Friday, December 31, 2010

Today's Teamster News 12.31.10

Unemployment claims drop unexpectedly  Los Angeles Times   ...signs are mounting that employers might at last be starting to hire new workers...
Storm hit NYC on eve of sanitation worker shake-up  Associated Press   ...Harry Nespoli, president of the Teamster's local that represents sanitation workers including plow drivers, also denied a city councilman's claims that sanitation workers' bosses encouraged a slowdown...
Continental Fleet Service Workers Ratify First Contract  IBT   ...Agreement provides for multiple job protections, significant sage increases...
Rattner settles pension kickback case for $10 million  New York Times   ... financier Steven L. Rattner has agreed to pay $10 million to settle civil charges that he engaged in a kickback scheme involving New York state’s pension fund...
NewPage union: 'No'  (Local 486)  Escanaba Daily News   ...Union employees at NewPage overwhelmingly rejected the latest contract offer from the company...
Aspinwall labor talks for 4 come down to wire  (Local 249)  Valley News Dispactch  ...Aspinwall officials are negotiating a new three-year contract with the borough's four full-time public works employees...
Saline employees agree to health-care concessions  (Local 214)   ...Saline's two police unions, members of Teamsters Local 214 and its nonunion employees recently agreed to concessions...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The looming threat: It-bites-to-work-for-less laws

It's payback time. Politicians who won elections thanks to massive, secret funding by corporate billionaires (including foreigners) are now repaying the favor. All over the country they're proposing new laws to strengthen employers against their workers.

There's talk of "it bites to work for less" laws in Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, New Hampshire and Maine, to name a few. You may know these laws as "right to work," but that's a clever misnomer that TeamsterNation tries to avoid. Just yesterday earlier this week the Teamsters own Jim Kabell told the Springfield News-Leader that "right to work" is misleading.
'Right-to-work' is such a phony name. It's a horrible provision. It should never see the light of day in our state.

Kabell, who is president of the Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Teamsters, pointed out that 90 percent of dues go to the contract negotiations. That means lawyers (who, by the way, enjoy protections that keep their wages high).

For those of you unfamiliar with it-bites-to-work-for-less, it's an anti-union tactic that forces unions to pay the cost of representing employees who refuse to pay dues. Some 22 states -- the ones that rank last in all quality-of-life measures -- have it-bites-to-work-for-less laws.

Now Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to pass it-bites-to-work-for-less laws.  A former Coloradan wrote this great letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal about what it's like to live in a bites-to-work-for-less state.  Dennis Murphy wrote that living in Colorado Springs meant,
...low salaries for employees, both public and private, plus the lack of city and state services. For example, Colorado Springs had no city recycling or trash pick-up. You had to contract privately to have your garbage removed. Teachers, police officers, firefighters and city employees had salaries a lot lower than in Wisconsin. Cities received little shared state revenue. If your city was poorer, too bad.
We have a real fight on our hand, brothers and sisters.

Woo-hoo! Continental ramp workers ratify first contract!

It's official! Continental Airlines 7,600 fleet service workers can look forward to job security and four pay hikes over the next 2-1/2 years, now that they've ratified their first-ever contract.

The "We Have Our First Contract!" flier announcing the great news says,
...the contract offers protections against unjust discipline, terminations, outsourcing and furloughs, and provides for 10.5 percent pay increases over the life of the 30-month contract. The contract protects our pension, caps health-care costs and provides for our bonus...
This is a big victory in the war to raise workers' living standards. It's very hard to get to that first contract. Many newly-organized workers never manage to bargain successfully with their employers. A Cornell University professor who studied the problem found 52 percent of workers who form a union are still without a contract a year after they win an election. Two years after the election, 37 percent don't have a contract.

The  Teamsters negotiating committee did a great job with Continental management. Miguel Vasquez, a fleet service worker in Newark, was on the committee. He said the contract adds protections for workers -- "including an important grievance procedure."

James Wells, a fleet service worker in Boston, said he's looking forward to having some solid protections in writing. “Without a contract we don’t have any real power, but now we’ll be able to flex some muscle when we stand up for our rights.”

Meet some of the other Continental fleet service workers here.

Today's Teamster News 12.30.10

U.S. Foreclosures Jump in Third Quarter: Regulators  CNBC reason for the increase in foreclosures is that banks have "exhausted" options for keeping many delinquent borrowers in their homes...
Trucking firm still searching for stability  The Press-Enterprise  ...The firm's rigs are still on the road, but its financial situation is filled with doubt...
Madison Dearborn's VWR Distribution Center Violates California Laws Protecting Public Health And Environment  IBT   ...Teamsters Union And city resident sue VWR And City Of Visalia to stop illegal project...
Nadler’s port bill dies; could be resurrected this year  The Trucker   ...The bill (that) ...would have rewritten federal law to allow ports and other public entities to regulate trucking within their jurisdictions...
City, union reps talking  Marietta Times  ...Leaders from three unions representing City of Marietta workers met with municipal officials Monday to discuss concessions aimed at avoiding furloughs...
New Page votes on contract today (Local 486)  Daily Press  ...Union employees at NewPage will decide ...(on)... a contract ...following two years of negotiations and previous failed agreements...
Sullivan unions to announce wage freeze battle plan (Local 445)  Mid-Hudson News  ...Unions representing almost 1,000 Sullivan County employees will announce their plans for fighting what they consider an illegal wage freeze...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Video: Seattle Labor Chorus Sings 'There is Power in a Union'

Here's some uplift from our brothers and sisters on the West Coast.

It's going to be a long four years in WI

Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker isn't the only reason the state's workers can look forward to a miserable future.

Behind the cheese curtain, companies are threatening to leave the state in order to force concessions from employees. Mercury Marine, Kohler and Harley-Davidson all extorted drastic cuts in pay and benefits from their workers. By "drastic," we mean things like multi-year pay freezes, big jumps in medical costs and a two-tier system that pays new hires 35 percent to  45 percent less.

Walker isn't even in office yet and he's strengthened the corporations' hand by killing a high-speed rail project that would have created hundreds of jobs.

Now, AP's Scott Bauer reports that Walker wants to fire all 400 workers at the state's Commerce Department and make them reapply for their jobs.

Walker will no doubt support a state representative's bill to weaken unions by letting workers get union pay and union benefits without paying for the cost of negotiating union contracts. Most people understand that the anti-union proposals springing up all over the country are payback to the corporations who poured money into politicians' campaigns. Still, it's likely to get worse before it gets better.

Walker was elected on a promise he'd create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin. He probably won't. And even if he did, who'd want the kind of crap job Walker would create?

Today's Teamster News 12.29.10

Job Market Booming Overseas For Many American Companies  Huffington Post   ...UPS is also hiring at a faster clip overseas...
U.S. home prices frop 1.3 percent from September to October  Washington Post six regions - Atlanta; Charlotte; Miami; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Tampa - prices fell in October to their lowest levels since their housing markets began deteriorating in 2006...
China cuts rare earth export quotas  Los Angeles Times   ...further shrinking supplies of metals needed to make a range of high-tech products...
Passenger Outrage Rises as Winter Storm Snarls U.S. Travel  Bloomberg   ...As many as 1.2 million airline customers may have been affected by almost 8,000 flight cancellations...
UPS Snowed In   ...United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) has cancelled various services in response to an East Coast blizzard...
Sullivan 911 proposal draws ire from union  (Local 445) Times Herald-Record   ...Sullivan County is considering ... (having) its dispatchers field the sheriff's dispatch calls and have the Sheriff's Office assume control...
Historic Teamster trucks could soon be homeless  Edmonton Journal  ...the trucks and memorabilia may be homeless by year's end...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sarcasm, sarcasm, the devil's weapon

Props to The Onion for this satirical story about the American people hiring a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist to pursue their interests in Congress.

The story about a fictional lobbyist pretty much tells you the truth about how Washington works. We especially like this:
Weldon said that after successfully advocating on behalf of Goldman Sachs and BP, he is relishing the opportunity to lobby for the American people, calling it the "challenge of a lifetime." The veteran D.C. power player admitted that his new client is at a disadvantage because it lacks the money and power of other groups.

"The goal is to make it seem politically advantageous for legislators to keep the American people in mind when making laws," Weldon said. "Lawmakers are going to ask me, 'Why should I care about the American people? What's in it for me?' And it will be up to me and my team to find some reason why they should consider putting poverty and medical care for children on the legislative docket."
Read the whole thing here.

Here's what us union thugs do at Christmas

We collect toys and money for poor children, feed the hungry and hold parties for the needy, that's what we do.

Teamsters who drive carriages in New York's Central Park raised money and collected food for the city's homeless. Teamster Magazine recently reported on the good works of carriage driver Stephen Malone and Eve Hughes. Malone, along with Hughes husband Tommy, are members of Teamsters Local 553.

New York Horse and Carriage Association brought 500 pounds worth of boxes of pasta, along with cases of canned vegetables, tuna, chicken broth and other foodstuffs, the magazine reported. They also brought money to City Harvest in a horse-drawn carriage led by Olympia, a 13-year-old Belgian draft horse.

Farther north, Teamsters Local 25 donated $60,000 worth of toys to charities. According to The Boston Globe,  

...the union has spent the past 14 years collecting toys from dispatch stations in many communities and town organizations, helping to bring toys to children in need.

"We always hope to meet or beat the previous year," said Local 25's business agent Bob Fabrizio.

In Florida, Teamsters threw a party for kids at the SafeHouse of Jacksonville at the union hall. In Harrison, N.Y., they donated money to buy families who relied on the lcoal food pantry a movie outing for the holidays. In Mississauga, Canada, Local 938's Retiree Club gave money and toys to the local Santa Claus Fund.

Those are just a few things us union thugs do at Christmas.

Today's Teamster News 12.28.10

DOT Proposes Changes in Truck Duty-Time Rules  Journal of Commerce  ...the long-anticipated proposal puts off a decision on whether to lower driving time from the current 11 hours down to 10...
FMCSA Proposes Seven Changes in Hours Rule
YRC Names Former Embarq CEO General Counsel  Journal of Commerce   ...Gerke to head trucking giant’s legal team as it ‘finalizes’ recovery plan...
YRC Seeks More Time to Restructure  Journal of Commerce   ...YRC Worldwide is asking the Teamsters union and pension fund managers for more time to restructure the trucking company’s troubled balance sheet...
Port of Long Beach to Regulate Smaller Trucks  Journal of Commerce   ...Clean-truck program to expand to cover Class 7 trucks...
Wages, health insurance weigh heavily in CityĆ¢€™s union negotiations (Local 238)  Oelwein Daily Register   ...Oelwein is currently working on union negotiations with all of the three unions...
San Bruno employees file lawsuit against city  (Local 856)  The Daily Journal   ...A group of San Bruno employees is suing the city for imposing a pay decrease without consent...
NJ grocery distributor for A&P, Pathmark warns of 1100 layoffs  (Local 863) Press Release Mag   ...they were enraged when the company recently proposed lowering hourly wages to $6.40 with benefits, or $9.15 without benefits...
Sheriff's $600,000 carryover likely keeps '11 office budget safe  Chillicothe Gazette   ... the sheriff also is poised to begin contract negotiations with ... the Teamsters...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Note to employees: You have a right to unionize

Don't know how we missed this story, but last week the NLRB proposed that companies be required to tell their employees that they have the legal right to form a union.

According to The New York Times,
The National Labor Relations Board said on Tuesday (Dec. 21) that it would require companies to post notices on their bulletin boards — and perhaps send out e-mail— to inform employees of their right to unionize under federal law. A day earlier, the labor board’s acting general counsel said that he would push for stronger action to create a fair atmosphere for unionization drives, perhaps by letting unions post materials on a company’s bulletin board if a company was found to have committed serious violations during such a drive.
This could be good news, if the proposed requirement turns into an actual requirement.

The way it works is this:  The NLRB publishes the proposed rule in the Federal Register. People have 60 days to comment on it. The NLRB then takes into account all the comments and decides what to do. It could scrap the idea, change the proposal or decide the proposal is fine as is and declare it the new rule.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will go ballistic. They're already suggesting that current enforcement of labor law is "strong" -- BWAAA-HAAAAA-HAAAAAA -- and that it's a "vague" and "arbitrary" idea that employers are to blame for declining union membership.

Stay tuned.

Another reason not to sign a trade deal with Colombia

People are still getting killed in Colombia just for belonging to a union, we learn from US LEAP (U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project). What's worse, the Colombian government only manages to convict a handful of the murderers.

This matters because corporate-backed groups in the U.S. are agitating for a job-killing trade deal with Colombia. For example, the Brookings Institution posted to its blog an argument for sending the agreement to Congress just before Christmas. Wrote Brookings' blogger,

If the White House is serious about the Obama’s 2010 State of the Union target to double exports over the next five years, it must seize this opportunity to increase trade and send the Colombian trade agreement to Congress.
We urge the Brookings Institution to do some homework, which will show that trade deals actually retard U.S. export growth.  We also urge Brookings to read the US LEAP report, which pointed out that in 2009, the backlog of unresolved cases increased last year. That means there's been no progress in the effort to bring murderers to justice. US LEAP says,
The vast majority of convictions have not uncovered the real instigator of the crimes, particularly those who benefited from the murders in economic and government sectors. Incomplete justice in each of these cases conceals the role of these acts of violence as part of an overall anti-union strategy, limiting progress.
Fortunately, Brookings is reporting that President Obama said he won't ask Congress to approve the deal because there aren't enough votes to support it. Let's hope things stay that way.

Today's Teamster News 12.27.10

GOPers Remove 'Labor' From House Committee Name  TalkingPointsMemo   ...Republicans have decided to excise the word "labor" from the name of the House committee handling education and, yes, labor issues...
Tax Stocking Stuffers for Corporations  Economic Populist   ...our Congress just made it pay to create economic growth abroad!...
Lawmakers seek cash during key votes  Washington Post   ...members of Congress have held fundraisers and collected big checks while they are taking critical steps to write new laws...
The Looming Crisis in the States  (opinion)  New York Times is better to raise taxes on the rich than to lay off workers and cut spending...
The Big (Military) Taboo (opinion)  New York Times   ...The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Still another reason not to open the border to Mexican trucks

The Mexican army fights drug cartels.
Americans are warned not to go to Mexico over the holidays, according to a "Highway Vigilance Update" from the Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC).

According to an unclassified notice from the TSOC, the Texas Department of Public Safety tells people to avoid traveling to Mexico.
The warning comes as kidnappings, violence between drug cartels, as well as between law enforcement and the cartels increases. Violence continues in northern Mexican border cities as well as other locations such as Monterrey and Acapulco. The DPS also said that drug related violence has even been documented in popular tourist destinations such as Cancun and Mazatlan. Officials say that rape and sexual assaults continue to be a serious problem in Cancun and other resort areas. Other documented violence includes criminal assaults on highways throughout the country, if you do choose to travel south of the border, officials say it's best not to travel at night.
The Borderland Beat blog covers the violence in Mexico that the mainstream media largely ignores (even as their editorial pages support opening the border to Mexican trucks). Borderland Beat reports,
A total of 151 inmates escaped from a prison in the northeastern Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Laredo, Texas, officials said Saturday.
Just across the river from El Paso, the number of murders in Ciudad Juarez exceeded 3,100 for 2010. We're having a hard time understanding why on earth anyone would think that opening the border to Mexican trucks is a good idea.

Today's Teamster News 12.23.10

Teamsters Hail Passage of Zadroga 9/11 Bill  IBT   ...Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa commended Congress today for passing the James Zadroga 9/11 bill to monitor and treat workers who got sick because of their work at Ground Zero...
Teamsters Back MP's Bid to Get Double Tractor-Trailers off Ontario Highways  Globe and Mail   ...The Teamsters believe the huge, long trucks can be dangerous and even contribute to road rage...
Alabama Town's Failed Pension is a Warning  New York Times   ...Prichard did something that pension experts say they have never seen before: it stopped sending monthly pension checks to its 150 retired workers, breaking a state law requiring it to pay its promised retirement benefits in full...
In a Sign of Foreclosure Flaws, Suits Claim Break-Ins by Banks  New York Times   ...lawsuits detailing bank keep surfacing....

Bus drivers, monitors vote to strike  Mid-Hudson News   ...School bus drivers and monitors who are members of Teamsters Local 445 headquartered in Newburgh have voted almost unanimously to strike against several area school districts...
Teamsters warn about VWR project in Visalia  Visalia Times-Delta  Doug Bloch, political director of San Francisco-based Teamsters Joint Council No. 7 (said)  "We ask that the city of Visalia find out more about a facility of this size, and how it affects the environment, worker safety and air quality"...
YRC gets break on lending agreements  Kansas City Star
Holiday delivers UPS b usiest day  Associated Press   ...Its 24 million shipments is 9 percent higher than 2009 and 2007...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hooray! Zadroga 9/11 bill passes

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.

 Fantastic news today! Congress passed the Zadroga bill to monitor and care for 9/11 workers who got sick from toxic dust at the World Trade Center. The bill now goes to President Obama to sign into law.

Here's the Teamsters statement about the bill:

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa commended Congress today for passing the James Zadroga 9/11 bill to monitor and treat workers who got sick because of their work at Ground Zero.

Many firefighters, police officers and construction workers developed respiratory and other illnesses from exposure to World Trade Center dust. The bill is named after James Zadroga, a New York Police Department officer who died of respiratory illness similar to those of many Ground Zero workers.

“This is the very least that the American people can do to honor the sacrifice and courage that these heroes made after the 9/11 attacks,” Hoffa said. “Teamsters are among those suffering heart and lung problems because of their tireless work at Ground Zero. Some have lost wages, and some have lost their health benefits. I am so pleased that Congress is doing the right thing for these brave patriots.”
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act will pay for tens of thousands of people who were exposed to the air around Ground Zero.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No economy ever grew by arbitrarily driving down the living standards of working people

Props to the Cleveland Plain Dealer for pointing that out to incoming Gov. John Kasich. Here's the whole quote:
No economy ever grew by arbitrarily driving down the living standards of working people -- including those who toil for their fellow taxpayers.
 The quote appeared in a Plain Dealer editorial about plans by the governor and some in the state legislature to
...modify Ohio's collective bargaining law for public employees. Also in Republican cross hairs: Ohio's "prevailing wage" law which -- in essence -- requires union-scale wages to be paid on public construction projects; and two union-friendly executive orders issued by Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in 2007 and 2008 that created collective bargaining rights for some health-care and child-care providers.
Yup, it's going to be a long four years in Ohio. Kasich, of course, is simply paying back the corporate zillionaires who got him elected. The Columbus Dispatch lists some of them: Donald Trump, billionaire casino investor Sheldon G. Adelson of Las Vegas; Baltimore Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti; Stanley Fulton of Anchor Gaming in Las Vegas; Peter Coors of Coors Brewing in Colorado; and Gerardo Larrea of San Juan, Puerto Rico, CEO of South American Restaurants Corp.

Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, also marches to the tune that the corporate zillionaires are playing. The Dispatch lists some of the proposals she's considering for next year. She wants to eliminate collective bargaining for public service employees, and
  • Eliminate from state law automatic pay increases for longevity, known as steps. Jones said these could still be negotiated.
  • Require more accurate disclosure of pay raises to the public, including step increases. "You shouldn't be able to say you didn't get a raise when it's a raise we called something else," Jones said.
  • Eliminate the law that gives teachers 15 sick days per year. This would be negotiated, Jones said.
  • Prohibit schools and local governments from picking up any part of an employer's pension contribution.
  • Prohibit employers from paying more than 80 percent of the costs of health-insurance premiums.
We're counting on our brothers and sisters in Ohio to put up a good fight against Kasich's plans to wreck the state economy.

Is there enough time left for the Zadroga bill?

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.
Cross your fingers. The bill to care for sick 9/11 first responders might still pass. Several Republican senators indicated they might vote for the bill. If they vote to break their own party's filibuster (not the same thing as voting for the bill), the Zadroga Act would become law.

But the clock is ticking. There isn't much time left before this Congress goes home for good, and the Senate still has other business to deal with. Some Republicans may decide to stall the Zadroga bill. Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told Politico on Monday night he might block it. Reports Politico,
New York Democrats hoping for quick action on a bill to give health care compensation to Ground Zero workers are about to run into Tom Coburn. The Oklahoma Republican and physician -- known in the Senate as "Dr. No" for his penchant in blocking bills -- told POLITICO Monday night he wouldn't allow the bill to move quickly, saying he has problems with parts of the bill and the process Democrats are employing. Other Republicans like Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said he had concerns with the measure and said it should instead move through the committee process.
Enzi and Arizona Sen. John Kyl are claiming the bill needs more time. They're full of crap. As ThinkProgress notes,
...the Senate and House version of the bill have been available to Kyl and anyone else to read since 2009, and there was in fact a Senate hearing on it in June, even though he insists it never happened. Meanwhile, changes to bill have been made at the GOP’s behest...
If the Zadroga Act doesn't pass this year, it may never pass.  According to Jay Newton-Small at Time,
If the Zadroga bill does not pass now, it is unlikely to make it through a GOP-controlled House and an expanded Republican minority in the Senate next year. Despite the fact that the bill's been bouncing around for the last two years, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate Republican, over the weekend called for more time to look at the bill. One GOP leadership aide told me today that the bill's odds were still dim, and even a Democratic leadership aide conceded that “time is the only thing that could stop it, it seems.” As the sick and dying first responders know all too well, time is of the essence.

Stay tuned.

Today's Teamster News 12.21.10

UPS Deliveries Up this Holiday Season  WNEP  ...After 22 years of holiday deliveries, UPS driver Ed Best has a strategy for getting through the most challenging week of the year...
A Busy Week For Post Office, Shipping Companies  Hartford Courant   ...United Parcel Service said it is projecting that Wednesday will be its busiest day, as last-minute packages are shipped... 
$2tn debt crisis threatens to bring down 100 US cities  The Guardian   ...Overdrawn American cities could face financial collapse in 2011, defaulting on hundreds of billions of dollars of borrowings and derailing the US economic recovery...
60 Minutes' one-sided, GOP-friendly report on state budgets  Media Matters   ...CBS adopts the Republican framing that deficits are all about spending -- frequently with loaded phrasing like "gold-plated retirement and health care packages." ...
Conservatives growing uncomfortable with GOP blockade of 9/11 health bill The Washington Post   ... it's going to get increasingly hard for GOP Senators to maintain their opposition...
The Effect of Falling Home Prices on Small Business Borrowing  Cleveland Fed    ...Because small business owners may rely heavily on the value of their homes to finance their businesses (through mortgages or home equity lines), the fall in housing prices might be one of the causes of their difficulty...
One-in-Three Working Families Considered ‘Low Income’  Wall Street Journal   ...  More than 22 million children were part of low-income families last year...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Buy union, drink union and ship union for the holidays

It's getting down to the wire folks, so here are some more ideas for buying union-made products for the holidays. It isn't always easy finding something that wasn't made in China, but if you look hard enough you can do it.

LA Labor 411 created a directory of union-made products, including Play-Doh, Monopoly and Radio Flyer tricycles and wagons.  It's a great website -- check it out for ideas.

Buying someone a cell phone? James Parks at the AFL-CIO blog recommends
AT&T’s Mobility, the only union wireless company. Parks says about 42,000 Communications Workers of America work at Mobility.

Omaha Steaks products are a great gift, and they're made by proud members of UFCW Local 22 in Nebraska.

Someone on your list may need a comfortable boot for the New Year, so how about buying union-made boots at Union Boot Pro. They're an online company that sells only American made, union made work boots, and they offer a 27 percent discount to union members.

For the sportsman, consider giving the gift of a Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA) membership. According to their website,
With a free Buck knife, an outdoor magazine, four issues of the USA journal, an online mapping subscription, exclusive discounts on outdoor gear and a whole lot more, you’re giving a gift worth more than $130 for the price of just $25. Plus, your gift is helping get the USA’s new Boots on the Ground program up and running to expand and improve hunting and fishing access and habitat for all, now and in the future.
Looking for a last-minute gift? Send flowers via Teleflora, the Union Plus Flower Delivery Service provider. Teleflora, is committed to a 100% local florist delivered model with no drop shipments for flowers & gifts ordered online or by phone.

Should you happen to enjoy an adult beverage over the holidays, be sure they're union made. You're always safe buying Budweiser or Miller beer, brewed and delivered by thousands of Teamsters. For a list of union-made wine and liquor, check out the How To Buy American website. You'll find that UFCW makes a lot of booze, including Fleischman's Royal Vodka, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey.
And please, remember to send your packages by UPS or the U.S. Postal Service; do NOT support any union-busting, wage thieving package shipping companies. Such as FedEx.

It's going to be a long 4 years in Wisconsin

Scott Walker hasn't even been sworn in as Wisconsin's governor but he's already put the kibosh on a high-speed rail project, rejecting $810 million in federal funds that would have created thousands of jobs. Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, thinks that's a victory. Go figure.

Now Wisconsin state Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester is promoting misnamed right-to-work-for-less legislation. We all know what that's all about: payback to the zillionaires and corporations who donated to their political campaigns. Bob Peterson, a member of the executive board of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, hit the nail on the head in an op-ed today for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Writes Peterson,

Such anti-democratic laws are nothing more than a cover for pro-corporate interests who know that weak unions and low wages can build ever-higher profits.
Right-to-work-for-less is part of an overall war on unions in Wisconsin. Writes Joel McNally at The Cap Times,
Walker lobbed the first grenade announcing he would consider everything from decertifying unions representing state workers to rewriting labor laws so the state would no longer be required to bargain with them. That was followed by even more extreme statements from anti-union Republican legislators threatening to turn Wisconsin into one of those low-wage, red-neck, right-to-work states.
Wisconsin isn't alone, unfortunately. As many as 11 other states are pushing right-to-work-for-less laws or ballot initiatives. Fighting these union-busting efforts is one of the Teamsters' top priorities for 2011.

Still another Teamster victory in IL

Welcome to 143 new Teamsters in Lake Villa, Ill. They're Durham school bus workers who voted 2-to-1 to join Teamsters Local 301 in Waukegan.

Phyllis Hodo, a driver, said she got 102 text messages from her co-workers who were excited about the victory. "I'm losing my voice from all the cheering we've been doing!" she said.

The drivers voted to join the Teamsters because they want seniority to count, fair pay, better and more affordable health insurance and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Michael Haffner, the secretary-treasurer of Local 301, pointed out that this is the second bargaining unit at Durham the local has organized. In September, 45 school bus drivers with Durham in nearby Antioch became Teamsters.

It wasn't an easy victory, but solidarity carried the day. During the campaign, the company tried to intimidate workers. The Teamsters filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board on their behalf. The NLRB made the company remove unfair write-ups on three workers. As part of a settlement with the Board, Durham was also required to post a notice that they would comply with federal law in not interfering with the workers' rights to organize. Durham had to agree that it
WILL NOT threaten to take away [our] regularly scheduled raise if [we] support Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT create and enforce a rule forbidding [us] from talking about Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization or threaten [us] with discipline if [we] talk about Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT discipline [us] because [we] support or engage in activities on behalf of Teamsters Local 301 or any other labor organization.
WILL NOT in any like or related manner coerce [us] or interfere with [our] exercise of any of the rights stated above.

The Teamsters have organized more than 30,000 school bus drivers, monitors, aides, mechanics and attendants. Looking ahead, Joint Council 25 President John Coli said the Teamsters intend to negotiate a strong contract that values the hard work that they do. Last month, nearly 200 First Student school bus drivers and aides overwhelmingly ratified their first-ever union contract as members of Teamsters Local 777.

New hope for Zadroga 9/11 bill

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.
It looked all but hopeless as Congress winds down for the year, but it turns out there's still a chance the Zadroga Act will become law.

The bill would pay for monitoring and treating the 9/11 first responders who suffer health problems -- like terminal cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and heart disease. It's named after a NYPD officer who died of respiratory disease attributed to working at Ground Zero.

Devlin Barrett at the Wall Street Journal reports,
New York lawmakers said Sunday they have crafted a scaled-down version of a health-care bill for sick Ground Zero workers that should garner enough Republican support to pass...Supporters of the bill believe that the smaller price tag—the overall cost was cut to $6.2 billion from $7.4 billion—combined with a different method of paying for the legislation, will be enough to win yes votes from Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska...
New York political leaders are holding a press conference right now to urge Congress to pass the bill.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lobbied against the bill because it's paid for by eliminating a tax loophole for foreign corporations. According to Think Progress,
The Chamber fought to help kill the 9/11 compensation bill because it was funded by ending a special tax loophole exploited by foreign corporations doing business in the United States...In September, the Chamber sent a letter officially opposing the 9/11 first responders bill, called the “James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.” The Chamber warned that ending the tax loophole would “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners” and “aggravate already unsettled financial markets.” A lobbying disclosure filed with the Senate confirms the Chamber contacted lawmakers to help kill the bill. In typical fashion, the Chamber has not revealed which of its foreign members had asked them to kill the 9/11 bill.
One more thing: If you haven't seen the tremendous video of Jon Stewart and four 9/11 first responders reacting to the Senate filibuster of the bill, you must. Watch it here.

Today's Teamster News 12.20.10

FedEx To Acquire MultiPack  Logistics Week   ...FedEx Corp. ... signed an agreement to acquire MultiPack, a Mexican domestic express package delivery company...
Food-safety measure passes Senate in Sunday surprise  Washington Post   ...The bill would require importers to verify that products grown and processed overseas meet U.S. safety standards...
Weighing Costs, Companies Favor Temporary Help  New York Times   ...Since the beginning of the year, employers have added a net 307,000 temporary workers, more than a quarter of the 1.17 million private sector jobs added in total...
This Bonus Season on Wall Street, Many See Zeros  New York Times   ...Wall Street firms ...raised base pay substantially in 2009 and 2010...seeking to placate regulators who had argued that bonuses based on performance encouraged excessive risk...
The Bipartisanship Racket (opinion) New York Times   ...No Labels ... leaders seem utterly clueless about why Americans of all labels are angry: the realization that both parties are bought off by special interests who game the system and stack it against the rest of us...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today's Teamster News 12.19.10

Maine FedEx drivers sue over employment status  Bangor Daily News   ...A group of eight people who worked as delivery drivers for FedEx affiliates in Maine have filed a class-action lawsuit, saying they were misclassified...
Justices Offer Receptive Ear to Business Interests  New York Times   ...the percentage of business cases on the Supreme Court docket has grown in the Roberts years, as has the percentage of cases won by business interests...
McWeasel Blasts 9/11 Health Bill  Political Animal  ... the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been quietly lobbying against it because it's financed by closing tax loopholes for foreign businesses that do business in the United States...
13 Products Most Likely To Made By Child Or Forced Labor (PHOTOS)  Huffington Post  ...There are some 128 goods among the products that most commonly use child labor...
Bodyguard business is booming Los Angeles Times   ...demand for bodyguards has soared in lockstep with increasing global unrest spurred by wars and economic turmoil...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Still another Teamster organizing victory in NY

Congratulations to the new Teamsters in upstate New York who joined Local 687 in Pottsdam.

Local 687 has actually organized two bargaining units in Massena over the past two months, according to the Daily Courier-Observer. In November, 10 town employees became Teamsters. And yesterday, the Watertown Daily Times reported that the library employees joined the Teamsters this week.

TeamsterNation suspects this may be a trend. Are more and more public service employees looking to unions for security, especially as politicians step up attacks on government workers, and as state and local governments have to cut costs? 

According to the Daily Times, the Massena town employees organized because they're worried about their salaries and benefits. They joined the Teamsters right after the town council passed the budget for next year.

Local 687's business agent, Mickey Smith, said he didn't have to recruit the librarians; they came to him because of concerns about wages and benefits.

TeamsterNation wishes our new brothers and sisters the best of luck in getting that first contract. Already the town has hired a "labor consultant" to negotiate with the town employees.

Today's Teamster News 12.18.10

House Republicans Plan to Force California Into Bankruptcy to Bust Unions  Calitics changing the law to allow state bankruptcies, and then forcing states to go bankrupt by cutting their funding and undermining their ability to borrow, states would be able to reopen contracts with public employees...
Rick Scott vs. high-speed rail  Orlando Sentinel   ...Rick Scott's aversion to high-speed rail threatens Florida's economy...
Two states sue Bank of America over mortgages  New York Times    ...Arizona and Nevada on Friday filed a lawsuit against Bank of America, accusing it of engaging in “widespread fraud” by misleading customers with “false promises” about their eligibility for modifications on their home mortgages...
YRC Shares Truck Ahead After Suit Dismissed  Barron's   ...Shares of trucking and logistics company YRC Worldwide rose 15% on Friday...
Southwest technicians approve contract extensions  Associated Press 
School bus drivers hold off on strike  Mid-Hudson News

Friday, December 17, 2010

Video: 9/11 1st responders reax to shameful Senators

Teamsters working at Ground Zero.
 Four 9/11 first responders suffering cancer, lung and heart disease reacted to the Senate Republicans who filibustered a bill to pay for their health care. Jon Stewart brought the men to The Daily Show studios and taped their response to Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell crying over a friend's retirement. 

They were (unsurprisingly) disgusted by McConnell's tears over his lunch buddy. And John Devlin, a heavy equipment operator, was not impressed by  Arizona's Sen. John Kyl, who said it would be disrespectful to work over the holidays (which would prevent the bill from passing). Devlin said,

It was an honor to work through Christmas on that 9/11 to give that closure to those people standing on the other side of the gate every morning showing us their pictures of their loved ones.
Watch the video here -- it's heartbreaking and infuriating all at the same time.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate are filibustering a bill to compensate the 9/11 first responders who suffer health problems -- like terminal cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and heart disease. The James Zadroga bill would provide $7.4 billion over 10 years to pay for monitoring and treatment. It's named after a NYPD officer who died of respiratory disease attributed to working at Ground Zero.

The New York Daily News reported that first responders had a positive meeting with Maine Sen. Susan Collins about letting the bill come to the floor for a vote. They were optimistic, but we wouldn't advise them to hold their breath.

If you're interested, there's a Facebook page called "I Won't Forget Republicans Sold Out 911 Responders to help the Richest 2%."

Save the Teamster Truck Museum!

Anyone have any ideas about where the Teamster Truck Museum can go, now that the rent was jacked up at the current location, a warehouse in British Columbia?

The Tri-City News reports that the museum might be forced to sell its collection if it can't find a cheaper place to store the trucks. Reports the newspaper,
The museum generally charges a donation for groups that want to tour the vehicles and some income has been generated by renting out trucks for film production. But that's not enough to keep the museum running, according to Don McGill, president of the BC Teamsters' Union.

"Our organization has been funding this 100% and we just can't do it anymore," he said.

It would be a shame to lose such an important piece of trucking history. Men drove some of those trucks in conditions so dangerous they make Ice Road Truckers look like pikers. Harry Rudolfs at Truck News Blog quotes an author who wrote about the Wild West days of trucking in British Columbia's Fraser Canyon:
...we were fighting miles of unploughed snow, or in the spring break slugging through gumbo. It still makes me shudder to think of those stops in deep winter, when you dropped from the heat of the cab into the shock of freezing weather, then the trip around to the tail-gate, and frozen ropes. And the tarp stiff as a piece of steel. Before you got the tarp on the roof, and sorted through the load for the pieces to be delivered, then wrapped everything up again and collected monies due, and got the waybill signed, your fingers would be so stiff and chilled that for miles after you would be sitting first on one hand then on the other to bring back the circulation—and man, how they would hurt! And meanwhile you were still trying to shift gears and keep the rig on the road, and thinking, “Damn the way-freight!”

The author, Andy Craig, once owned the restored 1936 Indiana (pictured below) now in the museum.

Craig wrote "A History of Trucking in British Columbia Since 1900."  A few used copies are available on Amazon. Craig sold the books out of the back of that truck, having built a narrow bunk built into the box's nose where he slept when he was on the road. It was the first commercial vehicle to drive across the newly-opened Coquihalla Highway when it opened in 1986, with Craig at the wheel. He died the next year.
Other trucks in the museum include a 1935 K52 Dodge Airflow, Maple Leafs from the '30s and '40s and a 1932 International A4 Tractor. Here's a slide show of the museum and its collection. The museum also includes truck memorabilia, according to a 2003 story in Truck News.
A truck driver’s leather belt with silver badges cleated into its skin sits behind a glass case. The badges were chauffeur licenses from the 1930s. Other cabinets show BC license booklets (fee $1) from the early decades of trucking, and a union dues stamp book from 1937.

Today's Teamster News 12.17.10

Teamsters Applaud Dismissal of ABF Suit  IBT   ..."Best possible outcome for  Teamsters"
UPS arranges loan for baggage systems in Mexico  Bloomberg News   ...its financial-services arm arranged a loan of nearly $23 million to install baggage-handling systems at seven Mexican airports...
FedEx 2Q profit falls, but boosts view for year  Business Week   ... growth moderated in its international priority unit, which had been booming...
Democrats concede budget fight to Republicans  Politico   ...Senate Democrats abruptly abandoned an omnibus budget bill for the coming year, pushing major spending decisions into the next Congress and giving Republicans immense new leverage to confront President Barack Obama priorities...
Congress Sends $801 Billion Tax Cut Bill to Obama  New York Times   ...Congress at midnight Thursday approved an $801 billion package of tax cuts and $57 billion for extended unemployment insurance...
Visa, MasterCard May Be Damaged by Fed's Proposal to Slash Debit-Card Fees  Bloomberg    ...the Federal Reserve proposed rules that could cut debit-card transaction fees by 90 percent...
22 Arrested in LA Foreclosure Protest at Chase  Associated Press   ...The demonstrators ... included homeowners facing foreclosure, community advocates and labor leaders...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teamster victory: ABF lawsuit dismissed

Great news for the Teamsters and for YRCW, which employs 25,000 of our members. In Arkansas, Judge Susan Webber Wright (of Paula Jones fame) dismissed ABF's case against the Teamsters and YRCW today. Here is the IBT's statement, hot off the presses:


Union’s Freight Director: “Best Possible Outcome for Teamsters”

(WASHINGTON) –The Teamsters hailed a U.S. District Court ruling today that ABF Freight System does not have standing to sue YRCW Worldwide Inc. and the union in court.

Judge Susan Webber Wright dismissed the case brought by Ft. Smith, Ark.-based ABF.

“We have said all along that ABF took itself out of the National Master Freight Agreement and therefore has no right to bring the suit,” said Brad Raymond, Teamsters General Counsel. “The bench dismissal should send a strong message to ABF that its attempts to interfere with the contractual arrangement between YRCW and its Teamsters-represented employees must end.”

“ABF needs to realize that it cannot circumvent the negotiating and ratification process through the courts,” added Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. “We negotiated with ABF in good faith earlier this year, reaching an agreement that was overwhelmingly rejected by its employees. ABF should concentrate on freight pick-up and delivery operations of its company rather than trying to put YRCW out of business through litigation and other means. We are pleased that Judge Wright dismissed this lawsuit because it removes an impediment to YRCW’s restructuring efforts.

“This decision is the best possible outcome for Teamster members at both companies,” said Johnson.

The Teamsters represent 25,000 workers at YRCW (NRSE: YRCW), based in Overland Park, Kan., and 7,000 workers at ABF.

Banks illegally intimidating customers

Some men rob you with a six-gun

The banks are now intimidating people who have the nerve to ask who owns their house note. They're downgrading homeowners' credit scores -- or even suing them -- if they ask for the note.

That's right.  Just asking for information about your mortgage (which you are legally entitled to) can result in a hit to your credit score.

Here's a frightening example of a bank using the courts to threaten consumers who simply tried to find out who held their mortgage note, thanks to CBS 5 (KPHO) via The Big Picture.

Arizona Rep. Michele Reagan...wanted to find out she and her husband, David Gulino, could refinance their south Scottsdale home. “In doing research, I began to wonder if the lender even owned the note to my home,” she said. “So I sent them a letter and asked them and asked them several things. I want to know who owns my property. Am I paying the right person?”

Soon after, Colonial Savings filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Reagan and her husband. The company says the couple is trying “to rescind their home loan,” or back out on the loan. “We’re not interested in walking,” Reagan said. “We’re not interested in saying we’re not going to pay. We just need a little help with the interest rate.”
This is not an isolated incident. A lot of people have gotten wind of SEIU's website, "Where's the Note?" You can go there to find out who holds your note. But people who've done so are getting their credit scores downgraded by the banks! So now "Where's the Note?" has set up a form you can use to report such illegal intimidation to your state attorney general. SEIU says Bank of America is the biggest source of complaints, with a few about Wells Fargo.

A lot of the big banks have lost mortgage notes in their haste to package them up and sell them as speculative securities. (That's actually a nice way of saying they defrauded their customers). But a bank can't legally foreclose unless it possesses the note. Some of the major banks had to stop foreclosing because they couldn't always find the note. Now, apparently, the banks are lashing out at people who dare to question them.

Writes Mike Konczal at Rortybomb,
Wow. We don’t often think of the credit reports as a form of social control ...But this takes it to a whole new level. In the middle of a foreclosure fraud crisis where people aren’t sure who owns their mortgage, a simple ask of “can you show me the contract I signed with you, just to make sure it is there if there is a dispute” is being used to threaten someone’s credit score. ...Since credit scores impact everything else in your life, from being able to turn on your lights and electricity to renting an apartment to purchasing things, this is a serious threat, one of the more grievous ones a private company can deliver.

RIP Bob Feller, union activist

What a tremendous guy he was, what a tremendous life he led. Born on a farm 92 years ago in Van Meter, Iowa, he came up to the Major Leagues at the age of 17 and won 266 games -- despite interrupting his career for 3-1/2 years to fight World War II.  He signed his first contract with the Cleveland Indians for $1 and an autographed baseball. In 1962 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and at 90 years old he was a starting pitcher in the first Baseball Hall of Fame Classic.

He was called the "Heater from Van Meter," as well as "Rapid Robert" and "Bullet Bob," because of his fastball, once clocked at 107.6 mph. He was the greatest pitcher of his era. He threw three no-hitters, 46 shutouts, led the league in wins six times and pitched an astonishing 279 complete games. According to the Baseball Almanac, Joe DiMaggio once said,
I don’t think anyone is ever going to throw a ball faster than he does. And his curveball isn’t human.
One of Feller's proudest achievements was his election as the first president of the Major League Players Association in 1954. He helped draw up a new pension plan with the team owners, working on the project after he retired from baseball after the 1956 season, according to Mike Peticca of the Plain Dealer. That plan became the pension that players have today.

He had firm opinions about players' rights and said what he thought. In a 1957 television interview with Mike Wallace, his strong words are welcome today as the expected lockout of NFL players looms.

Wallace asked Feller, "in view of your phenomenal success how can you charge that ballplayers are getting a bum deal from their bosses?" Feller replied,

As far as I'm concerned, Mike, the setup is wrong. It's not a matter of how much they make. It's the structure, the principle that a ballplayer is not in a strong bargaining position, especially the ballplayer that was not blessed with a 'good arm,' a 'good eye.' I was very fortunate, and very fortunate to have a father to develop it but the average ballplayer's life is only approximately four and three quarters years in the Major Leagues and they make much less than such... some of the... we lucky fellows like DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Roberts...
He had no use for the reserve clause, calling it "medieval": are the property of a ball club as long as they want you. Your career lasts five years or twenty years, you sign with that ball club. However, you're obligated to the ball club for the entire life of your baseball career, but the ball club is obligated to you for thirty days. You can be released in... with thirty days... no thirty days' pay.

Feller also revealed to Wallace that the Indians had offered him a front-office job and he turned it down because he had more challenges working with the players' association.  And he made clear why he agreed to do the interview:

I am here to let the people know a few things about what goes on at the economic end of baseball. We have some great athletes in this country, Jim Thorpe, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Joe Louis; we don't want the baseball players, if we can help it in the future, or the athletes in the future, to wind up as some of those gentlemen have. (Thorpe, Alexander and Louis all died broke.)
He died of leukemia on Thursday in Cleveland, where he was beloved by fans. He had no regrets. "I've had a great life," he said a few years ago. "Mother Nature doesn't owe me a thing."

Today's Teamster News 12.16.10

Tax-cut legislation includes $55 billion in benefits for a host of industries  Washington Post   ...A host of industries, from Caribbean distilleries to Hollywood producers, would gain billions in tax breaks and other subsidies under compromise tax-cut legislation now moving its way through Congress.
China Agrees to Intellectual Property Protections  New York Times    ...Senior Chinese officials pledged on Wednesday to better crack down on software piracy and other violations of intellectual property rights...
ABF Hearing Set For Thursday  Fort Smith Times-Record   ...YRC Inc., New Penn Motor Express Inc. and USF Holland Inc.... argue that ABF is not a party to the National Master Freight Agreement and therefore lacks standing to challenge the contract amendments...
UPS readies for busiest week of 2010  New Mexico Business Weekly   ...UPS ...will deliver 278 packages every second.
Batavia town, Teamsters agree to new contract  The Daily News  
Horizon Air mechanics approve four-year contract  Trading Markets

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

$7 bln pipeline = 13,000 new union jobs

Building a pipeline from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast would directly create 13,000 good union jobs and indirectly create 118,000 more jobs. It would also nearly double the amount of oil we can import from Canadian oil sands.

What's not to like about that?

The proposed $7 billion Keystone-XL Pipeline is being reviewed by the State Department for potential environmental problems. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in October she's "inclined" to approve the project. That was before the Teamsters and three other unions sent her a letter urging her to approve the pipeline.

Politico reports today that the Teamsters and the other unions met Tuesday with Environmental Protection Agency officials. We stressed how important it is to finish the review quickly because of those 13,000 jobs.

Pipeline opponents -- environmental groups like the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra club -- say the pipeline could pollute the air and water and hurt wildlife.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana has a response to that:

For people that continue to criticize pipelines coming from Canada to Texas, drilling done offshore, I just wish they’d turn their lights off, get out of their automobiles, turn their heating off for the summer and put a windmill in their backyard and stop complaining.

Video: Bus driver quits after killing Frosty

An Illinois bus driver had to quit his job because he plowed into a snowman. Now he's gaining support on Facebook from fans who want him reinstated.

University of Illinois students put Frosty in the middle of a road as a prank. Then they videotaped the bus driver plowing into the snowman and posted it on youtube. The title:  Insane Bus Driver Brutally Murders Snowman. The video went viral, it caught the attention of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, and the driver was history.

His supporters say he prevented accidents by murdering Frosty.

Today's Teamster News 12.15.10

Judge Rules for FedEx in Dispute With Drivers  Associated Press   ...A federal judge in Indiana ruled Tuesday in favor of FedEx in the company’s dispute with drivers over whether they were independent contractors...
To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules  New York Times   ...competing for China’s lucrative business means playing by strict house rules that are often stacked in Beijing’s favor...
Holiday season boosts shipping companies in more than one way  The Arizona Republic    ...For FedEx and UPS, Monday and Tuesday are projected to be the shippers' busiest days of the holiday season...
Save the Children Breaks With Soda Tax Effort  New York Times   ...Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer of Save the Children, said there was no connection between the group’s about-face on soda taxes and the discussions with Coke...
Geithner Blocking Legal Help for Foreclosure Victims  Huffington Post   ...Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has authorized big payouts to banks in an effort to encourage mortgage modifications...
Democrats' budget bill: $1.1 trillion; 1,900 pages  Politico   ...Senate Democrats rolled out a year-end, governmentwide spending bill Tuesday that cuts more than $26 billion from President Barack Obama’s 2011 requests...
Senate nears passage of $858 billion tax-cut deal  McClatchy Newspaper
U.S. Appeals Court overturns ruling on Frontier Airlines mechanics   Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...The panel ruled ...(the) ...order should be changed to require the Teamsters to seek a ruling on the situation from the National Mediation Board...
Veolia Transportation Finally Reaches Contract Agreement with Teamsters  Phoenix New Times   ...Veolia is paying employees for each of the 11 work days they missed when the company locked them off the job site. ...
No tax hike in Mahoning County next year  Youngstown Vindicator   ...supervisors accepted a new two-year contract with the road workers' Teamsters bargaining unit...
Adams County board approves tax levy   ...The board also approved a tentative agreement with five units of county employees in the police and teamsters unions for a three-year contract...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Slavery is alive and well

German children forced to dig turf. Photo by Peter Wensterski/Courtesy The Independent
 Germany today agreed to pay 120 million euros to compensate for enslaving and abusing a generation of children in foster homes. Between 1945 and 1970, some of the worst abuses by the Nazis were perpetrated in foster homes run by religious institutions and by the state.  Children were subjected to inhuman treatment, including forced labor, sexual abuse, beatings and solitary confinement. And they were locked away for minor offenses -- one girl was sent away for spending the night dancing with her boyfriend.

The Independent of London reports some of the gruesome details:
...Nazi-era practices included beatings for petty offences like using too much soap or "nose picking" and incarceration in solitary confinement cells for "daring to hum" pop songs. One victim ... recalled ... that a standard foster home punishment for talking at night was being made to stand naked in an unheated corridor until a freshly lit new candle had burned itself out. "It meant standing naked all night," he said. Forced unpaid labour included ditch digging, turf cutting and being sub-contracted out to construction firms to hump bricks. For adolescent girls, the favourite form of unpaid labour was carried out in laundries, where they had to work for hours washing by hand and ironing...
Unfortunately, this is not a closed chapter of history. Last week in South Florida, two owners of a contracting service were sentenced to prison for forcing 39 Filipino guest workers to work in hotels and country clubs. According to the Miami Herald,
Alfonso Baldonado Jr., was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. Sophia Manuel was sentenced to 6 ½ years, receiving a heavier sentence for making false statements on a U.S. Department of Labor application.
Forced labor is not unknown in South Florida, where 1,000 tomato and orange field workers were freed from slavery since 1997 through the work of federal prosecutors and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Ohio just passed a law that makes human-trafficking a felony, reports the Youngstown News. The paper reports today that Ohio has been in danger of becoming a safe haven for slaves.
Indeed, while the 1,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 forced into the sex trade in one year may pale in comparison to 20,000 victims in the United States, the number is still significant for a state in middle America. In Ohio, another 800 immigrants are sexually exploited and pushed in sweatshop-type jobs...Ohio has been described as a high supply, transit and destination state for victims. They could be foreign-born residents in the state legally or illegally, domestic violence victims, runaways and homeless youth. Forced labor and sex trafficking are what awaits them.
Slavery damages American workers watching their jobs move overseas -- to China, for example, where today UPI reported Chinese authorities arrested the owner of a shelter for the mentally ill for selling them as slaves to the owner of a talcum powder factory.

It's a reminder that workers' rights are human rights.

Today's Teamster News 12.14.10

YRC's consolidation plans could bring jobs to KC  Kansas City Star
Holidays are feasts for package delivery companies  Raleigh News Observer   ...Industrywide, holiday shipments are expected to be up - a boon for businesses like FedEx and larger rival UPS...
GM Offers Buyouts to Skilled Workers  Wall Street Journal   ...offering buyouts and early-retirement incentives in hopes of persuading up to 3,000 skilled-trades workers to leave U.S. plants...
GOP Unmoved by Miners' Health Concerns While MSHA Cracks Down on Black Lung, Scofflaws  Huffington Post   ...Republicans blocked passage of a new bill Wednesday that would have enabled the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to more effectively hold repeat offender mine owners accountable and to better protect miners' lives...
Obama meeting CEOs — now how about workers? (opinion)  Chicago Sun-Times  ...While Wall Street and corporate leaders have expressed displeasure with the president’s reform agenda — on health care and financial reform particularly — the reality is that corporations are making record profits
Senate votes for tax cut deal. What's route through House?  Washington Post   ...The deal is expected to clear the House with a combination of strong GOP support and some backing among moderate Dems...
More talk of severe budget cuts to follow tax cut deal  firedoglake   ...Anyone who thinks there won’t be spending cuts – in the first year – passed by the Congress (plenty of Democrats agree with this philosophy, especially in the Senate) that cancel out the stimulus from this deal, are living on another planet...
Incoming GOP Financial Services Chairman: Washington's Role Is "To Serve The Banks"  Alternet
How hedge funds create criminals  Harvard Business Review  ...Hedge funds are playing the role of Wall Street villain...