Saturday, February 28, 2015

Today's Teamster News 02.28.15

Teamsters
Drivers For Apple, Yahoo, EBay, Zynga, Genentech and Amtrak Join Teamsters  teamster.org   … Drivers who transport employees for six big Silicon Valley companies have voted overwhelmingly 104 to 38 in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif...
CDT Workers Ratify First Union Contract  teamster.org   ...Nine months after emphatically voting to join Teamsters Local 727, nearly 700 paratransit drivers, garage attendants, dispatchers and customer service representatives at Cook DuPage Transportation (CDT) in Chicago have ratified their first union contract...
Shaw’s fights Teamsters’ effort to unionize Maine pharmacists  Bangor Daily News   ...Shaw’s Supermarkets is fighting an effort by the Teamsters union to organize the chain’s pharmacists at 16 stores in Maine, arguing its pharmacy managers are supervisors and therefore are not able to join a labor union...
Trade
Trade critics take to Senate floor — Cutler: U.S., Japan close to deal — Anti-TPP group threatens Wyden with primary  Politico   ...A group of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats took to the Senate floor Thursday to oppose his flagship trade initiative, the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which they said would lead to big job losses and give big corporations too much power over public health and safety laws...
Sen. Elizabeth Warren Kicks Off Assault Against Secret Trade Agreement  Crooks and Liars   ...Elizabeth Warren is going after the TPP (yay!) and the White House is saying, oh, you misunderstood. But we've already seen the kind of insane copyright protections this administration wants - the kind that makes it impossible for other countries to make generic copies of needed medication, for instance...
TTIP: Transatlantic Trade Deal Text Leaked To BBC  BBC News   ...The trade union Unite said "real risks" remained because of the dispute resolution mechanism TTIP is expected to include. The union's Scottish regional secretary, Pat Rafferty said: "Last week Lord Livingston tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Scottish people...
Canada Won't Take 'No' For An Answer On Keystone XL  Forbes   ...Canada’s leadership, including its prime minister, Stephen Harper, has repeatedly made clear its annoyance with the Obama administration’s Hamlet-like deliberations over the pipeline, suggesting that American rejection of the proposed project — which requires a special permit from the White House to cross the border — was simply not an option...
State Battles
WV Senate Leader Says Right-To-Work Bill Dead This Session  Associated Press   …Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael said a push to make West Virginia a right-to-work state is dead this session...
No One in Wisconsin Asked to Kill Unions Except Special Interests  The Daily Beast   ...This death warrant for unions wasn’t drafted in Wisconsin though. The fingerprints of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing special-interest group, were found all over the bill. Nevertheless, Governor Scott Walker is ready to sign it after dealing unions a mortal wound in 2011 by ending the right to collective bargaining for public employees...
Construction Workers Rally Against Eliminating Prevailing Wage  Las Vegas Sun   ...Union and nonunion workers overwhelmed hallways and committee rooms. They marched outside, waved banners and filled committee rooms to watch lawmakers vet SB119, one of the most controversial bills in this year's legislative session...
Maine Shows That Publicly Financed Elections Really Can Work  Moyers and Company   ...It worked well for several cycles. Hundreds of candidates were able to run and win office without prostrating themselves before big donors and lobbyists. Farmers, waitresses, and others who usually can’t make their voice heard in politics were able to go to Maine’s state capital Augusta and represent their constituents free from the influence of special interest cash...
War on Workers
How One Community Is Kicking The Koch Brothers' Harmful Black Dust Out Of Their Neighborhood  Huffington Post   ...It’s not easy to take on a wealthy, multi-national corporation and win. Especially for residents of Chicago’s struggling southeast side. But that’s exactly what's happening on the banks of the Calumet River, where the steel plants that used to give residents of a mostly Hispanic neighborhood access to a middle-class lifestyle were replaced, nearly two years ago, with black dust called petroleum coke (“petcoke”) piled five or six stories tall...
Oil Train Wrecks Increase Pressure For Tougher Safety Rules  Philadelphia Inquirer   ...Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries...
Railroads Want One-Man Crews On Massive Freight Trains  NBC News   ...Railroads have proposed eliminating the job of on-board conductor on most trains, leaving just an engineer aboard. The workers argue that one-person crews will mean more out-of-control trains, like the runaway that caused the Lac-M├ęgantic disaster in 2013...
L&I Probing Death Of Mabton Dairy Worker  Yakima Herald Republic   ...State workplace safety officials are investigating the drowning in a manure lagoon Wednesday of a 27-year-old old dairy employee...
Miscellaneous
Gas’s Drop Drives U.S. Into Deflation Territory  Wall Street Journal   ...Driven by a tumble in oil prices since mid-2014, the consumer-price index fell 0.1% in January from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the first year-over-year decrease since October 2009. Prices fell 0.7% from December...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Teamsters and allies rally against fast track trade authority for TPP

Teamsters and allies have a message for U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen. 
Teamsters rallied today in Rockville, Md., to urge congressman Chris Van Hollen to stand with Marylanders and all working families to oppose fast track legislation.

They were joined by concerned citizens and environmentalists in Courthouse Square Park near the congressman's office. Van Hollen, a Democrat, has not committed to opposing a bill to fast track secretive trade deals that lower wages and cost jobs.

Thomas Ratliff, President of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C., said fast track is the wrong track:
Fast track will let Congress rubber-stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will lower wages, send jobs overseas, and undermine our food safety.
Our allies at the Sierra Club sent out a press release about the action:
Fast track would allow the executive branch to send already-signed trade agreements to Congress for limited debate, no amendments, and a straight up-or-down vote, thereby limiting the ability of Congress to ensure that trade agreements protect communities and the public. This would include the TPP and any other trade deals going forward.

“Communities across the country are taking action to rebuild their broken food systems from the ground up,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Director of International Strategies at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “The trade rules in TPP would threaten those achievements. We need to find ways to raise food, environment, and climate standards to their highest levels on terms that are fair to farmers and consumers. But to do that we need to say no to fast track, and yes to democracy and food sovereignty.”

Environmentalists are concerned that fast tracking the TPP would threaten environmental safeguards and encourage corporate attacks on clean air and water protections. Previous fast track bills have failed to address how trade deals should adequately protect the environment.

“Trade policy should include strong and binding environmental provisions that commit to reduce air and water pollution, protect endangered species, ban trade in illegally taken wildlife, and fight climate disruption. It must be legally binding with enforcement provisions, obligating countries and investors to uphold domestic environmental protections and safeguards,” said Stan Boyd, Executive Committee Member of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We call on Congressman Chris Van Hollen to vote against fast track, which rushes trade pacts through Congress without oversight and protections.”
The rally was hosted by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Teamsters, Food and Water Watch, Communication Workers of America, AFSCME and others.

Today's Teamster News 02.27.15

Teamsters
Teamsters Seek To Unionize More Tech Shuttle Bus Drivers In Silicon Valley  San Jose Mercury News   ...Shuttle bus drivers for five prominent tech companies will decide whether to unionize on Friday in a vote that has the potential to dramatically expand organized labor's territory in Silicon Valley and embolden others in the tech industry's burgeoning class of service workers to demand better working conditions...
Teamsters-Represented Rail Traffic Controllers In Canada Ratify Labour Deal  RTT News   ...Canadian National Railway Co. announced that members of the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference-Rail Canada Traffic Controllers union have ratified a new labour agreement. The four-year agreement covers approximately 180 rail traffic controllers in Canada...
Roma Warehouse Workers In California Win Teamster Representation  teamster.org   …California warehouse workers at Roma Food, a Performance Food Group company, have voted by a 3-1 margin in favor of joining Teamsters Local 630 in Los Angeles, Calif. All 53 workers in the bargaining unit participated in the Feb. 25 election...
Bill To Eliminate Michigan's Film Incentives Gains Traction In House Committee  MLive   ...Unions and supporters of the film industry testified against the bill in the House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday. "We took those jobs from Hollywood and brought them here," said Bill Black, Legislative Liaison for the Teamsters Local 337 in Michigan...
Swissport/Servisair YYZ Below-The-Wing Workers Pick Teamsters Over USW  Aviation Pros   ...Servisair and Swissport below-the-wing employees in Toronto chose the Teamsters over the United Steelworkers as their union, in a representational vote conducted by the CIRB...
Trade
The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose (opinion)  Washington Post   ...The United States is in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive free-trade agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other countries. Who will benefit from the TPP? American workers? Consumers? Small businesses? Taxpayers? Or the biggest multinational corporations in the world?...
Elizabeth Warren’s next target: Trade deals  Politico   …The Massachusetts senator is stepping up her criticism of the administration’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda, saying it could allow multinational corporations to gut U.S. regulations and win big settlements funded by U.S. taxpayers but decided by an international tribunal...
White House sees China as trump card in trade debate  Reuters   ...The Obama administration is confident lawmakers will warm up to a proposed Pacific free trade deal on the grounds that it is a chance for America to dictate the rules of Asian trade rather than China, a top official said on Thursday...
Nurses sound a CODE BLUE in D.C. on Fast Track and TPP  Daily Kos   ...With the White House and some of the biggest multinational corporations lobbying Congress to “fast track" the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries, National Nurses United today converged on the nation’s capital to explain that what’s good for investors’ balance sheets is not necessarily good for patients...
NAFTA’s Specter May Haunt Keystone Verdict  Politico   ...The 21-year-old free-trade pact allows foreign companies or governments to haul the U.S. in front of an international tribunal to face accusations of putting their investments at risk through regulations or other decisions. The CEO of Keystone developer TransCanada has raised the prospect as a potential last resort if Obama rejects the $8 billion project, although for now the company is focused on getting him to say yes...
State Battles
Walker: I took on unions, I can take on ISIS  The Hill   …Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) argued his fight with unions has prepared him to be commander in chief during his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. "If I can take on 100,000 protestors, I can do the same across the world," Walker said in response to a question about international terrorism...
Wisconsin, Workers and the 2016 Election  New York Times   ...In a nation where the long decline in unions has led to a pervasive slump in wages, Republicans’ support for anti-union legislation is at odds with their professed commitments to helping the middle class...
Wisconsin is poised to become the 25th right-to-work state  Los Angeles Times   ...Sometime in the next few weeks, Wisconsin will likely become the 25th state to get a right-to-work law, opposed by organized labor because it eliminates the requirement that workers must pay union fees...
House Passes Right-To-Work Bill On 37-30 Vote  Albuquerque Journal   ...A bruising political battle over whether to add New Mexico to the list of states with right-to-work laws is moving on to the Senate after the House voted 37-30 late Wednesday to approve the change in state labor laws...
‘Right-to-work’ clears House but faces tough battle in Senate Santa Fe New Mexican   ...Last week, both Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith of Deming and Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces publicly committed not to helping Senate Republicans “blast” the bill to the Senate floor if the legislation gets stuck in a Senate committee, as expected. Without those two conservative Democrats, even backers of the bill say privately that this greatly hurts the chances of the bill to pass...
Logan County Becomes Right-To-Work  News-Democrat Leader   ...By passing a Right-to-Work ordinance, Logan County officially agrees with a law that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of union dues, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after hiring...
Michigan Right To Work Law Would Extend To Police, Firefighters Under Midland Lawmaker's Proposal  MLive   ...A newly-elected state representative from Midland has drafted legislation to extend the reach of Michigan's Right to Work law to public safety personnel, the only union members exempt under the 2012 law...
Prevailing Wage Bill Clears First House Hurdle  West Virginia Metro News   ...The measure, which has passed the Senate, would transfer the responsibility of determining the wage from the Division of Labor to WorkForce West Virginia and business experts from West Virginia University and Marshall...
War on Workers
Why It's So Difficult to Repair Stuff: It's Made That Way   of two minds   ... once Corporate America books the sale, they're done with customers...
New York Couple Accused of Torturing Housekeeper Over Missing Jewelry  Gawker   …A couple in Bayside, Queens is accused of kidnapping their housekeeper at knifepoint, allegedly burning her body with a plumber's torch while questioning her about missing cash and jewelry...
Worker killed by lift at Sarasota mall  FOX 13 Tampa Bay   …Deputies say a man was crushed to death by a scissor lift at the Westfield Sarasota Square shopping mall...
Miscellaneous
FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules For 'Open Internet'  NPR   ...The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote at its Thursday meeting, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure "that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet."...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Teamsters protest Sprouts Farmers Market in Bakersfield, Calif.

Protesting Sprouts in Bakersfield, Calif.
Teamsters protested Sprouts Farmers Market at its Bakersfield, Calif., grand opening yesterday because the company is supplied by UNFI, which violates health codes and abuses communities and workers.

Teamsters were joined at the protest by grocery distribution workers and community leaders. They distributed balloons and leaflets that read, “Sprouts: Unhealthy for our Community,” and fly swatters that read, “Shop & Swat at Sprouts.”

Marc Moran, an organizer at Teamsters Joint Council 42 in Pomona, Calif., said:
UNFI and Sprouts both claim to be values-driven organizations. Both companies have benefited from consumers’ shift toward food and groceries that are perceived to be ethically sourced in a sustainable manner. We are here today to inform the public about UNFI’s unconscionable behavior.
UNFI has $6 billion in revenue and is America’s largest organic and natural foods wholesaler. Sprouts Farmers Market was taken public by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which is still a major direct holder of Sprouts.

In Moreno Valley, Calif., UNFI broke federal laws that protect workers’ rights when it intimidated, threatened and fired workers. In November 2014, the federal government certified the Teamsters Union as the drivers’ union in Moreno Valley after UNFI managed to delay the ballot counting for over a year on a technicality. Yet, UNFI still refuses to recognize the workers’ union.
Another view of the protest against Sprouts.
Steve Vairma, Teamsters Warehouse Division Director, said:
It’s time for UNFI to stop the bullying and stop the intimidation. Over the years, UNFI has tried to undermine workers who have asserted their rights protected by United States law, even where the Teamsters have been certified as the workers’ union through federally supervised elections. UNFI wants to destroy its workers’ fundamental rights to join together to improve their working conditions.
Randy Korgan, Organizing Director for Teamsters Local 63 in Covina, Calif., described how UNFI intimidates workers:
Whenever a group of workers at a UNFI warehouse or truck yard attempt to form a union, UNFI management brutalizes them with a barrage of tactics based on contempt and fear, solely for the purpose of intimidating their own workers. It's time Sprouts took a stand to stop this illegal bullying behavior in their supply chain. We expect that Sprouts, with its claim to be values-driven, would tell its suppliers to treat the local workers and local community with respect.
Across America, UNFI has taken massive tax subsidies while local school systems struggle. UNFI recently built a warehouse in this manner in Hudson Valley, N.Y. The company took 15 years’ worth of tax breaks, even though the community has experienced major cuts in the local school district’s education budget and has seen property taxes rise.

Organic consumers also worry that UNFI, with its acquisition of Sacramento, Calif.-based Tony’s Fine Foods, is veering away from a professed commitment to organic food – possibly straying toward factory farming and undermining the further growth of sustainable farming and food consumption.

Steve Earle, working man's warrior, releases new album

Steve Earle.
Back in 2011, when Wisconsin job-killer Gov. Scott Walker began his war on workers, American music icon Steve Earle said “Collective bargaining for working people is a fundamental component of democracy, and we can’t afford to let it slip away.”

He had just released the songs ‘Harlan Man‘ and ‘The Mountain‘ on a two-track digital single, with all proceeds benefiting the America Votes Labor Unity Fund via SaveWorkers. The songs depicted life as a card-carrying union member.

So it is fitting that this workingman’s warrior has released his latest collection of songs as all eyes are once again on Wisconsin. There the Senate last night passed a right-to-work bill over the objections of thousands of protesting working men and women.

So it is also fitting that it's a blues album.


Here's how Rolling Stone described Earle in a review of the album, Terraplane, which Earle recorded with the Dukes:
Nearly 60 years old, he's learned how to make the most of a voice that's been weathered by decades of hard partying and harder touring. He sounds raw, ragged and real, backed by a band whose time on the road hasn't worn away a looseness that seems to suit these new tunes. Over the course of 15 minutes, Earle huffs, puffs, croaks and croons, and the band winds up capturing the final take — the one where all the weird shit happens at the right place — on the fourth try.
Click through to this link here, scroll to the bottom and listen to "You're the Best Lover That I Ever Had." Click through to this link here and listen to "King of the Blues."

Paste calls it 'a work of many textures':
On the randy, low-flying Stones-evoking “Go Go Boots Are Back,” Steve Earle scrapes the same guttural rock ‘n’ roll that made “Copperhead Road” so compelling. But as raw and guitar-stung as “Boots” is, Terraplane is a work of many textures. 
Like The Mountain, Earle’s bluegrass project, this collection grounds in a single genre. Focusing on Texas and Chicago blues, Terraplane is a loose-grooved exhumation of Lightin’ Hopkins, Freddie King and Mance Lipscomb, artists Earle grew up on in San Antonio. 
From the harmonica bleat on the swaggering “Baby Baby Baby (Baby)” to the jaunty “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now,” Earle plumbs the carnal underpinnings of the blues: feasting on what can be, never mourning what’s done. It is frisky, with musicians thumping and plucking in what feels almost like a jam.
You can buy the album here and here.




Wisconsin right-to-work battle: A bitter pill, and gratitude

Yesterday inside the Wisconsin Statehouse. Photo by Local 695 Business
Agent Rob Moss.
Despite thousands of protesters inside and outside the Statehouse in Madison yesterday, the Senate passed SB44, a right-to-work bill. The legislation was sent to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass easily next week. Job-killer Gov. Scott Walker said he will sign it (no surprise there).
The Huffington Post reports:
Debate over the bill drew an estimated 2,000 protesters to the state Capitol on both Tuesday and Wednesday, reminiscent of the passionate labor demonstrations surrounding Act 10 in 2011, though vastly smaller in scope. As with that earlier legislation, which stripped most collective bargaining rights from public-sector employees, vocal opposition from the state's unions wasn't enough to stop the right-to-work bill in its tracks... 
The fight in Madison is just the latest indication of how state Republican leaders, often controlling both the statehouse and the governor's mansion in their respective states, are managing to enact laws that weaken the clout of organized labor. If the Wisconsin measure is approved, the Badger State will become the 25th right-to-work state in the country, following two other Midwestern states, Michigan and Indiana, that passed such laws in 2012.
Local 200 members: Roundys employee Tom Lindert, Business Agent Wes Gable, President Tom Bennett and Roundys employee Freddy Steinbach at the Capitol yesterday protesting the damaging right-to-work legislation. Photo by Local 200 Secretary-Treasurer Tom Millonzi. 
We can't say it any better than Teamsters Local 200 President Tom Bennett does here:
It was a very disappointing defeat tonight in the Senate with the passing of SB44, now going to the Assembly, but I feel the need to express my gratitude to Sen. Dave Hansen from Green Bay and Sen. JanetBewley from Ashland. I watched from the upper seating area for the last five hours of the session to hear the Teamsters mentioned in very positive ways when the Democratic senators spoke to support organized labor, but these two stood out. 
These two Democrats from Wisconsin tonight expressed their compassion and thankfulness for having a strong union bond with the Teamsters. Both gave compelling arguments why right to work is bad for the people of Wisconsin, and that was based on how the Teamsters impacted their lives. Sen. Hansen worked a Teamster job that provided him a good living. Sen. Bewley talked about her father being a Teamster that instilled great values in their family life. Senator Bewley went on to talk about the pension that provided security for her parents until their death. She also talked about how her father's Teamster job provided her college education. 
In the closing moments, prior to the final roll call vote on SB44, this Teamster was proud to know that our own brothers and sisters were proudly represented by senators that value the International Brotherhood ofTeamsters.
For some great photos of yesterday's happenings in Madison, click here.

Join the Twitterstorm to #FightFastTrack for #TPP TODAY at 10:30 a.m. Eastern

Last week's #FightFastTrack Twitterstorm was a success! We know our online and offline actions are working because today's Senate Finance Committee hearing, which could have introduced Fast Track, was postponed. So let's do it again today at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Below are some sample tweets, but feel free to make up your own: 

Sample Tweets for #FightFastTrack Twitterstorm Thursday, Feb. 26, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Eastern

Please RT to support our Twitterstorm to #FightFastTrack for the #TPP! Thursday, Feb. 26 at 10:30am-11:30am. pic.twitter.com/IIvomhmubd Happening NOW

When we #FightFastTrack, we can win! Today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on tariffs (and probably Fast Track) postponed! #TPP

Pls call Sen. Wyden, thank him for delaying Fast Track hearing, but say he must #FightFastTrack for #TPP 202-224-5244

3 out of 4 Oregon voters oppose #TPP. @RonWyden risks his seat if he doesn’t #FightFastTrack https://www.popularresistance.org/wyden-if-you-support-fasttrack-your-career-is-toast/

#TPP would let foreign corporations challenge US sovereignty! #FightFastTrack for #TPP! http://www.citizen.org/investorcases pic.twitter.com/X4NB1PCctz

If Congress passes Fast Track, the #TPP clause that undermines US sovereignty can't be removed. #FightFastTrack http://wapo.st/1DcOfqo

Remember how those promises about NAFTA turned out to be false? Same goes with #TPP. So #FightFastTrack http://bit.ly/1AvpnwP

Why we must #FightFastTrack: Exports Lag 20%, Trade Deficits Surge 427% under "Free Trade" deals like #TPP http://bit.ly/17AXxDY

We can’t afford Fast Track and we can’t afford global giveaways on trade! bit.ly/1DURnev #TPP #FightFastTrack

Dear @RepRichardNeal: Your constituents and @BerkshireEagle say you should #FightFastTrack for #TPP http://bit.ly/1MIU3jp Will you?

All LGBT House members BUT @RepJaredPolis object to TPP with countries with anti-LGBT laws http://bzfd.it/1E9slbV #UniteBlue #FightFastTrack

AFL-CIO President Trumka explains Fast Track: lost jobs, lower wages. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYg0pEr-3fU&feature=youtu.be #FightFastTrack

Learn how trade deals are bankrupting America (if you haven't figured it out already) : http://economyincrisis.org/content/disastrous-free-trade-is-bankrupting-america … #FightFastTrack #TPP

NAFTA-style trade pacts like #TPP let foreign corporations sue the US government over safety laws #StopFastTrack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnC1mqyAXmw

Today's Teamster News 02.26.15

Teamsters
Hoffa: Port Driver Efforts Show The Long, Hard Fight For Justice  Huffington Post   ...The port truck industry is highly fragmented, poorly organized and grossly inefficient. Deregulation has forced trucking companies to engage in cutthroat competition. Consequently, many are gearing up to fight the efforts of drivers and the Teamsters to organize and receive a fair wage. Luckily, more and more decision makers are beginning to side with workers...
Teamsters, Consumers And Community Protest Sprouts Farmers Market  teamster.org   ...“It’s time for UNFI to stop the bullying and stop the intimidation,” said Steve Vairma, Teamsters Warehouse Division Director. “Over the years UNFI has tried to undermine workers who have asserted their rights protected by United States law, even where the Teamsters have been certified as the workers’ union through federally supervised elections. UNFI wants to destroy its workers’ fundamental rights join together to improve their working conditions.”...
Trade
The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose  Washington Post   …Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations. Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty...
Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership Promises Echo Clinton's On NAFTA  Op-Ed News   …NAFTA -- the North American Free Trade Agreement -- was sold with promises of jobs and prosperity on all sides of the border. What really happened was that an increased trade deficit sucked demand and jobs out of the U.S. economy; workers lost bargaining power, resulting in pay and benefit cuts; and income inequality rose as corporations pocketed the wage differential. Now the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being sold with literally the same promises…
Trade Crazy: The Push For Fast-Track Trade Authority (opinion)  Huffington Post   ...There are many issues in the TPP that our trading partners don't like. They don't like rules that will force them to pay more for drugs from Pfizer and Merck, nor do they like rules that will make them pay more money to Time Warner for Hollywood movies, or to Microsoft for software...
State Battles
Wisconsin Senate approves right-to-work bill  Chicago Tribune   …The Wisconsin state Senate narrowly passed a right-to-work bill Wednesday and sent it on to the Assembly, where the Republican majority is wider...
Koch-Funded Allies Descend on Wisconsin to Push Right to Work  Center for Media and Democracy   …It's a rare citizen who would rush to testify that the higher wages, benefits, and training that unions bring are a bad idea. Fortunately, the Wisconsin GOP had the full support of the Koch-funded "think tanks" that are a critical part of the right-wing infrastructure...
Registrations at Wisconsin Senate hearing overwhelmingly against right-to-work bill  Associated Press   …Opponents to right-to-work outnumbered supporters 70-to-1 at a Wisconsin state Senate public hearing that was cut short before Republicans voted to advance the bill...
Kenton County To Adopt "Right to Work" Ordinance  River City News   ...Kenton County will pass a so-called "Right to Work" ordinance at its next meeting after hearing a first reading on Tuesday night in Covington...
Missouri house passes two voter ID measures  CedarRepublican.com   …The Missouri House passed two measures Thursday, Feb. 19, which would make Missouri the 32nd state to require a government issued ID to vote...
Iowa Senate Approves $8.75 Minimum Wage Bill  Des Moines Register   ...Senate File 269 was approved 27-22 with no debate. All 26 Democrats voted for the bill. Only one Republican, Sen. Rick Bertrand of Sioux City, voted yes. Iowa's minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. The bill would increase Iowa's minimum wage to $8 an hour on July 1, 2015, and to $8.75 an hour on July 1, 2016...
This Billionaire Governor Taxed The Rich And Increased The Minimum Wage -- Now, His State's Economy Is One Of The Best In The Country  Huffington Post   ...The reason Gov. Dayton was able to radically transform Minnesota's economy into one of the best in the nation is simple arithmetic. Raising taxes on those who can afford to pay more will turn a deficit into a surplus. Raising the minimum wage will increase the median income. And in a state where education is a budget priority and economic growth is one of the highest in the nation, it only makes sense that more businesses would stay. It's official -- trickle-down economics is bunk. Minnesota has proven it once and for all. If you believe otherwise, you are wrong...
War on Workers
T.J. Maxx to hike minimum wage for workers  CNN Monday  …The owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and Home Goods is raising wages for its workers to at least $10 an hour by next year...
JPMorgan, Still On 2-Year Probation, Under Scrutiny in Gold Fixing Probe  Wall Street on Parade   …the U.S. Justice Department is investigating at least 10 of the biggest U.S. and foreign banks for potentially rigging the gold market and other precious metals markets. That investigation comes while ongoing investigations continue into the potential rigging by big banks of the setting of interest-rate benchmarks and foreign currency...
Student Debt Strikers Take On Corinthian College  Mathbabe   …Good for them. Corinthian College is a predatory and fraudulent company which was in the business of gaming the federal loan system while making false promises to its students. Those students are victims of fraud and should not be the ones paying back the government money for an education they never got. Instead, Corinthian should pay back the money...
Iron Worker At Barclays Center Crushed To Death By Steel Beams  New York Daily News   ...A 52-year-old iron worker constructing a green roof on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was crushed to death by steel beams on Tuesday, police said. Hardhat Peter Zepf was helping to move the massive beams — called joists — from a truck onto a hoist when four of the parts fell on him near the Atlantic Ave. side of the arena around 1 p.m., witnesses said...
Miscellaneous
Janet Yellen Puts Fed On Path To Lift Rates  Wall Street Journal   ...If the economy continues to strengthen as the Fed anticipates and officials become more confident that low inflation will rise toward their 2% goal, she said, the central bank “will at some point begin considering an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate.”...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wisconsin's working people rise up again to fight right to work

It's freezing outside the Wisconsin Statehouse, but this Teamster
retiree weathered the cold to make a point.
Wisconsin workers continue the fight against right to work today as shivering protesters are packed outside the Statehouse while others make their voices heard inside. 

Senators are debating a right-to-work bill on the Senate floor as union members sing songs of solidarity outside. Sen. Chris Larson, a Milwaukee Democrat, told the Republican majority that workers who waited nine hours yesterday to testify before a Senate committee were denied the opportunity.

Former Teamster and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, wonders why they're in such a hurry to pass a bill today that was only introduced on Friday. 

Brother Rob Moss, Business Agent for Teamsters Local 695 in LaCrosse, sent us the photo below: 
A strong union presence inside the Statehouse.
Brother Tom Bennett, President of Teamsters Local 200 in Milwaukee, is also keeping us posted. He sent us this photo featuring the flag of the Teamsters Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.  

Note the yellow Teamsters BLET flag.
"These halls have echoed democracy for decades, now these halls are silenced with the dollars of Republican donors," Bennett said.
Here's Local 200 Business Agent Randy Monroe, Rep. Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee),
President Tom Bennett and Agent Wes Gable at the Statehouse rally today.
Earlier, Brother Bennett shared with us his experience testifying against the right-to-work bill, SB44.
After long hours of waiting to testify against SB44, I got to go on about 5:30 on Tuesday night.  
Democratic senators Chris Larson and Bob Wirch did an outstanding job today related to being on task to dispel the misgivings of right-to-work supporters such as The Heritage Foundation, ALEC and Wisconsin's own Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Both Larson and Wirch are senators within Teamsters Local 200 jurisdiction. 
As I testified, I made reference to a comment by Republican Senator Scott Fitzgerald, who introduced SB44. I testified with the following statement: "This morning I heard Senator Fitzgerald use the world "simple." Last night I went to bed a simple man and I woke up a simple man. I find nothing simple about this bill, and my membership takes this act as no simple measure. It is strictly an attack on organized labor."


Dispatch from West Virginia: Wednesday, Feb. 25 (UPDATE)

Operating engineer
Dave Blett signs up to testify.
Our Teamster on the Ground reports on today's developments in the fight against right to work in West Virginia:
It's 6:30 a.m. and workers have gathered at IUOE Local 132 to shuttle to the Statehouse to voice their opposition to SB 361, the bill to scale back the prevailing wage. It's set to be discussed in a committee hearing this morning. I was invited by IUOE member and former Delegate David Walker, who lost his seat in the midterm election. He's been on the front lines every day this session and helped coordinate this morning's commute. 
In addition to the operating engineers, iron workers came out this morning to hitch a ride. They told me before hopping on the shuttle that they "wouldn't dare miss this" and that "this is what solidarity is all about."
Right-to-work was originally on the agenda for today, but it was taken off at the last minute yesterday evening. More harmful bills are being introduced in these final days of the session, but the troops have been assembled and are ready to fight back. 
At 9:07 a.m., our Teamster on the Ground arrived at the West Virginia Statehouse:
Just arrived to a packed house. Workers out the door, lining the halls and making their presence known.   
Workers waiting to testify on a prevailing wage bill. 
The committee room was so packed an overflow crowd had to listen in another room. 
Outside of the East Wing Committee Room.
UPDATE: At 5 p.m., our Teamster on the Ground filed this report:
Sadly, the prevailing wage bill we have fought so hard to defeat has passed out of the House Government Organization Committee by a vote of 17-8. The House of Delegates will now vote on the anti-worker measure to be enacted, but we are continuing to fight. Workers are not giving up their efforts to stop the bill from moving forward.  
Although we were unable to stop prevailing wage from clearing committee, the standing-room-only meeting this morning should remind all House delegates that workers will not back down. The bill will not only cut wages, it will also cost jobs. Workers say they will not be deterred.

“You know it! I know it! Everybody in this House knows that this is going to cut wages,” Delegate Mike Caputo, D-Marion, said as he looked to the union laborers who had packed the meeting room. “I've heard from as many companies as I have had workers saying this is going to put them out of business.” 
I left the Statehouse to attend a conference call at the West Virginia AFL-CIO office. President Kenny Perdue talked at length about right-to-work, which we are still hopeful will die in committee. Republicans did give us a momentary scare yesterday, Perdue said on the call. They sought to punish Democrats killing a charter school bill in committee on Monday by adding right-to-work to today's agenda late yesterday afternoon.
AFL-CIO Senior Field Staff Rod Muchnok, with President Kenny Perdue and
Political Director Sherry Breeden of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
Although the threat turned out to be a bluff, it was significant enough to remind everyone just how real the risk is in West Virginia. All it takes is a well-funded, coordinated push by the anti-union opposition to put us on the defensive again. 
So we are remaining vigilant, producing a radio spot just in case the opposition decides to launch an ad blitz. We are also moving forward on a Statehouse rally March 7th -- aiming for a minimum crowd of 5,000-8,500. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall will be speaking, and the famous Teamster tractor-trailer will make an appearance. We encourage all supporters in the area to attend. 


Today's Teamster News 02.25.15

Teamsters
Hoffa: Presidential Veto of Keystone Hurts Middle Class Americans  teamster.org   ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa expressed his disappointment in President Obama’s decision today to veto the Keystone Pipeline Act despite bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and Senate...
Teamsters Seen As Upping Effort To Be Clark County Schools Union  Las Vegas Review Journal   ...A three-member Nevada Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board unanimously agreed to change its 13-year-old policy that requires a supermajority vote for one union to oust another. That decision came in the wake of the Teamsters overwhelming victory in a vote to determine whether workers wanted the Teamsters or ESEA to represent them...
Teamsters Port Division Responds To Tentative Contract Agreement Between The PMA And ILWU  Long Beach Post   ...“The longshoreman have fought for more than 100 years for a seat at the economic table; it is now the truckers turn,” the statement continued. “The Teamsters will continue to support the drivers’ fight for a seat at the economic table until justice is served.”...
BLET Members Ratify New Contract With Long Island Rail Road  BLET   ...On February 22, members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) by a 71 percent majority...
Trade
Lawmakers grapple with ‘fast track’ trade bill  Marketwatch   …Lawmakers from both parties are trying to strike a difficult balance as they wrangle over the final intricacies of a bill that would expedite consideration of trade deals...
Devastating Impacts Of “Secretly Negotiated” TTIP Trade-Deal Between EU And US, Obama Blocks Making Its Terms Public  Centre for Research on Globalization   ...Basically: U.S. President Barack Obama is demanding that European nations weaken their regulations, but has been encountering stiff resistance from some, which has dragged out negotiations...
Fighting Fast Track: Is It Really China Or Us? (opinion)  Huffington Post   ...Those deals and others like them have led to the U.S. accumulating more than $10 trillion in trade deficits over the past 20 years, far more than the rest of the world combined. Those deals have emptied small and large cities from Trenton to St. Louis of millions of jobs that would have provided a decent income to urban America. Instead our cities are burned out and in the case of Detroit and others, bankrupt...
WTO Rules Against China In Steel Anti-Dumping Dispute  Tax News   ...The panel found that the Chinese measures did not fully respect the prescribed WTO methods to calculate dumping margins. It also said that China failed to demonstrate that its domestic industry had been adversely affected by imports of the product in question, and said that Chinese anti-dumping procedure came short of the WTO requirements in terms of due process and transparency...
State Battles
About 2,000 rally against right-to-work in Wisconsin  Associated Press   …About 2,000 construction workers, electricians, carpenters and other union members rallied at the Wisconsin state Capitol on Tuesday, pushing back against a fast-tracked right-to-work bill backed by Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker...
Wisconsin Republicans worry about protest redux as right-to-work debate begins  Washington Post   ...In 2011, large protests against bills undercutting the political power of public employee unions rocked the Wisconsin Capitol in Madison, sparking recall elections that nearly toppled Gov. Scott Walker (R). Four years later, Republicans want to avoid a repeat as they consider another measure that would curb union power...
Right-to-work offers little for Wisconsin's economy  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Wisconsin may soon become the 25th right-to-work state. Republicans in the state Senate have the votes — and there is little Democrats can do to stop the train. It's left the station...
Scott Walker’s Economic Mess: How Worker Wages Were Gutted In Wisconsin  Salon.com   ...I was in Wisconsin for the labor uprising of 2011. Faced with the threat from newly elected Gov. Scott Walker of eviscerated collective bargaining protections, unions and their allies brought hundreds of thousands of workers into the streets in protest. They fought like their lives depended on it. Four years later, we now know that they did...
Right-To-Work Debate Begins In Wisconsin With Hearing  Denver Post   ...Opponents of a Republican push to turn Wisconsin into a right-to-work state began to converge on the Capitol on Tuesday for a rally and to testify against the fast-tracked measure...
Oldham considers 'right-to-work' ordinance  The Courier-Journal   ...Some Oldham officials are hoping a proposed 'right-to-work' ordinance — which would prohibit mandatory union involvement as a condition of employment — could be the solution to a business park that, a decade after its $20 million purchase, "hasn't had the success the people who started it had initially hoped for," said Judge-Executive David Voegele...
Liquor privatization bill clears Pennsylvania House panel  Associated Press   ...A proposal to sell off most of Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor system and its wholesale distribution network moved ahead with a vote in the Legislature on Monday, although its prospects to become law remain uncertain...
'Paycheck protection' union-dues issue returns to the spotlight in Pa. Senate  Penn Live   ...The Senate State Government Committee on Monday voted 6-5 along mostly partisan lines to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban the collection of union membership dues and political contributions from paychecks of state government and school district employees...
Two different Missouri Senate proposals to require photo IDs for voting  St. Louis Public Radio   ...The battle by Republican lawmakers to restore photo identification requirements in Missouri has moved over to the Senate, where two rather different approaches are being considered...
Minimum Wage To Rise In Alaska To $8.75 An Hour  The Oregonian   ...Voters in November overwhelmingly approved raising the minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour, effective Jan. 1. Because the state constitution calls for ballot measures to take effect 90 days after election results are certified, the raise doesn't take effect until Tuesday...
War on Workers
California Metrolink Derailment Is Latest in Series of High-Profile Crashes  NBC News   ...A commuter train derailment outside Los Angeles that sent 28 people to the hospital and left a tractor-trailer in flames was the latest in a series of high-profile accidents on the nation's rails...
Recent “Bomb Trains” Expose Regulatory Failures  Oil Price   ...even though the CPC-1232 cars have demonstrated that they are inadequately safe, much of the crude hitting the nation’s railways are not even traveling to that standard. Railcar manufacturers do not have the capability to ramp up production of the CPC-1232s fast enough, with a backlog of at least 50,000 cars. Meanwhile, there are still around 171,000 DOT-111s still in operation...
Telecom workers ratify agreement to end strike in New England  Reuters   ... Union members ratified an agreement on Sunday that ends a four-month-long strike by some 1,800 workers at FairPoint Communications, a major land-line telecommunications provider in northern New England, union officials announced...
U.S. refinery strike affects one-fifth of national capacity  Reuters   ...The largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years entered its fourth week on Sunday as workers at 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of national production capacity were walking picket lines...
Big Banks Face Scrutiny Over Pricing Of Metals  Wall Street Journal   ...U.S. officials are investigating at least 10 major banks for possible rigging of precious-metals markets, even though European regulators dropped a similar probe after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, according to people close to the inquiries...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dispatch From West Virginia: Monday, Feb. 23

Our Teamster on the Ground reports on Monday developments in the fight against right to work in West Virginia:
I was fortunate to have my video camera with me in the West Virginia Statehouse cafeteria when I ran into Fuzz Larue, Affiliated Construction Trades representative for the West Virginia Building Trades. He suggested I interview a table of sheet metal workers. They told me how their team had been fighting to stop anti-worker legislation with the help of working members, many of whom attended last Thursday’s public hearing on the prevailing wage.  
“Right to work is nothing but attack on workers and it will not create a single job,” Scott Mazzulli, business representative for Sheet Metal Workers Local 33, told me. “People have the right to join a union. They have a right to grievance procedure.”

Sheet Metal Union members at the West Virginia Statehouse.
Outside the Statehouse I stopped and talked with Jack Lane, a mine worker of UMWA Local 1713 in Herndon, W. Va., who came to fight the Coal Jobs Safety Act. It's a bill, currently in committee, that would roll back mine safety standards.  
“If these rules are passed we will go backwards and take a step back when it comes to safety. And that’s why I’m here today, to tell that to the legislators,” Lane said to me before going inside to attend the committee meeting. It’s activism like this that has made the fight down here so encouraging. 
Jack Lane, who also attended last Monday's rally.
Our brothers and sisters have worked together with West Virginia teachers to defeat a bill that would allow county school boards to form privatized charter schools in West Virginia. 
Democrats killed the bill. I was working in the West Virginia AFL-CIO office when the tweet below came across: 

A cheer went up from every single person in the AFL-CIO office. 
Some worry what the response will be to the bill's defeat, but for now things are joyous here. 

Teamsters fight back against right to work in Wisconsin

Organized labor in the Wisconsin Capitol.
Wisconsin Teamsters took to the right-to-work battlefield this morning, arriving in the Capitol along with hundreds of riled-up union members. The Wisconsin state Senate is ramming through a right-to-work bill starting this morning with a committee hearing on the bill.

Gov. Scott Walker, the Koch brothers' favorite toady, said he will sign the bill when it arrives on his desk.

Brother Tom Bennett, President of Teamsters Local 200 in Milwaukee, tells us the officers and representatives of organized labor who have building trades members met at the Capitol at 7 am and then attended the hearing. Local 200 members are there.
Brother Pat Tappa in Milwaukee.
Last night, Brother Pat Tappa, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 344, inspired the shivering crowd at an outdoor "Defeat Right to Work" rally in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Teamsters have prepared since last year for this fight. If you live in Wisconsin or know someone who does, help our brothers and sisters out by calling your state senator at 1-844-334-3438 and tell them to vote no on this anti-worker bill.

Today, the NFL Players Association announced its opposition to right to work. The Cap Times quoted NFLPA De Smith:
Our guys work for a living. And when it comes to the issues of working men and women in America, our issues really aren't so divergent from theirs. Our guys want a safe workplace. They want a fair wage. They want a fair pension. And they want to know that they can address all of those issues as a collective team rather than being subjected to an employer who has a significant, if not tremendous, amount of bargaining leverage over an individual.
Packed hearing room.
During the committee hearing this morning, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald sneered that low wage workers should drop their union to save pennies, ignoring the fact that unions raise wages by dollars. And as @cathysherwin, one of our all-time favorite tweeters, pointed out
.@SenFitzgerald keeps saying "freedom" when he runs out of facts. That's cause it can be explained in 3 letters: L-I-E #wipolitics #wiunion
Economist Gordon Lafer testified that right-to-work laws lower wages -- which is the whole idea behind them.

Marquette University economist Abdur Chowdhury told the Senate committee:
If wages are lower, we expect to see an outflow of workforce. The skilled workers tend to leave the state and will go to another place where the wages are higher. 
Good places to follow what's going on in Wisconsin include the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Facebook page and the Defeat "Right to Work" Facebook page. Follow @cathysherwin, @onewisconsinnow, @wisaflcio, @WeRWisconsin, @WEAC and the hashtag #RightToWorkIsWrong. Or you can make a contribution here.

Today's Teamster News 02.24.15

Teamsters
Teamsters Protest Labatt Beer At Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament  teamster.org   ...At the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey tournament this weekend, Teamster members distributed information to fans about Heidelberg Distributing’s abusive behavior towards its drivers and warehouse workers. Heidelberg distributes Labatt Beer products in Ohio...
Unionized UC Berkeley Workers Rally Against New Pay Calculations  Daily Californian   ...Teamsters Local 2010 said in a press release that the goals of this rally were not only to educate the public on the employees’ grievances with the UC system but also to highlight the pay that UC employees receive. According to a recent Economic Policy Institute study cited in the press release, 80 percent of the union’s members are not paid enough to live in the cities in which their campuses reside...
Sysco Not In Talks To Settle U.S. Lawsuit To Stop Merger  Reuters   ...Sysco Corp is not holding settlement talks with the U.S. government to resolve a lawsuit aimed at stopping a $3.5 billion merger of the food distributor and its largest rival, a lawyer for Sysco said on Friday...
Trade
Medicines forecast to cost taxpayers millions more in secret TPP trade deal  Guardian   ...Medicines will cost Australian taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more each year if measures in a leaked draft of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are implemented, a new report says...
Japan's Amari: Japan-U.S. TPP talks are behind schedule  Reuters   …Chief negotiators for the TPP deal will meet in Hawaii for talks in the second week of March, the U.S. trade office said on Friday, a move which could delay a final agreement on the pact…
Froman asks county officials to back Obama trade policies  AgriPulse   ...U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman today called on county government officials from across the country to support President Obama's request for trade promotion authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal...
State Battles
Scott Walker Pushes ALEC 'Right to Work' Bill, Divide and Conquer Comes Full Circle  Huffington Post   ...Wisconsin GOP leaders announced they would have an "extraordinary session" to ram through union-busting "right to work" legislation. CMD/PRwatch quickly noted that the bill is taken almost word-for-word from the Koch corporate bill mill known as the American Legislative Exchange Council known as "ALEC."...
Bell Right-To-Work Amendment Passes Senate  Augusta Free Press   ...Current law provides that a citizen cannot be denied the employment or continuation of employment for failing to join a union or other labor organization. This amendment, sponsored by Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, would make Virginia’s Right to Work law more permanent by adding it to the constitution...
Walker’s Anti-Union Law Has Labor Reeling In Wisconsin  Washington Post   ...Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers. Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving ­public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled...
House set to vote on liquor privatization bill despite concerns that members may not know what's in it  PennLive   ...In its first significant piece of business in the 2015-16 legislative session, the state House of Representatives is poised to vote this week on a bill that would get the state out of the liquor business. But some wonder how many legislators casting votes really know what the bill would do...
Indiana State AFL-CIO President Reacts to House Approval of Common Construction Wage Repeal  Indiana State AFL-CIO   ..."With today’s vote in the House of Representatives, the Republican supermajority has attacked the wages of working Hoosiers, a successful private sector business model and the autonomy of local governments...."
War on Workers
Oil, Ethanol Trains Will Derail 10 Times A Year For 2 Decades, Federal Government Estimates  The Oregonian   ...The federal government predicts trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year during the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S...
In service sector, no rest for the working  New York Times   ...Employees are literally losing sleep as restaurants, retailers and many other businesses shrink the intervals between shifts and rely on smaller, leaner staffs to shave costs. These scheduling practices can take a toll on employees who have to squeeze commuting, family duties and sleep into fewer hours between shifts. The growing practice of the same workers closing the doors at night and returning to open them in the morning even has its own name: "clopening."...
Seattle, Tacoma, other ports busy again after tentative labor deal  Associated Press   ...Nearly all West Coast seaports began the work week with crews hustling to load and unload cargo ships that were held up amid a months-long dispute over a new contract for dockworkers...
Look who's living on the financial edge  CNBC   …24 percent of Americans have more credit card debt than emergency savings, and 13 percent are not much better off—they don't have credit card debt but they don't have emergency savings either. Put another way, more than a third of Americans are living at risk of a financial crisis…
Worker killed in accident at Alcoa plant  Associated Press   … An Alcoa plant employee was killed about 6:30 p.m. Monday in what's being termed an "accident" at the Tennessee Operations North Plant, according to an Alcoa spokeswoman...
Why We're All Becoming Independent Contractors (opinion)  Huffington Post   ...The rise of "independent contractors" is the most significant legal trend in the American workforce -- contributing directly to low pay, irregular hours, and job insecurity...
Knowledge Isn’t Power (opinion)  New York Times   ...We could levy higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and invest the proceeds in programs that help working families. We could raise the minimum wage and make it easier for workers to organize. It’s not hard to imagine a truly serious effort to make America less unequal...
Drones Are The New Buzz In Ag Business  Yakima Herald Republic   ...Farmers already are using drones in the area and throughout the nation, albeit by stretching the limits of rapidly changing regulations. They purchase the planes online. Some allow users to control them with a smartphone application, turning their screen into a virtual cockpit...
Miscellaneous
Crackdown On Drones Goes Local  USA Today   ...Since 2012, 15 states have enacted laws restricting drones in some way, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which tracks state laws. And if New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick gets his way, drones will be banned in the Big Apple, except for police with a warrant, as soon as this year...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Anti-Fast Track protests enter 2nd week

Anti-TPP activists are continuing to rally across the country as members of Congress prepare to return to Washington. They may well arrive for an epic battle over Fast Track legislation.

Fast Track would let Congress rubber stamp the secretly negotiated TPP. Fast Track is also the only way the deal will ever get passed. If Congress had to actually debate the TPP, people would find out what's in it and start reaching for their pitchforks. ,br />
Protesters demand Rep. Sam Farr vote no on Fast Track in Santa Cruz, Calif.
The TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, would send U.S. jobs overseas, lower wages, raise the cost of medicine and imperil food safety and the environment. TPP supporters want to pass Fast Track so Congress can send the secretly negotiated deal to the president before the public wakes up and realizes what happened.

A Fast Track bill has not been introduced yet. A Thursday Senate hearing about trade may provide an opportunity for TPP supporters to file a Fast Track bill. The committee chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, has said he wants to introduce a Fast Track bill by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, TPP protests took place last week in the Pacific Northwest, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Colorado and California. 

Activists are ramping up pressure on Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon who holds the key to Fast Track legislation. He hasn't said whether he supports Fast Track. If he does, he will provide cover for other Democrats to vote for it. 

This week activists are holding rallies, protests, meetings, Town Halls and news conferences in Bridgeport, Conn., Chicago, Rockville, Md., New York City, New Hope, N.C., and other cities where members of Congress haven't seen the light. Teamsters political representatives are also holding under-the-radar screen meetings in district offices.


Activists ask Rep. Mike Quigley, 'Don't betray our trust.'
Stay tuned. And call your representatives in Congress to tell them vote NO on Fast Track. It's fast, easy and free. Just dial  888-979-9806.