Friday, June 29, 2012

'Scrap the cap' say geezer hip-hop artists

Foxconn isn't the only sweatshop making iPhones

A new report by China Labor Watch finds that the notorious Foxconn factory in Shenzhen isn't the only sweatshop Apple uses. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute:
China Labor Watch ... found working conditions at the Foxconn factory to be severe, with workers employed long hours at low pay under harsh living conditions. The CLW report also breaks new ground in three areas.  The report finds ... for instance, that employees in most of the factories typically work 11 hours a day and can only take one day off a month (low wage levels and management pressure compel them to work such hours); that employee dorms are frequently overcrowded, dirty and lacking in facilities; and that there is little ability for workers at Apple suppliers to push for reasonable working conditions on their own. 
As bad as working conditions at Foxconn are, they are even worse at some of the other factories in China that supply Apple. The report flags the three Riteng factories investigated as particularly difficult places to work. ... Riteng workers typically work 12 hours per day nearly every day of the year (including weekends and holidays), compared to 10 hours per day at the Foxconn factories, with some days off.  The average wage for the Riteng workers amounts to $1.28 per hour, or well below the already quite low average hourly wage of $1.65 for Foxconn workers. Health and safety conditions are much worse at the Riteng factories than at the Foxconn factory, and living conditions are worse for the Riteng workers as well. 
Certain serious labor problems have so far been neglected in the discussion of work practices at Apple suppliers in China.  In particular, the new report documents the troubling yet common practice by Apple suppliers of using dispatched labor. This practice enables factories to reduce the compensation and benefits they provide to their workers, makes it even easier to compel workers to work exceptionally long overtime hours, and creates damaging uncertainty over who is responsible for any worker injuries.
ComputerWorld magazine points out that sweatshop conditions exist in many overseas computer factories, not just Apple's suppliers:
In a report last year, China Labor Watch warned: "Foxconn should not bear the only responsibility for worker suicides: Apple, HP, Dell and other international OEMs should also be held responsible, as their goal of profit maximization comes at the cost of workers' wages and sub-optimal working conditions." 
That's the rub: Apple this year seems to have become the company everybody wants to hate. That's inevitable, of course, because everybody hates you when you become successful (in the words of Morrisey), but that focus on Cupertino shouldn't blind critics to the grim reality that every large or small-scale worker abuse within the Apple value chain is almost inevitably being repeated across the supply chain of every other consumer electronics firm: Dell, HP, you name them.  

WTO shafts US consumers again today

Or not.
Workers got the SHAFTA again today, with the World Trade Organization ruling foreign food processors don't have to identify where beef, pork and some fresh produce come from.

This is just great. Just as we learn there's formaldehyde sprayed on cabbages and kebabs made from cat meat in China, the WTO says American consumers don't have the right to know where their food comes from.

Reports Bloomberg:
U.S. country-of-origin labeling provisions violate global trade law and unfairly curb agricultural commerce, World Trade Organization judges said as they upheld an earlier ruling backing Canada and Mexico. 
Under U.S. law in force since March 2009, food processors must identify the nations from which cattle, hogs and some fresh produce originate. The legislation has its roots in the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in a Canadian-bred animal in 2003. 
Canada and Mexico said the provisions impose unjust costs on their exports, reducing their competitiveness. They complained at the Geneva-based WTO in December 2008, challenging provisions of the U.S. Food, Conservation and Energy Act that impose mandatory country-of-origin labeling, known as COOL, for beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat as well as some perishables sold by U.S. retailers.
Maybe it's time to buy that iPhone app that tracks China's food scandals.

Murder rate soars in Stockton

Homicides are rising in Stockton, the bankrupt California city that has already cut its police force by more than a quarter.

Reports Business Insider,
The city has cut more than $90 million in spending over the past few years, specifically in its police department. The city has cut over one quarter of its police jobs, which has led to a "surge in murders," and has created an "emboldened criminal element" in the city. According to police spokesman Joe Silva, the city has had 87 murders since the start of 2011, 29 of which have already occurred this year. In contrast, there were 35 murders in 2009 and 48 in 2010. With six months left in the year, there have already been more murders in the city since the start of 2011 than the two-year stretch of 2009-2010.
Financial Armageddon blogger Michael Panzner notes that crime hasn't increased much despite the deteriorating U.S. economy (11.1 percent drop in wages between 2007-11). thing we haven't seen is a dramatic rise in illegal activity, despite evidence, as sociologist Steven Box concluded in his 1977 book, Recession, Crime, and Punishment, that a "deterioration in material circumstances [leads] to more crime." 
Some have argued -- probably rightly so -- that the reason why things are different this time is because an extraordinary large percentage of Americans are currently in prison. Others maintain that the modern social safety net has alleviated at least some of the pressure that turns law-abiding citizens into opportunistic criminals. Regardless, a report at Business Insider, "Stockton Goes Bankrupt And Already The Murder Rate Is Soaring," suggests we may be getting closer to the point where economic circumstances and social conditions are more closely in synch...
Let's hope not.

Today's Teamster News 06.29.12

U.S. exempts China, Singapore from Iran sanctions  Agence France-Press   ...The United States on Thursday exempted China and Singapore from sanctions over purchases of oil from Iran hours before a deadline, saying that major economies were united in pressuring Tehran...
Pending trade agreement prompts warnings  Trade Reform   ...U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown Wednesday joined a Ford Motor Company vice president and Teamster President James B. Hoffa to announce an effort to prevent what they called another NAFTA-style agreement that could undermine Ohio manufacturing and automotive jobs...
Big Banks Have Become Mafia-Style Criminal Enterprises  Washington's Blog   ...banking giants Mellon and State Street shaved money off of virtually every pension transaction they handled over the course of decades, stealing collectively billions of dollars from pensions worldwide:...
4 Reasons Why Republicans Won’t Be Able To Repeal Obamacare  ThinkProgress   ...unless the GOP wins a super majority in the Senate — a scenario no one thinks is plausible — it can do little more than weaken Obamacare’s regulations and defund some of its provisions...
Prosecutors want to bolster charges against Doe defendant  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf filed a motion this week seeking to amend a criminal complaint against Rindfleisch to show massive email evidence of her alleged fundraising contacts while at her job as policy adviser and deputy chief of staff to Walker in his final year as Milwaukee County executive....
Teamsters Ratify Coca-Cola Contract, Ending 6-Week Strike  Hartford Courant   ...Ending a six-week strike, Teamsters voted 169 to 71 late Thursday to ratify an offer from Coca-Cola, where 350 union members work at the East Hartford bottling plant and warehouse....

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Google makes wi-fi media player in USA

Here's good news: Google is manufacturing nearly all of its new wireless home media player in America.

Trade Reform tells us:
Etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.” 
The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. “We’ve been absent for so long, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try it and see what happens?’ ” said Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business. 
Google is not saying a lot about its domestic manufacturing, declining even to disclose publicly where the factory is in Silicon Valley. It also is not saying much about the source of many of its parts in the United States. And Mr. Rubin said the company was not engaged in a crusade. 
Still, the project will be closely watched by other electronics companies. It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry.
We've pointed out time and again that manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.

Trade Reform mentions some of the reasons it MAY be on the rebound:
Rising labor and energy costs have made manufacturing in China significantly more expensive; transportation costs have risen; companies have become increasingly aware of the risks of the theft of intellectual property when products are made in China; and in a business where time-to-market is a competitive advantage, it is easier for engineers to drive 10 minutes on the freeway to the factory than to fly for 16 hours. 
Read the whole thing -- it's worth it -- here.

Red Sox star soaks Rhode Island taxpayers

A small-government multimillionaire -- who happens to be a Boston Red Sox legend -- is soaking Rhode Island taxpayers for tens of millions of dollars.

It wasn't his fault, though, according to an interview with the Christian Science Monitor:
Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling said Friday that the collapse of his 38 Studios video game company has probably cost him his entire baseball fortune, and he placed part of the blame on Rhode Island officials, including Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Schilling sounds a lot like people who blame government workers for government budget shortfalls. But corporate giveaways are a big part of the problem.

Here's a typical example of blaming workers from a Bloomberg story about North Las Vegas:
The city’s travails mirror those of municipalities across the nation including Detroit; Providence, Rhode Island; and Stockton, California. They have struggled to contend with the costs of workers’ retirements and health care as the national economy fell into the longest recession since the 1930s, revenue flagged and population dwindled. 
Nearly all the media coverage of the bankruptcy of Stockton, Calif., focuses on pension and health care costs. But The Motley Fool points to corporate giveaways as well:
According to Standard & Poor's, 52% of the city's budget already goes to paying the local constabulary, and another 30% more to paying firefighters. But the balance must cover everything from maintenance and street lights to paying off debts rung up during the boom.
A minor league baseball stadium that was originally seen as costing $20 million.
$22.4 million to build a marina (which was supposed to pay for itself, but actually consumes $700,000 in city subsidies annually).
$63 million for a new hockey arena.
Perhaps Rhode Island, like Stockton, thought a corporate giveaway would solve its high unemployment problem, now at 11 percent. So perhaps that's why Rhode Island listened when Shilling came to them with his proposal. In exchange for $75 million in loan guarantees, he'd move 38 Studios, his fledgling video game company, to the state and create 450 jobs.

The state should have been forewarned that Shilling isn't the brightest bulb in the marquee of life. Soon after  he won Game 6 of the 2004 World Series (with a bleeding ankle, no less), he jeopardized his hero status in deep blue Massachusetts by campaigning for George W. Bush. Schilling explained he was for "small government," misunderstanding that Bush dramatically increased government during his presidency.

So Small Government Schilling took his loan guarantee, moved 38 Studios to Providence and promptly went bankrupt. Four hundred people lost their jobs. Rhode Island taxpayers now owe his creditors $116 million -- at last count. And Small Government Schilling is complaining that government didn't do enough for him.

Now if only he can figure out how to blame government workers. Oh wait, he did:
...he said public comments made by Chafee last month questioning the firm's solvency were harmful as the firm tried — but failed — to raise private capital to stay afloat.

Today's Teamster News 06.28.12

Single Payer Fight to Intensify in States if Court Strikes Down Health Care Law  firedoglake   ... if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, is that this will afford an opportunity to return to the public with a full-throated call for “Medicare for All,” a single-payer system that would use taxes to fund health coverage for all of the country’s citizens, as is done throughout the world. This would reduce administrative costs and create added bargaining power to lower costs throughout the system...
JPMorgan Trading Loss May Reach $9 Billion  DealBook   ...the sharply higher loss totals will feed a debate over how strictly large financial institutions should be regulated and whether some of the behemoth banks are capitalizing on their status as too big to fail to make risky trades....
Uninsured and fighting blazes: Welcome to the life of a federal firefighter  Wonkblog   ...many federal firefighters are temporary employees, who only work six months out of the year (although as Lauer describes it, they can often work a full year’s worth of hours with the long shifts). Under federal regulations, temporary employees of the Forest Service do not receive benefits. That means no health care and no retirement pension...
Atwater hopes to reform flawed contracting process by exposing it to sunlight  Miami Herald   ...Florida will spend $47 billion this year hiring outsiders to provide goods and services for the state but hundreds of the contractors will not be required to show they provided services they agreed to and their documentation will be rife with errors...
Stockton, California’s Bankruptcy Makes 'Normal' Cities Nervous  Governing   ...Unlike many high-profile bankruptcies, Stockton’s financial woes are the result of many different factors that are not unusual for many localities....
Bill aims to prevent loss of auto jobs  Detroit News   ...nternational Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa — on a conference call with Brown and a Ford Motor Co. trade executive — said the administration should be careful about new trade agreements...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Biggest U.S. food stamp recipient: Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, Wal-Mart employees are the top recipients of Medicaid. As many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores use food stamps. 
The Winning Words blog asks,
When will Congress take up legislation that imposes severe fines on mulit-billion dollar corporations who line their pockets at the expense of taxpayers by refusing to pay their employees a 2012 wage and use government programs to supplement their payrolls?
As Wal-Mart celebrates its 50th anniversary, Teamsters are proudly supporting the campaign against the giant retailer. Town halls, teach-ins and protests are being held around the country on June 30 to highlight Walmart’s legacy of underpaying workers and ripping off communities.

Southern California Teamsters will join an anti-Wal-Mart rally on Saturday, where International Vice President Randy Cammack will speak. Here's how Making Change at Wal-Mart describes the event:
10,000 Southland residents concerned about the growth of L.A.’s low wage economy and the influence of the nation’s largest retailer will march through L.A.’s Chinatown to call for an end to the “Walmartization” of L.A. The “March Against Low Wage Jobs” will convene at 10am in Los Angeles State Historic Park (also known as “The Cornfield”) and make its way to a rally at the intersection of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Broadway. There, speakers will call on city officials to reject Walmart’s proposal to build a 33,000 square foot grocery store in historic Chinatown.
Stay tuned. 

NLRB protects rights of all workers – union or not

The National Labor Relations Board protects workers' rights whether they're in a union or not. Recently the labor board launched a new webpage showing how it safeguards concerted activity, which is employees working together for mutual aid or protection. The NLRB's new web page features a map with markers that tell the story of workers unlawfully disciplined by their bosses for activity protected under Section 7 of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

Recent cases settled by the labor board include:
A construction crew fired after refusing to work in the rain near exposed electrical wires; a customer service representative who lost her job after discussing her wages with a coworker; an engineer at a vegetable packing plant fired after reporting safety concerns affecting other employees; a paramedic fired after posting work-related grievances on Facebook; and poultry workers fired after discussing their grievances with a newspaper reporter.
More than 5 percent of the NLRB’s caseload involved group activity by non-union workers. The new page includes examples of workers fired for posting grievances about work on social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube.

After the page was launched last week, employment law blogs quickly tried to diminish the agency’s efforts. One blog called it “great marketing” designed to “target non-unionized employees.”

No surprise there. Corporations hate the idea of employees knowing their rights under the law. So when one of the top government agencies charged with protecting those rights raises awareness among workers, the bosses call it a cynical PR stunt.

NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston explains:
A right only has value when people know it exists. We think the right to engage in protected concerted activity is one of the best kept secrets of the National Labor Relations Act, and more important than ever in these difficult economic times. Our hope is that other workers will see themselves in the cases we’ve selected and understand that they do have strength in numbers.

'Working Class Hero'

Just because.

US soldier refuses China-made boots

Here's an American hero for you: Master Sgt. Steve Adachi exchanged his China-made combat boots with boots made in America.

It wasn't easy.

Adachi, a reservist deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, was issued a standard pair of boots while at his home unit in Hawaii.

According to the Air Force Times,
...they were made in China. He tried to exchange them at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam clothing store, but he was in store for another surprise. 
“I was told that the boots were not compliant with the Berry Amendment and I could not exchange them,” Adachi said. 
The Berry Amendment requires the food, clothing, fabrics and other textiles the Pentagon buys to be grown or made in the U.S. 
Adachi turned red, white and blue. 
“I went back to the reserves supply warehouse and asked the supply manager why I was issued Chinese-made boots,” Adachi said. “He told me that they were less expensive as opposed to the U.S.-made ones. I urged him to reissue me U.S. boots, citing that I did not feel comfortable ‘going to war’ wearing boots made in China.”
In the end, he got a pair of U.S.-made boots, which he exchanged for American boots in his size. But when he arrived in Afghanistan, he was issued a pair of boots made in China.

We're wondering what happened to what the manufacture this blog calls,
...the United States Army’s proud tradition of providing soldiers with high quality American-made uniforms. As outlined in the Berry Amendment of 1941, the “Department of Defense [must] give preference in procurement to domestically produced, manufactured, or home grown products, most notably food, clothing, fabrics, and specialty metals.”

Today's Teamster News 06.27.12

Inquiry Looks Into a Shield for Donors in Elections  New York Times   ...Mr. Schneiderman issued a wide-ranging subpoena on Tuesday to executives at a foundation affiliated with the chamber, seeking e-mails, bank records and other documents to determine whether the foundation illegally funneled $18 million to the chamber for political and lobbying activities, according to people with knowledge of the investigation...
Biden: Romney is a job creator in India, China  CNN   ...Romney's former private equity firm – owned companies that were "pioneers" in outsourcing U.S. jobs to countries like China and India...
Secretary Vilsack Testifies on Behalf of Russia Trade Bill  Trade Reform   ...Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified Thursday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on behalf of a recently proposed bill to move Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, thereby establishing permanent normal trade relations with the country...
"Bankruptcy Only Choice Left" As Stockton Set To Become Largest US City Chapter 9  zero hedge   ...As mediation with the city's creditors fails, the California city of Stockton looks set to become the US' largest ever city bankruptcy. The city with the second largest foreclosure-rate in the nation has seen its property taxes and other revenues decline while retiree benefits drained city coffers, according to the SF Chronicle...
Coca-Cola, Teamsters Negotiating  Hartford Courant   ...Representatives from Coca-Cola and the Teamsters Union are actively negotiating in an effort to end a strike that has gone on for more than five weeks...
JOBS: Striking Teamsters, Anheuser-Busch talk  The Press-Enterprise   ...Teamsters Local 166 President Mike Pharris on Tuesday indicated there has been movement in an attempt to resolve a strike against Anheuser-Busch Sales in Riverside...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teamsters rally for fired ice cream workers in Modesto

Earlier today: Just practicing.
Hundreds of Teamsters from three Teamster locals are putting on a tremendous show of solidarity in Modesto, Calif., even as we blog. Teamsters from Local 386, 572 and 853 are wearing t-shirts and carrying signs that say, “WANTED: Ignacio Guiterrez for Unlawful Acts Against Latino Workers."

They are rallying to support workers fired by ice cream maker La Michoacana. Neighbors and politicians have joined them. Dolores Huerta, founder of the United Farm Workers, is there to show Latino people throughout California are standing with them.

The workers decided to form a union after the company announced it was making record profit, but would cut their wages. Days before the union election, La Michoacana fired long-time drivers, merchandisers, warehousemen and office staff. That's illegal.

Rick Middleton, Teamsters vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 572 in Carson, Calif., made that point:
This action by Ignacio Guttierez, the owner of Palateria La Michoacana, was unlawful and we won’t tolerate it. No man is above the law and these workers deserve justice.
The workers at Palateria La Michoacana reached out to the Teamsters union in February after the company announced to their workers that it was making record profits, but would be cutting the workers’ wages.

Ileana Herrera, an office worker in Gardena, Calif., came to today's rally:

I had experience from a prior job but I wasn’t getting a raise, that’s one of the main reasons I want a union. I want something better, I want respect.
So did Antonio Casillas, a five-year employee who delivered ice cream to Modesto before he was fired. 

When they came to us in February with the company report they said that they had to lower our wages due to a Department of Transportation requirement. This didn’t seem right and we immediately reached out to the union.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in IL!

Please welcome our 44 new brothers and sisters who work as manufacturing employees with Sun Belle Produce. They voted overwhelmingly to join Teamsters Local 703 in Chicago. 

This new unit of produce employees will join four Sun Belle Produce distribution drivers already under contract with the Teamsters. For the past decade drivers at the company have enjoyed regular wage increases and strong health and welfare benefits as Teamster members.

Local 703 Business Representative Sam Scianna explained that the Teamsters were ready to go to bat for the inside workers at Sun Belle as soon as they reached out to the union. He said,
They saw the job security and benefits available to the Sun Belle drivers and knew they deserved the same chance to improve their circumstances at work.
These new employees bring renewed strength to the bargaining unit in suburban Franklin Park. This is especially important as Local 703 prepares to negotiate Sun Belle’s new contact in fall 2013.
Scianna encouraged Teamsters to look for the yellow and red Sunbelle label on fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. He said,
When you buy these products, you’re supporting hardworking Teamsters and growing good-paying Teamster jobs.

Helmets-to-Hardhats puts vets to work on One World Trade Center

The AFL-CIO produced this neat video about the Helmets-to-Hardhats program in New York. Teamsters, of course, are also working on One World Trade Center. And Teamsters support the Helmets-to-Hardhats program as well. Read more about it here.

Reclaim working-class family values

How many doctors, lawyers and hedge-fund managers got where they are today because their parents had good union jobs? Probably a lot.
How many understand their parents made a better life for their kids than they had because of unions? Probably not a lot. 
Todd Farally, a third-generation union sheet-metal worker, makes that point in a Daily Kos diary:
...many (oh so many) have turned on the same sort of people that bore and raised them, clothed and fed them, put them through college and called them son or daughter.
How do we end the cycle? Here's his suggestion for today's union parents:
Do we tell our children about what we do? Do we educate them on the struggles of those who have come before us? Those who had endured, bled and sometimes died so that the generations to come could have a better life than their parents had. Sadly, I don’t think so. 
Many parents back in the seventies and eighties probably never thought there would be attacks on the people that build our country, that teach our children, or even those that protect us while we sleep. And that was our first mistake. Never underestimate the greed of those that have no conscience. Never think for a second that people won’t watch you suffer while they profit. 
Something else that has put us in this predicament is that some of us in skilled labor put down our professions, expressing horror at the thought of our children following in our footsteps. This happens more often than we might want to admit and it has lasting consequences. We act as though working with our hands is something to be ashamed of, that it’s something to look down on. And we’re ok with that? I’m certainly not and you shouldn’t be either.
The whole thing is well worth a read. You can find it here.

Today's Teamster News 06.26.12

Exclusive Interview: Joseph Stiglitz Sees Terrifying Future for America If We Don't Reverse Inequality  Alternet   ...Americans will be facing insecurity, of economic insecurity, healthcare insecurity, a sense of physical insecurity. We will be worrying politically about the role of extremism...
Extreme Poverty Sets a New Record (Again)  Angry Bear   ...The rate of extreme poverty (income less than half the poverty line also called "deep poverty" and "severe poverty") set a new record in 2010 for the second year in a row (the record only goes back to 1975...
Labor Shares and Corporate Savings  Econbrowser   ... Globally, corporations paid about 65 percent of their income to labor (as opposed to capital) in 1975, compared with about 60 percent in 2007...
State Corporate Campaign Spending Limits Rejected  Associated Press   ...The Supreme Court on Monday turned away a plea to revisit its 2-year-old campaign finance decision in the Citizens United case and instead struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending...
Cities Sell Out To Corporations  Dungeon Diary   ...Brazil, Indiana was out of money and couldn't afford to keep up parts of its infrastructure, so they turned to the private sector and the result was sponsored fire plugs with KFC buckets on top of them...
Turzai: Voter ID Law Means Romney Can Win PA Politics PA   ...House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House’s end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically...
Modesto ice cream firm denies firings targeted union vote; Teamsters to rally  The Modesto Bee   ...Representatives of the Teamsters have filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the company violated federal law by laying off 33 drivers in May, a week before a union vote was planned...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Today's Teamster News 06.25.12

The Ohio House unanimously passes a resolution urging Washington to act on China's currency manipulation  manufacture this   ...China has “significantly intervened in foreign exchange markets in order to hold the value of their currency within its tight and artificial trading band, resulting in enormous grown in China’s dollar reserves.”...
Koch brothers hope to raise even more funds at secretive right-wing gathering  The Guardian   ...If they meet their target of $400m for this year's presidential election cycle, the Kochs will have surpassed the $370m that John McCain had at his disposal as his entire campaign funding in 2008...
The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia  Rolling Stone   ...How America's biggest banks took part in a nationwide bid-rigging conspiracy - until they were caught on tape...
Mitt and the junk bond king  Boston Globe   ...“Mitt, I think, spent his life balanced between fear and greed,” Wolpow said. “He knew that he had to make a lot of money to launch his political career...
Trucker jobs go unfilled, leading to delayed deliveries  USA Today   ...A worsening shortage of truck drivers is pushing up freight rates and delaying some deliveries, defying the weak economy, high unemployment and falling gasoline prices...
Teamsters to help Seattle-area cabdrivers voice their concerns  Seattle Times   ... the Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association, formally launched by drivers at a meeting at the Teamsters Building in Tukwila on Saturday, will contract with Teamsters Local 117 to lobby governments on its behalf. The new alliance will address continuing complaints about competition from "flat-rate" drivers who operate under a different set of rules, new workers' compensation premiums and other business costs...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Death By China: A film we'd like to see

From Trade Reform:
From best-selling author and filmmaker, Peter Navarro, comes DEATH BY CHINA, a documentary feature that pointedly confronts the most urgent problem facing America today – its increasingly destructive economic trade relationship with a rapidly rising China. Since China began flooding U.S. markets with illegally subsidized products in 2001, over 50,000 American factories have disappeared, more than 25 million Americans can’t find a decent job, and America now owes more than 3 trillion dollars to the world’s largest totalitarian nation. Through compelling interviews with voices across the political spectrum, DEATH BY CHINA exposes that the U.S.-China relationship is broken and must be fixed if the world is going to be a place of peace and prosperity.

Today's Teamster News 06.23.12

Republicans’ Voter Suppression Project Grinds On  Bloomberg   ...Across the country, the Republicans’ carefully orchestrated plan to make voting harder -- let’s call it the Voter Suppression Project -- may keep just enough young people and minorities from the polls that Republicans will soon be in charge of all three branches of the federal government...
Corporate profits are at an all-time high  ThinkProgress the same time that corporate profits are at an all-time high as a percentage of the economy, wages are at an all-time low...
Students protest calmly in Montreal, Quebec City  CBC   ...Thousands of people rallied for day of protest Friday in Montreal and in Quebec City, as student leaders vowed to continue their demonstrations through the summer...
David Koch To Host $50,000-A-Person Dinner For Romney In The Hamptons  BuzzFeed   ...The home at 880 Maiden Lane in Southampton sits on 4 waterfront acres, and has 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, according to Zillow. It was last assessed in 2010 at a valuation of over $22 million...
Allied Waste, Teamsters agree to standstill, local employees to return to work  Evansville Courier & Press   ...both parties agreed during a meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that it was in their best interests to initiate a standstill. That will end the lockout that has kept the employees from working in Evansville since early May...
Teamsters Reach Tentative Agreement With Bus System  KTVN   ... A late-night tentative agreement has been reached between Teamsters Local 533 and MV Transportation, contract operator of the Regional Transportation of the Reno-Sparks-Washoe County (RTC) bus and senior/disabled transit system...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Romney 2012: Creating China

Mitt Romney has talked a big game about how he would put a stop to job outsourcing as president. That’s not unusual talk coming from a presidential candidate, but it is strange coming from the lips of a vulture capitalist private equity mogul who is responsible for so many American jobs lost to China.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Romney’s firm, Bain Capital, has owned and invested in companies that specialize in offshoring jobs to low-wage countries like China and India:
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And the response from the Romney team? They say the Washington Post incorrectly used the word "outsourcing" when it meant "offshoring." Think Progress reports:
Rather than dispute the substance of the article, the Romney campaign has responded to the Post piece by parsing words, claiming that the story is “fundamentally flawed” for not differentiating between the technical definitions of “outsourcing” and “offshoring.”
Workers at the Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport, Ill. were hoping to get a visit from Romney earlier in the week to ask the candidate to stop shipping their jobs to China. Romney was in the area as part of his “Every Town Counts” bus tour.

As John Nichols of The Nation wrote:
[T]he real story of Romney’s tour is the towns that don’t count with him. Romney did not stop in Freeport, a town that…has been hard hit by trade and fiscal policies that encourage corporations to shutter US factories and ship jobs overseas. Employees of Freeport’s Sensata Technologies plant gathered in front of the factory with handmade signs that read: “Romney! Stop Bain Outsourcing to China.”
Sensata workers tell a familiar story. And it’s a story that will become even more familiar if Romney and his Bain Capitalist buddies have their way.

According to Sensata employee Cheryl Randecker,
This used to be a very high-volume plant and now it’s pretty much a ghost town…and by the end of the year it will be a ghost town.
Cheryl started a petition telling Romney to stop moving their jobs to China. She explains:
I don’t know what I’m going to do if I lose my job. My company used to offer a full year of severance pay, but that was cut to six months. It’s all about money for Bain and Romney, but for us, it’s about how we make a living and feed our families.
What I do know is that I’m not alone. There’s 165 of us getting laid off just in my plant. And millions of other workers who have been laid off—or will be laid off—unless Romney and other businessmen stop shipping jobs overseas just to make a bigger profit.

How a bunch of rich guys stole your money

Some rob you with a six gun, some with a fountain pen.
Great post today from The Burning Platform about how the financial industry stole a whole lot of money from the 99 percent.

It quantifies the catastrophe that's befallen the middle class:

  • Median net worth fell 39 percent from 2007-2011.
  • The real decline in median household income is in excess of 20% since 2001.
  • Families are making 6.3% less today than they were a decade ago.

Trade deals and the Federal Reserve get most of the blame for this sad state of affairs:
The reality is the oligarchy has used foreign wage differentials and the perceived benefits of globalization to ship manufacturing and now service jobs to Asia while using their captured mainstream media to convince the average American that this has been beneficial to their lives. Using one of their 15 credit cards to buy cheap foreign goods made by people who took their jobs was never so easy.  I wonder if the benefits of being able to buy cheap Chinese electronics, toxic dog food, and slave labor produced igadgets outweighed the $2.3 trillion increase in consumer debt, 27% decline in real wages, 7 million manufacturing jobs lost since the mid-1970s, 46 million people on food stamps, $15 trillion increase in the National Debt since 1978, and a gutted decaying industrial base.
The mainstream media shares the blame too.
We certainly couldn’t expect business journalists at Bloomberg, CNBC, NYT, or CNN to actually analyze the data, produce an intelligent dialogue of the causes, and reach a conclusion that the affluent and influential on Wall Street and in Washington DC caused the average family in this country to endure tremendous hardship while the oligarchy plundered and pillaged the countryside, stuffing their pockets with ill-gotten gains.
As Charles Ferguson, who directed Inside Job (a must-see), concludes:
Over the last thirty years, the United States has been taken over by an amoral financial oligarchy, and the American dream of opportunity, education, and upward mobility is now largely confined to the top few percent of the population. Federal policy is increasingly dictated by the wealthy, by the financial sector, and by powerful (though sometimes badly mismanaged) industries such as telecommunications, health care, automobiles, and energy. These policies are implemented and praised by these groups’ willing servants, namely the increasingly bought-and-paid-for leadership of America’s political parties, academia, and lobbying industry.
Read the whole rant here.

Mercury in Chinese baby formula, kebabs from cat meat

Food from China is dangerous and disgusting. Which is why it's so important that we know where our food comes from. Which is why we have COOL -- country of origin labeling -- on our food.

The International Herald Tribune has the latest on China's food safety:
There’s mercury in the baby formula. Cabbages are sprayed with formaldehyde. Gelatin capsules for pills, tens of millions of them, are laced with chromium. Used cooking oil is scooped out of gutters for recycling, right along with the sewage. 
Accounts of dubious or unsafe food in China are as mesmerizing as they are disturbing — “artificial green peas,” grilled kebabs made from cat meat, contaminated chives, chlorine showing up in soft drinks. 
There have been stories of imitation soy sauce made from hair clippings, ink and paraffin being used to dress up cheap noodles, and pork buns so loaded with bacteria that they glow in the dark. 
A new investigation by the Chinese magazine Caixin has found that “these publicized food safety scandals represent only a fraction of unsafe food production practices. Hundreds of chemical food additives are pumped into products that Chinese people consume every day.” 
The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Wednesday that Chinese authorities have discovered 15,000 cases of substandard food so far this year while shutting down 5,700 unlicensed food businesses. 
Things are so bad that a new iPhone app was recently launched to track food scandals nationwide. The app, which sends out daily updates on the latest outrages, was reportedly downloaded more than 200,000 times in the first week.
Americans are eating more and more food from China. According to food & water watch,
China has become an agricultural powerhouse and leading food exporter. Though supermarket labels may not always indicate it, a growing portion of the American diet is now made in China. In 2009, 70 percent of the apple juice, 43 percent of the processed mushrooms, 22 percent of the frozen spinach and 78 percent of the tilapia Americans ate came from China. 

Here's what's scary: Because of job-killing corporate giveaways known as "free trade agreements," our trading partners are successfully challenging country of origin labels. Public Citizen reported in November,
The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling today against another highly popular U.S. consumer policy – country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat cuts and products – will only intensify public opposition to more of the same backwards trade pacts, Public Citizen said. A panel report released today announced that Mexico and Canada have succeeded in their WTO attack on the labeling rule; today’s WTO ruling is the third this year against popular U.S. consumer or environmental measures. 
“Today’s ruling makes very clear that these so-called ‘trade’ pacts have little to do with trade between countries and a lot to do with our major agribusiness corporations being free to sell mystery meat in the United States, with neither consumers nor our elected representatives in Congress able to ensure its safety, much less even know where it is from,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. 
After 50 years of state efforts to institute COOL for meats, and federal experimentation with voluntary COOL for meat, Congress passed a mandatory COOL program as part of the 2008 farm bill. In their successful WTO challenge, Mexico and Canada argued that the mandatory program violated the limits that the WTO sets on what sorts of product-related “technical regulations” WTO signatory countries are permitted to apply. In their filings to the WTO, Canada and Mexico suggested that the U.S. should drop its mandatory labels in favor of a return to voluntary COOL, or to standards suggested by the Codex Alimentarius, which is an international food standards body at which numerous international food companies play a central role. Neither option would ensure that U.S. consumers are guaranteed the same level of information as the current U.S. labels. 
Today’s decision follows WTO rulings this year against U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labels and a U.S. ban on clove, candy and cola flavored cigarettes.
Maybe it's just time to go back to the land.

Today's Teamster News 06.22.12

Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas  Washington Post   ...During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components...
Prisons, Privatization, Patronage  New York Times   ...As more and more government functions get privatized, states become pay-to-play paradises, in which both political contributions and contracts for friends and relatives become a quid pro quo for getting government business...
AFSCME Elects Chief Who Backs National Political Role  Bloomberg Businessweek   ...The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees elected its No. 2 leader as president, signaling the biggest U.S. public-workers union will remain active in President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign...
Supreme Court rules against union on nonmember fees for politics  Los Angeles Times   ...TheU.S. Supreme Courtsharply criticized public-sector unions for using money from nonmembers to fund special political campaigns, stepping into the intense political debate about such unions and signaling that new constitutional limits may be coming...
Judge blocks law to stop health care union dues  Detroit Free Press   ...A judge blocked a new Michigan law Wednesday that's aimed at ending union dues paid by home health care workers who are private contractors and not public employees...
American Austerity: Why the States Cutting Spending Are Doing Worse  The Atlantic   ...there isn't any evidence that austerity does any good in a situation like ours...
County employees declare impasse, want pay raise  Seacoast Online   ...Through the Teamsters union, Rockingham County employees claim they've made insurance concessions that will save the county $1.2 million a year, but have received nothing in return...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This is what we union thugs do on the runway

Teamster Fashionistas.
...We model clothes to raise money for a children's charity.

Illinois State Police Master Sergeants represented by Teamsters Local 700 joined several State Troopers this month for a fashion show fundraiser to benefit children battling pediatric cancer. The amateur Teamster models walked the runway in Chicago’s West Loop. They raised more than $19,000 for Compass to Care, which helps families with lodging and travels expenses related to their children’s cancer treatments.

Joint Council 25 in Chicago tells us,
Both active and retired Master Sergeants participated in the show. The Teamster police officers included Fierstein, Dan Likens, Bob Meeder, Joe Micci and Lance Powell. 
“It’s very much a trend that our members love going above and beyond,” said William P. Logan, Local 700 President. “We’re proud of all these members who did something that was new—and probably a little intimidating—to support a wonderful cause.” 
To learn more about Compass to Care, visit

Oh, and "THUG" stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys (and Gals)."

Half the U.S. is poor

Almost as true now
But the mainstream media doesn't seem to get that. Take a National Journal story from January, which said,
...on most questions measuring changes in economic circumstances, the slowdown has imposed greater costs on those at the economy's margins -- lower-income families, those without advanced education, and, in many cases, minorities.
The word "margins" jumped out at us. Low-income families are not a small, marginal percent of the population. The poor are half the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Census says so. Reports The Atlantic:
Earning $45,000 or less annually per household is the U.S. Census Bureau's threshold for calling someone "low-income," and according to the bureau's latest figures, 48 percent of U.S. citizens fall into this category. 146.4 million U.S. citizens are now defined by their government as low-income -- with 49.1 million falling below the poverty line of $22,350...
An epidemic of low-wage jobs is destroying the opportunity in what used to be the Land of Opportunity. Peter Edelman explains in Common Dreams:
A third of our population ekes by on less than $36,000 for a family of three. That's 103 million people living on less than twice the poverty line, but most of them technically aren't poor or don't consider themselves poor. Yet they struggle every month to make ends meet and are one medical emergency or protracted illness away from bankruptcy. 
Why so much low-wage work? Because over the past 40 years, well-paying industrial jobs disappeared, unions lost much of their clout, the minimum wage stagnated, and the field of competition in many areas became globalized.
The result: half of U.S. jobs now pay $34,000 or less a year. A quarter of U.S. jobs pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. And the wages for those jobs have been stuck for four decades. Today, they pay only 7 percent more than they did in 1973.
Edelman concludes poverty and inequality are destroying democracy.


Dell drops ALEC

We just got word that computer-maker Dell won't renew its membership in ALEC, the corporate lobbying group that calls itself the American Legislative Exchange Council. Woo-hoo!

Dell is the latest of nearly two dozen corporations to leave ALEC. Others include Wal-Mart,, Coca-Cola Co., Kraft Foods Inc., McDonald's Corp., Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo Inc. and Wendy's.

Jan Bohn in the Wisconsin State Journal today describes ALEC as, extreme right-wing organization ... funded by corporations with the purpose of making the rich richer, the middle-class poorer and the poor destitute.
ALEC pays for state lawmakers to take lavish vacations, where they can shmooze with corporate donors. Those corporate members of ALEC write legislation to benefit themselves. Their political puppets then introduce the bills as their own.

ALEC's aims are just what you'd expect: dismantle unions, kneecap trial lawyers, privatize government services and protect companies that harm workers and customers.

Maybe State Farm Insurance will be next.

Teamster: Union busters are not fair traders

The IBT's own Tim Beaty said some union-busting companies still get approved as "fair traders." He was interviewed by a blog called Ethix Merch. Tim is the director of Global Strategies, where he builds union alliances between workers with a common employer or in global supply chains. Here are excerpts from the interview:

Ethix Merch: You argue that the fair trade movement should adopt unionization as a goal. Why are the Teamsters, who mostly represent workers in North America, so concerned about the international fair trade movement? 
Timothy Beaty: When a fair trade certified chocolate company in Seattle called Theo used intimidation, harassment and lies against its employees who wanted to form a union and join the Teamsters it seemed to contradict the fair trade ethos. The fair trade certifier – IMO – said they certified that Theo was in compliance with international labor standards, but they are not. IMO did two audits and told us there were some findings but they are secret and Theo has not moved to correct their anti-union behavior.... 
The Teamsters are very active with unions worldwide in solidarity efforts, particularly regarding multinational employers where our members work including transportation, logistics and food processing. I think that the fair trade movement and the labor movement share important core values, so we are hoping to build understanding and solidarity towards our common social justice goals. Many European unions are pioneers in the fair trade movement in their countries so we’ve been learning from their experience as well. 
Ethix Merch: In order for a large factory or plantation to receive fair trade certification, is your expectation that the workers there must be represented by a union? Or does the workplace simply need to be open to and tolerant of unionizing? 
Timothy Beaty: Yes, a union freely chosen by the workers and the collective bargaining agreement they negotiate is the best way to empower workers. It’s also the best way to monitor compliance with labor rights standards... 
Ethix Merch: What do think is the largest hurdle to your model actually being put into place? 
Timothy Beaty: There are a lot of products being labeled fair trade these days. Cut-flowers, bananas, tea, sugar are examples of products you see with fair trade labels on them that are probably sourced from large plantations with for-hire workers. Chocolate, soap and coffee are examples of products that require processing normally taking place in a factory in the consumer country. In each plantation or factory there will be obstacles to unionized workforces specific to that workplace. If we can get the fair trade movement to make a serious commitment that equates empowerment of workers in the production and value chain with freedom of association and collective bargaining then I think the biggest hurdle is the plantation and factory owners and managers. Their tendency is to game the system against independent worker representation and a binding collective bargaining agreement.
The whole interview is worth reading. You can read it here.

Today's Teamster News 06.21.12

America’s long slope down  Reuters   ...We need to recognize that the tax cutters were snake oil salesmen, the Federal Reserve an enabler of damaging debts and that bilateral trade deals are written of, by and for global financiers, not workers...
Job JOLTS - There are 3.7 Unemployed People Per Job Opening for April 2012  Economic Populist   ...Officially, there are 12.5 million unemployed for April, unofficially the number is more like 27 million...
The failure to explain health reform  Columbia Journalism Review   ...If the Supreme Court rules the health reform law or its central feature—the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance—is unconstitutional, much of the public won’t shed a tear...
How Midwesterners Feel About Unions  The Midwesterner   ...An overwhelming majority -- 85 to 8 percent -- support collective bargaining rights for unions in general. This support drops to 66 percent for public sector bargaining rights, but is still solid...
A cautionary tale for economic development boosters  Bleeding Heartland electric cars will roll off assembly lines in Webster City. On the contrary, the city will be lucky to get back money it loaned to a company that never delivered on its owner's promises...
Catholic sisters rally against Ryan budget  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...A group of Catholic sisters broke bread Tuesday with the poor and homeless at Milwaukee's St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, part of a nine-state bus tour drawing attention to proposed Republican budget cuts and the Catholic charities they say would be harmed by them...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How about a Robin Hood tax?

So how about it?

On this day in labor history: Rat Pack entertains Teamsters

On June 20, 1965, the Rat Pack -- Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin -- performed at a Teamsters benefit in St. Louis. Johnny Carson emceed. Proceeds from the concert went to Dismas House, a favorite charity of the legendary Teamsters leader Harold Gibbons. Wikipedia says this about Gibbons:
The St. Louis union was considered to be one of the most progressive in the United States. It initiated health care centers for members, vacation centers at Lake of the Ozarks, and militated for good pension plans for its members.[1] Under Gibbons the Union researched and submitted plans for the desegregation of schools which was promoted by the editorial page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Dismas House was a novel concept at the time -- a halfway house for ex-offenders.

You can actually buy a DVD of the concert, called "Live and Swingin'." Here's the promo copy:
LIVE AND SWINGIN’ features Frank, Sammy and Dean in prime form, dazzling the audience with their dynamic chemistry, comic camaraderie and unforgettable melodies. The live black-tie benefit performance – the first and only time cameras ever fully captured a proper "Rat Pack Summit" – was taped on Father's Day, June 20, 1965 at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis. Emceed by Johnny Carson, this beautifully restored musical time capsule includes sets by Frank, Sammy and Dean and a rousing final performance of “Birth of the Blues.”

JP Morgan: Too big to bail

JP Morgan – the big bank that just lost more than $2 billon on a bad derivatives deal – receives up to $14 billion a year in government subsidies, according to a  new study from the International Monetary Fund. 
It was just the other week when predatory vampire capitalist presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that we need to cut back on government spending because, you know, we have too many public workers. Not because too-big-to-fail banks are gambling billions while collecting taxpayer money.

In fact, this is what Mr. 1% said after the JP Morgan loss:
That’s the way…America works. Some people experienced a loss in this case because of a bad decision. By the way, there was someone who made a gain, all right. The $2 billion J.P. Morgan lost someone else gained.
But Romney wasn't concerned that ordinary American taxpayers experienced some of that loss. As Bloomberg News reported:
When JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon testifies in the U.S. House today, he will present himself as a champion of free-market capitalism in opposition to an overweening government. His position would be more convincing if his bank weren’t such a beneficiary of corporate welfare…U.S. taxpayers helped foot the bill for the multibillion-dollar trading loss that is the focus of today’s hearing.
Once again we are reminded that politicians like Romney who represent the interests of Wall Street are not interested in “shared sacrifice.” They insist working Americans need to cut back, but not the super-rich. Banks like JP Morgan should be considered too big for bailouts and subsidies.

Working-class homeowners are the ones who deserve help. People like Deborah Harris – whose home has been taken away from her by JP Morgan. Or the residents of Jefferson County, Ala., who got ripped off by the bank.

Harris confronted Dimon when he appeared before Congress last week. Watch the video here (starts at around 4:00).

And here's the story of how JP Morgan bribed friends of Jefferson County officials so it could arrange the funding for a new sewer system. The funding deal backfired and sewer rates rose fourfold. Of course it's government spending that gets blamed, not JP Morgan's avarice.

Today's Teamster News 06.20.12

Is the U.S. economy losing jobs again?  The Enterprise Blog   ... here is the real red flag. Private job openings fell 282,000 — the most since early 2009 — to 3.080 million. Early 2009, if you recall, saw the economy just hemorrhaging jobs...
Is the China auto bubble about to burst? And what about the U.S. auto parts supply chain?  manufacture this   ...the Administration was “looking into” the fact that every car sold in the United States contains Chinese-made parts...
Canada joining Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations  TradeReform   ... With increasing trade deficits, and without resolve issues like currency, state capitalism, foreign value added taxes, etc.  It just does not make sense...
Wis. Resistance Lives On  The Progressive   ...Wisconsin organizers and activists are redoubling their efforts to resist the worst depredations of the Walker regime and to strengthen alliances within radical and progressive labor and human rights organizations. This growing solidarity has been evident on the picket line at Palermo’s Pizza, where 125 workers have been on strike for 3 weeks. Local labor and other activist groups from throughout southern Wisconsin have joined workers on the picket line... Drops Michelle Rhee Group Under Pressure From Progressives  Huffington Post, the progressive online powerhouse that channels grassroots energy into petition-based activism, has dropped two anti-union clients, including Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst...
Durham School Bus Workers Join Teamsters Union  IBT   ...School bus drivers and monitors with Durham School Services in Grandview, Mo., have voted to join Teamsters Local 838, uniting for respect and better working conditions...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Got a complaint about your credit card company?

You can now check online to see how many other people have the same complaint.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a website today that categorizes grievances against credit card companies. It also shows how the grievances were resolved.

CNN Money reports,
A new online database devoted to cataloging consumer complaints against credit card companies launched Tuesday. 
The website, created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will begin by posting grievances against credit card companies, and will eventually include complaints regarding mortgages and student loans. 
The bureau has collected more than 45,000 complaints on all those products since last July. 
"By making our data publicly available, initially in the area of credit cards, we hope to improve the transparency and efficiency of this essential consumer market," said Richard Cordray, director of the consumer bureau in a press briefing with reporters on Monday.
The banks don't like it and tried to keep the information secret. (Hah!)

If you have a complaint about your credit card company, bank, lender or mortgage holder, click here.

Rally to protest TPP on July 2 in California

California county labor councils are organizing a July 2 rally against the latest job-killing trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

You'd think the U.S. Trade Representative would back off the latest corporate giveaway TPP by now. After all, the trade deal with South Korea took effect in March, and by April our trade deficit with South Korea tripled!

Writes Patrick Buchanan,
What do these mammoth and mounting deficits mean? A deepening dependence on foreign nations for the necessities of our national life. A steady erosion of our manufacturing base. A continued stagnation in the real wages of the middle class. And an unending redistribution of America's wealth to foreign lands.
Critics warned the TPP could be even bigger than NAFTA because more countries can join the agreement. Sure enough, the U.S. on Monday announced Mexico would be allowed to join. Reports Reuters:
The United States and eight other countries on Monday welcomed Mexico into talks aimed at reaching an Asia Pacific free trade agreement, but continued to mull over Canada and Japan's seven-month-old bids to join the negotiations. 
"We are delighted to invite Mexico, our neighbor and second-largest export market, to join the (Trans-Pacific Partnership) TPP negotiations," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement after a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Group of 20 leading economies summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
So mark your calendars for July 2 if you'll be anywhere near San Diego that day.