blue Dog Democrats Lose Seats  Huffington Post   ...(Loser Jason) Altmire was a "huge favorite" based on the geography of the new district, but "boots on the ground and the energy of working families upset that paradigm..."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MN bill would allow online driver's ed for home schoolers

A Minnesota lawmaker wants home-schooled kids to take driver's ed on-line. It's not that students should drive an actual, you know, vehicle to get their drivers' license -- the on-line learning is only for the written part of the course. It's that for-profit on-line education is draining tax dollars from public schools and weakening teachers unions.

You will not be surprised to learn ALEC is behind the push for on-line schooling.

As the MinnPost reported,
As far as political alliances go, the love affair between home-schoolers and for-profit online education companies would seem about as sweet as it gets. 
Since the goal of home schooling often is keeping kids out of public schools, the advent of the virtual school is a major boon. Sweeter still: When the cyber-academy is a charter school, with taxpayers picking up the tab for everything from hardware to curriculum.
Indeed, presidential also-ran Rick Santorum got into trouble several years ago when it was revealed that he had moved out of the state where a public school district paid a cyber charter $100,000 to home-school several of his children.
For the companies operating the schools, every new customer fattens the bottom line.
Both constituencies occupy a natural niche, then, in the far-right, pro-big-business American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which last year gave Minnesota high marks for its entry into online learning, but a mere C for its “burdensome” home-school oversight. (Yeah, like requiring actual teachers to teach courses.)
Corporations, foundations and think tanks pay thousands of dollars to join ALEC, which charges lawmakers — most of them Republicans — $50 a year to join. Legislators are treated to expenses-paid policy confabs at ritzy resort destinations where they are given model bills drafted by private-sector participants.
Education is one of the group’s largest playbooks. And some of its for-profit online members already enroll Minnesota students.

Chalk it up to another attack on working families.

Whirlpool steals water from poor MI town; water rates go up

This is just charming. Michigan's financial dictator emergency financial manager law is letting Whirlpool to steal water from the citizens of Benton Harbor. That law -- which opponents may put on the ballot for a citizens' veto in November -- allowed the governor to strip Benton Harbor citizens of their democratic rights. This is just the latest outrage, cross posted from BANCO:
It looks like Whirlpool's Harbor Shores organization has behaved again with incredible irresponsibility and arrogance. The extraordinary control that the Whirlpool Corporation has taken over the community of Benton Harbor, Michigan must have emboldened them to believe they could act with impunity. Three years ago, Harbor Shores tapped into the municipal water supply of Benton Harbor to irrigate their developing Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course. 
It is difficult to imagine how the excavation necessary to accomplish this could be done secretly. On the other hand, with so much land destruction and development happening, maybe it was easy to conceal. Somehow, Harbor Shores drew on this water without paying the city, although the residents of BH were metered and paying for water usage. This was happening while the city was bankrupt, and was being run by a despotic emergency manager, Joseph Harris, who answers only to Gov. Rick Snyder. 
About a year after this tap-in began, a water main break necessitated excavations for repairs, and the Harbor Shores splice was discovered. (Water discoloration which forced BH residents to boil their water and many to notify local gov. forced the hiring of a company to come in to do the repair work.) 
Back payment for a year of heavy water usage was sought. Harbor Shores responded by drawing irrigation water directly from the Paw Paw River. The audacious Marcus Robinson admitted in a meeting that "they" bought a pump. 
Over the past two years, water rates for a typical household in Benton Harbor have burgeoned from $30/mo. to more than $100/mo. Apparently, the emergency mgr. has decreed that the water distribution deficit resulting from Harbor Shore's pilferage would be paid for by BH residents. 
It's almost unthinkable what the corporation has put this town through in the past decades. Whirlpool Watch believes that the Whirlpool Corp. financed the recent separation of Benton Township from Benton Harbor in order to further destroy BH. BT now has it's own water system. Water provided the second largest source of income for BH, next to property taxes.

Starbuckers Song

We're counting this as a union song because many Starbucks workers -- er, baristas -- would like to form a union. You can actually sign a petition for good jobs at Starbucks (even if you don't like their coffee) here.

And for an entertaining barista's rant about his job, click here.

Slavery comes to FL potato fields

They call it trafficking. We call it slavery.

Cross-posting from the AFL-CIO:

A Florida potato grower and its labor contractor have been accused of labor trafficking and taking advantage of drug-addicted workers, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in Jacksonville by Florida Legal Services and Farmworker Justice
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, on behalf of two farm workers who say they were victims of labor trafficking and other violations of federal and state labor laws while employed in 2009 and 2010 by Bulls-Hit Ranch & Farm, a potato grower in Hastings, Fla. 
The complaint alleges that Bulls-Hit’s labor contractor, Ronald Uzzle, recruited vulnerable men from homeless shelters in urban Jacksonville, Fla., to form work crews for Bulls-Hit’s potato packing operations. 
According to the complaint, Uzzle took advantage of  drug dependencies to provide Bulls-Hit with a compliant and low-cost workforce, and that as joint employers of the workers, both Uzzle and Bulls-Hit are liable for having cheated them of wages and for damages resulting from violations of federal trafficking laws and migrant agricultural worker protection laws. Federal labor trafficking laws prohibit the procurement and exploitation of a person for labor through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
Bruce Goldstein, president of Farmworker Justice, says:
This lawsuit exposes deeply disturbing labor practices that should have no place in modern agriculture, but that all too sadly are still employed by the most unscrupulous employers.
The complaint alleges the contractor took the workers to a squalid, overcrowded labor camp, where they were supplied with decrepit housing, illegal drugs and credit to make drug and other camp purchases at interest rates of up to 100 percent. When the workers received their pay each week from Bulls-Hit, money was taken from their wages to pay for their rent, food and weekly debts. As a result, the workers were left in a constant state of destitution, indebtedness and undue dependency on their employers. Workers were afraid for their safety if they tried to leave while still indebted and were effectively indentured to their work for Bulls-Hit. 
The case is Smith et al. v. Bulls-Hit Ranch and Farm Inc. et al. and its case number is 3:12-cv-00449-MMH-TEM.
Just charming.

Testimony explains Teamsters' vote to strike Hostess

Hostess executives are taking heat for the same vulture capitalism practiced by Mitt Romney. Court documents describe in shocking detail how Hostess management looted the company and drove it into bankruptcy -- just as Romney did when he headed Bain Capital. Or as the Village Voice describes him, "American Parasite:"
Bain would slash costs, jettison workers, reposition product lines, and merge its new companies with other firms. With luck, they'd be able to dump the firm in a few years for millions more than they'd paid for it. 
But the beauty of Romney's thesis was that it really didn't matter if the company succeeded. Because he was yanking out cash early and often, he would profit even if his targets collapsed.
Bankruptcy court documents reveal Hostess executives had the cheek to disparage Teamsters' sacrifices. Hostess workers have already taken $240 million in cuts and have agreed to nearly $1.1 billion more:
The Company's theme is that bargaining unit employees and their unions have never made sacrifices and are the cause of all Hostess's difficulties. The Company appears to be on an ideological mission to take more than it needs, withdraw from multi-employer plans, terminate all retiree health insurance, ignore its employees' legitimate concerns about equality of sacrifice and the Company's future, and essentially offer nothing in return...
Well, actually they didn't offer nothing -- they offered to yank out cash for themselves in the form of raises and bonuses.
...the Debtors also moved for an order "confirming" their ability to "perform and honor their obligations" to 550 non-insiders in accordance with their Variable Pay Plans (code for "bonuses)...
When the Vikings did it, we called it looting and pillaging.

The court documents also show that Hostess executives lied about the reasons for withdrawing from the pension plan:
The Company's demand that it be permitted to withdraw from the (multi-employer pension plan) is based on the contention that unless it is able to do so, it will not be able to attract investment. But the evidence is...that credible investors have expressed a willingness to evaluate an investment without demanding withdrawal.
Hostess would have lost money even had it made zero contributions to the pension plan. Testimony by Harry Wilson, chairman of a turnaround firm, explains how mismanagement sent Hostess into bankruptcy:
Hostess' financial challenges are a result of a number of problems, largely of its own making -- years of underinvestment in products, facilities and equipment; long-term neglect of once-dominant brands; a hollowing--out of a distribution system that once provided a competitive advantage only a few short years ago when Hostess was the largest baking business in the US; a failure to innovate and develop compelling products in newer, higher-growth product segments, leaving them dangerously over-represented in the declining legacy segments; management missteps and a Board that allowed these mistakes to continue for far too long; a failure to compete effectively to acquire niche products and expand its product offering to improve its competitive position; and a grossly overleveraged capital structure imposed in the first Chapter 11 case.
There's more:
...the Company has not had a meaningfully successful new product introduction since it emerged from Chapter 11.
Management didn't even have the brains to raise prices when commodity prices went up:
...when its competitors raised bread prices by 7-12% in the first half of 2011, Hostess' net pricing was said to have only increased by 1%.
They lost money because they undercharged customers:
We have received numerous reports from Teamster RSRs of significant miscommunications with customers on pricing, including a series of under-pricing errors at 7-11, a large and important customer, which resulted in lost revenue.
They can't even keep track of their product:
Anecdotal evidence from various regional Teamster leaders ... suggest ... a complete lack of controls and an inability to track product rigorously, resulting in significant waste and loss.
Wilson found a long list of problems with management:
...poor systems, poor employee relations; a challenged culture...
And in the true spirit of Bain Capital, Hostess got so deeply in debt that it couldn't automate its bakeries or replace its ancient fleet of trucks.

There's way more, but we'll save that for another day.


Today's Teamster News 04.25.12

TARP: Billions in Loans in Doubt  Wall Street Journal   ...Hundreds of small banks can't afford to repay federal bailout loans, a top watchdog will warn Wednesday in a report that challenges the government's upbeat assessment of its financial-system rescue...
Jon Corzine Is the Original George Zimmerman  Rolling Stone   ...For almost anyone who isn’t Jon Corzine, it’s no joke to get caught stealing in America. But these people stole over a billion dollars, right out in the open, and nobody is doing anything about it...
The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of  Chronicle of Higher Education   ...On an unseasonably warm day in late March, a quarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years...
ALEC Says It Plans To Craft Legislation To Take Down State Renewable Energy Targets  ThinkProgress   ...The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a “stealth business lobbyist” that works with corporate interests to help them write and implement “model” legislation — says it may soon start crafting laws designed to kill or weaken state targets for renewable electricity, heating and fuels...
Maddow unveils ALEC’s replacement: The National Center for Public Policy  Raw Story   ... the National Center for Public Policy was expected to take over the role of the embattled American Legislative Exchange Council...
Teamsters Applaud Support for NLRB's Reform of Election Process  IBT   ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa today said he is pleased a majority of U.S. senators voted to uphold National Labor Relations Board reforms that make union representation elections more efficient...
City to pay $50,000 to settle teamsters suit  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   ...Legislation introduced last Tuesday in Pittsburgh City Council would pay $50,000 to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that the city incorrectly managed health benefits for 12 employees eligible for coverage through the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employers Health and Welfare Fund...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best state for wage theft: NY

Some will rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen.
If you're an employee, that is. New York passed a law last year that levies stiff fines for stealing workers' pay. In These Times described the penalties:
...First, it strengthened transparency and notice-keeping requirements, including requiring that employers notify workers a week ahead of time before changing wage rates or paydays.  Second, it strengthened damages, raising penalties from 25 percent of unpaid wages to 100 percent, which will now increase if employers don’t pay up within 90 days. Finally, it strengthened protections for workers who come forward: The law established fines of up to $10,000 for retaliation, expanded its definition, and extended its protection to workers who step up to advocate for their co-workers.
New York's working people are learning about the law through workers centers, attorneys and the news media. New York employers are learning to take the law seriously. A New York City restaurant, Veranda, had to pay $150,000 to 25 workers for wage theft, and an additional $50,000 to two workers who were fired after they complained their wages were being stolen.

Miami-Dade County also has a wage-theft law, which anti-worker lawmakers tried to overturn a few months ago. (Think about it. Making it illegal to make theft illegal.) The Florida Retail Federation sued the county on the grounds the ordinance was unconstitutional. Fortunately, the judge would have none of it and called the law a "responsible and reasonable exercise of government authority."

And if punishing theft isn't a reasonable exercise of government authority, we'd like to know what is.

1971 Memo to Kochs: Take over the government

ALEC's granddaddy.
Today is the anniversary of the memo that soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote to corporate America (okay, we admit it, not just the Kochs) to take over the dominant public institutions of American society.

Powell, then an attorney from Richmond, Va., laid out a blueprint for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to dominate democracy. Greenpeace describes the his argument this way: leaders would have to ... begin marshalling their resources to influence prominent institutions of public opinion and political power -- especially the universities, the media and the courts. The memo emphasized the importance of education, values, and movement-building. Corporations had to reshape the political debate, organize speakers’ bureaus and keep television programs under “constant surveillance.” Most importantly, business needed to recognize that political power must be “assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination – without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.”
Here's what the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers took to heart:
Since business executives had “little stomach for hard-nosed contest with their critics” and “little skill in effective intellectual and philosophical debate,” it was important to create new think tanks, legal foundations, front groups and other organizations.
That was where anti-worker, anti-middle class organizations like ALEC (1973),  Heritage Foundation (1973), the Cato Institute (1977), the Manhattan Institute (1978), Citizens for a Sound Economy (1984 - now Americans for Prosperity) and Accuracy in Academe (1985).

Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 04.24.12

For first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave U.S. than enter  Washington Post   ...A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center...
Strike hit Italy rages against Monti’s labour reforms  Labour Start  ...Thousands have taken to streets of the Italian capital Rome to protest over government plans to introduce legislation that will make it easier for companies to sack employees...
Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons  CBS MoneyWatch   ...How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe...
Occupy Movement Looks Toward Political Conventions  New York Times   ... as many as 60 groups have signed on to join the Coalition to Protest at the D.N.C. In Florida, Occupy Tampa is involved in planning similar efforts for the Republican National Convention, which will be held there in August...
Home construction goes the "Made in America" route  Manufacture This   ...A Virginia home construction worker has taken on the challenge of building a house that's entirely made in America...
Procter & Gamble Becomes 13th Company To Drop ALEC  ThinkProgress   ...The good government group Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS today contesting ALEC’s charitable tax status, arguing it is actually a lobby group getting preferential tax treatment...
Federal Judge Finds Jimmy John's Guilty of Illegally Firing Whistleblowers in Sick Day Campaign : Long Delay in Legal Process Demonstrates Dysfunction of US Labor Law  IWW   ...A federal judge has ordered Jimmy John's to reinstate six workers fired by franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan over a year ago for blowing the whistle on company policies that expose customers to sandwiches made by sick workers...

Monday, April 23, 2012

This is what we union thugs do in Grant Park

We raise money to support families battling breast cancer.

Teamsters Joint Council 25's Women's Committee is helping to run the 21st Annual Y-ME Race at Your Pace 5K Run and 3 & 1 mile Walks on Mother's Day, May 13.

Over the years, 2,500 Chicago Teamsters and their families have run or walked the race. Joint Council 25 has contributed more than $250,000 for the Y-ME charity.

Teamsters Local 727 in Chicago reports,
Y-ME provides support to more than 40,000 callers per year via the one-of-a-kind Y-Me Hotline. People touched by breast cancer – patients and their loved ones – can call to speak to a breast cancer survivor and be understood in 150 languages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Y-ME also sponsors a wig and prosthesis program, a survivor match program and support groups across the country.
Joint Council President John Coli encourages Teamsters to contribute to Y-ME:
This cause is one that is near and dear to our union. Many of our members have battled and are still battling breast cancer. We are immensely proud to support Y-Me and its outstanding programs.
And don't forget -- "thugs" stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys (and Gals)..

Teamsters strike Red Cross over safety (video)

We'll let this very well done video speak for itself.

The US is a low-wage country

Isn't this special. The United States has a higher percentage of workers in low-wage work than any other developed country, according to a new study.

Mark Thoma, reporting for CBS News on the report by the Center for Economic Policy Research, wrote,
...the US leads developed countries in the share of workers earning low wages. The research also shows that increased wage polarization over the last several decades is one of the reasons for the large share of low wage-work in the US.... 
...the share of employees earning low wages has increased from 22 percent in 1979 to 28 percent in 2009. Thus, we have more people at the extremes of the distribution, and fewer in the middle.
The report, written by John Schmitt, also concludes that low-wage work doesn't lead to high-wage work:
Not only are low-wage workers likely to stay in low-wage jobs from one year to the next, they are also more likely than workers in higher-wage jobs to fall into unemployment or to leave the labor force altogether. From 1995 through 2001, for example, about half or more of low-wage workers in Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States remained in low-wage work from one year to the next, and between 8 and 23 percent of low-wage workers left the workforce year-to-year.
Collective bargaining can fix that, you know.

Another Teamster running for office in Indiana

A whole lot of union members in Indiana are furious and they're doing something about it.

Hoosiers are fighting to take back the government and repeal the right-to-work-for-less law that took effect in March. The largest class ever of union members is now running for state senate and representative. Four of the 55 are Teamsters.

We've introduced Jim Kincaid and Jim Cahill to you. Now we'd like you to meet Brad Thompson, president of Local 1070 and candidate for Indiana state Senate from District 7. Here's his website and here's his Facebook page. You know what to do!

"The guy I'm running against, he's got a crappy record and lots of money," Brad told us last week. "What's nice is that this seat was held by Democrats." Brad's rural roots go deep in his rural district, as his grandparents farmed there and he has years of experience working for corn and soybean processors.

Here's why he's running:
...its time the citizens of the 7th district have a working class Senator. The system is broke and we can't depend on career politicians to look out for the concerns of the working middle class. Indiana legislature is set up to meet only two months of the year setting it up to be a citizens legislature. So its time to send one of our own to Indianapolis to look out for the working class interest.
Brad said he went to the anti-RTW4Less rallies in Indianapolis over the winter and wasn't impressed with the quality of Indiana's representatives. "They talked down to us, acted arrogant. The atmosphere right now is great for me to run and we've got a lot of mad union voters. Get people energized and anything can happen."

He anticipates a busy summer of knocking on doors to counter his opponent's financial advantage. He has two daughters, one a UAW member and one who wants to be a labor lawyer. (Good parenting, Brad!) They're helping him with the Facebook and the Twitter.

"We're doing it for our kids," he said. "This is the first generation that can't expect to do better than their parents."

Oh, and he'll vote to repeal right-to-work-for-less all right if he's elected.

Wondering who the fourth Teamster is? It's Jerrod Warnock, business agent for Local 135. He's running for state representative in South Bend. We'll be featuring him soon.

Europe's 99% isn't taking it anymore

Europeans are mad as hell about the austerity forced on them by the 1%. They're protesting in the streets and kicking their governments out of office. In Iceland, a jury just now convicted the former prime minister of negligence leading up to the global financial crisis. (He won't be punished, though.)

U.S. policy makers should take a hard look at how those ticked-off Europeans are fighting against the needless suffering caused by their financial elites. Especially as new figures on Medicare and Social Security will be released today. America's 1% would just love to get rid of these popular and efficient social programs so vital to the health of our economy. They should keep an eye on Europe.
In the Czech Republic on Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the government's budget cuts. The Truth is Now reports,
Tens of thousands of Czechs have taken to the streets in the capital city of Prague in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations since the fall of communism to protest against austerity measures. 
Unions, pensioners, student associations and others infuriated by austerity cuts took part in a protest rally on Saturday, chanting “Enough is enough.” The protesters demanded the government’s resignation over reforms and budget cuts and called for early parliamentary elections as they blame the country’s budget deficit on capitalism, the government and spending cuts. 
Unions have promised more protests and civil disobedience to paralyze the government unless their legitimate demands are met.
The Dutch government fell after the Netherlands' populist party rejected more austerity. France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, lost the first round of elections to a Socialist who opposes his severe budget-cutting. According to Bloomberg,
Europe’s backlash against austerity gained momentum, in a challenge to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s budget-cutting prescriptions for resolving the debt crisis. 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost the first round of his re-election bid and a revolt against extra spending cuts in the traditionally budget-conscious Netherlands propelled Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coalition toward an early breakup. 
Together with anti-austerity rumblings in a campaign for elections in Greece, the shift in grass-roots sentiment at the heart of Europe generated fresh doubts about the German-driven strategy for getting to grips with the two-year-old crisis.
In Iceland, former prime minister Geir Haarde was convicted today on one count of negligence in the run-up to the global financial collapse. Iceland's three biggest banks collapsed, and Haarde was the only world leader to be prosecuted. According to Foreign Policy,
The case against him was based partly on the charge that he had ignored the economic recommendations of a government committee in 2006. The notion of prosecuting a politician for ignoring sound advice seems pretty odd in the U.S. political context, though under the principle of "ministerial responsibility" that, in theory at least, prevails in parliamentary systems, ministers are held responsible for the actions of their subordinates, even if they are not solely to blame. 
Of course, criminal liability for an act of mere incompetence is another thing entirely. As I wrote in 2010, Haarde was charged under a century-old Icelandic law, which has never before been invoked, that "stipulates that ministers can be held responsible not just for actions that put the country in danger, but for not taking action to prevent that danger."

Walker chasing jobs out of WI (video)

Nothing fancy here -- just the facts. Wisconsin was dead last in job creation last year. (You wouldn't know it listening to pathetic liar Gov. Scott Walker, who spends all his time flying around the country collecting checks from his rich friends.)

Today's Teamster News 04.23.12

1 in 2 new graduates are jobless or unemployed  Associated Press   ...Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides...
The geography of unemployment  Econbrowser   ...The states which had experienced the biggest run-up in real-estate prices between 2000 and 2005-- California, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Florida-- were among those hit hardest by the recession and today are the places having the most difficult time recovering....
IMF encourages Europe's economic suicide  The Telegraph   ...China, Japan, America, the oil powers, and the rising economies of Latin America had a chance to pull Europe back from suicide through IMF pressure. The world dropped the ball...
Chris Whalen: The Fallacy of “Too Big To Fail”–Why the Big Banks Will Eventually Break Up  Financial Sense   ...the little community bank or non-bank lender is really the only business model out there that makes sense, whereas the big banks I think are just going to fly apart because the economics are not there any more...
State Republicans: Votes for fake Democrats help our cause  Green Bay Press Gazette   ...Fake Democratic candidates are running in all six recall elections that target Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four state Senate seats...
Hoffa: America's Recovery Depends On Good, Green Jobs  IBT   ..."As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day this year, I am reminded of how far our union has come over the last decade since first forging our alliance with our partners in the environmental movement...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today's Teamster News 04.22.12

Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist  New York Times   ... special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes...
Independent and Principled? Behind the Cato Myth  The Nation   ...The same pundits who only yesterday fell over themselves defending the billionaire Koch brothers as principled libertarians now denounce their benefactors as venal Republican Party warmongers out to crush the Cato Institute’s “nonpartisan” “independent” “scholarship” for the crime of being, yes, principled libertarians...
Vast Mexico Bribery Case Hushed Up by Wal-Mart After Top-Level Struggle  New York Times   ...bribery played a persistent and significant role in Wal-Mart’s rapid growth in Mexico, where Wal-Mart now employs 209,000 people, making it the country’s largest private employer...
Mitt Romney, American Parasite  Village Voice   ...While Georgetown was beginning its descent to bankruptcy, Romney was helping himself to the company’s treasury...
Regional and State Employment and Unemployment -- March 2012  Bureau of Labor Statistics   ...The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Wisconsin (-0.9 percent)...
The growing optimism on housing is not justified  Credit Writedowns   ...the significant number of potential foreclosures that were held back by the scandal will now begin to be processed and show up in future inventories. It is highly likely that the vast number of distressed houses coming into the market will depress prices even more in the period ahead...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today's Teamster News 04.21.12

Multinational Corporations Are Hiring....Abroad That Is  Economic Populist   ...from 1999 to 2009, U.S. MNCs (multinational corporations) decreased U.S. employment by 1 million workers while expanding employment abroad by 2.9 million...
Lessons Learned From A Trade Case — SolarWorld CEO Warns Others To Pay Heed: Your Industry Could Be The Next To Go  Trade Reform   ...The United States government has to start aggressively confronting foreign governments — particularly China — that are targeting and destroying American industries and jobs, according to the president and CEO of SolarWorld, the country’s largest producer of solar panels...
The American Conservative: "Extractive Elites" and "Macro-Corruption"  Angry Bear   ...Ordinary Americans who work hard and seek to earn an honest living for themselves and their families appear to be suffering the ill effects of exactly this same sort of elite-driven economic pillage. The roots of our national decline will be found at the very top of our society, among the One Percent, or more likely the 0.1 percent...
Republican Whipping-Boy Illinois Beats Wisconsin on Jobs  Bloomberg News   ...Illinois gained 32,000 jobs in the 12 months ending in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. Wisconsin, where Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs with the help of business-tax breaks, lost 16,900...
Scott Walker gives 218 state workers $765,000 in bonuses and raises after public workers took cuts  DailyKos   ...If you're already high up the food chain, you should be eligible for more, regardless of the state's budget situation. If you're just another worker making sure kids are educated or streets are safe, you should face cuts and be blamed for budget problems...
Teamsters Remain Committed To Reaching Fair Agreement With Hostess Execs To Save Company, Jobs  IBT   ...“We want an agreement. And we remain ready and willing, as we have all along, to negotiate in good faith. We hope the company, which has been dragging its feet and engaging in regressive bargaining, is finally serious too.”...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mitch Daniels gets the Scott Walker treatment in IL. Heh-heh.

Another bad governor.
Corporate stooge Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels wasn't any more welcome in Illinois on Thursday than frequent liar Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was on Tuesday.

An estimated 4,000 people in Springfield told Walker to go home because he pushed a law to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights. An estimated 5,000 people in Champaign told Daniels the same thing because he pushed a right-to-work-for-less law (which will be repealed, we're telling you).

Here's the story of Daniels' unfortunate visit to the Land of Lincoln, (Labor Champion), according to the News-Gazette:

As many as 5,000 labor union members and supporters crowded into a corner parking lot at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall Thursday to hear union leaders excoriate Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and warn about anti-union legislation in Illinois. 
Daniels was scheduled to speak to a Champaign County Republican Party dinner in Champaign Thursday night. 
Many of the union members, dressed in bright T-shirts and holding signs condemning Daniels, took large buses to the rally. Thirty buses were lined up in a separate Assembly Hall parking lot. 
After a series of speeches by Illinois and Indiana union leaders, the large crowd marched peacefully to a hotel two blocks away where Daniels was to speak. Police set up barricades around the hotel, but permitted people to come and go from the parking lot. The protesters had been told, however, to stay off the hotel property.
Joe Breedlove, secretary-treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said the membership is angry. And, he said,
...of the 125 legislative seats up for election this year, 55 members of organized labor have decided to jump in and run for those seats. It will take some time but we will fix this.
Four of those are our Teamster brothers: Local presidents Jim Cahill (Local 716) and Brad Thompson (Local 1070) are running for state senate. Jim Kincaid from Local 89 and Jerrod Warnock from Local 135 are running for state representative.

We think they'd get a warmer welcome in Illinois than Daniels.

Scott Walker thinks he's Abe Lincoln

Good president.
Scott. We knew Abe Lincoln. Abe Lincoln was a friend of ours. You're no Abe Lincoln.

Walker actually had the nerve to compare himself to the Great Emancipator when he went to Springfield, Ill., this week to collect checks from his rich friends. According to NBC,

Walker predicted he would win the recall, then invoked Lincoln, another controversial politician who’d had “the courage to move the state forward.”
“What has made America great is that we’ve had men and women who’ve had the courage to think about their children and their grandchildren, not about their political careers,” he said.

Bad governor.
Larry Spivack, president of the Illinois Labor History Society, says Lincoln probably turned over in his grave. Spivack pointed out some of the differences for GateHouse News Service:

Abraham Lincoln believed that a robust working class was the engine that could drive American prosperity. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed,” President Lincoln told Congress in 1861. “Labor is the superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” In contrast, Scott Walker gave tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations in the name of creating jobs... 
Lincoln also believed that all workers should have the power to strike as a means of ensuring fair treatment. While seeking the GOP presidential nomination in Connecticut in 1860, he praised a work stoppage by local shoemakers, saying, “I am glad to see that a system of labor prevails in New England under which laborers can strike when they want to … and wish it might prevail everywhere.” 
Today, as corporate and political forces conspire to divide workers against one another, it is instructive to note that Lincoln prized solidarity. “The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relationship, should be one uniting all working people,” he wrote in 1864. Yet 150 years later, Walker and his ilk encourage and thrive on discord and division, setting workers in the private sector against those in the public service, or those who have a union versus those not organized yet.
Nor was Abe Lincoln in the habit of killing jobs, as Walker is. Last month, the Dairyland Dictator managed to scare off another 4,500 jobs. Quite an accomplishment, considering Wisconsin had the worst job-creation record in the country last year. 50 out of 50.

We're mad as hell and we're not gonna take ALEC any more

The creepy corporate lobbying group known as ALEC is losing members in droves. Both corporate members and the state politicians they influence are announcing their withdrawal from the group.

Gawker offers this great description of ALEC, aka the American Legislative Exchange Council:
... a national clearinghouse of pre-written right-wing bills, helpfully provided to conservative state legislators too dumb to come up with their own ideas...Basically, ALEC is the highway rest stop where huge corporations meet with state legislators to draft — or just hand over — "model legislation" that the lawmakers can take back to their home states...
Louisiana Rep. Greg Cromer, the ALEC state chairman for Louisiana, is a recent defector from the group. He quit in a huff, exposing ALEC's pervasive influence in the state by doing so. The Louisiana Voice blog ran a magnificent post about the whole affair. We bring you this excerpt:
Every living, breathing soul in Louisiana should emulate the late actor Peter Finch in the movie Network and call his or her legislators and repeat that classic line: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” 
Every living, breathing soul in Louisiana should then pose this question to their respective legislators, especially to those have accepted bribes…er, campaign money from ALEC and Jindal: “Why are you not putting the interests of your constituents ahead of those of Piyush ‘ATM’ Jindal and the corporatocracy of the American Legislative Exchange Council?” 
And ask your legislators if they are so weak-willed that they cannot ask tough, intelligent questions or challenge the governor? Are they so inept and so disconnected with the people of this state that it has somehow become necessary to allow the corporate members of ALEC, many of whom do not even pay taxes (see Wednesday’s LouisianaVoice post), to determine which laws and policies are best for the State of Louisiana? 
Ask them if things are really so muddled up in Baton Rouge that decisions affecting millions of lives in this state must now be made by a series of consultants at contract costs that are draining the state of dollars faster than any of the state pension unfunded accrued liabilities? 
And finally, while you’re at it, demand that the legislature go back and undo everything it has done in the name of Piyush and ALEC. All ALEC/Jindal-sponsored bills that have been approved by committees, the House and the Senate should be proclaimed null and void by acclamation. Tell the legislators that everything they have done to this point is tainted by the stain and smell of ALEC. 
Send emails, make phone calls and if they don’t respond, you go back, Jack…, and do it again. And again. Keep asking until you get an answer.

Bank of America's embarrassing fake website

A band of merry pranksters who call themselves the Yes Men posted a fake Bank of America website that ridiculed the second-largest financial institution.

The website,, fooled the Dow Jones Newswire for a few hours until it posted a correction.

The website features a message from CEO Brian Moynihan saying,
Today, it's time to acknowledge that our Bank isn't working anymore—not just for the market, but for people, our real customers. We've paid $8.58 billion in relief to borrowers and $3.24 billion in fines. We face lawsuits and claims from citizens, companies, and state and local governments. There is even a petition with the Federal Reserve to break up our bank, adding yet more uncertainty to our position. Finally, we've found ourselves front-and-center in the national foreclosure crisis... 
The website can't be making the troubled bank happy. It has a section where readers can post suggestions for improving the bank. According to The Huffington Post, some suggestions are more constructive than others:
"I want my bank to lay out all potential charges on my card usage and accounts to be in a clear and understandable term sheet before any charges are incurred," one comment stated. 
"Banks need to offer investment opportunities that focus on local needs and small businesses," another stated. 
"I would like you to feature a photo of Brian Moynihan with his head up his ass!" declared a third.
The website looks almost exactly like the bank's real website, with the same soothing corporate tone.

The Yes Men say their mission is to impersonate big-time criminals in order to publicly humiliate them.
Our targets are leaders and big corporations who put profits ahead of everything else.
Sounds like a plan.

Today's Teamster News 04.20.12

KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut's Owner Is the 12th Corporation To Drop ALEC  ThinkProgress   ...Yum! Brands, the owner of fast food brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut told Color of Change that they will no longer support the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing front group that, until recently, was a driving force behind state voter suppression and “stand your ground” gun laws...
Foreclosure ripple effect: 8.3 million children in jeopardy  MSNBC who switch schools have lower levels of math and reading achievement, even after controlling for other factors such as poverty...
A Study On Speculation in the OIl Market For Those Economists Who Have Apparently Not Seen It  Jesse's Cafe Americain   ...speculation contributed about fifteen percent to the increase in prices in the oil market during a recent price increase...
Text messages distracted pilot who botched landing, safety probe finds  The Star   ...An Australian Jetstar plane failed to make a proper landing at Singapore’s Changi International Airport after the captain was distracted by incoming text messages on his cellphone, while the first officer “probably” suffered from fatigue, a transportation safety body ruled Thursday...
Bankruptcy  judge gives Hostess more time  The Deal   ...Judge Robert D. Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains on Tuesday, April 17, approved a 90-day extension of the company's exclusive right to file a plan and solicit acceptances to it, to Aug. 8 and Oct. 7, respectively, a company spokesman said...
Teamsters Local 175 back at work following Coca-Cola strike  Bluefield Daily Telegraph   ...A union strike that started Thursday ended the same day after its leaders reached an agreement with a soft drink bottling company...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CEO pay is 380 times average worker pay

Yup, CEOs at the largest U.S. companies earned an average of $12.9 million a year, 380 times the wage of the average worker last year.

That's according to the AFL-CIO, which renamed its annual "Executive PayWatch" site as "CEO Pay and the 99%."

Reports CNN Money,

The data are searchable on the website, which is run by the union group. The site will eventually post CEO pay for all 500 companies as that data is released in proxies submitted to the SEC.
In 1980, CEOs at the largest companies received 42 times the pay of the average worker, according to the union. In 2000 the gap hit a high, with CEOs making 525 times the average worker.In 2010, the gap narrowed, with CEOs making 343 times the average worker.
And as we're all painfully aware, median pay for workers is actually falling.

It matters. A lot. Not just to workers who have to take pay cuts so CEOs can loot the companies they've been entrusted to manage. It's bad for investors (which include pension funds). As Robert Reich wrote,
Institutional investors are catching on to a truth they should have understood years ago: When executive pay goes through the roof, there’s less money left for everyone else who owns shares of the company.