Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teamsters Disaster Relief helps hundreds in wake of Sandy

Sanitationman Denis Healy, Sanitationman Danny McLaren, Uniformed Sanitationmen’s President Harry Nespoli, George Miranda, president of Joint Council 16 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Sanitationman William Montero.
Hundreds of victims of Superstorm Sandy are benefiting from the generosity of their Teamster brothers and sisters. Contributions poured into the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund after the hurricane devastated New York and New Jersey.

An estimated 100,000 homes were destroyed, and many Teamsters lost their homes. Among them were New York City Sanitation workers. As the New York Daily News reported,
Many New York City Sanitation workers ... were victims themselves, either losing their homes or facing mounting bills to repair and rebuild following Superstorm Sandy. 
Several who are members of Local 831, recently received some financial help from their parent union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. 
Checks for $500 were issued to Dennis Healy, a seven-year department veteran from Rockaway, William Montero, an eight-year veteran from Rockaway and Danny McLaren, a 15-year veteran from Breezy Point. 
The fund is accepting applications until Jan. 31. In addition, Local 831 is also working on its own relief fund to help sanitation workers.
Many of "New York's Strongest" worked long hours to put New York back on its feet in the aftermath of the superstorm though they'd lost their homes.

Antonio Christian, director of the Teamsters Human Rights Commission, said more than 600 families have applied, and most have received benefits. Said Christian,
The locals have done a good job telling everyone about Disaster Relief
The fund reimburses victims for damage to their personal property, loss of personal property and loss of wages. Teamsters are still encouraging people to support disaster relief, Christian said.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in Colo.!

Please welcome our 22 new brothers and sisters who voted to join Teamsters Local 455. They are sanitation workers employed by Serve Tech in a grocery warehouse in Denver.

Brother Ron Cash from Local 455 tells us the warehouse is owned by Kroger/King Soopers, which contracts out the work to several different companies. Serve Tech handles the sanitation. Teamsters are already represented at Advantage Logistics, which does the warehouse work.

The workers organized for better pay, health benefits and work breaks. They are looking forward to negotiating a strong first contract. The company has agreed to begin negotiations the week of Feb. 18th.

Welcome to our great union!

Inspired by Toll victory, 2nd group of port drivers ready to join Teamsters

Ready to fight for their union: Port truck drivers at American Logistics International.
A second group of truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach is officially kicking off its fight to join the Teamsters. Delegates for 85 port drivers at American Logistics International hand-delivered a letter to their boss late yesterday afternoon telling him the news.

The drivers were inspired to action by the amazing first contract won late last year by fellow port drivers, Teamster members who work for the Australian multinational Toll Group. Now, more of the thousands of port workers at LA/Long Beach are gearing up to fight for their union.

Teamsters International Vice President Fred Potter said word had spread quickly around the port about the Teamsters' first contract with Toll. Potter, who is also head of the Teamsters Port division, said his phone was ringing off the hook after the contract was signed. Workers, he said, finally believed they had the power to improve their lives.

The Toll contract was the first union contract signed by port drivers since trucking was deregulated in 1980.

The contract gives Toll drivers a $6-an-hour raise and, for the first time, a pension, affordable health care, job security and clean restrooms. They are now eager to go out and tell other port workers, 'You can do this, too,' Potter said. 

American Logistics International is based in Carson, Calif.

Kochs pour $24M more into phony think tanks, schools

A new report says the  Benedict Arnold Koch brothers spent another $24 million in 2011 to destroy workers' rights, foul the environment, enhance corporate monopoly power and rig elections for their political puppets. 

And believe it or not, they did it through nonprofit "charitable" foundations. 

The Center for Public Integrity reported that the Kochs run foundations with a staggering $310 million in assets last year. They also support academic centers, like George Mason University and Florida State University's economics department. 

And, of course, they give money to ALEC, the dating service for state lawmakers, corporations and big political donors. CPI reports:
The D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council received $150,000 to help finance its activities, including meetings where corporate representatives draft model legislation with state legislators. The Koch brothers have decades-long connections with ALEC.
The report doesn't mention the Kochs' political contributions. Those include David Koch's Americans for Prosperity, the phony tea party group. Koch-backed groups like AFP spent about $100 million on last year's election. USA Today reported,
Little is publicly known about the precise sources of its funding. Americans for Prosperity and its foundation reported combined revenue of nearly $39.6 million in 2010, according to the groups' tax returns. David Koch is the foundation's president.
Here are some of the other foundations that benefited from Charles Koch's largesse:
The Bill of Rights Institute: $350,000
The Federalist Society: $260,000
The Jack Miller Center: $250,000
American Enterprise Institute: $200,000
Manhattan Institute: $200,000
Pacific Research Institute: $100,000
Ayn Rand Institute: $50,000
Heartland Institute: $25,000
Here are the four Koch Foundations that give the bulk of the Koch donations. Click on the link to see their IRS tax filings for 2011:

ALERT! Expose ALEC in Virginia!

Virginians, you can help bring ALEC out of the shadows! Tomorrow, an ALEC accountability bill in the Virginia Legislature will be heard in committee at 9am. The bill, SB1143, would prohibit legislators from using taxpayer money to attend conferences (like the ones ALEC sponsors) if agendas and conference materials are not made available to the public. 

Anti-worker members of Virginia's General Assembly have spent more than $230,000 in recent years traveling to conferences hosted by ALEC. There they meet with wealthy political donors and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors to draft legislation. Though taxpayer dollars frequently pay for these meetings, they aren't open to the public. The bill would only allow public dollars to be spent when access is allowed to public meetings. Agenda and conference materials would be considered public documents and subject to Virginia's Freedom of Information Act.

Progress Virginia has a petition you can sign on to here.

The group is also asking that Virginia residents call or email the committee members. They are:  
Senator Ryan McDougle:, (804) 698-7504
Senator Walter Stosch:, (804) 698-7512
Senator Tommy Norment:, (804) 698-7503
Senator Steve Martin:, (804) 698-7503
Senator Emmett Hanger:, (804) 698-7524
Senator Steve Newman:, (804) 698-7523
Senator John Watkins:, (804) 698-7510
Senator Frank Ruff:, (804) 698-7515
Senator Frank Wagner:, (804) 698-7507
Senator Mark Obenshain:, (804) 698-7526
Senator Ralph Smith:, (804) 698-7519
Senator Chuck Colgan:, (804) 698-7529
Senator Dick Saslaw:, (804) 698-7535
Senator Janet Howell:, (804) 698-7532
Senator Louise Lucas:, (804) 698-7518
Senator Jill Vogel:, (804) 698-7527
We have less than 24 hours, so act now!

BREAKING: Unions, ACLU file suit to invalidate Mich. No Rights At Work

A lawsuit was filed today to strike down Michigans No Rights At Work law by the Teamsters, other Change to Win unions, the UAW, the Michigan Education Association, the ACLU and others.  The coalition charged the bills were enacted illegally because the public was locked out of the Capitol during debate.

The ACLU tells us the coalition argued the law:
...was in violation of the Open Meetings Act, the First Amendment, and the Michigan Constitution. The case, filed on behalf of a journalist, citizens, legislators, and unions, charges that government officials, in an unprecedented assault on democracy, deprived the public of their right to participate in the legislative process.
The lawsuit doesn't challenge the substance of the No Rights At Work law, but with the illegal and undemocratic process used to enact it. Further legal actions will probably try to strike down the law on its merits.

What the lawsuit does say is that the doors of the Michigan Capitol were locked for more than four hours on Dec. 6 while the bills were being debated on the House and Senate floors.

According to the ACLU:
While individuals already in the Capitol could stay, people waiting outside were not allowed to enter. In addition, the galleries overlooking the House floor were intentionally packed with legislative staffers so that the public would not be allowed in...
According to the lawsuit, the lockout at the Capitol merely added to the legislators’ attempts to swiftly pass these bills with little public input. The bills were abruptly introduced during the last days of the lame-duck legislative session, already a period of diminished public accountability. Rather than allowing the bills to go through the standard committee hearing process where the public would have been invited to comment, the right-to-work language was introduced for the first time on the House and Senate floors on the same day the bills were passed. 
As further evidence of the desire to prevent the public from holding their government accountable, the lawsuit also notes the appropriations provision that was added to make the legislation referendum-proof under the Michigan Constitution. 
The lawsuit can be read here. It was first filed on Dec. 6 to reopen the Capitol doors. Today, attorneys filed an amended complaint before Ingham County Judge William E. Collette asking him to strike down the law.

Tell UNFI CEO to quit lying about the Teamsters

Our brothers and sisters in Washington state are locked in a brutal fight with natural food distributor UNFI. Members of Local 117 are closing in on the third month of a strike against the company, which has 42 ULP charges pending, which hired 72 scabs and whose CEO tells preposterous lies about the situation.

The CEO, Steven Spinner, said Monday that UNFI's last proposal included caps on employee medical costs. The workers rejected that proposal by a vote of 104-26 because it eliminated that protection (which the previous contract included).

Local 117 sets the record straight on that issue and others in a strike update at  You can help our striking brothers and sisters by sending an email to Spinner at Urge him to return to the bargaining table and to reinstate all 72 warehouse workers who were illegally replaced.

You can also sign a petition here to STOP putting profits over protections for working families.

Finally, Teamsters Local 117 asks:
Help a worker pay his rent and put food on the table!   Donate to the Teamsters 117 UNFI Workers’ Hardship Fund.  All proceeds from the fund go directly to workers and their families suffering the greatest financial hardship during the strike.

Loophole lets US military buy non-American

The U.S. military ordered these Toyota trucks for use in the Korean War.
Toyota wouldn't exist if the U.S. military hadn't rescued it from collapse during the Korean War. The company was on the verge of closing, when the U.S. Department of Defense ordered 5,000 vehicles.

The military was exploiting a loophole in procurement that still exists today.  The U.S. government may buy a product that isn't made in America if the product won't be used inside the United States.

Freshman Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wants to close that loophole.  Long a champion of American manufacturing, Murphy founded the "Buy America" caucus  as a congressman. Yesterday he held a teleconference to talk about bringing jobs back home.

Matt Murray at NH Labor News reported on the conversation:
The United States Government needs to practice what it preaches by buying American made products.   Currently the ‘Buy America’ law states that 50% products bought with taxpayer money be made domestically. Senator Murphy says that number should be at a minimum 60% but would like to see it closer to 75%. 
Senator Murphy also pointed out that the current ‘Buy America’ law has one very large loophole that must be closed.  If the government buys a product, lets say a gun, but that product is not going to be used within the United States, the law says that it does not have to be made in the USA.   This loophole has been exploited by defense contractors and the DOD. Think of how much money the US Government spent over the last decade fighting two wars.  What would that have done for our economy if we made all of those guns and ammunitions right here at home?  If you remember weapons manufacturing during World War II was one of the way we pulled ourselves out of the Great Depression.
Read the whole thing here.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in FL

Please welcome our 22 new brothers and sisters who voted to join Local 385 in Florida. They are keyloaders for Avis Budget at Orlando Airport. Keyloaders make sure vehicles being rented have full tanks of gas, are clean and otherwise ready for customers.

One worker has been on the job for 22 years and earns just $12 an hour. All are seeking fair pay, a workplace where rules don’t constantly change, communication from management and dignity and respect on the job.

This is the third time workers voted to organize, according to business agent and organizer Roger Allain. He said,
During the previous two campaigns, the company made promises in its attempt to get workers to vote no. The workers are tired of those empty, false promises and they voted to form a union this time so that they will have a strong voice on the job once and for all.
Local 385 President Mike Stapleton says he's looking forward to negotiating a good first contract.

The local already represents the service agents at Avis and the rental agents at Budget.

Today's Teamster News 01.31.13

Libor Lies Revealed in Rigging of $300 Trillion Benchmark   Bloomberg  ...the manipulation of Libor stands out for its breadth and audacity. Details are only now revealing just how far-reaching the scam was...
Activists shine a light on secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks  The Straight  ...“We are talking about allowing, basically, a parallel system that would undermine national sovereignty...It would allow conglomerates to sue citizens, threaten citizens, and remove [Internet] content that they disagree with or that they think is infringing on their intellectual property.”...
GOP's Electoral Vote Scheme Already on Life Support  Talking Points Memo  ...Key Republican officials in Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and Michigan are coming out against a RNC-backed scheme to rig the electoral vote in Democratic-leaning states in order to boost Republican presidential candidates. That leaves just Pennsylvania and Wisconsin ...
States Tax The Richest 1 Percent At Half The Rate Of The Poor  Think Progress  ...The poorest Americans are subject to a tax rate at the state and local level that is twice as high as the tax rate paid by the wealthiest earners... Middle-class taxpayers also pay higher effective rates than the wealthy....
Right-to-work bill back before N.H. Legislators  Associated Press  ...Legislation that would excuse nonunion employees from contract-negotiation fees is up for discussion once again before lawmakers, after two recent failed attempts...
UAW, salaried Chrysler workers receiving bonuses or profit sharing checks  Michigan Live  ...All eligible Chrysler Group LLC’s salaried and hourly workers will receive either a performance bonus or a profit-sharing check ... the Auburn Hills-based automaker’s turnaround ... included a $1.7 billion profit, up from $183 million in 2011...
Hoffa Statement On The Decline In U.S. Gross Domestic Product  IBT   ...the U.S. economy is shrinking due to a fall in government spending. That should tell us that government austerity is not just wrong, it's bad economic policy...
Hoffa Statement On President Obama's Immigration Reform Proposal  IBT ...We're especially concerned that the final result truly protects all workers and isn't reminiscent of guest worker programs of the past...
Nowak Sworn In As New President of Michigan Teamsters Joint Council 43  IBT ...Determined to chart a new course for Michigan Teamsters during the challenging months and years ahead, Teamsters Local 1038 President Greg Nowak was sworn in today...
Durham, Teamsters Negotiate on School Bus Driver Salaries  Mount Pleasant Patch   ...A Durham School Services spokesman said Wednesday the company is offering school bus drivers a 3 percent raise in response to their request for a 12 percent raise, ABC News 4 reported...In response to Durham's press conference Wednesday, Teamsters 509 released this statement: Durham School Services initially told us they did not want to negotiate this contract through the media. We have honored their request despite the fact that they have not done the same...
Sanitation workers end strike against Republic Services  The Commercial Appeal  ...The 180 members of Teamsters Local 984 still don't have a contract with Republic Services; it expired last fall. But they decided to end a three-day strike after learning the company is handing over bonus checks that were two weeks late...
Workers at Avis Budget Group in Florida Join Teamsters Local 385  IBT a 15-7 vote, workers at the Avis Budget Group chose to join Local 385 in Orlando, Florida. There are 27 workers in the bargaining unit, located at Orlando International Airport...
Arkansas Best Corp. Reports Loss, Seeks End to Teamsters Talk  Arkansas Business Online  ...ABF Freight System Inc. expects contract negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to be resolved by a March 31 deadline, but the CEO of its parent company said Wednesday that the firm is exploring options in case a new agreement can't be reached...
Union: We offered to suspend NYC school bus strike, but Bloomberg said 'no'  Staten Island Advance ...The striking workers of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181 say they've offered a two-to-three-month "cooling off" period where they would return to their school bus routes...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Teamsters send Jobs Not Cuts message on ground, in cyberspace

Teamsters International VP Al Mixon leads a Jobs Not Cuts rally in Cleveland.
Teamsters today sent a message to Congress that Americans want jobs, not cuts to Social Security, Medicare and education.

Our brothers and sisters joined rallies around the country and participated in the biggest political Thunderclap in history. (Thunderclap is a new website that lets people to pledge to Tweet or Facebook a message all at the same time on the same day in order to achieve the maximum effect.) A total of 5,977 people sent the "Jobs Not Cuts" message to more than 1,869,096 Facebook and Twitter connections.

The coalition was a little disappointed we didn't reach a national "trending" status on Twitter, but we did familiarize our members with Thunderclap. No doubt we'll be Thunderclapping again.

And Teamsters were on the ground in rallies at Congressional district offices and Social Security offices all over the country. We're still waiting for photos to come in, but we know Cleveland Teamsters rallied downtown with their brothers and sisters from AFGE. Minneapolis Teamsters were out today in sub-freezing temperatures. Cincinnati Teamsters helped distribute hundreds of flyers in front of the Social Security Administration office.

Today's message was reinforced by the news that the U.S. economy shrunk because of cuts in government spending. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa issued a statement, saying:
Today we learned that the U.S. economy is shrinking due to a fall in government spending. That should tell us that government austerity is not just wrong, it’s bad economic policy. 
The Bureau of Economic Affairs’ announcement that GDP fell by 0.1 percent reinforces our message that we need jobs, not cuts – especially to Social Security, Medicare and education. 
Teamsters around the country are participating in actions today to demand that big corporations and the richest 2 percent pay their fair share of taxes. I hope extremists in Congress pay attention to their message that Americans need jobs, not cuts.
Read the whole thing here.

Woot! 2 more ALEC members drop out

ALEC, the shadowy corporate dating service for state lawmakers, has lost two more members. The reason? The two groups represent the renewable energy industry, something ALEC has been trying to strangle in its crib. That's because ALEC is the brainchild of the  Benedict Arnold Koch brothers, who are trying to protect their oil-and-gas fortune. 

The two new dropouts are the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Greenwire tells us:
...the groups decided to drop out after ALEC adopted the "Electricity Freedom Act" model bill in October, which would end requirements that utilities generate a set amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar (E&ENews PM, Nov. 5, 2012). SEIA allowed its one-year membership to expire last fall, and AWEA dropped out earlier this month...
Environmental and clean energy groups cite watchdog websites that show companies like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil Corp., Duke Energy and Peabody sit on ALEC's energy, environment and agriculture task force and have a hand in crafting energy legislation. 
"There are 29 states that have renewable portfolio standards, and it's my understanding that ALEC is targeting each one," said Bill Gupton, an outreach director at Consumers Against Rate Hikes. 
The two groups join 42 corporations and four nonprofits that dumped ALEC, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

Poor widdle ALEC...

This is what we union THUGGs do for military veterans

We help them get good jobs in the building and construction industry.

The Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP) sponsors courses that can help veterans get jobs. They include a 200-hour Teamsters/Military CDL Licensing program and a Teamster Construction Apprenticeship program. It's associated with Helmets to Hardhats.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa says he's especially proud of TMAP:
The brave men and women who defend our country deserve as much help as we can give them when they return from their tour of duty.
The Deming, N.M., Headlight recently reported on the program in an article titled, "Helping veterans get job certification." It said,
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters began working with the DoD to establish a pilot program for qualifying veterans. The focus is on industries critically short of trained applicants, including trucking, health care, supply and logistics, automotive repair and airplane mechanics.
And here's a ringing endorsement from Lt. General Jack C. Stultz, Commanding General, United States Army Reserve:
The Teamsters/Military CDL Licensing Program is by far the most productive program we have seen in transitioning military skills into the civilian sector. It will be utilized as a role model program for many of the transitioning and certification workforce efforts. We must work together as a military and civilian community to define the best solutions necessary so that those who have honorably served will endure a career path that will best suit the skills they have developed while serving their country. It is a collaborative effort and I commend the Teamsters for the partnering support to our military and for the commitment they have made to the men and women who have honorably served this great nation.
For more information, email You can fill out a registration form here.

Koch-linked Mich. 'think tank' accused of fraud

Michigan's nasty Mackinac Center is accused of breaking the law because it pretends to be a think tank when it's really a lobbying organization.

The Mackinac pushed for the No Rights At Work bills jammed through the Legislature's lame-duck session last year. It's funded by the usual anti-worker billionaires: the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers, Ponzi scheme Amway heir Dick DeVos, the Wal-Mart heirs and the Wisconsin-Job-killer-Gov.-Scott-Walker-loving Bradley Foundation. 

Yesterday, Progress Michigan released an audiotape that it says proves the Mackinac Center isn't the non-profit it claims to be. F. Vincent Vernuccio, the Mackinac Center’s Director of Labor Policy, admitted to meeting with lawmakers to make a plan for ramming RTW laws through the Legislature. And wouldn't you know it, he was taking to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity phony tea party group. 

In a statement, Progress Michigan said: 
“It’s clear that despite calling itself a non-partisan think tank, the Mackinac Center has been intimately involved in lobbying Republicans to get their legislative agenda passed – and the worst part is, they’re doing it without even a minimal amount of transparency or disclosure.”... 
While the Mackinac Center does not admit to lobbying to the federal Internal Revenue Service or the state of Michigan, emails obtained by Progress Michigan in 2011 indicated that the Mackinac Center was actively seeking to influence the legislative process on a series of bills related to health care benefits for teachers and other public workers. 
Michigan law requires that any individual or corporation who lobbies must register with the Secretary of State and report lobbying expenditures. Lobbying is defined under Section 4.415 of Public Act 472 of 1978 as “communicating directly with an official in the executive branch of state government or an official in the legislative branch of state government for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action.” 
In 2012 Congressman Sander Levin sent the IRS a letter asking them to investigate the tax-exempt status of the Mackinac Center after the revelation of a series of emails indicating “a long-term plan to lobby.” The Mackinac Center again checked the box on their 2011 Form 990 to the IRS indicating that they do not engage in lobbying activities.
You can hear the audiotape here

Ruh-roh: U.S. economy shrinks due to govt. spending drop

Source: Washington Post Wonkblog
The slight fall in the Gross Domestic Product from October 1 to December 31 last year resulted in part from a 6.6 percent decline in government spending -- and from a fall in exports.

This is what you get with job-killing trade deals and government austerity.

Reuters reports,
The economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, suffering its first decline since the recession ended more than three years ago as businesses scaled back on restocking and government spending plunged. 
Gross domestic product fell at a 0.1 percent annual rate after growing at a 3.1 percent clip in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. 
That was the worst performance since the second quarter of 2009 and showed the economy entering the new year with no momentum, but economists cautioned against reading too much into the decline in output...
Government spending tumbled at a 6.6 percent rate, as defense outlays plunged at a 22.2 percent pace, wiping out the previous quarter's gains. 
Calculated Risk notes that the trade deficit also contributed to the decline:
The slight decline in GDP was related to changes in private inventories (subtracted 1.27 percentage points), less Federal Government spending (subtracted 1.25 percentage points), and a negative contribution from trade (subtracted 0.25 percentage points).
@CAPCongress tweeted:
Wow, GDP decline of 0.1% largely result of 6.6% decline in govt spending. This is what austerity brings you.
Or as Rick Santelli said:
We are now Europe.

Today's Teamster News 01.30.13

Wall Street Banks Seize Opportunity to Profit from Nation's Unemployed  Common Dreams  ...'Too Big to Fail' banks including JP Morgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp and Bank of America have seized on an opportunity to profit off the nation's jobless by siphoning millions of dollars in fees from state unemployment programs...
Case-Shiller Index Shows Home Prices Increased 5.5% From a Year Ago in November 2012  Economic Populist   ...home prices are now comparable to September 2003...
Ray LaHood to step down as U.S. transportation secretary  Washington Post  ...Ray LaHood, the Illinois Republican who turned distracted driving into a national crusade while serving a Democratic president, will step down after four years as transportation secretary in the Obama administration... 
Obama Urges Speed on Immigration Plan, but Exposes Conflicts  New York Times ...President Obama challenged Congress on Tuesday to act swiftly to put 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States on a clear path to citizenship... 
31 Senate Republicans Opposed Sandy Relief After Supporting Disaster Aid For Home States  Think Progress  ...When the Senate passed the long-delayed $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package Monday, 36 Republicans voted against the bill. But of the 32 no-votes from Senators who are not brand-new members, at least 31 came from Republicans who had previously supported emergency aid efforts following disasters in their own states... 
Viewpoint: The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too  TIME  ...If we want a better economy, then, we need a better story about how the economy works, in which a union worker is not a cost but a customer... 
Right-to-work legislation returns to Augusta  Bangor Daily News  ...Two controversial proposals that would make Maine a “right-to-work” state are back on the table in Augusta... 
Michigan asks for state high court ruling on 'right-to-work' law  Reuters ...Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has asked the state Supreme Court to rule whether a law passed last month making payment of union dues voluntary is constitutional, a move critics said was designed to circumvent legal challenges by labor unions... 
Gov. Rick Snyder Backs Off ‘Unfair’ Electoral Rigging Plan  Think Progress  ...Gov. Rick Snyder (R) came out against the plan this year... 
Republicans say Electoral College changes not in store for Ohio  Plain Dealer ...Ohio's Republican leaders...told The Plain Dealer this week that they are not pursuing plans to award electoral votes proportionally by congressional district...
Bill Gates: nice charity work, shame about the business practices  The Guardian  ...Perhaps the Republic Services dispute indicates that relying upon the generosity of billionaires is not a model upon which we can build a just and equal society – especially since the road to billionaire-dom oft seems paved with exploitation of workers, tax avoidance (hello Microsoft), and ever-decreasing wages...
Republic Services replacement worker fires shot in air at picket line  ...a replacement worker fired shots into the air at a picket line at the company's North Shelby Landfill in Millington...About 180 Teamsters went on strike early Monday morning over what they charge is the company's unfair labor practices...
‘Conciliators’ will decide on raise for sheriff’s staff  Columbus Dispatch ...Pickaway County is pleading poverty, but unionized sheriff’s-office employees contend that the county can afford to award them their first pay raises since 2009...Teamsters Local 285, which represents 30 corrections and communications employees, sought a 4 percent raise each of the next three years...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Biggest Thunderclap ever for Jan. 30 Day of Action?

Here's where some of the Midwest action will be tomorrow.
Teamsters will be in the thick of tomorrow's actions against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and education. Many of our brothers and sisters are participating in the noon Thunderclap -- possibly the biggest ever. And they'll be mobilizing at congressional district offices and Social Security offices around the country. 

Ohio Teamsters, for example, will be taking direct action in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo. You can find an action near you here.

The AFL-CIO tells us:.
Another showdown looms on the horizon in Washington as the Tea Party controlled GOP continues its reckless crusade to stonewall any reasonable legislation to fix the economy. It’s another manufactured crisis and Republicans are holding the U.S. economy hostage.
Middle class families are fighting back and telling Congress to:
  • Oppose benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid
  • Close loopholes for Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans and cancel sequestration
On Wednesday, January 30, we are mobilizing at congressional district offices across the nation to keep the spotlight on representatives to remind them they work for US and not the richest 2%.
You may be wondering what a Thunderclap is ...  It’s a new website that allows people to pledge to Tweet or Facebook a message all at the same time on the same day in order to achieve the maximum effect. Think of this action as an online flash mob in support of a reasonable fiscal policy for the nation.

It's not to late to join. Click this link here. Then choose either “Support with Twitter” or “Support with Facebook”—or both! Then, add your name to the Thunderclap, and that’s it! On January 30, everyone that has signed up will automatically have the same message posted on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The message includes a link to a petition demanding Congress make the right decisions during the ongoing fiscal debate in Washington.

And be sure to use the #jobsnotcuts hashtag.

Minimum wage on ballot in NJ after Christie veto?

New Jersey Democrats are vowing to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot since Gov. Chris Christie's veto of the popular measure. Christie took a page out of Dickens and vetoed a $1.25 raise for the poorest paid workers in the Garden State.

(If you can't quite place Chris Christie, he's the guy who once urged reporters to "take a bat" to a 76-year-old widow -- and then called teacher's unions "political thugs.")

An overwhelming number of New Jerseyans wants to raise the minimum wage. NJBiz reports,
A Quinnipiac poll released last week found 82 percent of New Jersey voters support the wage hike, though the poll questions did not mention the Democrats’ proposal to tie future increases to the CPI index.
The minimum wage hike would have given a raise to 537,000 New Jersey workers, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective. Of those, 307,000 New Jerseyans making between $7.25 and $8.50 per hour would get an immediate raise. The rest would make a higher hourly wage as increases were scaled in later.

NJPP argues the resulting $439 million wage increase would spur commerce by $278 million in the first year -- and create 2,420 new jobs.

Democrats want to let the voters decide. reported,
They plan to place an amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot that would boost the minimum wage and tie future increases to the consumer price index. 
“The governor has essentially told working-class families that they’re on their own,” Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, D-6th of Voorhees, said Monday. “Our only recourse now is to present voters with a constitutional amendment and hope they will have more compassion for their neighbors than this governor.” 
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd of West Deptford, said Christie’s veto was politically driven and condemns New Jersey’s many working-class families to struggle with a stagnant wage equal to the federal minimum. 
“We gave the governor a chance to do the right thing for working people in New Jersey. His action shows that he believes politics and politicians need to remain part of the process on minimum wage. I think they need to be removed from it entirely,” said Sweeney, who announced Monday he would not run for governor.
Keep in mind that one-third of poor American adults are working but don't earn enough to support themselves and their families. One-fourth of jobs in America pay below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,050).

Hard times.

Safety standards lowered for Boeing's offshored Dreamliner

Photo: Creative Commons
Funny how offshoring and safety just don't seem to go together.

Boeing is finding that out with its new 787, the snakebit Dreamliner. Seventy percent of the airplane's components were made outside of the United States.

The Dreamliner was certified for service four years late and as much as $18 billion over budget.  The airplanes were grounded around the world this month because of concerns about safety.

What makes the outsourcing especially galling is that Boeing is a major defense contractor. The company received $19.4 billion from U.S. taxpayers in 2010. (According to the Project on Government Oversight, the company has also paid more than $1 billion in fines since 1995, for misdeeds such as transferring rocket data to China, discrimination, polluting groundwater, overbilling and fraud, to name a few.)

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Japan lowered safety standards for the Dreamliner:
Japan's government stepped in to give Boeing Co's now-grounded 787 Dreamliner and its made-in-Japan technology a boost in 2008 by easing safety regulations, fast-tracking the rollout of the groundbreaking jet for Japan's biggest airlines, according to records and participants in the process. 
The concessions by an advisory panel to Japan's transport ministry reflected pressure from All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) and a push to support Japanese firms that supply 35 percent of the 787 from the carbon-fiber in its wings to sophisticated electrical systems and batteries used to save fuel.
It still isn't clear that the lowering of safety standards had anything to do with the malfunctions -- ranging from fuel leaks to battery meltdowns -- that resulted in the grounding of the fleet. But it's crystal clear that outsourcing components was a terrible idea.

Nearly two years ago, the Seattle Times reported that a Boeing engineer predicted the disastrous outcome of the offshoring plan -- in 2001.  The engineer, John-Hart Smith, was a world-renowned airplane structures engineer who presented a paper at a company symposium that year. Reports the Times,
Hart-Smith, who had worked for Douglas Aircraft and joined Boeing when it merged in 1997 with McDonnell Douglas, was one of the elite engineers designated within the company as Senior Technical Fellows. 
His paper was a biting critique of excessive outsourcing, a warning to Boeing not to go down the path that had led Douglas Aircraft to virtual obsolescence by the mid-1990s. 
The paper laid out the extreme risks of outsourcing core technology and predicted it would bring massive additional costs and require Boeing to buy out partners who could not perform...
Hart-Smith argued that it was wrong to use (a) financial measure as a gauge of performance and that outsourcing would only slash profits and hollow out the company. 
Though many Boeing engineers agreed with Hart-Smith, he was sidelined for his views. By the time the news story appeared, he was retired and living in Australia. He had gotten word that his views were vindicated.

The whole story is well worth reading. You can find it here.

Snyder asks court if Mich. No Rights At Work is constitutional

Say it, Brother Hoogerhyde
File this under: Shouldn't you have thought of that sooner?

Gov. Rick Snyder is now asking the state Supreme Court if the No Rights At Work law can apply to government workers under the Michigan constitution. The Detroit News reports,
Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday asked the Michigan Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of the new public sector right-to-work law and whether it applies to Michigan's 35,000 unionized state workers. 
In a letter to Chief Justice Robert Young Jr., Snyder asked the high court to decide whether Public 349 of 2012 interferes with the Michigan Civil Service Commission's ability to negotiate union contracts. 
Snyder also asked Young to have the court consider whether the law violates the 14th Amendment equal protection clause of the United State constitution "because the legislation does not apply to all employees in public or private sector bargaining units." 
The public right-to-work law exempts the Michigan State Police and unionized police and firefighters because they are governed by Public Act 312, which gives them special binding arbitration rights.
That's what happens when you ram a bill through a lame-duck session of the Legislature with no committees and no hearings. (So is this.)

Snyder is anticipating legal challenges from unions. His move is seen as a way to bypass those challenges and get a favorable ruling from the high court. The Detroit Free Press reports,
"I think he's reading the tea leaves on this one and trying to find a way to get around an injunction from a lower court and have the Supreme Court take it up immediately," said Robert McCann, spokesman for state Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. "He's trying to short-circuit the appropriate legal route on this bill." 
Zach Pohl, executive director of Progress Michigan, a liberal activist group, said the governor's request was both misplaced and "pretty breath-taking." 
"First, the governor bypassed normal committee hearings to sign the right-to-work bill, and now he wants to bypass the normal legal procedure to get the Republican-controlled Supreme Court to rubber stamp that decision," he said.

Here's a (mostly) Made-in-USA office HQ

Mostly made in America
The Alliance of American Manufacturing recently opened a new headquarters at 711 D St. NW in Washington, D.C. (a 5-minute walk from the IBT). Almost everything in it is made in the USA, from the office supplies to the floors.

AAM tells us they used products from 40 companies in 23 states. Some examples:
  • The office’s energy star refrigerator was made in by Whirlpool in Iowa.
  • The Benjamin Moore paint on the walls comes from New Jersey.
  • The Pella windows are from Ohio.
  • The InSinkErator garbage disposal is from Wisconsin.
Things they couldn't find in the US: Electronics. A coffee maker. A copier.

The City Paper toured the office with AAM executive director Scott Paul, and reported:
"You can't find phones, video display terminals," Paul said.  "I mean, none of that is American-made." Paul couldn't find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple's announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States. 
In the kitchen, most of the appliances were American-made, from the Whirlpool fridge to the Uline trash and recycling bins. The longest search was for an ADA-compliant dishwasher, which ended up being a Bosch model (a German company, but American-made) that appears to be several hundred dollars more expensive than some of the foreign-made competition. The one thing AAM couldn't find was a coffee maker. "Not one made in the United States," says Paul. "Zero." 
The copy room is also a mixed bag. All of the copy paper is American-made, as are the fire alarm and thermostat (provided by the landlord, but conveniently homegrown). But not the Canon copier. "Big copiers, no one makes them in the United States," says Paul.
Here are some more Made-in-USA building materials the AAM used: Armstrong resilient flooring and acoustic ceiling tile, Bentley Prince Street carpet, Modern Lighting lights, Leviton switches, Lutron dimmers and Virginia Glass Products glass.

Find out more here.

Today's Teamster News 01.29.13

Apple shelters almost $1bn a week from US tax man  The Telegraph   ...Apple's completely legal tax avoidance strategies bring the total the company has sheltered from the US tax authorities to $94bn...
Senators Reach Bipartisan Immigration Reform Deal  Talking Points Memo   ...the package would include an e-verify program to prevent employers from hiring undocumented workers in the future, an expanded visa and guest worker program to manage future immigration, and a seperate streamlined path towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were bought to America as children...
Report: Treasury approved excessive pay for executives at bailed-out AIG, GM and Ally  Associated Press   ...Treasury also allowed pay packages totaling $5 million or more for nearly a quarter of the executives at those firms...
The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy  New York Times of adults who live in poverty are working but do not earn enough to support themselves and their families. A quarter of jobs in America pay below the federal poverty line for a family of four ($23,050)...
Study: Nearly half are overqualified for their jobs  USA Today   ...Nearly half of working Americans with college degrees are in jobs for which they're overqualified, a new study out Monday suggests...
Sen. Colbeck Tells Koch-Funded Group RTW Passed Because of DeVos Funding  Progress Michigan ...“This just confirms what we’ve long suspected, that Gov. Snyder’s so-called Right to Work billwas bought-and-paid for by billionaire CEO Dick DeVos. It’s time for politicians likeSnyder and Colbeck to start protecting middle class families, not the special interests..."
Va right-to-work measure dies on 20-20 Senate tie  Associated Press   ... On a party line vote, the Virginia Senate has killed a measure that would write the state's longstanding right-to-work law into its constitution...
Chris Christie Vetoes Minimum Wage Hike That 82 Percent Of New Jerseyans Support  Bold Progressives   ...This minimum wage increase would’ve brought the wage to $8.50 and then tie it to the consumer price index for the future. ..
Roxanne Rubin, Nevada Republican, Accepts Plea Deal After Committing Voter Fraud  Huffington Post   ...Roxanne Rubin, 56, a casino worker on the Las Vegas Strip, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 after trying to vote twice, once at her poling site in Henderson and then at a second site in Las Vegas...
Negotiations Continue Between Teamsters, Durham  WestAshleyPatch   ...“We had to take a strike vote to get Durham to get serious in negotiations. We’ve met over 39 times with the contractor and they hadn’t moved on the key issues of concern to the drivers and monitors,” President of Local 509 L.D. Fletcher said in a statement...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Woo-hoo! 2 Teamster organizing victories in Md. and NY

Please welcome our new brothers and sisters who voted 29-0 to join Teamsters Local 570 in Baltimore. They are health aides who work at United Cerebral Palsy with adults who the disease. UCP bus drivers had voted overwhelmingly to join Local 570 in the fall.

According to the IBT,
Jacqueline Lewis was one of the workers who voted in favor of Teamster representation. Lewis, a personal development assistant, helps care for and assists in transporting clients with cerebral palsy, many of whom use wheelchairs. 
“I joined the union for equal opportunity, fairness and better conditions for all of us,” Lewis said. “It’s time for a union. It’s time all jobs have unions because we all need a voice.”
Sean Cedenio, secretary-treasurer for the local, said the employees believe they have not been treated with dignity and respect in many areas, and have confidence that Local 570 can best represent them.

Please also give a warm welcome to eight new members of Local 264 in Buffalo. They drive for Sherwood Food Distributors. Local 264 tells us,
The eight drivers run a shuttle operation from Cleveland, Ohio, that distributes food products throughout the area, traveling as far to the east as Syracuse, N.Y. 
Sherwood Foods is one of the nation’s largest independent distributors in the meat and food industry. With more than 5,000 customers and a fleet of 250 trucks, Sherwood delivers more than 16 million pounds of product each week. Like their union counterparts at other Sherwood Food locations across the country, this new group of Teamsters is seeking fair pay, affordable benefits, improved safety and job security in the workplace. 
“This new group of workers is comprised of dedicated professionals who are seeking the dignity, justice, and respect that a Teamsters negotiated contract will bring,” said M. Scott Chismar, Teamsters Local 264 Director of Organizing. “We are looking forward to sitting down with the company to negotiate a labor contract within the next few weeks.” 
Happy to have you all aboard -- you made the right choice!

Teamster solidarity in Wash., Ill., S.C. and Tenn.

Teamsters from Local 179 walking the line on a cold morning.
Teamsters all over the country are standing strong and united against employers who won't bargain in good faith, hire scabs, attack their pensions and force them to walk off the job.

In Illinois, Joint Council 25 tells us members of Local 179 in Joliet, Ill., were joined on the picket line by their brothers and sisters from five other Teamster locals:  Teamsters Local 301, 673, 727, 731 and 710. They were picketing for a fair contract from H. Linden and Sons, a suburban construction firm. The joint council tells us:
Union recognition negotiations between Teamsters Local 179 and a suburban Chicago construction firm may be moving forward following a week of successful pickets and rallies in Oswego. 
Local 179 began picketing H. Linden and Sons in mid-January after the company repeatedly failed to recognize the union’s successful organizing efforts. Subsequently, H. Linden recently was awarded a $2.2 million water main project with the Oswego Public Works, pulling work away from other community-based union contractors, including Teamster company D Construction. 
On Thursday, Jan. 24, Local 179 representatives and Teamster affiliates across northern Illinois rallied outside Oswego High School where work was being done, demanding union recognition for H. Linden workers. 
“Future pickets have been postponed following the united front and success of Thursday’s rally,” said Greg Elsbree, Local 179 Secretary-Treasurer. “Talks are progressing with H. Linden, and it’s our hope to secure union representation for these workers as soon as possible.”
Joe Taufao
In Washington, 170 members of Local 117 have been striking for two months against UNFI, a natural foods distributor. The company hired strikebreakers to replace half the Teamsters who went out on the Unfair Labor Practice strike. The Teamsters are sticking together. From the website, we learn Joe Taufao, a 6-year warehouse worker, is the sole support for his wife and children:
I’m a back stocker in the freezer. I have a big family - 7 kids - and I work hard to support them. I always say yes when they ask me to do overtime. Usually I don’t get to see my kids on Sundays because I’m at work... 
I’ve given a lot to this company - a lot of long hours and hard work. I don’t know why they treat us this way. I do know one thing though. I know that me and my co-workers need to stand together and demand respect.
In Memphis, 100 percent of the Allied Waste Teamsters, members of Local 984, are on strike. These were the same Teamsters who traveled by bus to Atlanta last week. They marched in solidarity with other Teamster sanitation workers in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade. According to the IBT,
Republic Services/Allied Waste is attacking its workers all across America. In some cities, workers are cheated out of a day’s pay or more when they work overtime. In others, Republic is trying to destroy workers’ retirement security, and to force workers to give up their right to a trial under the Civil Rights Act if the company discriminates against them.
The march in Atlanta
WREG in Memphis reports,
Republic and the Teamsters have been at odds about pay and pensions. The Teamsters say Republic wants to replace pensions with a 401(k) program. 
The union authorized a strike at the end of 2012.
And in South Carolina, Durham School Services bus workers in three different communities have all voted to strike for a fair contract. Today, drivers and monitors in Beaufort voted 93-2 to strike the company. The IBT reports,
They join drivers and monitors in Charleston and Summerville’s Dorchester School District 2 who voted unanimously in recent weeks to also authorize a strike. 
The drivers and monitors, members of Teamsters Local 509 in Columbia, S.C., are seeking a fair contract from Durham that values their hard work and secures decent and safe working conditions in transporting area schoolchildren. 
“We had to take a strike vote to get Durham to get serious in negotiations. We’ve met over 39 times with the contractor and they hadn’t moved on the key issues of concern to the drivers and monitors,” said L.D. Fletcher, President of Local 509. 
Stand strong, brothers and sisters!

Reads around the Internets for union members

From Union Hands and Voices
Here is this week's guide to places on the Internet you might want to visit.

Brother John Scearcy writes:
In Washington State 170 union members have been on strike for over two months protesting that their employer, United Natural Foods (UNFI), has committed many unfair labor practices none more disgusting than the fact that UNFI immediately permanently replaced about 1/2 of these members when they went out on this ULP strike. Please show your support for these workers by visiting this website:
You can sign a petition and help with financial support.

We liked a recent letter to the editor of the Washington Post, which couldn't figure out what's driving the decline in union manufacturing jobs. David Prosten of Annapolis, president of Union Communication Services, wrote to the Post:
...more than 17,000 workers were fired or disciplined in 2010 because of union activity. ... 34 percent of union organizing drives see at least one worker fired. Get rid of the union advocate, be sure other workers see what’s happened to him or her, and what do you know: frightened workers, end of organizing drive and, unsurprisingly, a decline in unionized manufacturing jobs. There are no fines, damages or penalties levied against employers who use that tactic. Their worst-case scenario is having to pay back wages to illegally fired workers.
We liked that so much we're sharing a link to Union Communication Services' website here.

We like Unionosity as well. It's an online newspaper that focuses on labor issues. Here's what they say about themselves:
We cover topics related to work, the workplace, equality, fairness and progressive policy. We’re especially interested in precarity, non-traditional or new organizing models, campaigns for increased dignity and quality of life, the role of unions, and legislation that effects workers and workers’ lives.
The Corporate Action Network fights corporate abuse. CAN has helped our UFCW brothers adn sisters with the OUR Wal-Mart campaign. CAN's website says,
From American Trucks, Past and Present
Corporations have become so large, so complex, and so powerful that traditional methods of reining in their abusive practices often fall short. We want to give you the tools you need to fight corporate abuse and win. 
Are you working to fight corporate abuse? If your campaign has a great target and real opportunities to build networks, we want to hear from you.
Here are a couple more sites you should check out. Teamsters Local 638 is now on Facebook, so visit their page here and give them a Like. Union Hands and Voices has a Facebook page here.

And finally, a Facebook page dedicated to American Trucks Past and Present.

Mich. senator says, on tape, DeVos $ bought No Rights At Work

This is the doofus who called Dick DeVos an "unsung hero" for buying No Rights At Work.

A Michigan lawmaker blurted out on tape that Ponzi scheme Amway heir Dick DeVos's money was critical to the passage of No Rights At Work last year. 

The legislator, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, was recorded while speaking to a phony tea party group funded by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers on Jan. 13. That was just days before a Kansas lobbyist admitted No Rights At Work is about bustin union and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said it wasn't about jobs.

So in a sudden frenzy of truth-telling, extremists are admitting:
  1. Billionaires bought No Rights At Work laws, 
  2. No Rights At Work laws are all about busting unions, 
  3. No Rights At Work has nothing to do with creating jobs. 
And they're doing it in front of electronic recording devices.

Colbeck gave credit to DeVos and former Michigan Republican Party Chair Ron Weiser for providing “air contributions” for lawmakers who wavered in support of No Rights At Work.

Progress Michigan issued a statement:
“It’s amazing what Republican politicians will say to Tea Party activists when they think no one is listening,” said Zack Pohl, Executive Director of Progress Michigan. “This just confirms what we’ve long suspected, that Gov. Snyder’s so-called Right to Work bill was bought-and-paid for by billionaire CEO Dick DeVos. It’s time for politicians like Snyder and Colbeck to start protecting middle class families, not the special interests.” 
Colbeck has a history of accidentally telling the truth when the cameras are on. At a coffee hour with constituents in April 2011, he complained about taking a “40 percent pay cut” to run for office, and said the United States is not a democracy.
The audio of Patrick Colbeck talking about DeVos and Weiser providing “air cover” can be heard here. Colbeck spoke at the AFP-Michigan “Citizens Watchdog Training” on January 19, 2013.

The video above shows Colbeck saying the United States isn't a democracy.

What is it with these people?

Kansas lobbyist admits No Rights At Work is about union busting (video)

A senior lobbyist from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce admits that so-called "Right-to-Work" and "Paycheck Protection" bills are really just meant to bust unions and strip workers of their rights.

Two days later, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder admitted the No Rights At Work bill he rammed through the Legislature has nothing to do with creating jobs.

But you knew that.

Now the Kochs want their own utopia in Detroit

The billionaires' pipe dream in Detroit. 
Here's the latest from treasonous billionaires whose greed knows no bounds. They want real estate developers to buy a Detroit park called Belle Isle so they can secede from U.S. laws. Only they wouldn't have to actually secede from the country -- they'd just call themselves a "U.S. commonwealth."

The Commonwealth of Belle Isle would be home to the finance and insurance industry.

At first blush, the proposal seems absolutely loony. It suggests the South never had to fight the Civil War after all. The confederacy could have just found some real estate developer to buy its 11 states from the North.

But look who's pushing the idea: The ALEC-linked Mackinac Center. Founded by the insurance industry in 1987, The Mackinac receives funding from an interlocking network of front groups supported by billionaires such as the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers, Dick DeVos and all the usual suspects.

What's significant about The Mackinac Center is that it coined the idea of the Overton Window. Sourcewatch explains:
... it is designed to provide a spectrum which visualizes policies acceptable to the public with the various ends of the spectrum representing 'unthinkable' policies and the middle representing a policy that would be widely well received by the public. ... The Center advocates action by think tanks and other non-political figures which would "shift the window", bringing policies that would once be thought of as radical or unthinkable into the realm of possibility, allowing legislators to enact them. 
That may explain why The Detroit News bothered to report on the preposterous Belle Isle proposal on Sunday. The News, after all, is owned by the union-busting Dean Singleton. Perhaps he wants to expand the Overton Window to inclue exemption from taxes and laws for the finance industry.

Here's how the Detroit News spun the story:
As the broken city thinks big and radically about its future, a developer is stepping forward with a revolutionary idea: Sell the city's Belle Isle park for $1 billion to private investors who will transform it into a free-market utopia. 
The 982-acre island would then be developed into a U.S. commonwealth or city-state of 35,000 people with its own laws, customs and currency. 
City officials are likely to reject the plan. But on Jan. 21, supporters including Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior economist David Littmann, retired Chrysler President Hal Sperlich and Clark Durant, co-founder of Detroit's Cornerstone Schools, will present the Commonwealth of Belle Isle plan to a select group of movers and shakers at the tony Detroit Athletic Club.
One thing is certain: If the Commonwealth of Belle Isle came into existence, it would be no utopia for workers.