Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Teamsters join The Boss in Pittsburgh

WATCH this video to the end! You'll see a Teamsters for Obama sign waving in what looks like the third row.

Pittsburgh Teamsters who volunteer for President Obama got to see The Boss Saturday during a free 45-minute concert at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall. Springsteen said he backs the president because of "the distance between the American dream and American reality."

He played "No Surrender," "Promised Land," "Youngstown," "We Take Care of Our Own" and "Thunder Road."

And he urged the 2,300 people in the audience to vote for President Obama.

Here's the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's report on the concert:
Standing beneath an 80-foot wide inscription of the Gettysburg Address, rocker Bruce Springsteen told 2,300 Barack Obama supporters packed inside the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Military Museum Saturday that he backed the president because he had spent his own career chronicling the "distance between the American dream and American reality." 
The legendary singer, 63, gave a free 45-minute concert to help President Barack Obama's campaign staffers enlist volunteers for the final push to Election Day. On each seat was an envelope with phone numbers for eight potential Obama voters who attendees were urged to call while they waited for the concert to begin. Many did so. 
"Our vote is our individual hand in shaping the America we want our children to grow up in," Mr. Springsteen said. 
He was introduced by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who noted that the singer often visits soup kitchens and food pantries when he plays here. "Bruce Springsteen has supported our community for 30 years," Mr. Fitzgerald said.
We admit. We're jealous.

How Elizabeth Warren got tough on the bank bailout

Here are 1 billion reasons Massachusetts Teamsters are all out for Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren: That's how many dollars she saved U.S. taxpayers.

Matt Stoller, writing for Salon explains how Warren wouldn't let the Treasury be shortchanged by bailout deals. He cites a new paper by Stanford political scientist Lucas Puente showing Warren's work on the Congressional Oversight Panel saved more than $1 billion. She did it by being skeptical toward the Treasury Department’s bailout plans.

Here's what happened: During the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Treasury invested in shares of bank stocks. As part of the deal, the government got warrants, or the right to buy bank stock at a set price. Warren was the one person on the Congressional Oversight Panel who realized Treasury was selling off those warrants too cheap. Once she called the Treasury Department out on it, the warrants were sold for a better price -- for taxpayers.

Writes Stoller,
This leverage saved the taxpayer roughly a billion dollars. The final budget for Warren’s Congressional Oversight Panel was $10,684,422. That’s roughly a one hundred to one return on investment for every dollar invested in oversight. And that’s not including anything else that Warren’s oversight body did.
Brother John Juszkiewicz, a UPS steward, sent us the photo above of Teamsters  at a get-out-the-vote rally for Warren yesterday in Malden, Mass. Pictured are Teamsters local 225 Driving Instructor Paul Mathi, UPS Steward George Bassett, Elizabeth Warren, Juszkiewcz, and UPS Steward Michelle Joshua.

Sandy clean-up: It's a tough job, and Teamsters are doing it

Teamsters in Cambridge, Mass., cleaning up after the monster storm.
Parts of the Northeast are returning to normal today as Teamsters clear trees, repair rail tracks, clean up after flood damage, ship supplies and deliver those all-important iPhones and QVC purchases.

Two airports and the New York Stock Exchange reopened, and some Amtrak service was restored along the Northeast Corridor. But in hard-hit New Jersey, the National Guard is still looking for flood victims, fires are still burning and entire neighborhoods are buried under sand and seawater. Millions are without power as far away as Michigan, and 29 inches of snow fell on western Maryland.

Cambridge DPW Teamsters
None of that stopped our brothers and sisters from getting 'er done at departments of public works and sanitation, the railroads and UPS. We relied on Twitter and Facebook to tell us how hard they're working up an down the coast. In the process, we found lots of appreciation for the DPW, sanitation and UPS Teamsters doing their job.

(We know we've left off plenty of hardworking Teamsters, but we hope to get to you as the clean-up continue.)

Brother Dan Battistelli tells us Local 633 Teamsters who work for True Value are busy. "Up here in N.H. We've been pulling orders, shipping and driving trailers all across New England (full) of generators, batteries, flashlights etc."

Local 25 Teamsters who work for the Cambridge, Mass., DPW are quickly clearing trees and removing debris as an appreciative city watches. Pardis Saffari tweeted a thank you to the Cambridge DPW with the message, "You guys are great."

A tweeter by the handle of ‏@zenkenobi tweeted:
Cambridge DPW have been amazing the last couple days. I salute those guys in the orange trucks. #sandy #cambridgeMA 
And props were tweeted out to UPS from Phender Phlair in Franklin, Mass., who called UPS "heroic."
One New Yorker could hardly believe UPS even delivered during the superstorm:
@nyprdiva: So my doorbell just rang and it was @UPS with a package...seriously? 
Calolo Martin tweeted this black-and-white photo of Yonkers DPW Teamsters taking care of a fallen tree. We know from Facebook they were all out yesterday.

The New York City sanitation department is being singled out for praise in the tweetosphere. Here is a sampling of tweets:
David G. Greenfield ‏@NYCGreenfield: Can't thank the hard-working men & women of the Sanitation Department for their extraordinary work today clearing our streets. 
DSNY Teamsters cleaning up a felled tree in Forest Hills, N.Y. 
Rebecca Schlachter ‏@rebeccaforever: Shout out to our tireless, amazing sanitation workers #nyc #sandy 
T.Vanea' Simmons ‏@caramelmochiata:
Good Morning-After #Sandy: Aren't you glad we have police, firefighters, first responders, sanitation crews? Public employees to the rescue! 
Allison ‏@MonomaniacAL:
Thank you to all the NYC Government staff servicing the city today including sanitation workers on 12 hour shifts clearing debris #Sandy 
@MainaNYC: Seeing all departments out there #nypd #fdny #coned #dsny working to clean this mess up. Thank you #nyc #sandy

Calif. Teamsters register 23K voters in 'No On 32' campaign

How about a shoutout to our brothers and sisters in California who registered 23,000 new voters! They did it as part of their campaign to defeat the Billionaires' Bill of Rights, otherwise known as Proposition 32.

Prop 32 would stifle unions' political speech while letting corporations and billionaires continue to spend freely on propaganda.

Brother Doug Bloch from Joint Council 7 in San Francisco tells us how they did it. (We're cross-posting from the California Labor Fed):
California Teamsters began our No on 32 campaign with two kickoffs in April and July.  The April kickoff, sponsored by Joint Council 42, drew over 1,400 Teamsters from Southern California.  Then in July, Joint Council 7 brought together over 800 members from Bakersfield all the way up to the Oregon border.  Members were educated about the dangers of Proposition 32 and armed with voter registration cards. 
Business Agents, stewards, and volunteers got to work.  Then in September, over 40 members came off the truck statewide to kick our program into high gear.  This lost-timer program was supported by our members’ own contributions. 
Joint Council 7 took a caravan of Teamster trucks to blitz our worksites.  We started out in Bakersfield and worked our way up to Stockton, down through the Bay Area out to Watsonville, and doubled back to Sacramento.  In the end, we hit 33 worksites in 21 days and spoke to over 3,000 members.  At many stops in the caravan, we were joined by Teamster-supported candidates and elected officials, but the focus was on our members. 
In Southern California, Joint Council 42 sent a squadron of 25 rank-and-file members to blitz worksites from San Diego to Santa Barbara in an aggressive program that touched thousands of members. 
Teamsters General President James Hoffa also barnstormed the state, making several stops along the way in Southern and Northern California.  We did our first ever California membership conference call, drawing over 19,000 participants to a call with President Hoffa. 
When the smoke cleared, we registered over 23,000 Teamsters to vote statewide – a 10% increase in our overall membership.  Over 90% of the registrations were vote by mail.  Now we join our brothers and sisters to GET OUT THE VOTE!
Awesome work!

Local 716 president running for state senate in Ind.

We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates hereherehereherehereherehereherehere
hereherehere, here and here.

Jim Cahill, President of Local 716 in Indianapolis, was mad enough that Indiana passed a Republican-sponsored right-to-work-for-less law. He was even madder when he learned that no Democrat was running for state Senate in his district, the 37th. So he went and filed papers to run for the seat himself.

“I signed up at the last minute. When I saw no one was running, I decided to jump in,” he said.

Cahill thinks he has a pretty good chance of winning. He’s passionate about repealing right-to-work-for-less. Like many other Teamsters in Indiana, he was at the Statehouse every day for the past two sessions fighting against anti-worker legislation.

Cahill has lived in Indiana his entire life. According to his website, he “is seeking to become part of the Indiana legislature that is committed to furthering and bettering the lives of the working men and women of Indiana by introducing and supporting legislation and policies directly geared towards that end.”

Cahill was a concrete mixer driver for 31 years with Southside Ready Mix and Irving Materials Incorporated.

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part IX

Rolling Stone's thorough reporting allowed us to present what we thought was an eight-part series about Mitt Romney's tax dodges. But yesterday we read a Bloomberg report about another one. So today we bring you the charitable remainder trust tax-avoidance scheme.


According to Bloomberg, 
In 1997, Congress cracked down on a popular tax shelter that allowed rich people to take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money. 
Individuals who had already set up these vehicles were allowed to keep them. That included Mitt Romney, then the chief executive officer of Bain Capital, who had just established such an arrangement in June 1996 
...Romney used the tax-exempt status of a charity -- the Mormon Church, according to a 2007 filing -- to defer taxes for more than 15 years. At the same time he is benefiting, the trust will probably leave the church with less than what current law requires, according to tax returns obtained by Bloomberg this month through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Bloomberg explains that Romney was basically renting his favorite charity's tax-exempt status. Here's how it works:
When individuals fund a charitable remainder unitrust, or “CRUT,” they defer capital gains taxes on any profit from the sale of the assets, and receive a small upfront charitable deduction and a stream of yearly cash payments. Like an individual retirement account, the trust allows money to grow tax deferred, while like an annuity it also pays Romney a steady income. After the funder’s death, the trust’s remaining assets go to a designated charity.
As trusts and estates attorney Michael Arlein said,
The Romneys get theirs off the top and the charity gets what’s left. So by definition, if it’s not performing as well, the charity gets harmed more.

Today's Teamster News 10.31.12

Northeast residents try to rebound after Sandy's punch, but challenge of rebuilding remains  Associated Press   ...People in the coastal corridor battered by superstorm Sandy took the first cautious steps to reclaim routines upended by the disaster, even as rescuers combed neighborhoods strewn with debris and scarred by floods and fire...
Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Rise by Most in Two Years: Economy  Bloomberg   ...The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities rose 2 percent from August 2011, the biggest year-to-year gain since July 2010, after climbing 1.2 percent the prior month, the group said today in New York...
UPS, FedEx Search for an Edge  24/7 Wall Street   ...Package delivery giant United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) said yesterday that it plans to hire 55,000 seasonal workers to sort, load, and help deliver packages during the coming holiday season. The total matches the number that UPS hired last year and that the company had been expected to hire again this year...
Here’s a Memo From the Boss: Vote This Way  New York Times   ...the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has freed companies from those restrictions, and now several major companies, including Georgia-Pacific and Cintas, have sent letters or information packets to their employees suggesting — and sometimes explicitly recommending — how they should vote this fall...
Judge strikes down law giving Walker new powers in setting DPI rules  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...A portion of a law giving Gov. Scott Walker veto powers over rules written by the state schools superintendent was struck down Tuesday by a Dane County judge, the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between the GOP governor and public employee unions...
EXCLUSIVE: Romney Campaign Training Poll Watchers To Mislead Voters In Wisconsin  ThinkProgress   ...Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters...
Flailing in Ohio, Romney rolls out Jeep ploy: editorial  Cleveland Plain Dealer   ...Ohio voters know who stepped up when the auto industry was at the abyss -- and it wasn't Romney...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Comfortably Smug hedge fund analyst spreads terrifying rumors on Twitter

This guy can probably get a job on Fox News or working for Mitt Romney. He's a hedge fund analyst and consultant to Christopher R. Wight, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th Congressional District. His name is Shashank Tripathi and he spreads lies under his Twitter handle @ComfortablySmug.

Many would consider him a sociopath.

Yesterday this was the kind of crap he was tweeting:

He also tweeted that the MTA announced all subways were flooded. He claimed the New York Stock Exchange had three feet of water on the floor.

Unfortunately, his tweets were picked up by news outlets before they were debunked.

He's been doing this for several years, in the comfort of anonymity. But today, Jack Stuef at BuzzFeed outed him as Tripathi:
When I called Tripathi and introduced myself, he immediately hung up.  @comfortablysmug did not respond to a DM request for comment. Wight could not immediately be reached for comment. Jordan Terry, founder of hedge fund consultancy Stone Street Partners, whose blog @comfortablysmug links to in his Twitter profile, said “Smug” no longer writes for the blog, but Terry had “otherwise no comment” on Tripathi. 
Since the controversy last night, @comfortablysmug has not tweeted.
Oh wait, he does work for Mitt Romney, coordinating phone bank volunteers.

NY sanitation Teamsters getting 'er done after Sandy

@JoeyBoots tweeted this photo of a sanitation worker clearing trees in the West Village.
New York City Sanitation Department Teamsters from Local 831 are working long hours today removing trees from roadways, breaking apart limbs and cleaning streets as Hurricane Sandy moves on.

The monster storm crippled the city, flooding the subways and the Wall Street District and downing power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people have no power. Some New York hospitals were evacuated, and Sandy killed at least 10 people.

We learn that Local 831 is on the job from Adam Rodriguez on Facebook. Paul Monico agrees: "New Yorks Strongest! We're on it! Local 831!!"

John Conrad doesn't expect recognition but doesn't care. His Facebook post: "831 for life! No headlines No medals No problem we love our city!"

His wife Trish Conrad appreciates all he does:
Stay safe...and thank you to my husband John Conrad, as well as Michael McCormack Sr., Hector Colon, Tommy Figs, Mike Lennon and all the other men and ladies in green for all for our city! As much as I would love my husband to be home with us during this devastating time, he is doing what needs to be done for all the residents of NYC and I could not be more proud of him!
There were more expressions of thanks, pride and gratitude on our Facebook page:
TJ Tompkins It's amazing that these useless "thugs" will risk life and limb, leaving family at home just to repair stuff, overtime must be AWESOME! No wonder they're so rich and powerful!! 
Nicki Wohlers Stay safe my brothers and sisters, fellow are my heros! 
Maureen Keen God bless all the people who are working to make our lives better after such a horrible storm.
And check this out from Brian Bowles' Facebook page. He wrote, "It grew for decades and decades. #Sandy blew in and took in down in minutes. It only took NYC Sanitation seconds to clean it up and get the road open again. Thanks guys!"

Pa. Teamster running for state rep to fight privatization

We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates hereherehereherehereherehereherehere
herehere, here and here.

A public sector worker in Dauphin County, Pa., Local 776 member Osman Kamara has seen his own job threatened by privatization. Kamara, who is running for the District 106 Pennsylvania House seat, will not stand by and let this trend continue.

“I’m a 16-year dues-paying Teamster that believes in fair wages, fair benefits and a fair tax system. I will fight against any attack on the labor movement,” Kamara said. “An assault against labor is an assault against the middle class. I promise to represent and fight for labor if elected as a state representative and protect working families.”

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part VIII

Here is what we thought would be the last installment of an eight-part series about Mitt Romney's tax dodges, compliments of Rolling Stone. But today we got a surprise from a different publication about another Romney tax dodge. So we bring you the penultimate installment in a nine-part series showing how Mitt Romney fails to pay his fair share of taxes.

Today it's the Tax-Free Trust.


Romney has shifted enormous wealth – as much as $100 million – into a family trust, a fortune he doesn't include in the $250 million estimate of his net worth. His campaign admits he paid no gift taxes in transferring assets to the trust, even though individual gifts above $13,000 are subject to taxation. A direct gift of $100 million would have incurred a tax hit of at least $29 million, according to Michael Graetz, a former Treasury official under George H.W. Bush.

How did Romney skirt the limits on gifts? Tax experts believe that he made his contributions to the trust in the form of the carried interest he received from his Bain funds. For income-tax purposes, the assets were technically valued at zero, because the gains would not be taxed until the fund's investments were cashed out years later. In reality, though, Romney could have sold his carried interest to a third party for millions – making it absurd for him to pretend that his gift had no market value. Yet even if the move was illegal, Romney has nothing to fear: Tax returns on gifts are almost never audited, and they can't be challenged at all after three years.

Romney also used a scheme called an "intentionally defective grantor trust" to dodge the gift tax. Instead of having the trust pay taxes on its profits, Romney pays the tax bill himself. That keeps more money in the trust – amounting to another massive transfer of wealth that evades the gift tax. Even worse, the trust is exempt from the estate tax – meaning Romney's heirs will eventually pocket some $31 million they would have owed in taxes had he not siphoned off his fortune into the trust, tax-free.

Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 10.30.12

Leaner government storm response one year after Irene  New York World   ...New York greets Hurricane Sandy with fewer shelters and state troopers — and a shorter timeline for evacuation...
As the Frankenstorm Arrives Romney/ Ryan Go Silent on Their Plan to Cut FEMA and Disaster Relief  Politicususa   ...As the East Coast braces for a massive storm, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are trying to cover up the fact that if elected they intend to cut funding for both FEMA and disaster relief...
Sensata outsourcing rattles Illinois community: 'Jobs need to stay here'  Guardian   ...Workers residents have held protests to prevent vehicles shipping parts destined for China from Bain-owned company...
Privatizing prisons is a scam (opinion)  Youngstown Vindicator   ... when you have to cut costs to save money to meet the profit margin of a private company shortcuts are the only way to operate. When you create shortcuts, security is the first casualty...
Digital Debate: Teamster’s Hoffa & Amway Heir DeVos: Clash Over Unions!  CBS News   ...Teamsters President James P. Hoffa is associated with the labor movement as few others, having been weaned on it by his late father, storied union boss Jimmy Hoffa who ran the powerful organization decades earlier...
Illinois School Bus Workers Vote To Join Teamsters Local 777  IBT   ...School bus drivers and monitors with Illinois Central School Bus in Waukegan, Ill., have voted to join Teamsters Local 777 in Lyons, Ill., standing strong throughout a hard-fought campaign for respect and justice from the employer. There are 220 workers in the bargaining unit...

Monday, October 29, 2012

E. Coast Teamsters in the eye of the Superstorm

New York City sanitation trucks. Teamsters ready for battle.
Some East Coast Teamsters are lucky enough to be hunkered down at home while others are keeping citizens safe and provisioned as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Northeast.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in New York and Massachusetts as the monster storm gained strength and threatened millions of people along the coast. New York City and Long Island are in the danger zone as a violent tidal surge is expected.

Department of Sanitation Teamsters battened down New York City before the storm hit, driving convoys of trucks to staging areas around the city and emptying and turning over garbage bins. They continued to collect trash and recycling during the storm today, and they'll be on 12-hour shifts tomorrow to clean up debris.

To the left is one mess they're already cleaning up. The Department of Sanitation salt storage building near the Hudson River is flooded.

Teamster produce market warehousemen, drivers and sales representatives are hard at work through the storm today at the Hunts Point Produce Market. Kristine Panico Memoli posts on the Teamsters Facebook page:
Local 202 Hunts Point Market workers are out in these unsafe conditions as well. It is sad.
Tony Chipelo from Local 210 in New York says he's off today and possibly tomorrow. He posts:
Company I work for is pro safety:)
Just north of New York City,  M‪anny Areizaga tells us on Facebook:
Yonkers DPW is working and local 456 oil men are out in this.‬
Grand Central Station, empty.
Amtrak service is cancelled along the Northeast Corridor and so are thousands of commercial flights. We hope none of our brothers and sisters in the Airline Division or the Rail Conference got stranded (though we think some probably they were).

Andrew O'Derry from Local 929 tells us he's "Hunkered down in South Philly."

Michael Trudeau, a member of Local 251 in East Providence, R.I., is a Budweiser driver. He tells us he had no work today but he got the call for 8 a.m. tomorrow.

Jeff Cottrell posts from New Jersey,
USFoods in NJ sent out their drivers today locals 107/628 to make deliveries claiming us as essential personnel. God forbid a bar doesn't get their chicken tenders and onion rings. Corporate profits over people. Please be safe out there everyone!
Some UPS Teamsters worked through the hurricane:
Craig Posner Local 804 is working. People need their amazon and VS underwear. What happened to safety is top priority? Ridiculous!!!! 
But UPS customers appreciated their deliveries. @700MHz took the photo of the brown truck (right) that delivered to his door and tweeted:
Wow this is what I call service and commitment
Other UPS Teamsters got to stay home with their families:
Tony Hughes Local 331 pleasantville nj ups off today. On standby for tomorrow. 
John Lambropoulos UPS member call not to report @ 630, preload did work delivery area (Wildwood) under water 
CabbaGe Dbmc Local 355. UPS made a good call and let us park our brown trucks and be with our family's today 
Mitch Mummert UPS canceled Feeder runs and Delivery in Maryland.
We'll keep you posted. And we'll leave you with this reminder from our good friend, Teamster retiree George Corneliusson:
The best recovery work will be done by union workers including Teamsters! 

How the Kochs' massive oil theft led to Citizens United

Here's a must-watch video that explains how the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers' theft of oil decades ago led to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010. Citizens United empowered corporations to spend unlimited money on political campaigns.

Investigative journalist Greg Palast describes how Koch Oil drivers filled their trucks with oil from the Osage Indian Reservation but shortchanged the tribe by several hundred dollars a load. The FBI investigated and found Charles Koch personally ordered the multimillion-dollar pilfering of oil. He was on tape saying,
I want my fair share and that's all of it.
Koch Oil was investigated by Congress, which found,
Koch Oil (“Koch”)... is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting.
Koch Oil was charged by a federal grand jury and fined. But here's how the brothers managed to weasel out of further prosecution: The federal prosecutor serves at the pleasure of the state's U.S. senator. Oklahoma Sen. Don Nickles had accepted campaign contributions from the Koch brothers, so he had a Koch-friendly prosecutor appointed, according to Palast. That prosecutor assured Charles Koch he wouldn't be indicted.

The Kochs were then charged with 350 criminal violations of federal environmental laws, according to Palast. That's because Koch Oil drivers dumped oil sludge in the rivers after skimming the oil.

The Kochs decided to decriminalize environmental violations. Palast says in 1994 they wrote the Contract With America, which attacks environmental protections. The Kochs that year contributed heavily to Republican congressional campaigns. They helped unseat 25 Democrats during the 1994 midterm elections, which is why Newt Gingrich came to power.

Palast describes how the Kochs laundered money through a management consulting firm called Triad and a shell nonprofit called Coalition for Our Children's Future. They spent millions smearing Democratic candidates for Congress. This was a federal crime at the time.

But no longer, not since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. And guess whose lackey lawyer argued the case? That would be the Koch brothers' lawyer, Ted Olsen.

The result -- well, look around you. This is it.

Teamster state treasurer up for re-election in Missouri

(UPDATES to change photo.)
We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.

Clint Zweifel, a Democrat who was elected State Treasurer in 2008, was elected a Missouri State Representative in 2002 and served as Education and Research Director at Local 688 in St. Louis prior to that.

“Growing up in a union household, I witnessed firsthand the entry point to the middle class that labor has provided for many American families,” Zweifel said. “I understand the importance of a strong middle class and the need to grow opportunities for middle-class families.”

Zweifel said he has focused on helping working families as treasurer.

“We partnered with small businesses and farms on more than $1 billion in low-interest loans that helped create jobs and grow our economy,” he said. “Through increased efficiencies and private partnership, we provided opportunities for families to save more money for college through matching funds and better program performance. As a commitment to working families, I continue to look for ways to make government more efficient, accountable and transparent so it works better for them.”

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part VII

It's taking us more than a week to share Rolling Stone's report all the ways Mitt Romney avoided paying taxes on the fortune he made harvesting companies at Bain Capital. This one's a little complicated. But note the practices described in Part VII were investigated by New York's attorney general.


Not content with the carried-interest boondoggle, Bain also uses a scheme known as fee conversion to transform smaller management fees – which are supposed to be taxed as regular earnings – into investment income taxed at only 15 percent. A Bain manager simply "waives" his right to his fee and is instead staked an investment of equal value in the private equity fund. Because the manager can then cherry-pick from the fund's investments, he is virtually guaranteed a rich return – flouting the spirit of the lower tax rate on capital gains, which is designed to reward investors who take risks with their money. "Because they didn't receive the cash, they claim that it's not a taxable event," says Fleischer. "It's not legal." New York's attorney general has launched a criminal investigation into the practice.

Romney denies he took part in such waivers, which may have robbed the Treasury of up to $220 million. But according to Fleischer, Romney's financial records suggest he "benefited personally from fee conversion." He also served as the sole shareholder in the firm that set up the deals, making him legally responsible for determining how Bain structured them.

Read the whole thing here.

Ohio voting machines linked to Romney can be hacked

Good to know.

Today's Teamster News 10.29.12

The American Economy On Purgatory Mountain  Economic Populist   ... It's not taxes, small government or big government, or even the deficit. The real problem are jobs going offshore, companies treating workers as disposable and the never ending race to the bottom on wages, global labor arbitrage...
A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift  New York Times   ...the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the retail and wholesale sector, with a total of 18.6 million jobs, has cut a million full-time jobs since 2006, while adding more than 500,000 part-time jobs...
EU Bureaucracy has Lost Control of Italy; Social Mood Turns Black  Mish's Global Trend Economic Analysis   ...Northern Italy has been fermenting with protests and is becoming radical.  The paradox is that the rich part of the country is collapsing under the Euro and the EU driven austerity, crushed by competition from Germany, competition from Asia and other emerging region with weaker currencies and improving technology and skills and by high commodity and energy costs...
‘Anti-Business’ Obama Is Best President For Corporate Profits Since 1900  ThinkProgress   ...Even if corporate profits under Obama are compared to the 2008 peak — in order to erase the effect of the financial crisis — “average annual corporate profit growth under President Obama is 6.8%,” or nearly three times as large as it was under President Reagan...
Romney Auto Bailout Ad Tells Four Myths In 30 Seconds  ThinkProgress   ...Romney claimed he read a news story that said Chrysler was planning to “moving all production to China.” The Bloomberg News piece he referenced, though, made it clear that Fiat, the Italian company that now owns Chrysler, was opening new factories in China to make Jeeps for Chinese consumers. No American plants will be closed, and no American jobs will be lost...
New tools aid door-to-door push for votes  Boston Globe   ...A Teamster and UPS driver, Cote said he has been inundated with union literature urging him to vote for Obama. The Teamsters have their own microtargeting effort; the union president, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., who supports Obama, can be heard in a message on Cote’s answering machine. Cote is sympathetic to concerns that union interests could be undermined by a Romney presidency...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part VI

The nice thing about being superrich is that you don't have to play by the same rules that everybody else does. Mitt Romney pays taxes at a lower rate on his fortune than nurses or law enforcement officers pay on their middling incomes.

Here we bring you an explanation of how Romney gets away with it, thanks to Rolling Stone.


For political purposes, Romney claims his investments are held in a blind trust that he doesn't actively manage. (In fact, the trust sees just fine: It's managed by a close friend and is invested heavily in his son Tagg's hedge fund.) But if Romney told the IRS he were merely a passive investor, he wouldn't qualify for his most notorious tax break: the loophole for carried interest.

Here's how it works: Bain partners earn a cut of the profits from the investments they manage – usually 30 percent. This "carried-interest" is not a return on any personal investment they made – it's just another form of compensation, like an ordinary paycheck. Yet under the carried-interest loophole, the earnings are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent, rather than the income-tax rate of 35 percent. (They're also completely exempt from payroll taxes, which support Social Security and Medicare.) "When Romney says, 'I have a low tax rate because most of my income comes from investments,' that's not really true," says Fleischer. "He's receiving carried interest in exchange for past services."

Indeed, more than a decade after he left Bain, Romney is still booking carried interest as though he were actively leading the firm. Ann Romney's blind trust also claims carried interest, for allegedly "performing services" for a Bain fund in the Caymans. In the past two years alone, the loophole has allowed the Romneys to dodge $2.6 million in taxes.

Read the whole thing here.

Former UPS Teamster running for Congress from Minn.

We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.

Former congressman Rick Nolan retired from Congress in 1981, but he never stopped paying attention to what was going on in Washington, D.C.—or with his fellow Teamsters. That’s why he’s again running for the U.S. House Seat in Minnesota’s 8th District.

“Unions are the backbone of the middle class in America,” Nolan said. “Let’s not forget that the union movement raised the working class out of poverty less than a century ago and provided a powerful voice for the average working man and woman. That voice is being challenged every day. Working families need more allies, and unions continue to fight for all of us.”

“I worked my way through college as a Teamster at UPS. This is my union,” Nolan said. He is committed to fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, pension protection and against right to work.

Nolan’s background has not only shown him the importance of unions but of small businesses. He has been a successful local business owner who has created jobs throughout Minnesota through his sawmill and wood pallet factory, which is family run.

Nolan is a former three-term Minnesota congressman recognized nationwide for his battles on behalf of working families, farmers, small businesses and rural communities.

Letterman dumps on Trump for Made-in-China ties

What you don't see in this video clip from Thursday night is this: Donald Trump tells David Letterman  he loves Mitt Romney's stance on China because "China is ripping our heart out."

And then Letterman brings out the Trump clothing...

Today's Teamster News 10.28.12

GDP - The Warning Signs From Exports  zero hedge   ...The continued drag on exports due to the worsening recession in the Eurozone, and the slowdown in China, is putting continued pressure on corporate profit margins.  In turn this keeps businesses on the defensive to protect profit margins which stifles employment and investment...
Anti-austerity protesters urge Spain government to resign in Madrid rally  AFP   ...Thousands of anti-austerity demonstrators marched in the Spanish capital Saturday calling for the conservative government to resign because of its severe budget cuts...
Undercover donors fuel Prop. 32 furor  San Francisco Chronicle   ...some union backers wonder whether that $11 million came from the Koch brothers, those conservative billionaire financiers who have made a name for themselves by pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns in recent years...
Sensata outsourcing rattles Illinois community: 'Jobs need to stay here'  Guardian   ...Workers residents have held protests to prevent vehicles shipping parts destined for China from Bain-owned company...
Ban ALEC gift-giving to state's lawmakers (opinion)  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ... if corporations cleverly export the legislators and the lobbyists to out-of-state resorts under the rubric of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has looked the other way...
Ten days til the election... quick grab a baby! Obama charms them in New Hampshire while Romney FINALLY has some luck with the babies in Florida  Mail Online   ...Obama hugs supporters at the Teamsters Union Local 633 ahead of his campaign rally...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Romney running for union-buster-in-chief

We've told you all about Mitt Romney's anti-union record and his promise to make union-busting a White House priority if he becomes president.

Today our friends at IBEW posted a video that shows just how proud Romney is of his crusade against working families.

From his commitment to kill project labor agreements to his desire to make right-to-work-for-less a national policy, Romney’s union-busting agenda is outlined brilliantly in the video – by Romney himself. His recorded comments were delivered last spring to the anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors. So unlike his more recent attempts to reinvent himself as a champion for the middle class two weeks before the election, the Romney in this video was comfortable.

The Transport Workers Union also has a great video it made last week which goes a little deeper, including Romney's repeated commitments to cut funding for Amtrak.

Check out IBEW's video. And if you know any union members out there who are planning to vote for Romney, ask them if they like being a union member.

Then ask them to watch this video.
                                                                             --Union Thug

Obama surprises NH Teamsters today

(UPDATES to ADD Obama comment in 3rd graf.)

We just received an email from Brother Dennis Caza, Local 633's political coordinator:
We had a 15 minute notice that President Obama was coming to visit Teamsters Local 633 TODAY!!!!
The president was on his way to Nashua. When he arrived, he said,  "I saw a bunch of signs, said Teamsters for Obama, I thought I'd stop by."

You can see from the photo he was at the Manchester hall shortly after lunch.

The Associated Press reported:
A group of about 60 members greeted the president with loud cheers and chants of “fired up, ready to go!” Obama addressed the group briefly, telling them the state will be “very important” on Election Day on Nov. 6. 
“We don’t know how this thing is going to play out,” Obama said. “These four electoral votes right here could make the difference.” 
Obama won New Hampshire by 9 percentage points in 2008, but polls show the race tightening here. The New Hampshire Union Leader, the state’s most prominent newspaper, endorsed Republican Mitt Romney. 
Before leaving the Teamsters office, the president listed his accomplishments, including protecting equal pay for women, and he added: “I’m going to need you guys over the next 11 days to work as hard as you can. Do it not for me, do it for your kids.”
Our New Hampshire brothers and sisters cleaned up real nice, don't you think?

Teamsters rock the vote all over the USA

Teamsters heading out to hear President Obama in Denver on Oct. 24 
Teamster boots are walking all over the country for pro-worker candidates. It's never been more important to elect people who will make sure that the benefits of our economy go to working and middle-income families.

Our Colorado brothers and sisters saw President Obama in Denver earlier this week. The Denver Post reported,
President Barack Obama asked huddling supporters in a chilly City Park on Wednesday to stick with him for another four years, calling his GOP opponent out of touch on America's problems and arguing that the presidential election is about trust. 
Obama stood with sleeves rolled up beneath overcast skies and boasted about his frenetic schedule with nine swing state stops in a no-sleep 38-hour stretch, 13 days before the election. 
Polls say Romney and Obama are in a statistical tie in Colorado.

Teamsters from Local 30 in Pennsylvania were phone banking for President Obama in Greensburg -- with none other than former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. In the photo above are Roger Foley, Carl "Hands" Paullet from Teamsters Joint Council 40, Gov. Dean and Jan Foley.

Nevada is another battleground state where polls show the two presidential candidates very close.

To the left is a picture of Local 993 President Mike Magnani speaking with his members at the general membership meeting on Wednesday. Mike asked his members to vote for President Obama to protect their jobs. He reminded his members that they have until Nov 2 to vote early.

Nevada is the home of billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is trying to buy the election for Mitt Romney. Adelson, who owns casinos overseas, wants to break the unions responsible for Las Vegas' middle class and reduce gaming and hotel wages so they match those in India and Macao. He told the Times of India,

  • In India, the manpower is abundant and very cheap, and that makes investment very enticing. 
  • Manpower here (in Macao) is cheap.
  • Tax rates in Macau are much higher than in Vegas, but we intend to balance that with the much cheaper manpower here.
Our brothers and sisters in Ohio are working hard for President Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown, one of the staunches opponents of job-killing trade deals you'll meet. Below is a photo of Sen. Brown  talking at Teamsters Local 413 and 284 in Columbus earlier this week.

And finally, we bring you this photo of Carl A. "Hands" Paulette, retiree; Jim McClalland and Mark Hilderbrand from Local 249. They's standing in front of the Teamster Temple in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. We love to see that Teamster power!

Wis. "Fab 14" senator, a longtime Teamster, runs for re-election

We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.

Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Wis.) understands working people because he is one.

“One day I was working on the garbage truck, and the next day I was working in Madison, hiring staff,” said Hansen, a former Green Bay Department of Public Works employee and 20-year member of Local 662.

A tireless advocate for workers’ rights, Hansen is one of the famous “Fab 14” state senators who left Wisconsin in 2011 in a show of solidarity against Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining for public employees.

Since then, Hansen and his fellow Democrats have taken back the state senate and he is running for a fourth term in Senate District 30.

“It’s the 1 percent against the 99 percent and I’m representing working men and women in this state,” Hansen said. “I stood up for what I believed in and I will continue to stand up for working people—for affordable health care, quality education and care for our seniors.”

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part V

Now that we've told you about four countries where Mitt Romney hides money, we are moving on to his U.S.-based, er, techniques.

We are indebted to Rolling Stone for bringing us this eight-part series on ways the Republican presidential candidate avoids paying his fair share of taxes. So if you think he's the guy to make sure the benefits of our economy go to regular working and middle-income families -- well, good luck with that.

Today, thanks to Rolling Stone, we bring you Romney's retirement tricks.


Romney has stockpiled as much as $87 million in his IRA – even though contributions to such retirement accounts are limited to just $30,000 a year. "Congress never intended IRAs to be used to accumulate that kind of wealth," says Wilkins. To get around the limits, Romney appears to have directed his IRA to invest in a special class of Bain stock. By assigning an artificially low value to the shares, Bain ensured that any returns would be wildly inflated – as much as 30 times the initial investment. By buying rigged stock with his limited IRA dollars, Romney got to reap the bonanza tax-free.

Romney also padded his IRA by investing in "blocker funds" that Bain has set up in the Caymans. Such funds attract tax-exempt investors – like college endowments or Romney's IRA – that want to avoid paying the Unrelated Business Income Tax, a 35 percent penalty designed to prevent tax-exempt investors from having an unfair advantage over for-profit businesses in private-equity deals. But by buying shares in offshore blocker funds that then invest in Bain and other takeover artists, investors like Romney bilk the Treasury out of $100 million a year. "It's an absurdly easy escape," says Shaviro.

Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 10.27.12

Can the Future of the U.S. Be Seen in Europe Today?  Iacono Research   ...Two reports ...  lay out just how bad conditions are for the poor in some countries as putting food on the family table has become more and more challenging while losing your job and your health care benefits has turned into a death sentence for some...
Michigan Vote a Test Case on Enshrining the Rights of Unions  New York Times   ...Tired of battling legislative efforts to roll back union rights in state after state, organized labor is trying a new strategy: going on the offense. The first target is Michigan, the cradle of the United Automobile Workers and a bastion of union power...
Pending trade pact could cost Maine shoe worker jobs, forum told  Kennebec Journal   ...Trans-Pacific Partnership, now in negotiations, would hurt state's New Balance factories, state representatives claim...
Ohio lawmakers want to slow Gov. John Kasich's plan to lease Ohio Turnpike  The Plain Dealer   ...Two Democratic state lawmakers hope to slow Republican Gov. John Kasich's plans to lease control of the Ohio Turnpike to the highest private bidder...
Milwaukee County DA responds to Rite-Hite letter to employees  Badger Democracy   ...Milwaukee County DA John Chisolm’s office has responded to an inquiry regarding the controversial letter sent to Rite-Hite employees, informing them of the consequences of an Obama re-election...
Teamsters:  'We feel like the family's grown' with addition of Genesys Convalescent Center   ...Employees are Genesys Convalescent Center in Grand Blanc Township have voted to become members of Teamsters Local 332 in Flint...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Did ALEC buy your state representatives? Now you can find out.

Now you can find out for sure. ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, is notorious for bribing paying for state lawmakers and their families to take lavish vacations. At posh resorts like Hilton Head, ALEC makes sure state representatives get babysitting services, fine dining and face time with deep-pocketed corporate contributors.

ALEC calls these free trips "scholarships." Seriously.

Now, our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy issued a new report listing all the corporations that gave money to fund the trips and all the lawmakers who received them, by state.

You can peruse the report here.

We took a quick look. In a matter of minutes we found these interesting items:
There's more ALEC news: A former IRS official accuses ALEC of lying about its assets. Roll Call reported yesterday,
The former head of the IRS’ Exempt Organizations division accused the conservative nonprofit American Legislative Exchange Council of lying about its assets in its federal tax filings in a letter sent to the agency Wednesday. 
Marcus Owens, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale who for a decade directed the IRS division responsible for approving organizations’ charity statuses, said ALEC made conflicting statements to federal and state regulators in an attempt to maintain its status as a tax-exempt charitable nonprofit. A copy of the letter was obtained by Roll Call. 
It’s the second complaint against ALEC that Owens has filed with the IRS this year on behalf of Clergy Voice, a coalition of Christian progressive ministers in the battleground state of Ohio. The clergy group is concerned that ALEC is violating its tax status and that the strict voter identification laws it promotes ultimately disenfranchise voters.
Sounds like trouble in ALEC Land. Heh-heh.

Ohio Teamsters get their ground game on

In the last two weeks of this presidential election, it all comes down to the ground game. And nowhere is the ground game more important than the battleground state of Ohio.

For our brothers and sisters in Ohio, it's man-to-man combat persuasion.

Here Eric McKee, a union steward for Local 507 at Riser Foods, talks with Robert Moran, a union steward for Local 1164, at the Distillata work site. Work site visits are key to the Teamsters member-to-member efforts to turn out the vote for worker-friendly candidates on Nov. 6.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa visited work sites in Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland and led rallies in all three cities.

The Houston Chronicle reports that it's working:
...Team Obama ain’t giving out numbers of voter contacts and doors knocked. But when pollsters in Ohio asked voters if they have heard from the campaign: 
Heard from Team Obama in Ohio? 36%
Heard from Team Romney in Ohio? 29%
Matt Ford, political coordinator for Local 507, said he feels good about the outcome:
It's nothing like the midterms, more like 2008.  We can thank SB5 for uniting us against Republicans. That's the one silver lining of that legislation.

Mitt Romney's tax dodges, Part IV

No tax dodge would be complete without the Cayman Islands, and you can bet Mitt Romney took advantage of it!

Rolling Stone brings us the eight ways Mitt Romney avoids paying his fair share of taxes. Here we bring you Part IV:

Cayman Cash

Romney has nearly $30 million stashed in at least a dozen Bain funds in the Cayman Islands, where, as one filing boasts, investments are free from "income, estate, transfer, sales, or other Cayman Islands taxes."

But because some of those funds are directly invested in U.S. companies, they likely disclose their investors to the IRS, making them unattractive to tax cheats. So Bain also raises capital for its deals by selling shares in "feeder funds" – intermediary entities that invest in Bain's official funds, but don't have to make disclosures to the IRS. "If you want to cheat, they've rolled out the red carpet for you," says Wilkins.

Has Romney paid all his taxes on the shady funds? Only he and the IRS know for sure. But even if Romney never cheated personally, the feeder funds he appears to have invested in cater to tax criminals, making it easier for him and his Bain partners to raise capital and rake in big management fees.

Romney is profiting from one form of tax evasion in the Caymans: equity swaps. Under this racket run by top Wall Street banks, American firms pay out their profits – tax-free – to investment funds based in the Caymans. According to a Senate investigation, the purpose of these complex instruments is "to dodge payment of U.S. taxes on U.S. stock dividends." Romney has more than $1.25 million invested in four funds that profit from equity swaps – including two managed by Goldman Sachs.

Read the whole thing here. And thanks to Rolling Stone!

Desperate people make better serfs

So says the Naked Capitalist. She's explaining why 80 CEOs signed on to a lobbying campaign to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Reports The Hill,
The group, which now includes the heads of major companies like General Electric, Microsoft, Dow Chemical and Goldman Sachs, plans to embark on a multi-million advertising campaign to press its case. 
It is nothing new for big business to air its opinion on Washington policymaking. Countless letters from dozens of industry groups typically flood Capitol Hill inboxes. 
But this new effort marks an increased push that is driven in part by dissipated trust in Washington after last summer’s debt limit standoff. 
The group said Thursday it had raised over $35 million in six weeks from private donations, and was eyeing potential ad buys as well as setting up local chapters to push the cause. 
And here's a reason to be very alarmed:
The CEOs also said they planned to make their case to their employees — six million in all — hoping in turn they would carry the message back to their lawmakers.
The Wall Street Journal's Felix Salmon ridicules their argument that cuts are needed to shrink the deficit.

There are lots of serious threats out there to the economic well-being and security of the United States, and the national debt is simply not one of them. Nor is it growing. The chart on the right, from Rex Nutting, shows what’s actually going on: total US debt to GDP was rising alarmingly until the crisis, but it has been falling impressively since then. In fact, this is the first time in over half a century that US debt to GDP has been going down rather than up.
Salmon accuses the CEOs of being the real threat to the well-being and security of the United States:
Money is cheaper now than it has been in living memory: the markets are telling corporate America that they are more than willing to fund investments at unbelievably low rates. And yet the CEOs are saying no. That’s a serious threat to the economic well-being of the United States: it’s companies are refusing to invest for the future, even when the markets are begging them to.
Brace yourself for the lame-duck session.  

Mitt Romney, economic traitor (video)

Here's a tough new ad about Mitt Romney's company sending jobs to China. And taking down the American flag while the U.S. workers trained their Chinese replacements!

Teamster doctor running for Congress from Calif.

We're paying close attention to 19 political candidates who are Teamsters, used to be Teamsters or are close Teamster friends. Between now and Nov. 6, we'll be presenting one candidate a day to you, courtesy of Teamster Magazine. Read about other Teamster candidates hereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.

California podiatrist Dr. Lee Rogers, an affiliate Teamsters member through the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, is running for U.S. Congress in California’s 25th District.

Rogers is challenging Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, a longtime anti-worker congressman who has fought against organized labor and the Labor Department.

“The middle class is suffering while we’re giving away billions in subsidies to profitable companies,” Rogers said. “Let’s focus our tax dollars here at home and protect working families.”

Rogers has been endorsed by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He specializes in podiatry and limb salvage at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys. He co-founded and directed the Amputation Prevention Center in the hospital, and has published more than a hundred scientific papers, articles and book chapters on health policy.

Rogers said in his first 100 days he would oppose Republican plans to gut Medicare, co-sponsor a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding Citizens United, introduce legislation to ban x-ray scanners on humans for non-medical purposes and establish a yearly conference of local California leaders to establish legislative priorities.

He and his wife Susan live in Simi Valley with their two daughters.