Monday, September 30, 2013

ALEC front man indicted for corruption in Georgia

Remember when loony Georgia state lawmakers tried to make it a felony not just to picket, but to conspire to picket? Fortunately that attack on basic rightswas defeated by our brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta, along with the Tea Party, faith leaders, community groups and other labor unions.

Well, Sen. Don Balfour was one of the leaders of that attack. He's a front man for ALEC, the corporate dating service for state lawmakers. 

Or used to be. Now he's been indicted on 18 counts of corruption, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jim Galloway writes:
A Fulton County grand jury has indicted state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, on 18 counts associated with alleged misuse of his legislative expense account, the Attorney General's office said Friday.
He also accepted money from ALEC:
The American Legislative Exchange Council awarded “scholarships” totaling $4,792 to Balfour from 2005 to 2009, records show. Corporate donors — including petroleum, pharmaceutical, utility, tobacco and health-care interests — funded the scholarships, which were meant to cover the costs of airfare and lodging to attend ALEC functions. The donations generally are not disclosed as lobbyist gifts, since ALEC does not have a registered lobbyist in Georgia.
It's unclear whether accepting those gifts (or lying about them) was part of the indictment.

That bill to criminalize picketing, by the way, was an ALEC bill. Jobs With Justice reported last year:
Georgia State Senator Don Balfour recently proposed legislation (SB 469) aimed at destroying labor unions, debilitating effective dissent and criminalizing planned peaceful direct action....The bill shares characteristics of model legislation from ALEC, an out-of-state, secretive, corporate-funded council that hands state legislators laws designed to benefit CEOs.
Let's just say we hope justice is served.

McKesson workers more stressed than overpaid CEO

John Hammergren might think he's worth the $51.7 million he takes home from McKesson, the health care company he heads. After all, he puts up with a lot of stress.

He'd be wrong.

Keith Payne in Scientific American recently described the kind of stress CEOs like Hammergren put up with: CEO ... had to drag himself out of bed each morning and muster his game face. It would be a long day of telling other people what to do. It got so bad ... he had no choice but to take a year off work to sail across the Atlantic Ocean with his family.
Poor thing!

But it turns out it isn't the people at the top who experience the most stress. It's actually the people at the bottom -- like the McKesson workers who don't take home enough money to afford health care.

A recent study of people taking executive courses at Harvard's business school divided the group into leaders and non-leaders. The conclusion?
On both surveys of anxiety and biological measures of cortisol, the leaders showed substantially lower levels of stress than the non-leaders. The results were the same in both business and the military. Leadership has its privileges.
Another study in the '60s showed British civil servants had more stress-related health problems the lower down on the rung they were.

Concludes the author,
The professional class may be stressed in their way. But the powerless are stressed in the way that kills. 

Outsourcing: 5 ways corporations grab your tax dollars

Greedy corporations just can't seem to get enough outsourcing, as they take control of public assets like roads, parking meters, schools and prisons.

None of this is news to anyone. But it seems the scope of outsourcing is growing and the pace is accelerating. Just in the past few days we note news items about the corporate takeover of our schools, our water, our prisons and our national air space. Corporations even manage to persuade taxpayers to pay for creating assets -- like football stadiums -- that benefit people who are already wealthy.

Here's a quick rundown:

Charter schools: Forbes reported recently on the corporate grab for local education dollars in a story, "Charter School Gravy Train Runs Express To Fat City." The magazine told it like it is:
On Thursday, July 25, dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors gathered in New York to hear about the latest and greatest opportunities to collect a cut of your property taxes.
There are now more than 6,000 charter schools in the United States, 3,500 more than a decade ago, and they're educating 2.3 million children. These corporate schools can pick which students they admit, but local taxpayers pay for them. They're a great way for politicians to reward their cronies. In Ohio, Forbes reports,
...two firms operate 9% of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38% of the state’s charter school funding increase this year. The operators of both firms donate generously to elected Republicans. 
Sadly, kids in corporate schools don't do any better than kids in public schools.

Air traffic control: Bloomberg tells us "Discussions about removing government management of the U.S. air-traffic control system are the most serious in two decades."

"Privatization is not the answer," responded a commenter identified as Exctyengr:
Most of these knuckleheads never served in the military nor flew in the air traffic system. ... We privatized much of the military and we got Blackwater and Halliburton and Kellogg, Brown and Root and how did that work out?  Did we get our money's worth?  Were there scandals? 
Prisons, of course: The Center for Media and Democracy reports prison industry giants like Corrections Corporation of America are making big profits by locking states into occupancy quotas and “low-crime taxes." Some states state are by the corporation to keep prisons full or pay a fee for unused beds. Cost-cutting by private prisons companies "has led to numerous lawsuits and litigation, fines, and increased need for federal oversight, at great cost to taxpayers, communities, inmates and their families." Instead of taxpayer money going to safer communities, it goes to CEO salaries: GEO Group CEO George C. Zoley's compensation was an eye-popping $22,315,704 from 2008-2012, almost all paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

NFL Football: Gregg Easterbrook at The Atlantic argues:
Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams. 
Well, at least the players are allowed to belong to unions.

Water: In Fryeburg, Maine, a local taxpayer named Bruce Taylor doesn't want Nestle getting a sweetheart deal from state regulators to buy water for its Poland Springs bottled water business. Maine's Public Utilities Commission members all have financial ties to the corporate giant (no surprise there). Taylor told al-Jazeera America,
“They’re buying a commodity at a cheap regulated rate from a monopoly they own and are reselling it for a high profit in the form of bottled water you find in your local 7-11,” Taylor said. 
Taylor believes Nestle is paying too little for water and making too much profit off of Maine. He suggested “an inverted water rate for any commercial water that leaves the state of Maine.”
For more about the perils of outsourcing, read the Center for Media and Democracy's series on Outsourcing America Exposed.

Today's Teamster News 09.30.13

Wegmans blames Teamsters for anti-Buffalo banner at Bills game  The Buffalo News   ...In addition to passing out union leaflets at the Bills game, the Teamsters were accused of using the airplane to fly over the stadium with a “Wegmans wants Buffalo to lose” banner...
JPMorgan’s Biggest Mistake  Bloomberg   ...the derivatives trades resulted in losses of $6.2 billion plus an additional $920 million in fines -- so far...
Elizabeth Warren Calls For Big Changes To Student Loans  Huffington Post   ...College graduates struggling to repay their student loans should have an easier time getting their debt eliminated if they go into bankruptcy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said Saturday...
Social Security Does Not Redistribute From Young to Old, It Is a Public Pension System  Center for Economic and Policy Research   ...If workers contributed the same amount to a privately managed pension fund and then collected an annuity in their retirement no one would call it a redistribution from young to old...
Half of British pilots admit to falling asleep in cockpit -survey  Reuters   ...According to the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA), 56 percent of 500 commercial pilots admitted to being asleep while on the flight deck and, of those, nearly one in three said they had woken up to find their co-pilot also asleep...
Gasoline Prices down 35 cents per gallon year-over-year  Calculated Risk   ...Some of the year-over-year price decline is related to slightly lower Brent oil prices, but most of decline is because there were refinery and pipeline issues last year at this time...
Government Blurs the Lines Between Bad Guys and Average Americans  The Big Picture   ...If you’ve ever cared about privacy while using the Internet in public, you might be a terrorist. At least that’s the message from the FBI and Justice Department’s Communities Against Terrorism initiative...
TPP Protestors Scale Trade Building To Bring Attention to Secretive Deal  The Real News   ...The Trans-Pacific Partnership has nothing to do with trade or freedom, and ongoing demonstrations could encourage those on the inside to speak up...
Stuck: State of Working Ohio 2013  Policy Matters Ohio   ...While the national recovery is weak, Ohio’s is much worse...
UAW releases 2014 union-built vehicles list  UAW   ...The new editions to the list include Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion sedan, made for the first time at the Flat Rock (Mich.) Assembly Plant as a result of 2011 bargaining between the UAW and Ford...
Wisconsin leads nation in removing most people from Medicaid  The Cap Times   ...By a wide margin, Wisconsin would remove more low income people from Medicaid than any other state as part of a plan advanced by Gov. Scott Walker still awaiting federal approval...
Govt to Sue North Carolina Over New Voter Law  Associated Press   ...The Justice Department will sue the state of North Carolina for alleged racial discrimination over tough new voting rules, the latest effort by the Obama administration to fight back against a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act and freed southern states from strict federal oversight of their elections...
Rising foreclosures hurt Island as nation recovers  Newsday   ...New foreclosure cases on Long Island are spiking, even as the mortgage crisis fades in the rest of the United States...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Today's Teamster News 09.29.13

McCord endorsed by Pa. Teamsters   ...The Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters on Thursday endorsed state Treasurer Rob McCord in the Democratic primary for governor, citing his personal story and record of battling Gov. Corbett’s policies in Harrisburg...
Shutdown Would Shave U.S. Growth as Much as 1.4 Pctg. Points in Q4  Bloomberg   ...A shutdown would slow the expansion because output lost when workers are furloughed subtracts from gross domestic product. The combined prospect of a budget standoff between the White House and Congress and haggling over the debt ceiling could have a bigger impact on the economy as businesses hold off on investment and households delay spending...
TPP a Trojan Horse  Asia Times   ...The TPP agreement affects not only trade issues, but also non-trade matters that immensely impact lives of citizens in all participating countries. ... The areas at stake include, for example: Domestic court decisions and international legal standards (eg, overriding domestic laws on both trade and non-trade matters, foreign investors' right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)...
The Wall Street Takeover, Part 2  Baseline Scenario   ...the fundamental issue ... is whether our political system will put the interests of society at large ahead of the interests of large financial institutions. On that score, there is little to be encouraged about...
JPMorgan chief meets Holder in bid for deal to end probes, avoid criminal charges  Washington Post   ...The deal that Dimon discussed with Holder would involve paying the government at least $11 billion … While it would be a historic amount, the fine would still represent a sliver of the damage wrought by the bank for selling mortgage securities that it allegedly knew were worthless...
The Wall Street Protection Racket: Pay the Government Fines and Bankers Don't Get Prosecuted  Buzzflash   ..."The single greatest innovation of the banking sector has been to convince the Justice Department and Treasury that if you prosecute us for our crimes we'll send the economy back into the abyss..."
Half Ounce of Pot Gets Louisiana Man 20 Years in Prison  Truthout   ...In Louisiana, a person can get up to six months in jail for first marijuana conviction, up to five years in prison for the second conviction and up to twenty years in prison for the third. In fact, the Louisiana Supreme Court recently overturned a sentence of five years as too lenient for a fourth possession of marijuana and ordered the person sentenced to at least 13 years...
Federal Regulator of Credit Unions Files LIBOR Charges Against Banks  Wall Street on Parade   ...the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas against 13 foreign banks and U.S. based JPMorgan Chase, charging the group with violating federal and state anti-trust laws through their manipulation of interest rates in the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark used to set rates on everything from student loans to interest rate swaps to adjustable rate mortgages...
Report: Unexpected rise in number of extremely poor elderly women  msnbc   ...Among women 65 and older, the ‘extreme poverty’ rate rose 18% in 2012. Extreme poverty is defined as an annual income of $5,500 or less for older individuals living by themselves...
Long-term unemployment is a catastrophe  Washington Post   ...The percentage of the labor force unemployed for 27 weeks or more is finally decreasing, after peaking at about 4.3 percent in April 2010 and hanging around 4 percent until September 2011. But it's unclear how much of that decline is due to those workers finding jobs versus dropping out of the workforce...
More people express uncertainty in chance to achieve the American Dream  Washington Post   ...Four years into an economic recovery in which most of the benefits have flowed to the top earners, a majority believe that the American Dream is becoming markedly more elusive, according to the results of a Washington Post-Miller Center Poll exploring Americans’ changing definition of success and their confidence in the country’s future...
The flimflam of this week’s Obamacare numbers  Reuters   ...premiums that are “lower than projected” are not the same as “lower than they are now...”
Tea Party Lawmaker Letter on Med Device Tax Repeal Authored by Lobby Group  The Nation   ...seventy-five right-wing lawmakers wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner demanding that a vote to repeal the device tax occur “as soon as possible.” The metadata of the letter shows that it was authored by Ryan Strandlund, a member of AdvaMed’s government affairs team ...
The No-Fly List: Where the FBI Goes Fishing for Informants  ACLU   ...Each of these Americans spoke to FBI agents to learn why they were suddenly banned from flying and to clear up the errors that led to that decision. Instead of providing that explanation or opportunity, FBI agents offered to help them get off the No-Fly List—but only in exchange for serving as informants in their communities.Our clients refused...
Philly Fed says Scott Walker, WMC offer misleading data on Wisconsin economy  The Cap Times   ...Top officials with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia are warning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and others that they are misusing a monthly index produced by its top economists...
Militarized Mining in Wisconsin  Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative   ...Until quite recently, the deployment of private security companies was unheard of in the north woods of Wisconsin where Gogebic Taconite (GTac) has proposed a mountain top removal operation that will create the largest open pit iron mine in the world...
Take Willoughby's plea deal on Moral Monday arrest? No, thanks  Charlotte News Observer   ...If all of us Moral Monday arrestees go to trial, the Wake County Courthouse will be a very busy place for the next several years...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Whoa! Awesome TPP protest across from White House

The noontime protest on Monday against the TPP (the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership job-killing trade deal) could rank among the best ever, none other than the Washington Post reported:
Eight “construction workers” in blue coveralls and odd “Stop the TPP” yellow hard hats somehow made their way up an unsecured scaffolding — the building is undergoing some exterior work — to the top, where they unfurled a 10-by-30-foot banner condemning the proposed treaty as a corporate giveaway. 
Then five of the eight “workers” moved onto a lower balcony — we seem to recall it’s on the same floor as U.S. Trade Rep Mike Froman’s office — and hung two more banners. 
The police finally showed up and briefly handcuffed one protester. But that was all.
The action had been planned for a month, said Kevin Zeese , an organizer with, and the coveralls and hard hats were ordered online. The door to the scaffolding was always open, he noted, and the group did a final scouting mission the Friday before the event. 
But when the protesters arrived Monday in their “Stop the TPP” hats, he said, “we were shocked that there were no workers, no security. It was amazing.” 
“We wanted to do something audacious,” Zeese said. “We wanted to be bold.” 
Did we mention that the building is just across the street from the White House complex, specifically the Eisenhower Executive Office Building?
Teamsters had joined an anti-TPP protest the previous Friday that included 100 people from diverse backgrounds: doctors, environmentalists, students and workers from other unions. The Teamsters ally Public Citizen explained the recent spate of TPP protests had to do with the secret negotiations going on in Washington:
The TPP negotiators were not in Washington, D.C. for a formal round of negotiations, but for a below-the-radar “intersessional” meeting. Such secretive meetings are now being scheduled at a moment’s notice in countries across the Pacific Rim as the U.S. cracks the whip in desperate attempt to get negotiations all wrapped up and tied with a neat bow by the end of the year, despite the yawning controversies and gaps in agreed-upon text.  
These “intersessionals” drive the backdoor TPP talks even further underground and away from public scrutiny. Unlike the formal rounds, USTR is not even revealing the location, timing or agenda of the intersessionals. And there are no “stakeholder sessions" to which concerned groups and the general public are invited.

Today's Teamster News 09.28.13

Regulator Said to Look Other Way on Unsafe Mexican Trucks  Bloomberg   ...“They need these companies, they need the numbers,” said Fred McLuckie, director of federal legislation and regulation for the Teamsters, which unsuccessfully sued to stop regulators from allowing Mexican trucks. “They’re looking the other way...”
Chicago Teamsters reject Rahm Emanuel’s bid for contract concessions on 461-11 vote  Chicago Sun-Times   ...Already feuding with police, firefighters, teachers and other public employees, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration sought but failed to win concessions this week from the only major labor group that had supported Emanuel’s election...
Funeral Industry Giant SCI Committed Unfair Labor Practices, Labor Board Says   ...Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board has found merit in several unfair labor practice charges filed against funeral industry giant Service Corporation International (SCI), which has locked out 59 funeral directors and drivers at 16 Chicago-area funeral homes...
Teamsters To Vote Wegmans' Offer   ...Workers will cast ballots on the company’s proposal that would eliminate the pensions of more than 900 of its Rochester employees and dramatically reduce their compensation package...
Beware of Outlandish Claims About Economic Benefits of U.S.-EU ‘Free Trade’ Deal  Public Citizen   ...The study ignored the predictable social and economic costs that would result from such extreme regulatory rollback, such as an increase in the incidence of foodborne illness and a rise in financial instability...
4 Reasons Why the White House's Domestic-Worker Protections Matter  Mother Jones   ...Starting in January 2015, the federal labor laws that currently ensure minimum wage and overtime protections will be extended to the nation's direct-care workers—some 2 million people who perform jobs like caring for the elderly and the disabled. And yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights into law, expanding the legal protections for its estimated 360,000 (PDF) domestic workers...
How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers  The Atlantic   ...Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams...
Sen. Ron Wyden: NSA 'repeatedly deceived the American people'  The Guardian   ..."the leadership of NSA built an intelligence collection system that repeatedly deceived the American people..."
NSA employees used surveillance system to spy on spouses, lovers  Raw Story   ... a woman told the NSA that she’d recorded a conversation between her husband and a foreign telephone number because she suspected he’d been unfaithful...
School Bus Companies Ordered to Restore Lost Wages to ATU 1181 Workers  LaaborPress   ...Judge Matsumoto ordered the companies to return to the bargaining table they abandoned in March; bargain in good faith with the union; rescind the wage and benefit cuts and all other terms and working conditions previously imposed by the companies; and restore the wages, benefits and working conditions in effect at the time the companies imposed their cuts...
I worked all week for free?!: The horrifying, true story of $0 paychecks  Salon   ...Photos provided to Salon by the National Guestworker Alliance, the group behind the work stoppage, show checks reading “No Dollars and No Cents,” and a page dated June 25 warning guest workers on H-2B visas that, “Any worker who does not show up for your assignment will be immediately removed from Mister Clean Housing and will be reported as AWOL (Absent Without Leave) to ICE (Immigration Custom Enforcement)...”
American Workers: Hanging on by the Skin of Their Teeth  Counterpunch   ...Americans are losing faith in the nation’s economic recovery.” Because they don’t see any recovery...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Labor board: Funeral giant SCI broke the law in dispute with Teamsters

Unscrupulous funeral giant SCI broke the law by bad faith bargaining with Teamster employees, threatening them, spying on them and trying to trick members into leaving the union, according to the Chicago region of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB has also dismissed frivolous and potentially defamatory accusations made by the company against the union.

Service Corporation International (SCI) locked out 59 funeral directors and drivers at 16 Chicago-area funeral homes last month.

John T. Coli, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 727, said:
... the company has been merely grasping at straws, trying to shift the blame on the union with their false accusations. In reality, they are the ones violating the law and mistreating their dedicated employees. 
According to Teamsters Local 727's press statement,
SCI’s numerous unfair labor practices forced the union-represented funeral workers to strike on July 2. Despite an unconditional offer by the union to return to work, the company locked out workers on Aug. 19. Pickets have continued to protest SCI’s bad faith bargaining and other unfair labor practices. 
The Region of the NLRB now will attempt to reach a settlement with SCI on the charges. Absent settlement, the Region typically issues a complaint, and a hearing in front of an administrative law judge then takes place. 
“Our fight is not over, but this is a victory for working men and women,” Coli said. 
Local 727 urges all Chicago-area residents to support community-owned funeral homes as labor actions continue. More than 60 recommended funeral home alternatives can be found online at to aid families in affected communities.
We know you still have a ways to go, but congratulations on a hard-fought victory!

Workers still really, really want unions

Many American workers are treated badly on the job, as we have pointed out in our never-ending series of posts about their desire to join our union. Here we bring you more anonymous requests from workers asking for help to become Teamsters. Our Organizing department is constantly deluged with requests from workers who are bullied by employers, forced to work long hours, treated unfairly and exposed to dangerous working conditions.

Polls show the number of workers who want to join unions is rising, even as corporations attack them for trying. But never mind the polls, just see for yourself what workers say about their jobs.
We have met a wage freeze, many mandatory hours, blatant favoritism, unresolved job hazards among a few of the struggles faced daily in our workplace. Many are good employees, and deserve better. Please help.
Don't underestimate how hard it is to form a union:
We, the employees ...  have been trying to form a union for a long time now. We believe the teamsters would be the best choice. I could go on and on about the types of things the employees here are getting sick of, but I would much rather speak to someone directly about these issues.
Fear of being fired for saying the word "union" is a constant theme:
Sorry if I seem a little apprehensive but the conditions we work under are that bad. We are constantly told we are replaceable. This company laid-off long time workers and replaced them with new hires... We were forced to lie to a workers comp hearing or lose our job. The owners ... are rude and liars, promising raises and when asked about the raise the layoff or fire the person who asks. Incompetence is covered up in favor of the group of employees who fall into a certain clique. We desparetely need a union but even talking to you will cost me my job with unemployment. 
Workers frequently cite bullying and unfairness on the job:
We have been talking about this a lot lately being truck drivers, merchandisers, and warehouse workers. We are the only plant of three in the area that is not union and tired of being bullied. Hoping to hear a response soon thank you.
Here too:
They  are  paying  their  drivers way below  the  national  average, no  overtime after 8 hours, no  federal  pay  on  federal jobs and  just  basically being  unfair  with  their  workers.
Long hours and low pay are typical complaints. Like this:
We are getting poor pay, about 15% less than other companies, and we are forced to work on Saturday and Sunday....I believe we need a union and have reason to believe that my co-workers feel the same way.
We like the spirit of optimism at the end of this comment:
... long hours .. low pay.. unsafe vehicles...problems getting representation for worker issues .. labor board no help ...  they fire at will high turnover of employees because of conditions...need organization of workers to insure compant does not treat us unfairly.. I have been an employee for 4yrs now its time we fought back with your help we shall overcome.

Teamsters say feds ignore dangerous Mexican trucks

The federal government is looking the other way at Mexican trucks that are serial violators of U.S. safety laws, but the Teamsters aren't.

The Teamsters have long fought hard against opening the border to dangerous Mexican trucks. Today in the press the Teamsters blasted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for its lax oversight of the pilot program to let Mexican trucks travel beyond the border zone.

Bloomberg today reported on the Teamsters complaint that the federal government broke its own rules by
letting one company keep operating over the border after its safety rating was lowered. FMCSA also ignored other Mexican carriers' ties to dangerous operators.

Here's why: The FMCSA needs enough participants in the pilot program to arrive at statistically valid conclusions about the impact of Mexican trucks on U.S. highway safety. Since regulators can't find enough safe Mexican carriers -- as the Teamsters predicted -- they're ignoring egregious safety violations.

Bloomberg reported:
  • Mexican companies allowed into the U.S. under the latest agreement have been cited for thousands of violations, records show.
  • One truck belonging to GCC Transporte SA de CV, the company that’s crossed the border most often, was stopped for violations 18 times between August 2012 and August 2013. It was found to have defective or missing axle parts, brake defects, a cracked frame, inoperative signals, oil and grease leaks, non-working lights, windshield-wiper defects and a tire-tread separation.
  • Servicio de Transporte Internacional y Local SA de CV, the Mexican company that’s beeninspected the most, was cited for 44 violations on a single day -- July 31, 2013. Citations included tire separations and leaks, oil and grease leaks, inoperative signals and a brake-compressor violation. Its driver-fitness score of 99.2 percent indicates fewer than 1 percent of U.S. carriers have worse records. Almost all of the violations are for drivers who aren’t fluent in English, according to government records.
Read the whole horrifying story here.

Give a kid a cookie, end up fired

Carlos Hernandez was fired after he led a walkout of Subway workers in Seattle over the summer.

The owner of  the Subway franchise, Hasan Zeer, claims he fired Carlos Hernandez for giving a kid a 66-cent cookie.

Legally, most workers can be fired on an employer's whim, but they can't -- at least legally -- be fired for trying to join a union. Hence the cookie excuse.

Working Washington organizers say that Hernandez was fired in retaliation for speaking to press and organizing his coworkers during last month’s fast food strike.

Federal charges have been filed against the fast-food restaurant, but in the meantime, Seattle citizens are letting the owners know how wrong their actions are through Yelp, a popular user-review-based website for businesses.

Dozens of locals have stood up for Carlos and the other workers by writing reviews on the Subway franchise’s Yelp page.

Amy H. from Seattle says:
My sandwiches would taste a lot better if they weren't salted with the tears of mistreated employees. One of the hardest working employees in this franchise was illegally fired for going on strike under the pretense of giving away a $0.66 cookie to a 3 year old. Other employees at this location have also suffered unsafe working conditions, wage theft, and have been denied breaks. Doesn't taste so fresh to me.
Alex M. yelped that:
I used to work at Subway.  The worst part of the job was wringing the extra blood out of the roast beef before serving it.  Now this subway is trying to wring the blood and some extra dough from its workers.
If you think workers should not be fired for speaking out, sign the Working Washington petition or submit a review to their Yelp.

Today's Teamster News 09.27.13

Hundreds of Manufacturing Workers Ratify First Teamster Contract   ...Approximately 340 manufacturing employees at Senior Flexonics overwhelmingly ratified their first contract with Teamsters Local 330 on Sept. 15...
Teamsters at Darigold Vote Unanimously To Reject Company's Latest Offer   ...“Darigold is disrespecting its workers and undermining the bargaining process,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.  “The company broke the law when they walked away from federal mediation, leaving no one with the authority to bargain.  They have spied on workers and illegally attempted to circumvent the union...”
Wegmans to Teamsters: Here's our best, final offer  Rochester Democrat and Chronicle   ...The contract represents about 900 employees working in transportation and distribution for the supermarket company...
Local teamsters endorse Paul  Stratford Star   ...Teamsters Local 1150, which represents workers at Sikorsky Aircraft, the largest private employer in Stratford, endorsed Joe Paul’s run for mayor of Stratford at their September monthly meeting...
Companies Admit They Fixed Prices of Car Parts  New York Times   ...In an expanding global antitrust investigation, nine Japanese automotive suppliers, along with two former executives, have agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and pay more than $740 million in criminal fines for fixing the price of auto parts sold in the United States and abroad...
US economic growth slows as GDP estimate disappoints economists  The Guardian   ...In the January-March quarter, GDP rose by 1.1% and while the latest figure represents a marked improvement it is still weak by historic standards. Economic expansion following the 2008 recession has been the weakest of the post-second world war era...
Looting the Pension Funds  Rolling Stone   ...All across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers...
HSBC still laundering money for terrorist groups, says whistleblower Everett Stern  Ian Fraser   ... Although the bank paid a $1.9 billion penalty as part of a record-breaking money laundering settlement with the U.S. authorities in December 2012, Stern claims the London-headquartered bank is still laundering money with impunity and that the much vaunted “anti-money-laundering compliance team” it put in place to assuage US regulators as part of last year’s settlement is “a sham”...
The Wall Street Journal Is Hiring a Mansions Reporter, Because Guess Who Won the Recovery  The Atlantic   ... this apparently involves advertising for and about billionaires...
Tea Party Support Dwindles to Near-Record Low  Gallup   ... Today's 22% support nearly matches the record low found two years ago...
Federal Contractors Employ More Low-Wage Workers Than Walmart and McDonald's Combined, While Paying Top Execs. $24 billion  The Real News   ...we have got to get a handle on raising wages throughout this country so that workers do not depend upon starvation wages...
Latest Fukushima Crisis Shows Catastrophic Threat of Nuclear Power Companies  truthout is a model example of why nuclear power of any sort should not be privatized...
Parent Arrested After Asking Questions at School Meeting  truthdig   ...“I want to know how many parents here are aware that the goal of the Common Core standards isn’t to prepare kids for full-fledged universities, it’s to prepare them for community college,” Small asked before he was approached by a man wearing a shirt with “security” on the back and a badge around his neck...
Michigan House panel approves bill penalizing illegal mass pickets  Lansing State Journal   ...Legislation that would institute steep fines for individuals and labor unions who engage in illegal mass pickets is headed to the House floor...
Teamsters Union Backs McCord  PoliticsPA   ...Mere days after finally officially declaring his entry into the gubernatorial race, State Treasurer Rob McCord won the backing of the Teamsters union. The endorsement is the first major piece of news from the McCord campaign since he announced his candidacy earlier this week...
NC Teachers Consider Walkout to Protest Poor Working Conditions  Triangle News   ...Teachers are considering a statewide walkout to get lawmakers' attention. They are fed up with education funding cuts, lay-offs, lack of raises, and even more importantly, what they see as a lack of respect for their profession...
Bill would loosen rules for high-capacity water wells  Wall Street Journal   ...Water pumping has become a hot topic in Wisconsin, with large agricultural interests and food processors pushing back against further restrictions while environmental groups and lake property owners favor more rules for wells that draw 100,000 or more gallons of water a day...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Another Teamster organizing victory in Georgia!

Please give a warm welcome to our 50 new brothers and sisters who work as warehouse workers for Americold in McDonough, Ga. They recently voted overwhelmingly to join Teamsters Local 528 in Atlanta.

Though there are about 50 workers in the bargaining unit, many temporary workers will become full time, so the bargaining unit is expected to grow to 80 to 90 workers.

Don Toney, president of Teamsters Local 528 in Atlanta, explained why they joined our union:
We represent Americold workers at four other locations, so the McDonough workers saw the great job we do for their co-workers in other areas.
The McDonough workers are also seeking fair pay. Johnny Edwards, a Teamsters Local 528 business agent, said Americald workers already represented receive much higher wages:
They are also seeking a seniority system, protection of rights, improved benefits and respect and dignity in the workplace.
Americold is the largest provider of temperature-controlled warehousing and distribution services in the United States. The company has more than 6,000 associates in 100 warehouse locations. Teamsters represent more than 1,000 Americold workers nationwide.

Private prison rap sheet: Violence, abuse, death

Teamsters are fighting private prison companies that try to take over the government's job of punishing inmates -- and do it for obscene profit. In Florida, for example, Teamsters from Local 2011 persuaded lawmakers that it was a very bad idea to turn a third of the state's prisons over to Boca Raton-based GEO Group. Yesterday, Teamsters denounced private prison companies that negotiate contracts linking inmate population to profit. The union represents 30,000 correctional officers.

Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy -- the ones who exposed ALEC, the corporate dating service for lawmakers -- are now exposing the predatory corporations that are trying to take over our government. They're doing a 12-part series at "" in which they're outing the worst corporate outsources. Today CMD reveals the horrors of prisons run by GEO Group.

Among their findings:
  • CEO George C. Zoley's compensation was an eye-popping $22,315,704 from 2008-2012, almost all paid for by U.S. taxpayers;
  • Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against GEO Group, many of which were settled before trial. The suits range from allegation of inmate death and abuse, excessive force, medical neglect as well as allegations of employment discrimination;
  • An audit by the state of Texas found in 1999 that GEO Group (then known as Wackenhut) barely kept the minimum number of guards required in its contract to run a jail in Travis County. The company was fined $625,000 for chronic staffing shortages; 
  • GEO Group was sued by inmates at East Mississippi Correctional Facility for "barbaric and horrific conditions." The facility, designated for special needs and psychiatric problems, denies patients the most rudimentary mental health services and many committed suicide; 
  • GEO Group settled a lawsuit that charged its Walnut Grove Correctional Facility (WGYCF) juvenile prison in Mississippi perpetuated violence and corruption. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation found 'deliberate indifference’ in failing to protect youths from harm in seven major areas, including sexual misconduct between guards and inmates and use of excessive force by guards;

Horrified yet? If not, read the whole thing here.

Teamsters fight Wegmans' pension grab

Wegmans Teamsters at a recent informational picket.
For more than 15 years, Wegmans grocery stores have been ranked as one of the best places to work in America.

Until now.

Although the chain made over $6.6 billion in sales last year, it is trying to cut costs on the backs of workers.

Rochester, N.Y., stores are threatening to take away secure retirement plans for Teamsters Local 118 delivery and warehouse workers by replacing it with a Wegmans 401(k) plan.

Other Wegmans workers already on the plan are urging members to stay away. Said Kevin McIntosh, Teamsters Local 118 business agent: 
They’re telling us to keep fighting because they know they can’t survive on the company’s plan.
Having a good company retirement plan is more important now than ever before.  As company pension plans have disappeared, almost half of American households cannot afford to set aside any money for their retirement.

A better outcome than that is not likely if Teamsters are switched to Wegmans 401(k) plan.

Not only is the company trying to take away the hope of a good retirement for workers, but management retaliated against members who spoke out against the switch.

On behalf of members at Wegmans, Local 118 filed for an unfair labor practice charge on Monday and is practicing picketing outside company headquarters. Said McIntosh:
We want to send a strong message to Wegmans that our members are committed to protecting quality jobs in our community and will not tolerate threats and intimidation on the part of the company. We will not stand by while Wegmans attempts to undercut the standards our members have worked hard to build for decades.
If you think workers deserve a better future, like them on their Facebook page and send a message of support to our brothers and sisters at Wegmans.

Today's Teamster News 09.26.13

(UPDATES with items about federal contract worker pay)

Hoffa Calls On Cruz, Right-Wing Extremists To Stop ACA Misrepresentations   ...Here's an official statement by Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa...
Hundreds of Manufacturing Workers Ratify First Teamster Contract  Joint Council 25   ...Approximately 340 manufacturing employees at Senior Flexonics ratified their first contract with Teamsters Local 330 by a 3-to-1 margin...
Teamsters: Private Prison Quotas Rob Taxpayers   ...The Teamsters Union is denouncing the findings of a new study revealing that private prison management firms have contracts that directly link profits to inmate capacity. The Teamsters Union represents 30,000 correctional officers in 20 states across the country...
Teamsters Capital Strategies Speaks Out On Wage Disparity  The Leslie Marshall Show ...A proposed rule for the Security and Exchange Commission would shed light on the ratio of media worker pay versus that of a company’s CEO...
BASIS TLA Scheduled October 7-11   ...The IBT Training and Development Department will conduct a Teamsters Leadership Academy for new local union business agents, October 7-11, 2013, at the union's headquarters in Washington, D.C...
Organizational Skills for Office Managers Scheduled for November 6-8   ...The IBT Training and Development Department will conduct a TLA for Teamster Office Managers and key administrative staff, November 6-8, 2013, at the union's headquarters in Washington, D.C...
Federal Contracts Send Billions Of Dollars To CEOs But Pay Workers A Poverty Wage  ThinkProgress   ...The contracting practices that make the federal government the largest low-wage employer in the country are also paying top corporate executives nearly $24 billion per year according to new research from the think tank Demos...
Federal workers to strike, march on White House Wednesday  Salon   ...Cleaning and concessions workers in federal buildings will protest their taxpayer-funded poverty jobs...
How Bad Data Warped Everything We Thought We Knew About the Jobs Recovery  The Atlantic   ... the jobs report's real margin of error has been about as big as the average jobs report itself the past few years...
Wal-Mart Cutting Orders as Unsold Merchandise Piles Up  Bloomberg News   ...Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is cutting orders it places with suppliers this quarter and next to address rising inventories the company flagged in last month’s earnings report...
Steelmakers rally against China  Pittsburgh Business Times   ...Steel manufacturers in the U.S. have been filing complaints with U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission against a number of countries, including China, charging that unregulated imports are causing material injury to the domestic steel industry...
Austerity measures push Greek universities to point of collapse  The Guardian   ...Internationally mandated austerity measures have pushed universities in Greece to the point of collapse with many of the debt-stricken country's pre-eminent higher education institutions being forced to suspend operations...
Revealed: Qatar's World Cup 'slaves'  The Guardian   ...thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022...
Union to Protest Staffing Levels at Iowa Prisons  Associated Press   ...The union that represents correctional officers at Iowa prisons is planning an informational picket to raise awareness about what it calls dangerously low staffing levels...
CFPB Takes Aim At Sallie Mae For Student Loan Servicing  Huffington Post   ...A federal consumer regulator has taken aim at the Department of Education’s preferred companies for servicing the agency’s $1 trillion in student loans, highlighting potentially poor customer service and raising the specter of increased government scrutiny...
Is President Obama In Denial About the National Threat Wall Street Poses (opinion)  Wall Street on Parade   ...This is not a banking system – this is an institutionalized, legalized, mechanized, wealth transfer system bearing the imprimatur of the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress through their refusal to take the simple measure that can stop the looting in its tracks – the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act...
The Republican Vote to Cut Food Stamps is Really a Decision to Kill the "Useless Eaters" (opinion)  AlterNet   ...15 million Americans were “food insecure” in the United States during 2012. The Great Recession has increased the number of Americans who do not have sufficient food by 30 percent. The fastest growing group of people who need some assistance is the elderly...
Some public companies are divulging more details about their political contributions  Washington Post   ...Some of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies are divulging more details about their political contributions, in part to ward off lawsuits and mounting pressure from shareholders, who increasingly have thrust the issue before boards of directors...
City workers protest Emanuel over contract talks  Chicago Tribune   ...Scores of union workers protested outside city buildings during lunch Tuesday, taking aim at Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what they contend is an attempt to retroactively freeze their wages after privatizing hundreds of jobs in the past couple of years...
Exposing The Pay Gap  New York Times   ...Of all the provisions in the vast and complex Dodd-Frank financial reform law, one of the most far-reaching is also the most direct and easily understood. It requires public companies to compute and disclose the ratio of a chief executive’s pay to that of a typical employee...
For-Hire Trucking Tonnage Index Rose in August  Journal of Commerce   ...The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Trucking Tonnage Index increased 1.4 percent in August from July, to 126.9, after slipping 0.6 percent in July...
How A New Job Application Form Could Save Hundreds Of Californians From Returning To Prison  Think Progress    ...In an attempt to cut down on employment discrimination against felons and reduce recidivism rates, a bill waiting for California Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature would remove a question on local and state job applications asking applicants about their criminal record...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Federal contract workers strike in DC for 5th time

Marching down Pennsylvania Ave. today.
Cleaning and concession workers went on strike today in Washington, D.C., demanding an end to wage theft and retaliation for trying to form a union. Organizers said it was the biggest one-day strike yet.

The striking workers serve food or clean Union Station, Smithsonian Museums and the Ronald Reagan Building and Old Post Office -- all owned by the federal government. This is the fifth one-day walkout since May by employees of federal government contractors.  Their actions already spurred a Department of Labor investigation into their allegations of wage theft, and outspoken support from 17 progressive members of Congress.

Today they rallied at Freedom Plaza, then marched to the White House where six workers delivered petitions signed by 250,000 people. The petitions asked for an executive order requiring federal contractors be given preference for providing decent pay and benefits.

Paying workers more money wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime more, according to a Demos report released today. The think tank figures that capping contractor executive salaries at $230,700 a year -- Vice President Joe Biden's salary -- that would save as much as $7.65 billion annually.

In the past month, port truck drivers hoping to join the Teamsters walked off the job; so did fast-food workers in 60 cities, and 68 people were arrested across the country in nonviolent protests of Walmart's retaliation against workers. Josh Eidelson at Salon reports on the growing support for one-day strikes.
Their effort exemplifies twin trends in the modern, embattled labor movement. First, the rise of one-day, non-union strikes by minorities of the workforce, designed to embarrass bosses and engage co-workers and the public. And second, new campaigns that sidestep workers’ legal employer — whether a fast food franchisee, a warehouse company hired by Wal-Mart, or a federal contractor — and instead attempt to squeeze the “real boss”: the fast food corporation, the retail giant or the president of the United States...
President Obama has signed an executive order that bans federal contractors from billing the government for union busters.

Find out more at the Good Jobs Nation Facebook page

This is what we union THUGGs do at Farm Aid

Local 294 members enjoying the show while Jack Johnson was joined by Willie's Son Lukas Nelson. 
We volunteer to transport equipment and musicians to and from the concert.

For the past two decades, Teamsters have volunteered at Farm Aid concerts, providing transportation for the artists and equipment, and for any other requests that come up. This year, members of Teamsters Local 294, led by President John Bulgaro, in Albany did the honors for the 11-hour festival on Saturday.

“Who knows the local area better than local drivers?” said John Hasley, a retired Teamster carhauler and member of Teamsters Local 710 in the Chicago area and Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit. Hasley has attended 16 Farm Aid concerts. He takes the photos of Teamsters volunteering at the event and, of course, the performers.

“This year was excellent and the venue was extraordinary,” Hasley said of Saratoga Springs, New York. “The highlight was 94-year-old Pete Seeger’s performance.”

The annual Farm Aid concert has raised $43 million to help family farmers. This year's concert in upstate New York  featured the three founders of Farm Aid -- Neil Young, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp -- along with board member Dave Matthews. According to the Farm Aid press statement, they:
...emphasized the critical responsibility of businesses, policymakers — and everyone who eats — to help grow the Good Food Movement. More than 25,000 fans attended the sold-out event, hosted at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, N. Y. 
"Every time we eat, we determine the direction of our food system," said Nelson, president and founder of Farm Aid. "Farmers are doing their part. When we all stand with them and do our part, we can bring about change that's good for all of us."
Rolling Stone reported:
Farm Aid was founded in 1985 by Willie Nelson after he heard Bob Dylan's impromptu comment at Live Aid that some of the money raised should be used to help farmers pay their mortgages. The line incensed Live Aid co-founder Bob Geldof (who felt it was off-message and trivial when compared to the famine in Ethiopia), but Nelson felt differently; just a few months later, he held the first Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois. 
Watch Neil Young's performance of "Reason To Believe" here, Pete Seeger sing "This Land Is Your Land" here and John Mellencamp sing "Jack and Diane" here. (Or watch Farm Aid's whole youtube channel here.)

And remember, "THUGGs" stands for Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals.

This Teamster shop steward righted a wrong

Clay Morrison brought justice for a worker who was punished by his employer after he suffered the loss of his child. He is a shop steward for Teamsters Local 1205 at the Baumann Bus Co. on Long Island.  This is his story, which was published in the Fall 2013 issue of the Drive Up Standards newsletter. To see his story and others, check out the newsletter here.
What can a shop steward do outside of the normal grievance process? Can anything be done when an employee is unjustly penalized, even though the company is technically in compliance with the collective bargaining agreement?
I am a driver and shop steward at Baumann Bus’s Copiague, N.Y., yard. 
A driver who had worked at Baumann Bus for 12 years lost his seniority last year. He is an excellent employee and had never been disciplined during his career. 
He and his family were devastated to learn their son had a rare form of cancer. The son lived in Arizona and the driver wanted to be at his side during his treatment. The company agreed to a leave of absence, but he found he needed to stay in Arizona beyond the approved time frame. 
He had exhausted his FMLA. He returned to work as a rehire, with a total loss of seniority. He had hoped the treatment would succeed; however, his son passed away. 
The employee asked for my help. We did not technically have a case and a grievance was not the route to go. I told him I would help him draft a letter to our union president, Timothy Lynch, describing the situation. 
This action exceeded our expectations. Timothy felt this was a moral and ethical issue. The penalty to the driver for staying at his child’s bedside was draconian, to say the least. 
Mr. Lynch, with passion and logic, doggedly pursued the issue with the company. He represented the feelings of hundreds of us, and he did not give up. Within a few months, Baumann restored the seniority. 
It was a win-win for everyone—the driver, the workers, the union and Mr. Baumann, because he has retained a good employee. 
I am glad I could help this gentleman by speaking up. You have to right wrongs. For the shop steward, sometimes you just have to take the extra step.

True stories from Walmart hell

Walmart abuses its employees, let there be no doubt. The world's largest retailer keeps wages at poverty level by fighting hard against union organizing. As a result, many Walmart employees rely on public assistance to survive. Call it corporate welfare.

Meanwhile, the six Walmart heirs -- Sam Walton's widow, Christy, Jim Walton, Alice Walton, S. Robson Walton, Ann Walton Kroenke, Nancy Walton Laurie -- own more wealth than 42 percent of the American people.

If all that doesn't make you sick to your stomach, Hamilton Nolan's true stories from Walmart hell will. He posts them periodically to the online publication Gawker. Here are a few samples:
Wal-Mart no longer pays a dollar above minimum wage; they start cart pushers and people greeters at minimum wage and everyone else based on what job they have. As a cashier, I am "level 3," so I started at $7.65 when minimum wage was $7.25. 
The worst part is the benefits. We have to work all holidays except Christmas, and we don't get paid any extra. ... They refuse to make anyone full-time, but I never work less than 32 hours, and frequently work 39. I don't complain because I need the money.
Or this:
...overtime was never and will never be approved, ever. If you should work any hours over 40 in one week, even if called in or requested or threatened by management that you must work, you will not get overtime pay. They will just cut your hours or say "take a 4 hour break today." which, for a 5 hour shift, was stupid and a waste of my own time at that point.
Treatment of injured workers is about what you'd expect:
I was loading boxes into a cupboard under a cash register at the front of the store one day when I caught my hand on an exposed nail or screw or something. I yanked out my hand in surprise and suddenly there was a huge pool of blood on the floor. The floor manager rushed over and immediately ushered me into a nearby washroom. "Get him away from the customers!" was the unspoken but obvious goal. We haphazardly swaddled my profusely-bleeding hand in paper towels and then the HR manager drove me to the hospital in her car, but not before they made me sign...something. Presumably promising that I wouldn't sue them. 
Sam's Club is just as bad:
Cashiers at Sam's club have it worse than cashiers at Wal-Mart as they are forced to make people upgrade their memberships. Sam's cashiers go through meetings called One on One's where the supervisor tells you how shitty you are doing. Those who fail to reach appropriate number of upgrades, renewals, etc. are usually yelled at. The worse part — you don't get any commission for convincing Wendy Whorebag to upgrade her membership. Sometimes management favors you with a reward — a McDouble from McDonald's, something that you can afford yourself....oh, that's right you can't afford a McDouble from McDonalds because you work at Sam's Club.
It's comforting to know there are journalists like Nolan standing up for workers. Here's something he wrote last year, titled "Why We Need Unions."
Companies know that unions represent a sort of power for their workers that their workers will otherwise never have. That power translates to better working conditions and higher wages. That, in turn, eats into a company's profits, as all expenses do. A union does not throw off the balance of power in the workplace—lack of a union does. The most basic sense of decency and respect for human rights dictates that there must be some mechanism by which the workers—the humans—can assert their interests. Otherwise, they will be crushed by the machine. It's all very plain to see. To despise unions is to despise workers. To despise workers is to despise people.
If only all journalists believed that ...

Today's Teamster News 09.25.13

Teamsters, Horizon Air Reach Tentative Agreement  Wall Street Journal   ...Horizon Air and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters today jointly announced a tentative agreement on a proposed five-year contract extension covering the airline's 280 aircraft technicians, fleet service agents and other fleet support positions...
CN Rail contract talks with Teamsters snagged on health, safety  Reuters   ...Contract negotiations between Canadian National Railway and the Teamsters Union appear to have stalled as CN demands changes that union officials say could jeopardize the health and safety of workers...
U.S. Income Inequality Higher Than Roman Empire's Levels: Study  Huffington Post   ...the top one percent of earners in Ancient Rome controlled 16 percent of the society's wealth. By comparison, the top one percent of American earners control 40 percent of the country's wealth...
Banks find appalling new way to cheat homeowners  Salon   ...servicers like Nationstar often failed to inform homeowners about the change in servicing rights when they are transferred, meaning that the homeowner kept paying the wrong servicer. This is a clever way to facilitate late fees; just don’t tell the customer where to send their money...
Workers Set Factories Ablaze in Call for Decent Wage for Producing Globe's 'Cheap' Clothing  Common Dreams   ...Bangladesh swept by a third day of protests that leaves nearly 150 injured...
Bangladesh Garment Protests Enter Fourth Day  Bloomberg   ...Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan met last night with factory owners and labor leaders in an effort to end demonstrations that forced about 400 of the country’s 5,000 garment factories to close yesterday...
Greeks public sector workers strike as lenders check reform progress  Reuters   ...Greek public sector workers went on strike for the second time in a week on Tuesday, shutting schools and leaving hospitals with skeleton staff, as inspectors from Greece's foreign lenders checked if the country was meeting its bailout targets...
U.S. Trade Body Urges India to Play Fair   Time   ...An American manufacturing representative body is protesting against perceived discriminatory trade practices initiated by New Delhi ahead of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the U.S on Friday...
Unifor Talking Right To Work  Blackburn News   ...The president of Unifor Local 444 in Ontario, Canada says his union is ready to fight Right To Work legislation. Dino Chiodo calls it “work for less” legislation, because that’s what he believes it will leave his members doing if it’s ever imposed on a provincial or federal level...
Walmart Cut Employee Hours So Drastically They Can't Keep Shelves Stocked, Losing Customers Think Progress   ...Amid plunging sales and massive strikes, even Walmart has conceded it can’t run a business on a skeleton crew...
Government Shutdown Deadline In One Week  Associated Press   ...With a week left to hammer out a deal to avoid a government shutdown, some lawmakers seem resigned – if not rushing – to that end...
Robert Reich: We Can Save the Economy If We Get Serious About Taxing the Rich  AlterNet   ...New documentary "Inequality for All," starring Reich explains how to fix America's income inequality...
Nowhere to Hide: The Government's Massive Intrusion Into Our Lives  Tom Dispatch   ...The NSA isn’t the only government agency exploiting technology to make privacy obsolete...
Smithfield shareholders approve Shuanghui deal  Associated Press   ...Shareholders of Smithfield Foods Inc. on Tuesday approved a plan to sell the world’s largest pork producer and processor to a Chinese company...
Bank Of America To Pay $2.18 Million In Racial Discrimination Case  Reuters   ...Bank of America Corp was ordered to pay $2.18 million to 1,147 black job applicants over racial discrimination in hiring that kept qualified candidates from getting jobs, said the U.S. Department of Labor...
How America’s 401(k) Revolution Rewarded the Rich and Turned the Rest of Us Into Big Losers AlterNet   ...It was a bad idea from the get-go, but new research shows that America’s 401(k) revolution has left us even worse off than we thought. Here’s a look at how we got into this mess, and where it will take us if we don’t wise up...
N.J. bank fined $8.2 million over federal money-laundering violations  Star-Ledger   ...Saddle River Valley Bank, a former community bank in Bergen County that once was controlled by private equity magnate J. Christopher Flowers, has agreed to pay $8.2 million to settle federal claims that it broke U.S. anti-money laundering laws...
Union Push for I.P.O. Forces Filing at Chrysler  New York Times   ...Chrysler filed for a public stock offering on Monday, acting only under pressure from its second-largest shareholder, a trust set up to provide medical coverage for 115,000 retired autoworkers and their relatives...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Exposing the private companies behind the takeover of government

Our friends at the Center for Media and Democracy are launching a campaign to expose the corporate privatizers taking over our government -- and costing us more money. CMD has already done an invaluable service by exposing the corporate dating service for state lawmakers known as ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council. Fifty corporations and nonprofits have dropped out of ALEC since CMD began its exposes.

Their first target is the Sodexo Food Service contractor, which siphons cash from kids and soldiers while dishing up scandal and subprime food.

Sodexo was accused of overcharging 21 New York school districts and the State University of New York from 2004 to 2009. The company was also implicated in the British horsemeat scandal earlier this year and shipped chicken that may have been contaminated with Listeria bacteria  to the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton.

Read the whole thing here

Rural residents raise hell at Moral Monday protest

Scores of Moral Monday protesters came to tiny Yadkinville, N.C., last night to fight the repressive anti-worker policies approved by Gov. Pat McCrory and his legislative allies this year. The rally was the 19th such event held since late April. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested at weekly protests held in the state capital earlier this year.

Laid-off worker Philip Diehl addresses crowd at rally.
Jobs and education were again at the top of the agenda for demonstrators. Several said the event gave those living in rural North Carolina the chance to have their voices heard in Raleigh. They oppose decisions to cut unemployment benefits and public education and the failure to expand Medicaid coverage for 600,000 residents.

Philip Diehl, who was laid off his job with Freightliner Trucks, said workers are hurting while McCrory doles out fat salaries to his staff. Protesters are just trying to make a difference, he told the Winston-Salem Journal:
You are fed up with the way things are going. You are trying to peacefully change things.
Christopher Petree, president of the Yakin County Association of Educators, tweeted that the governor and the Legislature are motivating the public to action:

Shout out to the @NCLeg and @PatMcCroryNC for bringing out the activist in me. You all know how to rally the masses!
The event closed with a candlelight vigil to remember all state residents who have been damaged by the extreme policies approved by lawmakers this year.

Week after week, North Carolina residents are pushing back on an agenda crafted by state budget director Art Pope, a multimillionaire who helped underwrite the campaigns of Gov. McCrory and his cronies in the Legislature. It is largely modeled on the pro-corporate, anti-worker platform of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
And more demonstrations are expected. In addition to the ongoing Moral Monday events, North Carolina teachers are currently mulling whether to hold a statewide walkout Nov. 4 to protest policy changes and poor working conditions in the classroom.

Stay tuned.