Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keep an eye on the widening foreclosure scandal

It's a dandy. Banks are selling houses from under people who own them free and clear. They're using forged foreclosure documents to kick people out of their homes. Or they're just foreclosing on homes without making sure they even possess the mortgage and promissory notes.

Here's a good explainer at Crooks & Liars.

If you thought the loss of U.S. manufacturing was bad, you probably underestimated the problem

Brother Teamster Fred Crow from Cleveland sent us this great blog post from The Economic Collapse: 19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind.

One number especially tells the story of what happened to Cleveland and Detroit and Buffalo:

According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.

Do the math: U.S.-based multinationals employ one-third of their workforce overseas. And there's not much stopping them from moving all of their operations offshore. Dell Computer, for example, is shutting down its last U.S. plant in November and expanding operations in China. Here's the kicker: Dell is the 11th biggest contractor with the U.S. government.

Some other scary numbers:

  • The United States has lost about 42,400 factories since 2001. Three-quarters of those factories employed over 500 people when they were still in operation.
  • Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.
Congress started to do something about the problem yesterday, just before they went home to campaign. The House of Representatives passed a bill that punishes China for wrongful trade practices that cost the U.S. millions of jobs. Even Republicans voted for it. Jim Hoffa said it just goes to show
Americans are furious that China is bleeding us dry.

Let's see if the Senate passes the bill in the lame-duck session. It's the very least they can do.

Today's Teamster News 09/30/10

Eye on China, House Votes for Greater Tariff Powers New York Times ...The House of Representatives ... (voted) overwhelmingly to give the Obama administration expanded authority to impose tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports to the United States.

Avis Raises Dollar Thrifty Offer New York Times ...the Avis Budget Group said on Wednesday that it would offer the one thing Dollar Thrifty had said was lacking in its rival bid: a breakup fee.

JPMorgan Suspending Foreclosures New York Times ...In a sign that the entire foreclosure process is coming under pressure, a second major mortgage lender said that it was suspending court cases against defaulting homeowners..

Liberal Groups to Gather in DC for One Nation Rally Washington Post ...groups hoping to revive enthusiasm before November's midterm elections are encouraging their members to come to the Mall on Saturday for a rally...

Teamster Leaders Unanimously Endorse Comprehensive Financial Restructuring of YRCW International Brotherhood of Teamsters ...Leaders of freight local unions voted unanimously today to endorse an agreement with YRCWthat sets the foundation for a comprehensive financial restructuring and a viable, sustainable company...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/29/10

YRC CEO To Retire Upon Completion Of Recovery Plan Wall Street Journal ...Chief Executive Bill Zollars has plans to retire...

Senate Outsourcing Bill Stalls Wall Street Journal ...A new ... poll released Tuesday found outsourcing was the top factor cited by Americans as the cause of the country's continuing economic distress...

Investor Says He Will Vote Against Hertz Wall Street Journal ...Mr. Reeder's views could be part of a serious challenge to Hertz, whose deal goes for a vote before Dollar Thrifty shareholders on Sept. 30...

Recommendations to FAA Often Languish Washington Post ...many believe that the biggest cause of delay lies with the FAA itself...

Work stoppage hits ports The Philadelphia Inquirer ...Longshoremen shut down the Port of New York and New Jersey and Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia Tuesday to protest Del Monte Fresh Produce Co.'s move from Camden to a cheaper-labor terminal in Gloucester City...

As 44 million Americans live in poverty, a crisis grows (opinion) Washington Post ...the number of people living at less than two times the poverty line ($44,000 for a family of four) is ... the line between whether or not you can pay your bills ... That has reached 100,411,000 people. That's 33 percent of the country."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/28/10

Discount Carriers Southwest, AirTran Tie Knot Wall Street Journal ...Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) on Monday announced plans to buy discount rival AirTran Holdings Inc. (AAI)...

GE Inks Deal To Extend Reach In China's Wind Power Market Wall Street Journal ...General Electric Co. (GE) announced a joint venture with a subsidiary of Harbin Power Equipment Co. (1133.HK) to manufacture and supply wind turbines to its customers in China...

Health Insurers Finally Get Some Oversight (opinion) Wall Street Journal ...we will review large premium increases and identify those that are unreasonable...

It's not a recovery without jobs (opinion) Politico ...On Thursday, one of the most successful job-generating provisions of the Recovery Act ... is scheduled to expire...

Income Gap Widens: Census Finds Record Gap Between Rich And Poor Associated Press ...The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/22/10

Obama's Economics Chief Is Set To Leave New York Times ...Lawrence H. Summers, the chief architect of President Obama’s economic policy, would leave at the end of the year.

China's Currency and the Trade Deficit CEPR ...If the value of the yuan rises relative to the dollar, then ... imports would be more expensive in the United States, making people here more likely to buy domestically produced goods...

Watching Wal-Mart at Midnight Wall Street Journal ...on behavior at a Walmart store around midnight at the end of a month: "about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and ... fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread ... until midnight, when electronic — government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts...

Stores Scramble To Accommodate Budget Shoppers ...New York Times ...Dollar stores have shown the biggest gain in shopper visits over the last year...

Strike Continues as Prince George's Bus Company Refuses to Bargain Fairly Teamsters Local 639 ...Members of Teamsters Local 639 working for Veolia/TheBus voted down the company's contract proposal yesterday by an overwhelming majority....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/21/10

Congress needs 
to pass FAA bill (opinion) Atlanta Journal-Constitution ...Lobbyists for FedEx ... will use every available obstructionist tactic to block the Senate from voting on the bill...

Is This What a Recovery Feels Like? (opinion) New York Times ...Most Americans probably find it hard to believe that statisticians have deemed the U.S. economy to be out of recession...

Union, ranchers joining forces Bloomberg ...a labor union and farmers and ranchers ... say the world’s largest retailer is using its power to hold down prices in the agriculture industry...

Airline Profits Expected to Soar This Year New York Times industry body Tuesday ... more than triple(d) its profit forecast for the world’s airlines to $8.9 billion this year ...

SAIC of China Weighs Buying Stake in G.M. New York Times ... A Chinese automaker has expressed interest in buying a stake in General Motors ...

GMAC Halts Foreclosures in 23 States for Review New York Times ...GMAC, which has been the recipient of billions of dollars of government aid... is concerned about potential liability in evicting families and selling houses to which it does not have clear title. ..

The Brothers Koch and AB 32 (opinion) New York Times ...a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues, out-of-state oil and gas companies and climate-change skeptics is seeking to effectively kill ...(AB 32) with an initiative on the November state ballot...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fight poverty: Join a union

The best anti-poverty program is a union job.

Here's a chart based on Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data that shows poverty goes up when union membership goes down.

A coincidence? I think not.

Today's Teamster News 09/20/10

For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again New York Times ...there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers...

Medical marijuana growers join Teamsters union Associated Press ...Their newly negotiated two-year contract provides them with a pension, paid vacation and health insurance...

Unions Find Members Slow to Rally Behind Democrats New York Times ...Mr. Obama and the Democrats have done good things for working people — the $787 billion stimulus package, the health care overhaul, Wall Street reform and the rescue package for Detroit automakers...

Worker Misclassification Bills Get Fresh Expression of Support From White House BNA Daily Labor Report ...Congressional efforts to bar employers from improperly classifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes got a boost Sept. 15 ...

As Poverty Rate Jumps, Jobs With Justice, PDA, Highlight Jobs Emergency in 100 Cities Huffington Post activists ... (organized) mostly small-scale protests in 100 cities Wednesday to prod political leaders to do more to respond to the jobs crisis...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/17/10

Lost Decade for Family Income Wall Street Journal Census data show ... years of stagnant wage growth ... made the past decade the worst for American families in at least half a century.

After Vote on Airline Merger, Real Work Starts Wall Street Journal ...Shareholders of United Airlines ... and Continental Airlines ... will vote Friday ... on the merger of their carriers, the last major step before the transaction can close by Oct. 1.

Obama Appoints Elizabeth Warren To Advisory Position On Consumer Protection Talking Points Memo ...The White House ... appoint(ed) Elizabeth Warren to ... help the administration set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Protecting workers' rights builds a win-win economy (opinion) Gaston Gazette ...It’s encouraging that the National Labor Relations Board is taking preliminary steps toward justice for Stabilus, Inc. workers...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't kill growth and jobs in the name of deficit reduction

You can't solve a problem unless you know what's causing it, and America's economy won't get fixed unless the government figures out why it sucks so bad.

The problem with the economy is not the deficit, or uncertainty, or high taxes on the wealthy. It's the 28 percent of U.S. households that have at least one person looking for a full-time job.

People aren't buying stuff because they don't have jobs and they don't have any money.

As the peerless Dean Baker said on a conference call this morning, "The story is demand."

Baker joined 299 other economists in signing a statement warning our political leaders,

"Today there is a grave danger that the still-fragile economic recovery will be undercut by austerity economics."

The economists tell us to remember our history:

In the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal generated growth and reduced the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1932 to less than 10 percent in 1937. However, the deficit hawks of that era persuaded President Roosevelt to reverse course prematurely and move toward budget balance. The result was a severe recession that caused the economy to contract sharply and sent the unemployment rate soaring. Only the much larger wartime spending of the early 1940s produced a full recovery.

The economists want our political leaders in Washington to do three things:

  1. send aid to the states whose budget crises threaten recovery by forcing them to lay off school teachers, public safety workers, and other essential workers.
  2. invest in public service jobs
  3. invest in infrastructure projects for transportation, water, and energy conservation that will make our economy more productive for years to come.

Don't hold your breath, though.

Just in case you weren't worried enough about our economy....

...Michael Snyder offers 15 shocking facts about poverty in America in Business Insider.

Here's a sample:

  • The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the OECD
  • Household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.28% since last year
  • 28% of all U.S. households have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job
  • One out of every five children in the United States is now living in

We're in a crisis, folks.

Today's Teamster News 09/16/10

Elizabeth Warren To Be Appointed to Help Create Consumer Finance Protection Bureau ABC News ...Warren ... proposed ... "a new regulatory body to protect consumers who use credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, and a host of other products..."

Wayne County Fights Fear of Unions Detroit Free Press ...Bill Black, executive director of Teamsters Joint Council No. 43, (was) ... part of the team selling Wayne County as a swell place to do business.

States cutting benefits for public-sector retirees Bloomberg News ...Since 2008, New Jersey and at least 19 other states from Wyoming to Rhode Island have rolled back pension benefits or seriously considered doing do...

UC workers protest plan to shore up pension funds Associated Press ...University of California workers (represented by the Teamsters) are protesting a plan to increase the share of their paychecks set aside for their pensions...

Concern about Personal Financial Situation Highest in Five Years Business Wire ...Seventy-five percent of workers and 61 percent of retirees are very concerned about their long-term financial future...

FedEx Profit Doubles, But It's Laying Off 1,700 Workers Associated Press ...FedEx Corp. ... strength in international shipments are driving profits, but said it will cut 1,700 jobs in an attempt to fix its money-losing U.S. trucking business.

Dozens of 9/11 responders make plea in Washington D.C. to push for Zadroga Act with Mayor Bloomberg Daily News ...Ex-paramedic Freddy Noboa traveled 1,100 miles with his 41 medications to Washington Wednesday, hoping to get Congress to finally pass a 9/11 health bill.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Today's Teamster News 09/15/10

GOP Insurgents Win in Del. And N.Y. New York Times ...The Tea Party movement scored another victory on Tuesday...

U.S. Trade Goals Questioned in Report New York Times the last 12 years, exports to the 17 countries with which the United States has free-trade agreements grew at a slightly slower pace than exports to other countries.

Philadelphia newspapers auction-bound again Washington Post ...Philadelphia's two major newspapers will go up for auction again next week...

Kroger’s Profit and Sales Rise Associated Press ...Kroger’s net income and revenue rose in its second quarter...

Gov. Christie outlines cuts to workers' pensions, benefits New Jersey Star-Ledger ... Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday outlined a series of cuts to public workers’ pension and benefits...

G.O.P. Allies Drive Ad Spending Disparity New York Times ...a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public, is shaping the battle for Congress in the early going.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Teamster News 0914/10

IMF fears 'social explosion' from world jobs crisis The Telegraph ...America and Europe face the worst jobs crisis since the 1930s and risk "an explosion of social unrest", ... the International Monetary Fund has warned.

Republicans say they'll push to extend tax cuts Washington Post ...Republicans said Monday that they will resist President Obama's plan to allow Bush-era tax breaks for the nation's wealthiest households to expire...

Retiring Later Is Hard Road for Laborers New York Times ...a new analysis ... found that one in three workers over age 58 does a physically demanding job...

Obama: Chances of passing 'card check' now are 'not real high' The Hill ...Controversial "card-check" legislation doesn't have a good chance of passing through Congress, President Obama acknowledged Monday.

Tribune Creditors Group Seeks Permission to Sue Zell, Others Wall Street Journal ...Tribune Co.'s unsecured creditors are seeking approval ... to sue Sam Zell ...

U.S. Foodservice Settles Fraud Charges for $30 Million Wall Street Journal ...U.S. Foodservice Inc. ... settled charges it overcharged the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs...

Ending Strike, Mott’s Plant Union Accepts Deal New York Times ...the union representing 300 workers at the Mott’s apple juice plant ... announced a settlement ... that ends a 16-week strike and includes a wage freeze, but not the pay cuts ...

How Much Corn Ethanol is the U.S. Exporting and Why? big picture agriculture ...we are creating a product we don't want or don't need ourselves while ... we are aggressively marketing it and its by-products abroad.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hoffa gives China what for

It's bad enough that millions of American jobs have gone to China, but now China wants to prevent us from replacing them in growing industries.

Jim Hoffa has a few things to say about that. In today's Huffington Post, Hoffa says China is beating us in clean-energy manufacturing:

China has a million people working in its clean energy industry. It makes half the world's wind turbines, supplies half the world's hydropower projects and fabricates three-quarters of the world's compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Meanwhile, manufacturers of solar paneling and wind turbines are cutting jobs and closing factories in the United States.

Hoffa says China isn't playing fair:

... the Chinese government has spent hundreds of billions of
dollars in subsidized loans and cheap land deals to promote their clean-energy industry illegally.

China also breaks the rules by severely restricting the export of rare earth materials essential for renewable-energy technology. That forces
foreign clean-energy manufacturers to move to China in order to get access to the rare earth.

Once there, China illegally requires foreign manufacturers to transfer their technology to Chinese partners. That means research and development paid for by U.S. taxpayers ends up in China, creating Chinese jobs.

It gets even worse. China sells its products overseas at artificially low prices. Every day, the Chinese government spends $1 billion a day on currency in order to make Chinese products more affordable to
the rest of the world...

There's no point in spending U.S. taxpayers' money on renewable energy technology if it ends up in Chinese hands, Hoffa says. The solution?

Our brothers and sisters at the United Steel Workers are prodding the government to take action against China. Last week they filed a 5,800-page petition asking the U.S. Trade Representative to restrain China from five sets of unfair policies and practices. ... The U.S. government should bring this case before the World Trade Organization.

What's good for GM could be bad for American workers

Economist Paul Krugman explains why the steelworkers union instead of American businesses sued China for unfair trade practices last week:

...what’s good for multinational companies is often bad for America, especially its workers...

In other words, U.S. multinationals are taking advantage of China's cheap labor and making deals with Chinese companies.

Krugman points out that U.S. businesses don't want to risk retaliation if they go after China for manipulating its currency, subsidizing companies illegally and imposing export controls that violate trade rules.

There are a couple of hearings in Congress this week about China's currency manipulation, which amounts to a subsidy of China's exports and a tax on its imports. Krugman asks:

...Will U.S. policy makers let themselves be spooked by financial phantoms and bullied by business intimidation? Will they continue to do nothing in the face of policies that benefit Chinese special interests at the expense of both Chinese and American workers? Or will they finally, finally act? ...

Stay tuned.

Today's Teamster News 09/13/10

Goolsbee: Job shortage will last Politico ...Austan Goolsbee, the new chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, acknowledged ... that the country may face an enduring job shortage.

UPS Leaves 'Brown' for New Love Wall Street Journal ...UPS is replacing its memorable slogan "What can Brown do for you?" with the slogan, "We [Heart] Logistics"...

FAA's Pilot-Fatigue Proposals Offer Big Concessions To Both Labor And Management Wall Street Journal ... the proposal would provide unions additional assurances that carriers establish realistic schedules for their pilots...

NLRB to review two controversial Bush-era rulings Workday Minnesota ...the National Labor Relations Board has voted 3-2 along party lines to review two controversial rulings...

NFL Players Union To Vote on Decertification New York Times ...The N.F.L. Players Association will take the first small step toward decertification...

Wal-Mart must face class-action bias suit Associated Press ...A sharply divided federal appeals court on Monday ... ruled a massive class-action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination over pay for female workers can go to trial...

Dollar Thrifty Accepts Sweetened Bid From Hertz New York Times ...Hertz Global Holdings agreed on Sunday to raise its takeover offer for the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today's News 09/10/10

U.S. Sees Heightened Threat in Mexico Wall Street Journal ...The Obama administration sees the drug-related violence sweeping Mexico as a growing threat to U.S. national security...

U.S. Rebukes Health Insurers Wall Street Journal ...The Obama administration ... on Thursday told health insurers that it will track those who enact "unjustified" rate increases...

China Trade Surplus Narrows; Surplus With US Still High Wall Street Journal ...China's trade surplus narrowed sharply to $20.03 billion in August, but its surplus with the U.S. accounted for 90% of the total...

As FAA prepares to propose new limits on pilot hours, advocates complain about delay Associated Press ...the FAA is set to propose new regulations on how many hours airlines can schedule pilots to be on duty or in the cockpit...

Prospect of work stoppage in 2011 threatens NFL Washington Post ... the NFL appears closer to labor strife than it has been in more than two decades...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's time to do something about China's cheating

One of our friends at the Economic Policy Institute, Rob Scott, has a good explainer about China's currency manipulation at The Huffington Post.

Rob explains

Currency manipulation by China and several other Asian nations makes their goods artificially cheap and makes U.S. exports artificially expensive in China and in world markets.

It matters because

The growth of the U.S. trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2008 eliminated 2.4 million U.S. jobs; Ending currency manipulation now could create at least one million badly needed jobs.

Next week, when Congress gets back, there'll be a couple of hearings on tough legislation to crack down on China's currency manipulation.

Stay tuned.

Today's news 09/09/10

Fed Report Finds Signs That Growth Is Slowing New York Times ...The United States economy showed “widespread signs” of slowing, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday...

Vote on Bid From Hertz for Rival Is Cleared New York Times ...A Delaware judge has denied an injunction sought by ... Dollar Thrifty ... investors hoping to block a ... shareholder vote on the company’s pending ... merger with Hertz.

Union Members to Palin: Where Do You Stand? Huffington Post ...If Gov. Palin expects to get union members to support her endorsed candidates ... we need to see the details.

U.S. Steelworkers to Demand Probe Into China's Green-Tech Aid Wall Street Journal ... The U.S. Steelworkers union plans to file a petition Thursday demanding a government investigation into China's policies to support its fast-growing green-technology sector.

Electrical company owner charged with stealing union workers' benefits pay The Times-Tribune ...The former president of one of the largest electrical contracting companies in Scranton was arrested Wednesday on charges he stole more than $100,000 from union workers' paychecks that they thought was funding their benefits package.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

$2 billion a week on Afghanistan: unaffordable

Today on "Morning Joe," a Republican and a Democrat say the $2 billion a week we spend on Afghanistan should be spent on jobs here.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and show host Joe Scarborough (former Republican congressman) agree we can't afford the war when the economy is in the dumpster.

See it here.

Plus some good stuff about how to get the economy moving again. (Ignore the BP propaganda at the beginning).

Hoffa: Put American Jobs First

Teamsters' chief Jim Hoffa argues for a strong "Buy America" policy in the Detroit News today. In his monthly Labor Voices column, Hoffa says the unemployment crisis is dire.

America lost jobs continually for two years, and it’s going to take longer than that to bring them back. Some economists say it will be 10 years before the unemployment rate returns to what it was when the recession started in December 2007.

Hoffa says the U.S. government needs to put American companies that employ American workers first when it comes to contracting. He says the government has no business awarding contracts to companies like Dell Computer.

Dell, the federal government’s 11th biggest prime contractor, will shut its last major U.S. plant in North Carolina next year and transfer the work overseas.

"Buy America" should be a no-brainer, but it isn't. Hoffa explains why: too many powerful multinational corporations are making huge profits by sending jobs overseas. And they support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which fights tooth and nail against keeping U.S. jobs in the U.S., all the while claiming to be concerned about jobs.

Hoffa has a news flash:

The chamber of commerce doesn’t give a damn about American jobs. The main culprits who cut 8 million jobs in 2008-09 were the private businesses represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. ...

I frankly don’t understand why the Chamber of Commerce even has “U.S.” in its name. There are a half-dozen directors at the chamber who actually
represent foreign companies.

Links 09/08/10

Ligh bulb factory closes; end of era for U.S. means new jobs overseas Washington Post ... The last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the United States is closing...

Bill calls for all workers to have IRAs UPI ...A New Mexico Democrat has introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to establish automatic private retirement accounts for U.S. workers...

Mott's plans no more meetings with strikers Democrat and Chronicle ... the company is ramping up production of apple products at the Williamson plant using replacement workers...

Not Just Jobs -- Good Jobs Huffington Post ...we don't have enough jobs that pay decently.

Companies must take steps to defuse workers' stress McClatchy ...Three out of every four American workers are on the brink of a meltdown, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University report.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stockholder Day

Hyatt Hotels outsources its housekeeping staff, throwing long-time employees out of work. Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe has a terrific column about it.
They had a demonstration outside the downtown Hyatt the other day, to commemorate the anniversary of the firing of 98 housekeepers at Hyatt hotels in and around Boston. ...Wanda Rosario ... suffered more than the indignity of losing her housekeeping job of 23 years there; she unwittingly trained her replacement, a woman who is being paid a lot less to do a lot more.

She saw a lot of old friends and former coworkers. “Some of them looked so skinny,’’ she said.She attributed the weight loss to stress. Or maybe some of them aren’t spending as much on food.

Rosario doesn't see the point of a Labor Day holiday, since workers are no longer valued. She suggests we call it "Stockholder Day."

Links 09/07/10

Rising to the Occasion (opinion) New York Times ...President Obama finally began to vigorously push the kind of high-profile, rebuild-America infrastructure campaign that is absolutely essential...

Businesses and unions planning to meet on possible $3 trillion pension disaster The Hill ...Labor groups will be invited to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to talk about an alarming shortfall in state employee pension plans...

Local Memphis companies may offer hope in a tough job market The Commercial Appeal Sharp Manufacturing in southeast Memphis ... produced its 2millionth solar panel in June....

Issues confronting many workers swirl through Phila.'s Labor Day picnic Philadelphia Inquirer ...That's how it was this Labor Day in Philadelphia: one group desperately trying to keep good jobs at a time when nearly one in 10 Americans is unemployed, another group trying to overcome obstacles to become unionized...

Unions Can Be a Good Thing -- Or Not Wall Street Journal ...Here are four reasons labor unions can be good for investing -- and one why they aren't...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No surprise to us

Human Rights Watch today says European multinationals violate U.S. workers rights.

Companies cited include Germany-based Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA and Deutsche Post's DHL, UK-based Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets and G4S Wackenhut security, France-based Sodexo food services and Saint-Gobain industrial equipment, Norway-based Kongsberg Automotive, and the Dutch firm Gamma Holding.

"The behavior of these companies casts serious doubt on the value of voluntary commitments to human rights," said Arvind Ganesan, director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Companies need to be held accountable, to their own stated commitments and to strong legal standards."

Read the whole report here.

This sucks

Oil rig explodes in Gulf. AP reports:
An offshore oil rig has exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, west of the site of the April blast that caused the massive oil spill.

When the Koch brothers tell you to "Rally for Jobs"... can pretty much bet that's the last thing they want. Think Progress tells us about the latest "up is down" campaign from the polluting billionaire brothers. Look for the "Rallies for Jobs" in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, and Ohio. They're not really about jobs, of course; they're about gutting environmental laws.

Money quotes:

...the Koch brothers and various Koch-funded organizations have also been actively trying to roll back existing clean air and clean energy laws — both at the state and national levels.

Just yesterday, the Center for American Progress released a report showing that a concerted national energy efficiency program (i.e using less energy, not more) could create 625,000 sustained jobs over ten years, spark $500 billion in investment, and save ratepayers $64 billion that they could then use more productively.
Not to mention it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and all the problems that entails...

Links 09/02/10

Factory Growth Buoys Markets Wall Street Journal ...Growth in manufacturing activity accelerated last month in both the U.S. and China.

Parsing an Ascendant GOP's Economic Prescriptions Wall Street Journal ...The closest Republicans come to a public economic agenda are speeches by their House leader, John Boehner, who promises more detail later.

The Real Say on Pay (editorial) New York Times ...the new financial reform law ... requires companies to disclose the ratio between a chief executive’s pay package and that of a typical employee.

Schwarzenegger, union argue furlough case next week The State Worker ...the California Supreme Court will hear debate next week over whether the governor has illegally forced state workers to take unpaid days off from work.

Unions Spurn Democrats Seen as Turncoats on Health, Organizing Bloomberg News ...organized labor helped Democrats win ... two years ago, only to find some candidates they supported didn’t return the favor.

More people living paycheck to paycheck Kansas City Star ...A survey ... this summer, found that nearly eight out of ten workers said they are living paycheck to paycheck.

American Workers Believe Economic Conditions Will be Same or Worse Next Year Industry Week ...American workers are deeply pessimistic about prospects for economic recovery...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hey, here's someone who gets it

Mother Jones' David Corn interviews Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat who's running for re-election to Congress from a Republican district in Virginia.

Here's the money quote from Perriello:

"I don't see the dividing line as liberal versus conservative. It's populist versus corporatist. If we're not standing up to the most powerful interests, where is the Democratic Party?"


"We're not producing anything anymore. The elites in both parties are too close to Wall Street. If jobs are created in India, that's fine with them."

This is a guy who told his party leaders they should introduce a new jobs bill every week to force Republicans to take a stand. He says it's embarrassing that Congress took a six-week vacation. He believe Washington has no idea how serious the jobs crisis is.

Read the whole thing here.

The latest outrage from Alan Simpson

Fresh off apologizing for calling Social Security "a milk cow with 310 million tits," former senator Alan Simpson has done it again.

He actually said that the military veterans who saved this country "are ... not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess."

Apparently Simpson, who co-chairs President Obama's deficit commission (aka the "Catfood Commission"), was commenting on a report that diabetes is the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans.

This is rich

Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kans.-based energy conglomerate, wants money from the health insurance reform that it opposed, according to Think Progress.

The company is owned by the billionaires David and Charles Koch, who are bankrolling the Tea Party (remember those demonstrations against health care reform last year??) and a giant network of right-wing organizations.

If you haven't read Jane Mayer's piece in the New Yorker about the Kochs, you must.

Mayer reports:

As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charles’s goal ... was to tear the government “out at the root.”

Only the Kochs know how much they've spend on right-wing organizations, but it's a lot. Mayer says

After the 1980 election, Charles and David Koch ... poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations.

Ari Rabin-Havt, a vice-president at the Democratic-leaning Web site Media Matters, said that the Kochs’ effort is unusual, in its marshalling of corporate and personal funds: “Their role, in terms of financial commitments, is staggering.”

They started off with think tanks like the Cato Institute, which advocate deregulation, and then branched out into phony grassroots organizations.
Citizens for a Sound Economy, seemed like a grassroots movement, but according to the Center for Public Integrity it was sponsored principally by the Kochs, who provided $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993.

The brothers aren't exactly squeaky clean, Mayer reports:
In 1989, the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs investigated their business and released a scathing report accusing Koch Oil of “a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring.” The Kochs admitted that they had improperly taken thirty-one million dollars’ worth of crude oil, but said that it had been accidental.

They've been investigated for evading campaign finance laws. They've settled cases in which they've been charged with causing more than 300 oil spills and coveringup the discharge of 91 tons of benzene. They were found guilty of negligence and malice when two teen-agers died from an explosion of a leaky butane pipeline.

Yet their influence is insidious. Americans for Prosperity, one of their front groups, is featured on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh without being identified as the tool of a big polluter. Says Mayer
Phil Kerpen, the vice-president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, is a contributor to the Fox News Web site. Another officer at Americans for Prosperity, Walter Williams, often guest-hosts for Limbaugh.


There's a shock

The big banks spent $16 million lobbying against financial reform in the first half of 2010, more than 16 times as much as our side, according to The Huffington Post.

We must have missed it when Fox News reported that financial reform was another thank-you to Big Labor.

Links 09/01/10

A deserted feeling in working-class America Washington Post ...the Great Recession has made labor's task decidedly more difficult this year.

Nafta, Mexican trucks, retaliatory tariffs and safety (Letter to the editor) Wall Street Journal ...the reason U.S. firms are being hit with raised tariffs is the fault of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), not the Teamsters union or Congress.

New job means lower wages for many New York Times ...comparatively little attention has been paid to the quality of the jobs being created.

Coca-Cola workers end strike in Bellevue, Western Washington Bellevue Reporter ...Coca-Cola employees in Bellevue and Western Washington returned to work Tuesday.

CEOs lay off thousands, rake in millions ...chief executives of the 50 firms that have laid off the most workers since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008 took home 42 percent more pay in 2009 than their peers at other large U.S. companies.

Workers Rebuilding New Orleans Face Rampant Wage Theft The Washington Independent ...The Congress of Day Laborers last year found that 80 percent of the workers it represents had been victims of wage theft in the past year.

Business groups plan Labor Day blitz against Senate Dems, candidates The Hill ...Business groups plan to go on offense against vulnerable Senate Democrats in their backyards to mark Monday's Labor Day holiday.