Thursday, March 31, 2011

IN Teamsters to march in honor of MLK Monday

Teamster members of Local 364 will march from the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center to a "Respect Our Rights" rally on April 4 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's death.

It's part of the national day of action for union members to get involved and get educated.

Bob Warnock, president of the local, is urging members to attend. In a message to members, he wrote
The Teamsters and all unions in America are working together to stop the assault on union members, middle-class families, ad workers in general....We cannot sit back and allow the rights we have worked so hard to gain to be stripped away.
Learn more by going to the Teamsters 4.4.11 page here.

Giant rally at Teamsters headquarters (video)

That's "Giant rally" as in "Giant Food rally"

Hundreds of Teamsters, labor supporters and D.C.’s own resident rapper Head-Roc protested outside of the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) annual public policy meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

Two of FMI’s highest-profile corporate members, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Dutch-owned Royal Ahold, have been destroying middle class jobs in states up and down the East Coast. They've been closing facilities and shipping jobs to low-wage warehouses in other states. Giant Food is a subsidiary of Royal Ahold.

During the rally, Head-Roc got the crowd of more than a hundred pumping with his song, “Giant Ain’t The G They Used To Be”:
Giant Food!

Well known in the DMV,

They ‘bout to do us like Wal-Mart it’s plain to see.

Got their start here locally, now they Fancy International

And ain’t what they used to be!

The new Corporate Policy,

Is called “Turn your back on the Community!”

Teamsters Together! We Gonna Brave the Weather!

Organized to Protect the Lives we Treasure!
Teamster General President Jim Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Tom Keegel joined Head-Roc on stage. Hoffa said
These multi-billion dollar grocery giants are meeting with their highly-paid lobbyists in the hotel behind you because they want to rig the system. They want to siphon as much money out of workers, shoppers and the American economy as they can, by destroying good, middle-class jobs.
Thomas Ratliff, president of Teamsters Local 639 in Washington, D.C., said the Teamsters wouldn’t stand for such attacks on workers:
We’re not going to take this lying down. Giant and Royal Ahold want to talk about sacrifice, but they are forgetting the sacrifice our members gave to help make these companies successful.
Sign a petition here to tell Giant Foods to quit outsourcing good jobs.

5K at NH rally, biggest in decades (if not ever)

Today's protest in Concord, N.H.
 New Hampshire is a small, rural state. For 5,000 people to show up on the Statehouse lawn at noon on a workday shows how intense the opposition is to cutting the budget and stripping government workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Dennis Caza, political director for Local 633 in Manchester, was there with Teamster brothers and sisters. He said a Senate staffer said she'd worked at the Statehouse for 22 years and had never seen so many people at a Statehouse protest.
To understand why New Hampshire citizens are so angry, the Concord Monitor provides a good primer. An editorial titled "House should reject immoral budget," says,
Today, the New Hampshire House will vote on a budget so heartless in its approach to the poor, the disabled and the mentally ill as to be immoral. Should it become law, New Hampshire will be a different state, one that under the guise of "personal responsibility" replaces the social compact with the survival of the fittest.

The budget eliminates services for 8,000 people with significant to severe mental illness. It ends child-care subsidies for poor working parents. It drastically cuts state aid to higher education. It eliminates funding for a program that helps senior citizens stay in their homes. It cuts prison funding so dramatically the state will have to close a prison.

And, of course, it all but destroys unions for government workers once their contract expires. The Teamsters represent about 500 government workers in New Hampshire, including city hall workers in Hampton, principals and librarians in Manchester, highway workers in Peterboro, Milford and Goffstown, police in Hooksett and Lincoln and deputy sheriffs in Carroll and Rockingham counties.

During the rally, firefighters played bagpipes and beat on drums, while protesters chanted, "Shame on you!" and held signs saying "New Hampshire Can Do Better." Democratic representatives kept opening the Statehouse windows to let the noise in, and the Republican representatives kept closing them.

"It was pretty civil," said Caza. "I think they got the message."
Caza and Dave Laughton, the local's secretary-treasurer, met with Gov. John Lynch and Senate President Peter Bragdon to seek their help in killing the bill. Four Teamsters who work for the Derry Department of Public Works met with their state senators to ask them to vote against the bill. 

Gigundo rally in NH today

Tiny New Hampshire is gearing up for a huge rally at the Statehouse today, as the House votes on a budget that's been described as "Wisconsin on steroids." The bill basically dissolves government workers' unions when their contracts expire. The budget also severely cuts services for the disabled, the mentally ill, children, the homeless, education and public safety. 

And get a load of this: According to ProgressNow,
...the House also passed HB 580, an “Omnibus” pension bill sponsored by Rep. Neal Kurk to reduce public employees’ bargaining rights. It specifically states that as a contract term expires, employees’ health and pension benefits can be unilaterally changed (or eliminated) by employers.
Even as people head toward Concord, citizens were removed from the Statehouse gallery an hour into the House session. Chanting and the song, "We Shall Not Be Moved," echoed through the gallery.

Our Teamster brothers and sisters from Local 633 are already at the Statehouse. They are meeting with senators to pesuade them to kill the bill. Then they'll join the protesters outside. 

Stay tuned.

A shameful day for OH

The Ohio Legislature voted to pass an even more hideous version of SB 5 last night. It strips collective bargaining rights from 350,000 government workers, including Teamster turnpike workers, nurses and corrections officers. It also grants broad powers to terminate collective bargaining agreements to the governor, state auditor and board of regents.

Brother Fred Crow from Local 436 tells us:
Final tally, SB5 passes the house 53-44 with 2 abstensions, and the senate 17-16. That's 69 people in the house and senate that I will make every effort to make feel the sting of being jobless.
The good-ish news from Ohio is that corporate stooge Gov. John Kasich's poll numbers are tanking, and 54 percent of Ohioans oppose SB 5. People aren't stupid. They realize he's just carrying water for predatory corporations that want to bust unions, lower wages, ship jobs overseas and loot the government (can you say "privatize the Turnpike?)

We now have 90 days to collect enough signatures to stop this travesty from happening.

Associated Press reports:
Even before the contentious Senate Bill 5 — in some ways tougher than Wisconsin's — had cleared the Legislature late Wednesday, unions and Democrats in this once-proud labor stronghold vowed to put it on November's ballot as a referendum.
"O-H-I-O! S.B. 5 has got to go!" protesters chanted ahead of a final Senate vote of 17-16 that sent the bill to Gov. John Kasich for his signature, expected this week. The vote followed a day filled with Statehouse demonstrations by about 750 people, who raucously chanted and shouted throughout the process. After a House vote of 53-44, opponents spewed expletives at House members.

The vitriol wasn't limited to the Statehouse.
Leo Geiger, 34, a Republican who works as a sewer inspector for the city of Dayton, said he's "deathly afraid that this is going to affect me, my family and the entire state of Ohio in and incredibly negative way."
He believes the bill is political payback for unions' support of Democrats in November's election.
"I find this to be loathsome," he said from Dayton on Wednesday night. He didn't attend protests because he couldn't take the time off. "I find this to be disrespectful to Ohioans and disrespectful to the process of democracy."

Today's Teamster News 03.31.11

Ohio Legislature approves Senate Bill 5  Cincinnati Enquirer   ...The Ohio General's passage Wednesday night of a bill to restrict collective bargaining rights for 360,000 unionized public employees will likely shift to the courts and the ballot box...
Rally to denounce budget cuts  Concord Monitor   ...Organizers of a (N.H.)rally say they expect thousands of people to gather at the State House tomorrow to ask the Senate to reject a state budget under consideration by the House...
State will continue implementing collective bargaining law despite judge's order  Wisconsin State Journal   ...Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said Wednesday he has a legal obligation to implement all laws passed by the Legislature...
Unemployment rises in nearly every Wis. county  Associated Press   ...Kenosha County was the only county whose seasonally adjusted rate remained the same, at 10.1%...
Amended child labor bill heads to Senate  Lewiston Sun-Journal  ...(Maine) Republicans supported the measure, which would allow minors to work longer hours and more often during weeks when school is in session...
Democrats push back on Gov. Rick Snyder's cut in jobless benefits  Detroit Free Press    ...Michigan will become the only state to offer fewer than 26 weeks of initial state unemployment benefits, though some observers say other GOP-controlled states may try the same...
Attack on PLAs launched in Senate (AUDIO)  Missourinet   ...A plan to bar project labor agreements on any project using public money in Missouri has run into opposition from labor-affiliated state senators...
Labor vs. Legislatures: Wisconsin's attack on collective bargaining may spread  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   ...Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg, who hold majorities in both bodies of the General Assembly, are seeking support for a handful of bills that would weaken unions' reach and rein in their organizing power...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Govs gone wild are tanking in the polls

People are hating on the extremist Republican governors who've attacked the working people in their state, from Koch whore Wisconsin's Scott Walker to corporate stooge Ohio's John Kasich. The latest entrant in this rogue's gallery is the man who should be in jail but instead got elected Florida's governor, Rick Scott.

Slate is reporting that Scott has "joined the ranks of the new Republican governors who've torqued everybody off":
So Scott joins John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin in the ranks of GOP governors with horrible robo-poll numbers only three months into their terms. The Florida difference: There hasn't been a robust union or Democratic protest movement of Scott. There's just negative media coverage about how his family could benefit from his own policies, complaints from Republicans about his leadership, disapproval of his cuts to education and the state workforce (as he phases in an end to corporate taxes), irritation with the cancellation of the Tampa-Orlando rail line, etc and so on.

Here's a roundup of their numbers:
  • In Florida, Rick Scott:  Public Policy Polling on March 29 show 32% Approve, 55% Disapprove.
  • In  Ohio, John Kasich: A Quinnipiac University poll on March 23 shows 30% Approve, 46% Disapprove. Also “Ohio Senate Bill 5 may not be in effect for very long...54% of voters in the state say they'd repeal it in an election later this year while just 31% say they'd vote to let the bill stand.
  • In Michigan, Rick Snyder: Public Policy Polling on March 22 show 33% Approve, 50% Disapprove. Also, in Michigan, 59% think government workers should have collective bargaining rights and 32% are opposed.
  • In Wisconsin, Scott Walker: Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Poll on March 7 shows 43% Approve, 53% Disapprove. Walker's negatives are up 18 points since November. 
  • In Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett: A Franklin and Marshall College Poll on March 17 shows 33% Favorable, 23% Unfavorable.
We can't wait to see what Maine's wingnut Gov. Paul LePage's numbers look like.

Koch whores try to chill free speech, intimidate

Do the Koch whores ever stop their crusade against working people?

Three Michigan state universities have been served with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records requests for emails involving the Wisconsin collective bargaining issue. They were asked for messages that included the terms “Scott Walker,” “Maddow,” “Wisconsin,” and “Madison.” The requests, by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, were sent to labor relations departments at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Mackinac Center claims it's a “nonpartisan research and educational institute.” It's really a front group for the Koch brothers’ anti-worker agenda. And it's clear the Mackinace Center is trying to intimidate labor professors through chilling free speech.

You won't be surprised to learn who the center’s donors are. Mother Jones reports:

Between 2002 and 2009, the Mackinac Center's donors included the Charles G. Koch Foundation ($69,151), founded by the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, who, with his brother, David, is a major backer of conservative causes; the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation ($80,000), the charity tied to the son of the co-founder of Amway, the multibillion-dollar direct marketing company; the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, established by the parents of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who serves as the foundation's vice president ($195,000); and the Walton Family Foundation ($100,000), established by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and his wife, Helen.
In other words, a murderers' row of predatory plutocrats who view destroying America's middle class as a charitable activity.

The Mackinac Center is just taking a page out of the Wisconsin Republican playbook. William Cronon, a well-known labor history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently criticized Wisconsin Republicans. He took aim at Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker on his blog and in the New York Times. Wisconsin Republicans responded by filing their own FOIA request. They wanted any e-mails containing the words “recall,” “collective bargaining” and the names of Republican lawmakers, including Gov. Walker.

What a waste of time and taxpayer money to carry out a vendetta against college professors. We can think of better things to do with that time—like create jobs.

Teamsters: The New Civil Rights Movement (video)

On 4.4.11, hundreds of thousands of American workers will mark the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death. Union members will participate in teach-ins, protests, rallies and vigils. It's all part of the effort to reach out and educate our family, friends and neighbors about the attack on collective bargaining rights -- and on the American middle class. What better way to reach out and educate than to remind people that Dr. King died for collective bargaining rights?

Different unions will choose different ways to commemorate the day. The Teamsters will focus on getting educated and getting involved. Teamster members will be asked to take a pledge to do one of four things, including showing this video to four people. 

Stay tuned, and keep an eye on the page for more information.

Hats off to IN Teamsters

Teamsters at the March 10 rally in Indianapolis
With the return of 39 Democratic representatives to Indiana, the Legislature can now get back to work with reordered priorities. Instead of attacking workers, lawmakers can now focus on creating jobs. The Democrats' walkout, and the hard work of Indiana unions and their allies, resulted in  following victories:
•Right-to-work legislation is off the table, preserving collective bargaining rights;
•The permanent ban on public employee bargaining is off the table in the House;
•Enabling legislation for private takeover of public schools is off the table in the House;
•Private school vouchers will be limited to 7,500 students in the first year and 15,000 in the second year, rather than the largest voucher program in the nation the Republicans had proposed;
•Rather than an outright ban of Project Labor Agreements as Republicans wanted, PLAs still can be included with projects passed by public referendum; and
•The threshold for applying the common construction wage to projects would be $250,000 for 2012 and $350,000 for 2013, rather than the job-killing $1 million threshold the Republicans wanted.
Teamsters International Vice President Brian Buhle says the War on Workers is far from over:
We dodged a bullet in this session but the attacks against the middle class will continue and we must be mobilized more than ever to ensure a fair deal for the working class. We must beat them at the ballot box.
Buhle, who is also secretary-treasurer of Local 135 in Indianapolis, thanked the thousands of Indiana Teamsters who protested at the Statehouse for six weeks.
Without their help giving the Democrats some cover, this victory over a radical anti-union agenda by the far right wing would not have been possible. Members from all Teamster locals across Indiana kept up the pressure and the Teamsters Union led the way, day in and day out. Hats off to Indiana Teamsters.

Is the WI GOP insane?

We thought we'd heard it all when Republican Rep. Sean Duffy complained about struggling to get by on his $174,000-a-year salary.

Then we received a copy of the Dane County Republicans' press release condemning Judge MaryAnn Sumi for upholding the state's open meetings law. The statement was jaw-droppingly arrogant (and ungrammatical):
For those people that (sic) don't know, the state of Wisconsin has an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The executive branch has the job of carrying out the laws and setting the agenda for his (sic) administration. The legislative branch has the job of passing laws. And the judicial branch has the job of interpreting and applying the laws and ensuring their constitutionality.

By Judge's Sumi's action today, it is apparent that she has forgotten those roles and she thinks that her job is to be a member of all three branches. The Republican Party of Dane County believes it is time for the judicial branch to stop being judicial activists (sic). If they want to legislate the laws, they need to run for political office not judicial office.
But for some unknown reason (probably because Wisconsin Republicans are completely insane), they took down that press release and replaced it with an apology. A nasty, childish apology that incorporates all the GOP's favorite ad hominem attacks. Judge Sumi is elitist, according to Wisconsin Republicans, the party of the congressman who complains about making only $174,000 a year. This is what a Wisconsin Republican apology looks like:
The Republican Party of Dane County recognizes that Judge Sumi is a leftist living in Dane County. Her friends are leftists living in Dane County. Her son is a left wing activist in Dane County. She goes to cocktail parties held by leftists in Dane County. She shops at organic gourmet food shops run by leftists living in Dane County. If she were to enforce the law of Wisconsin and do what was in the best interest of the people of Wisconsin, she’d be exiled from her lifestyle. She’d lose her friends!
The leadership of the Republican Party of Dane County have all made the choice to stand against the Dane County elite. We accept that Left feels righteous vandalizing our homes and keying our cars...
"Left feels righteous vandalizing our homes and keying our cars...?" Say what?

Maybe they're not insane. Maybe they're just 9 years old.

Woo-hoo! WI judge blocks anti-worker law AGAIN

For the second time, a judge has blocked the Wisconsin anti-worker law. Judge Maryann Sumi said for the first time that those who violate the law are subject to sanctions.

Sumi rebuked the Koch whores Republicans who tried to implement the law, saying: 
Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of (the law) was enjoined. That is what I now want to make crystal clear.
Sumi’s issuance of a temporary restraining order halting the anti-worker bill was clear the first time around. The order barred Secretary of State Doug La Follette from making the law effective by publishing it. On March 25, Walker tried to circumvent the law by getting the Legislative Reference Bureau, a state agency, to post the text of the law on its website.

Critics said it was like going to Kinko's to publish the law. Nonetheless, Walker’s administration began implementing the law, charging government workers more for benefits and ceasing the collection of union dues.

Here's what's really interesting: Sumi noted all the legal wrangling and expense could be spared by Republicans taking another vote on the bill, with sufficient notice to meet the state’s open meetings laws requirements. Sumi said:
I am dismayed at this point that given the relatively easy fix for this that thousands and thousands of dollars are being spent, all being footed by the taxpayers of this state, to pursue this litigation.
We're just wondering if this means the Republicans aren't sure they have the votes to pass the bill again.

We have just one question: Why aren't these Republicans working on creating jobs for Wisconsin?

WI rep. whines about his $174K pay

Whiny-ass Rep. Sean Duffy
Just when you thought Wisconsin Republicans couldn't get any worse, here's a congressman complaining about his salary. (We except Sen. Dale Schultz from our condemnation of Wisconsin Republicans because he voted against Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting bill).

Talking Points Memo got hold of the video in which U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy bellyaches about his struggle getting by on $174,000 a year. The median household income in Polk County is $50,520. You can see the video here. In it, Duffy tells a constituent:
I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I'm living high on the hog, I've got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I'm not living high on the hog.
TPM also reports that a Duffy spokesman complained that Democrats would take partisan shots at his gaffe.

Ya think?

Today's Teamster News 03.30.11

Wisconsin Judge Halts Further Implementation Of Union Law  Associated Press remained unclear when or even whether the measure would take effect...
Layoff notices to Teamsters rescinded  Manitowoc Herald Times   ...The layoffs that were set to go into effect Friday might be imposed later in the year, depending on what happens in the state budget repair bill legal battle playing out in Madison...
Wisconsin Democrats on Fundraising Tear  Political Wire   ...The Wisconsin Democratic Party raised $1.4 million in the last two months -- about $250,000 more than the party did in all of last year...
Senate Bill 5 takes another step forward  Columbus Dispatch   ...Democrats and union leaders blasted the latest Republican changes to Senate Bill 5 today, including those that would allow workers to decline to pay union dues, even if they are covered by a union contract, and allowing government employers to refuse to deduct union payments that are directed to political action committees...
Florida GOP legislators singling out unions (opinion)  Orlando Sentinel   ...GOP leaders have been showing about as much restraint as Sesame Street's "Cookie Monster."...
Group Seeks Labor E-Mails by Michigan Professors  New York Times   ...A conservative research group in Michigan has issued a far-reaching public records request to the labor studies departments at three public universities in the state...
Hundreds of Pa. students protest proposed cuts  Associated Press   ...Hundreds of chanting, sign-waving students rallied Monday in Harrisburg to protest proposed cuts in higher education _ and some of them ran a 100-mile relay to get there...
FreedomWorks heads to Pennsylvania where groups hope to quash unions  Washington Independent   ...Breaking away from their fiscal policy roots, tea party groups lately have been sinking their hooks into all matters of American policy, from collective bargaining rights to education...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A straight line from Memphis to Madison

In just six days, Teamsters across America will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, who died fighting for collective bargaining rights. On 4.4.11, Teamsters will participate in rallies across the country, as they have for weeks now. But they will also take concrete steps to get educated and get involved in the fight for workers rights.

Here's a good way to get started: Read the Rev. Jesse Jackson's article in the Huffington Post, Injustices, From Memphis to Madison. Jackson writes,

I was in Memphis at Dr. King's side -- and on Monday I will be in Madison, for there is a straight line from Memphis to Madison.
Dr. King came to Memphis to rally in support of striking public employees. Months earlier, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when a compactor mechanism in a truck malfunctioned. On the same day, 22 black workers were sent home without pay, while their white supervisors were retained with pay. Two weeks later, 1,100 black sanitation workers began to strike for job safety, better wages and benefits and union recognition.
It was a frantic time for Dr. King...But he chose to join the strikers in Memphis for he knew their cause was just, their need great and their time had come.
Now in Madison, teachers and nurses and sanitation workers are standing up against an attempt to strip them of their right to bargain collectively. Students have come to their aid, while protesting deep cuts in university and school budgets and efforts to strip them of their right to vote on campus. Workers are standing up in solidarity with those under attack.
Read the whole thing here.

Truck with OK tags burns in Mexico after shootout

An American trailer full of drugs, weapons and explosives burned in Nueva Laredo after Mexican Army troops confronted gunman inside the truck. At least three died after a shootout. Three days later, 11 bodies were found nearby.

You know where we're going with this: Why on earth would the U.S. government consider opening the border to Mexican trucks during a brutal drug war in which cross-border trucks are used to transport drugs and weapons?

The Neglected War blog tells us the truck had marking showing it belonged to Transportación Frayre de Nuevo Laredo fleet, but the trailer had Oklahoma tags.
As troops opened the trailer doors to inspect the cargo they came under fire from gunmen inside the trailer.
During the firefight that followed munitions inside the trailer detonated, resulting in the fiery destruction of the tractor-trailer and the dead of the three gunmen.
Residents reported that the inferno burned for approximately 30 minutes during which a large number of munitions fired off.
No civilians were reported injured by exploding rounds.
After the fire was extinguished authorities reported finding: cocaine, methamphetamine, 31 rifles, 9 handguns, 1 rocket launcher, 16 grenades, 156 magazines, 71 radios, 13 cell phones, and currency; most of them destroyed.
That was on Friday. Three days later, 11 bodies were discovered near the scene of the shootout. Reports Borderland Beat:
Seven bodies were found shot execution style at Km.#7 and and the remainder at Km.#11 of Federal Highway 2 which connects the freight only World Trade Bridge to the Nuevo Laredo- Monterrey Highway.
At this time the victims, who all shared similar buzz cuts and are estimated to be between the ages of 17 and 29, remain unidentified.
How they got there and who killed them is still being investigated.

More brutal numbers for Kasich as SB 5 rammed through House

Corporate stooge Ohio Gov. John Kasich may be crowing that SB 5 is being rammed through a House committee right now, but he'll pay a price for it. A new poll shows that it isn't just the protesters outside the Statehouse who hate Kasich, hate his budget and hate SB 5. 

A Quinnipiac University poll found:
Ohio voters disapprove 46 - 30 percent of the way Gov. John Kasich is handling his job, with women disapproving 48 - 25 percent and men disapproving 44 - 37 percent ...Voters say 53 - 36 percent that Gov. Kasich's budget is unfair to them.  (Note: We bet those numbers get worse for Kasich once voters learn more about the budget.) 
Voters oppose legislation working its way through the Ohio legislature that would limit the ability of public workers to collectively bargain, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds. But the question wording has some influence on voter response:

Half of those surveyed were asked about a bill that limited "collective bargaining," and oppose the measure 48 - 41 percent;

The other half were asked about a bill that limited "collective bargaining rights," and oppose that measure 54 - 35 percent.
If you're wondering why people hate Kasich, aside from SB 5 and steep budget cuts, Alternet provides a primer here.

And for an update on protest rallies in Ohio, look here.

WI GOPer: 'We've broken the power of unions'

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald sent a fundraising letter saying -- well, you have to read it to believe it.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story:
In a fundraising letter, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) writes that government employee unions have "ruined California and Illinois, but they're not going to ruin Wisconsin.
"That is because Republicans faced down Big Labor's bully tactics and a Democratic walk-out in the state Senate to break the power of unions like WEAC and AFSCME once and for all," Fitzgerald said in his letter.
Fitzgerald says in his letter that union supporters picketed his home "to intimidate and scare my family. They packed the State Capitol with raging mobs of union protesters - many from other states - who had been worked into a frenzy by union leaders. They even made death threats against those of us who stood up to their political clout."
We'd like to point out that the Wisconsin protests have been without exception peaceful, family-friendly affairs. The only people who advocated violence in Wisconsin were two Indiana Republican prosecutors. One tweeted that police should use live ammunition on the protesters. The other emailed Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker to tell him he should fake an attack on himself and blame protesters.

Wait, there's someone else who advocated violence: Walker himself. Remember the prank call? During the call, the fake Koch brothers says,
...what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.
And Walker replies
...we thought about that. The problem — the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them ... My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems.
Fitzgerald said in his letter that he anticipates a recall effort. Ya think?

Keeping up the fight in OH today

From the tweetosphere: Petitions ignored by OH Republicans.
House Republicans in Ohio are getting ready to approve the heinous SB5 bill, which would strip collective bargaining rights from government workers. Brother Fred Crow right now is surrounded by 15 Teamsters in Columbus, where they're protesting the bill. Here's his report:
There’s probably 150 or so in the building and there are probably about 500 outside. People are still coming.
Everyone knows the bill is going to get signed this week. People are passing out sign up sheets to volunteer to hand out petitions.
There’s chanting going on. There is a speaker system and various unions are giving speeches.
"Petitions" means that Ohioans will collect signatures for a citizens' veto of the bill once it passes. Given the polling numbers on SB 5, it looks like they'll be able to overturn it. Which leads us to Fred's solidarity message:
We need to keep fighting.

Great WI recall ad (video)

Efforts to recall in Wisconsin Republican senators got a boost today with a terrific new ad. It features the people of Wisconsin: teachers, corrections officers, administrative workers and college students. They have this to say: 
This is for my children, my wife, our friends and neighbors. This is for our community.
Republicans declared war on the middle class. Now, with this recall campaign, we are fighting back. And we are going to win.
The ad is paid for by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America. It will run in multiple media markets in Wisconsin. Even without the ad, recall efforts are going strong.

We note the frontrunner for recall, Sen. Dan Hanky-Kapanke, recently told the LaCrosse Tribune, “I love campaigns. I just didn’t think I’d do one every year.” (Cue up the world's smallest violins.)

For more information on how to recall Kapanke and seven other Republican senators, go to the Teamsters Recall page.

Today's Teamster News 03.29.11

Fight over whether Wisconsin union law has taken effect heads to court  Washington Post   ...With Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration insisting a new law eliminating most of state workers’ collective bargaining rights had gone into effect and other state and municipal leaders disputing that, many were looking to a Tuesday court hearing for some kind of clarity...
Report: Wis. Supreme Court Race Running Close In Internal Polls  Talking Points Memo   ...the court race has quickly turned into a proxy political battle. Conservatives are supporting Prosser, a former Republican state Assembly Speaker, and liberals backing Kloppenburg...
Ohio set to expand school choice as record $5.2M fine imposed on charter group remains unpaid  Associated Press   ...A school choice group that pumped millions of dollars into helping get its candidates elected in Ohio, Wisconsin and other states has yet to pay a record $5.2 million fine...
The mind-set that survived the Triangle Shirtwaist fire  (opinion) Washington Post   ...A century after Triangle, greed encased in libertarianism remains a fixture of — and danger to — American life....
Michigan Becomes First State To Curtail Jobless Aid  Huffington Post   ...Starting in January, laid-off Michiganders will be eligible for 20 weeks of jobless aid, instead of the standard 26 weeks...
Civil Rights Group Says Rick Scott Violated The Voting Rights Act With New Restrictions On Felons  Broward-Palm Beach New Times   ...Rick Scott reintroduced Florida to Jim Crow-style voting laws, which essentially disenfranchise a large percentage of African Americans and just so happen to boost Scott's chances at reelection...
Stiglitz: Budget plan a 'near suicide pact'  Politico   ..."With a quarter of all U.S. income going to the upper 1%, and America's middle class actually facing lower incomes than a decade ago, there is only one way to raise more taxes: Tax the top,"...

Monday, March 28, 2011

'The union is our hope, the only hope we have'

Gina Beck, shortly after speaking at a White House event.
There are 45 million people in the United States who belong to working poor families. That's right, 45 million.

Our sister Gina Beck is one of them. She understands that the best anti-poverty program is a union, which is why she joined Teamster Local 952 in Orange, Calif., earlier this month. Now she's looking forward to a good Teamster contract. She told us:
It’s important to come out to let people know there is hope in your darkest days and the union is our hope, the only hope we have. They’ve taken so much from us.
Beck battled tremendous odds to became a leader in the drive for Durham School Services bus workers to join the Teamsters. For that she was recognized today at a White House event held on the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire tragedy.

After the White House ceremony, Beck visited Teamster headquarters. Here, she told us she doesn't think things have changed much since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, when 146 young women were killed in a fire that spread through an unsafe sweatshop in New York City.
We’re still struggling in some ways. We don't get raises, we don’t get water, or toilet paper. In the year 2011, people are still struggling. We are still the working poor, still struggling from paycheck to paycheck. There are a lot of people in my company that are homeless, live in tents or motels, 90 percent of the yard goes to the food bank. I live in the back of an office. I can’t afford rent...
I’m a three-year bus driver from Laguna Beach. I love my children. The company says if you don’t like it, get another job, but I work with special needs kids you fall in love with them.
She had a tough go of it even before working at Durham. She grew up in poverty after the death of her parents and the loss of their home after an earthquake. Since she got a job driving a bus for special needs children, she lost her apartment, moved into and lost a mobile home and now lives in the back of an office.
She was ill recently, and couldn't afford medicine so she borrowed it.
My Dad and grandparents were immigrants from another country and worked hard to become citizens and were proud to. And for all of us to live paycheck to paycheck, no insurance, can’t afford anything, it doesn’t honor them at all. They made a better future for us and this is no way to honor them.
Beck understands the importance of a union:

My brother is a Teamster and my father was a Teamster and my brother provides his family with a decent living and to take that away is horrible. He couldn’t provide for his children if he wasn’t with the Teamsters.
Her advice:
Speak up for yourself, don’t be fearful, that won’t get you anywhere. Stick up for your rights. We’re Americans, we should have a decent living and decent health care from a company that makes millions of dollars and I can’t see why we can’t have that... I’d like to walk in that yard one day and have everyone be happy and know that they’re not struggling everyday, living off extensions and credit cards. To have a happy environment. And to have a strong contract would be great.

IN Dems returning today as heroes

Teamsters rally for workers' rights in Indiana on March 10.
After 36 days in exile, Indiana's Democratic state representatives are coming back. Republican lawmakers agreed to abandon much of their anti-worker agenda. Right-to-work is dead in the Hoosier State, at least for now.

The Democrats, you'll recall, left to prevent a quorum so the Republican-dominated Legislature couldn't pass a host of anti-worker legislation.

According to Talking Points Memo, the deal looks like this (at least in part):
• Labor: Republicans have agreed to scrap the controversial right-to-work law that led the Democrats to shut things down back on Feb. 22. Republicans have also pledged not to pass a law making the state's existing ban on collective bargaining for state workers, created by (Gov. Mitch) Daniels executive order, permanent.
• Education: Daniels' signature policy agenda for this legislative session was a proposal to create a state-funded private school voucher system for low- and middle-income families. That plan will be curtailed considerably in the deal with House Republicans.
We understand the deal isn't perfect, but according to the head of the Democratic caucus, Rep. Patrick Bauer,
We've protected working people from a march to the minimum wage. We've protected collective bargaining rights for Hoosier workers and teachers. We've softened the blow to public schools and prevented a bill for private takeover of public schools. This timeout gave millions of Hoosiers a real voice in their state government.
The Indiana AFL-CIO tells us:
Today, these representatives are returning to Indianapolis to bring the fight to the General Assembly. Hundreds of working men and women will be gathering outside the Indiana Statehouse to thank these elected officials for their courageous stand for Indiana's working families.

'Now that's what I call a protest!' (voices from LA)

Satuday in Los Angeles
Maybe the best way to convey the excitement of Saturday's march and rally in Los Angeles is to hear it from the participants themselves. Here are some comments from Facebook about the event:
Ric Saenz
Thank you L.A. for standing in "SOLIDARITY" with WI. I had the privilege of meeting some of the L.A. union members that came to Madison to support us. I was moved by their presence. Some of the folks that I met were Richard Wicklund, Polly & Peggy. I stay in touch with them as much as possible. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!

Yvonne Wheeler
Great event today! So much inspiring!!

Mike Chickey
Now Thats what I call a protest! Great work everybody... today gave me Hope ...and not Obama's kind of Hope!

Roxanne Henry
Jay just called home...he is there in front of the Stapleton Center with 30,000+ supporters!!

Roxanne Henry
So proud of my husband...up at 1 am to meet the bus to travel with 2 bus loads

Todd Penland
I'm here - WOW! - what a great turnout.

Patrick Lee
Marching right now with the entertainment unions, SAG, Aftra, Equity, IATSE and others. Awesome band from Lincoln HS next to us.

3 shockers from WI

1. Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget increases spending by $610 million. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel,
If new quasi-public agencies are included, Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget would increase overall spending by 1% over two years rather than reduce it as the administration had said earlier this month.
A report released Monday by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed the state would spend a proposed $64.1 billion in state and federal dollars over two years after including amounts that are being transferred to quasi-public authorities like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That would amount to $609.5 million more over the 2011-'13 budget.
2. @news3jessica reports
Response to our open records request fr DOA: Walker spent $41,935 on use of state planes for trips around state since Jan.
Yup, that's $42,000 in taxpayer dollars in less than three months to promote himself.

3. Walker tried to pull a fast one (again). He's ignoring a court order and going ahead as if his anti-worker bill is law. A court will decide tomorrow if he's correct (he's not).

Has he no decency?

FL gov goes wild giving $20K raises to agency heads

Rick Scott, the former health care CEO who should have gone to jail but instead got elected governor, is giving $20,000-a-year raises to his agency heads. The Florida Tribune has the story:
...most agency heads that Gov. Rick Scott has appointed are making $20,000 a year more than their predecessors.
Scott has named 10 new department heads with salaries of $140,000 compared to $120,000 or less for their predecessors...

Asked this week why he was paying most of his secretaries significantly more when state employees haven't been given a raise, Scott did not directly answer the question. Instead he said that state employees are "very hard working people."
"And they clearly are doing a great job for the citizens of our state," Scott told reporters. "And I want to make sure I do everything I can to make sure we get the best people and we pay them a fair wage."
The Reid Report comments:
Rick Scott says he’s running Florida like a business. Apparently, that business is on Wall Street.
And just like Wall Street, the big boys are getting raises, while the low level staffers are getting the shaft.
Just to remind you, Scott is urging the Legislature to cut education by as much as 10 percent, bust unions and eliminate environmental protections.


65M unemployable Americans is too many

Criminal background checks -- cheap and easy to get these days -- are making 65 million Americans unemployable, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project. NELP tells us,
In recent years, the criminal background check industry has grown exponentially. Particularly in the wake of 9/11, the ready availability of  inexpensive commercial background checks has made them a popular employee screening tool. In one survey, more than 90 percent of companies reported using criminal background checks for their hiring decisions.  At the same time that the background check industry has expanded, the share of the U.S. population with criminal records has soared to over one in four adults.

In the right situations, criminal background checks promote safety and security at the workplace. However ... it can also be illegal under civil rights laws... major companies as well as smaller employers routinely deny people with criminal records any opportunity to establish their job qualifications. For any number of entry-level jobs, ranging from warehouse workers to delivery drivers to sales clerks, employers and staffing agencies post these and other job ads...

“No Exceptions! . . . No Misdemeanors and/or Felonies of  any type ever in background,”


“You must not have any felony or misdemeanor convictions on your record. Period.” shows how that works in a story, Help wanted -- sixty-five million need not apply.
In 2008, Johnny Magee, who is developmentally disabled, was laid off from his landscaping job in Livermore, California, thanks to government budget cuts. He applied for a new position as a garden center attendant at a nearby Lowe's Home Improvement store. Despite his prior experience, Magee wasn't hired. Why? A background check had turned up a 1999 misdemeanor conviction, stemming from an incident in which he unknowingly picked up a package for his uncle that contained drugs. Later that year, Magee's conviction was dismissed—but that was too late for him to get the job at Lowe's.
We love this little detail from the Yahoo story as well: "Bank of America routinely posts job ads on Craigslist that exclude people with criminal records." Bank of America!!! The same Bank of America that illegally seized people's homes. The same Bank of America that defrauded investors when it acquired Merrill Lynch. The same Bank of America that's been charged with cheating its customers?
UPDATE (we forgot about this): The same Bank of America that paid no taxes last year?

We have a strange way of dealing with criminals in this country.

ME wingnut gov lies a lot (VIDEO)

As Gov. Paul LePage attempts to turn the beautiful state of Maine into a poverty-stricken superfund site, we thought it appropriate to share this takedown of His Eminence.

We're also quite fond of this New York Times editorial, He Dreamed He Saw Kim Jong-Il:
Mr. LePage does retain a sense of workplace opportunity. After his election last November, he named Lauren, his 22-year-old, fresh-from-college daughter, to what was termed an entry-level job as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff.
At $41,000 a year, the post offers $10,000 more than the pay for workers who pass the teacher and police tests. That’s on top of Ms. LePage’s free room and board at the governor’s mansion.

Today's Teamster News 03.28.11

Wisconsin Department Moving to Implement Anti-Union Law Despite Court Order  Associated Press   ...Department of Administration says it will move forward as though an unsettled law that takes away certain collective bargaining rights has become official...
American Thought Police  (opinion) New York Times  ...The Cronon affair ... is one more indicator of just how reflexively vindictive, how un-American, one of our two great political parties has become...
SB5 sets stage for contentious referendum  Cleveland Plain Dealer   ...The Ohio House could vote this week on a controversial collective-bargaining bill that will set up a politically charged voter referendum...
Snyder advocates city-county mergers  Detroit News   ...Gov. Rick Snyder is pushing for legislation to help Michigan cities and counties merge into metropolitan authorities...
Gov. Rick Scott’s drug-testing order may face legal challenges  Miami Herald   ...Legal scholars say the governor has overreached, and that his order contradicts what many consider to be settled law regarding drug-testing of government employees...
In spite of lawsuit, ABF says relationship with Teamsters largely beneficial  First Arkansas News   ... a labor agreement with the Teamsters and the general desirability of a job in the less-than-truckload segment has translated into longevity...and that translates into solid safety records and fewer claims for damaged freight...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This is what inequality looks like

As much as the New York Times drives us crazy, occasionally they do some good reporting. Today the Times compared a rich school district with a poor school district, and explained what state budget cuts meant to each.

In the case of the poor school district, near catastrophe. In the case of the rich school district, practically no impact at all.

In Ilion, the poor school district in upstate New York,
The only short-term way for Ilion to cut costs is to lay off teachers while savaging academic programs that are already inadequate.
In Syosset on Long Island, the cuts will mean nothing to a school district where
...College-bound students, which is to say, just about everyone at the high school, have access to a dazzling array of almost 30 Advancement Placement classes that include different levels of calculus, physics, economics, environmental science, music theory and studio art.
It's a microcosm of what's happening all over the country. Read the whole thing here.

A ray of hope in NH?

New Hampshire, the Live Free or Die state, has a strain of right-wing wackiness that occasionally takes over. It did in last November's election. The Republican wave swept in 91-year-old Marty Harty, who then told a constituent that defective people should be sent to Siberia. Harty's comments harken back to the days of Gov. Mel Thomson, who once suggested arming the National Guard with nuclear weapons.

In the spirit of Mel Thomson and Marty Harty, the New Hampshire House is set to vote on a cruel anti-worker bill. It has been aptly called "Wisconsin on steroids." The bill would destroy the state's government unions when their contracts expire by automatically making their members "at-will" employees. 

Concord erupted last week when the House Finance Committee voted to add the provision to the budget. Protesting union members jammed the hearing room and refused to leave. Reports the Concord Monitor,
...The vote was met by jeers and chants from the activists who spilled out of the House Finance Committee hearing room, down the stairs and outside the Legislative Office Building.
Though New Hampshire's House and Senate are both lopsidedly Republican, the budget as it stands may not pass the Senate. The Senate President, Milford Republican Peter Bragdon, told WMUR the provision should at least have had a hearing.
During a taping of WMUR-TV's "Close Up" political show Friday, Senate President Peter Bragdon said a provision in the House budget plan strongly opposed by unions may doom the bill in the Senate.
"In all honesty, I have not talked to a single senator who will vote for the budget with that provision in it," Bragdon said.
Now, you have to be careful with politicians. That may simply mean that Bragdon hasn't talked to a single senator about anything since the anti-worker amendment passed the committee. But it could also mean the bill won't pass the Senate.

Here's more good news: Marty Harty retired once his comments made the national news.

Dem Senate in WI by summer?

Sen. John Erpenbach and Assemblywoman Jennifer Willis, both Democrats, speak to Teamsters from Local 695 and others at a recall office in LaCrosse.
Wisconsin's Democratic party thinks the Senate will be theirs by July. They'll control the Senate by 17-16 if they recall just three of the eight Republican senators who voted to destroy government workers' collective bargaining rights.

Then, in 281 days, they can recall Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker.

Teamsters are busy helping with the signature collecting. Brother Steve Nelson from Local 200 in Milwaukee tells us:
Even though the protest marches have slowed down we are picking up the recall petitions for the Republican Senators. Every craft meeting I have, those petitions are out for signatures. 
It isn't easy to collect enough signatures to trigger a recall, but organizers say they already have enough to force a new election for Sen. Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac. You'll recall that signature-gatherers knocked on Hopper's door and asked his maid (he has a maid?) to sign a recall petition. Not only did the maid say 'yes,' but Hopper's wife did too. Turns out Hopper is living outside of the district with his 26-year-old mistress. And the mistress was given a state job for 35 percent more than her predecessor. (This was never about the budget anyway, right?)

Another vulnerable Republican is Dan Kapanke of LaCrosse. He's known as "Hanky-Kapanke" because he's sleazy. Last year he admitted he funneled money from a nonprofit foundation to pay personal bills. Kapanke was identified in a recent poll as the most vulnerable Democrat, with 55 percent of respondents saying they disapprove of his performance.

Polls also show Republican Sen. Alberta Darling of  River Hills vulnerable. Recall organizers won't say how many signatures they collected, but they do say they're close to enough. Organizers say they've put more than a thousand volunteers to work, with as many as 200 collecting signatures yesterday alone.

Earlier this year, Republican Sen. Glenn Grothmann earned particular scorn for calling protesters "slobs." Anti-Grothmann signature gatherers stood in the cold yesterday in West Bend holding signs saying "We're not slobs, we're Wisconsin." Grothmann's response is to raise money, no doubt from the same bad corporate actors who support Walker.

Republicans are fighting back, mounting recall campaigns against eight Democratic senators, including our Teamster brother Dave Hansen in Green BayMinnPost reports much of those efforts are supported a Salt Lake City organization called the American Patriot Recall Coalition, which is affiliated with a right-wing group called Americans Against Immigration Amnesty.

For information about the Wisconsin recall efforts, check out the Teamsters recall page.

Today's Teamster News 03.27.11

Thousands march in downtown LA to support union workers  Los Angeles Daily News   ...and rallied in a show of support for union workers in Wisconsin and to rail against corporations, Republicans and the loss of city jobs...
March for the Alternative sends a noisy message to the government  Guardian   ...Central London was brought to a standstill on Saturday as more than a quarter of a million people took to the streets in a protest against government spending cuts that was marred when a breakaway group of activists clashed with police...
Wisconsin union-gutting law took effect Saturday – or did it?  Christian Science Monitor   ...thousands of union supporters gathered in protest – this time against Republicans publishing an anti-union law despite a restraining order. So, have unions officially lost collective bargaining power or not?
Kasich explores new tax break  Columbus Dispatch   ...Gov. John Kasich is considering a tax break for venture capitalists who invest their dollars in the state...
Michigan House, Senate should challenge Snyder on EITC (opinion)  Detroit Free Press   ...The poor will pay more, while higher-wage earners get a break...
Don't elect a criminal to be governor  The Washington Monthly   ...(Gov.) Rick Scott's push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial...because...(his) health care business ... could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

WI thanks LA

As the half-mile march converged on Pershing Square in Los Angeles, Teamsters kept order among the crowd. Just then we received this message from @Spudlovr in Wisconsin:
thanks LA for support! The power of the people is stronger than the people in power.
Jim Hoffa has taken the stage, and led thousands in the chant, "Hell no, we won't go."
They've introduced right to work in 13 states but we are energized. This is a wake-up call because it might be a teacher in Wisconsin, they might think we are next, but hell no we won't go. We saw Ohio and Wisconsin, but today they saw the great face of America.
Joe Fernandez, a steward for Local 63 at UPS Freight in Commerce, Calif., said he was at the rally to send the millionaires a message.
I'm here to support all working-class people and all the unions that represent them. My message to the rich is: "If we are making you wealthy, you need to share the wealth with the workers who are making you wealthy. I don't want to see more of a part-time America where people work two or three jobs with no benefits."
@DoubleQue tweets:
LAUSD teachers out here fighting for their jobs!! LIUNA..Teamsters..Firefighters..SEIU..UFCW..CWA..STUDENTS!! #iloveUNIONS 
Meanwhile, across the continent, protesters rallied against Bank of America. USUncut, a grassroots organization modeled after UKUncut (which rallied in London today), explains:
Bank of America received $45 billion in government bailout funds while funneling its books into 115 offshore tax havens....By transferring profits out of the country, Bank of America has shown negative income tax rates since 2008, meaning they do not pay any taxes at all. Not only have they not paid any tax, they’ve gotten tax REFUNDS 3 years in a row.

Washington’s proposed budget for the coming year sends a clear message: The wrath of budget cuts will fall upon the shoulders of hard-working Americans. But there IS an alternative: Make corporate tax avoiders pay.

Email Scott Walker

David_Reber suggests via the tweetosphere:

Send a simple "Shame on you, lawbreaker" email to Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Here's the address:

Do it now.

Teamsters take over Pershing Square

@l_mentary tweets: ! Teamsters have taken over Pershing Square!

There are still plenty of marchers at JP Morgan/Chase. SEIU is leading the action against the too-big-to-fail bank, which laid off janitors who apparently weren't too big too fail.

@edpadgett tweets:
At 9th and Hope. Everyone chanting Hoffa and Teamsters.

Tens of thousands of union brothers and sisters had stopped at armored car company Loomis, where Teamsters are fighting to join other Teamsters.

The marchers came from Ralphs, a grocery chain. UFCW led chants for the company to agree to a contract with employees.

Teamsters march down Figueroa.

We're seeing tweets from supportive Angelenos watching from their buildings, such as this one from @iAMCripe:
Teamsters rally outside our window. Supportive but oh so #hungover.
At the end of the march, @LALabor tells us Tom Morello: the Nightwatchman to play "Union Song." (You may remember Morello, whose mother was a school teacher, played in Madison, Wisc., for the protesters there.) The hip hop group Ozomatli will also perform.

LA March for Jobs swells as UK March26 winds down

Call it "Solidarity Saturday" as workers march nonviolently in multiple time zones today.  In Wisconson, workers are collecting signatures to recall Republican senators who voted to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights. In London, many of the 500,000 marchers -- who call themselves "The Big Society" -- are heading home or into the pubs. There they make the complaints we're all so familiar with: biased news coverage.

 In Los Angeles, the massive crowd has just left the Luxe Hotel, where HERE is trying to help workers, and heading to T-Mobile, where CWA is calling on management to stop attacking workers' right to organize. Other unions, including the UAW and the Laborers have joined in.

The theme is the same everywhere: Large corporations have too much power and workers have too little. It's time to fix the balance.

In London, they're protesting massive cuts to public services. That's starting to happen here at the state level and soon at the federal level. We're all mad as hell because the banks caused the economic crisis, workers are bearing the brunt of it and large, tax-evading corporations aren't creating jobs.

The protests of 2011 are family friendly, and the presence of children reminds us that the future is what's at stake.

5K chanting 'Hoffa' in LA as march begins

Teamsters set out to march on L.A.
Five thousand Teamsters strong are just setting out on the March for Jobs from the Staples Center to Pershing Square. We're told the crowd of union members, students and community activists is huge. Right now the Teamsters are shouting "Hoffa, Hoffa," "Three Ninety Six (local 396)" and "Teamsters, Teamsters."

They will stop along the way at companies that attack their own workers: the Luxe Hotel, T-Mobile, Ralph's and J.P. Morgan/Chase bank.

Earlier, several busloads of Southern Cal Teamsters arrived for a 10 am rally. Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up" played at the stage next to Staples Center. Drums pulsated as the cheering crowd built up its energy by the minute.

@Equita just tweeted:
beautiful day just got more beautiful. people marching down past the shop from the teamsters temple to stand for workers + peace.
@LALabor tweets that Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Wisconsin Fire Fighters Association, has been spotted.

Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters in London are wrapping up their massive demonstration. We liked the tweet from @jpilmanic,
A movement of the millions against the millionaires.

UK protest today: 450K

As Teamsters in California get ready to march against the War on Workers, 450,000 people in London are starting to march against proposed cuts by the UK's Scott Walker, Prime Minister David Cameron.

According to the BBC, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) was expecting 100,000 marchers. The BBC is now reporting four-and-a-half times as many showed up, according to the tweetosphere.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said those taking part in the March for the Alternative will include community groups, pensioners and public sector workers.
He said they were urging the government to spend more public money - not less - on projects to create jobs and boost the economy, and to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance in order to claw back more for the Treasury.
The largest union involved, Unite, said so many of its members wanted to take part that it could not find enough coaches or trains to ferry them to London.
And does this sound familiar? Len McCluskey, the TUC's general secretary, says the government has exaggerated the budget deficit. (Remember that Koch whore  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker made up the state's budget problems.)

Here's McCluskey:
Our alternative is to concentrate on economic growth through tax fairness so, for example, if the government was brave enough, it would tackle the tax avoidance that robs the British taxpayer of a minimum of £25bn a year.
If the government was brave enough, it would introduce a Robin Hood tax, a small percentage on financial transactions that would raise another £20bn a year.
Then we would have enough money to start to invest in our manufacturing base, invest in construction, invest in the infrastructure, invest in people, invest in jobs, because that's the way for a civilised nation to deal with national debt.

Today's Teamster News 03.26.11

Unpaid jobs: The new normal  Fortune   ...With nearly 14 million unemployed workers in America, many have gotten so desperate that they're willing to work for free...
Wisconsin union law published despite court order  Associated Press   ...The saga surrounding Gov. Scott Walker's push to strip most public employees of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights took another unexpected, and confusing, turn Friday...
UW history prof targeted for records request by Republican Party  The Capital Times   ...The Wisconsin Republican Party, apparently stung by a blog post written by UW-Madison history professor William Cronon, has ...(asked) for copies of all of Cronon's office e-mails...
Kasich straight-up lying to media about existence of school funding numbers  Plunderbund   ...“the Administration’s internal documents show that 610 districts would receive cuts in FY 2012 and 599 would receive cuts in FY 2013, compared to FY 2011...”
State House vote hits unions in wallet  Tampa Bay Online   ...the full House passing a bill preventing automatic deductions of union dues from public employees' paychecks...
Court to hear union lawsuit against governor  NECN   ...Unions have asked the justices to order (New Mexico Gov. Susana) Martinez to reinstate members of the Public Employee Labor Relations Board...
Building unions from Triangle flames  Politico   ...They plead the poverty of their states and cities, and the need to balance their budgets. But it’s not about money. It’s about power...

Friday, March 25, 2011

3 worst reverse-Robin-Hood states: ME, NJ, OH

Think Progress tells us:
Last year, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to tax New Jersey's 16,000 millionaires. This year,  he's cutting raising taxes on the working poor. 
Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to completely eliminate the estate tax for rich people. He also wants to cut 25 percent of funding for local schools, $427 million for nursing homes and $1 million for food banks.

Wingnut Gov. Paul LePage doesn't want 400 of the state's wealthiest estates to pay any taxes. He's proposing to raise property taxes on middle-class homeowners, cut funding for schools and raise the retirement age for government workers.
A former candidate for Maine governor nails what LePage and his cohorts are up to in a Huffington Post column today. Rosa Scarcelli writes,
Like the situation in Wisconsin and around the country, this fight with Labor isn't about balancing budgets or reform.
It's about breaking one of the only forces -- unions -- willing to stand up to the special interests and big businesses.
And it's about funding massive tax cuts for multi-national corporations and millionaires on the backs of the middle class, teachers and state workers.
Scarcelli hints at an important distinction:  between small businesses like her own, and unpatriotic multinational corporations that set up shop wherever they can find the cheapest labor. Scarcelli writes,
When you help working families, that money goes right back into local businesses, where it does the most good and helps the economy grow...  you can't attack working, middle-class families to pay for tax cuts for the millionaires and expect people to just go along with it.
It's not right. And it's not good for the economy.

MA job fair cancelled due to lack of jobs

Corporate profits up. Jobs down.

A jobs task force in Taunton, Mass., has held an annual job fair since 1984.

Not this year. There aren't enough jobs.

According to the Associated Press,
Richard Shafer, chairman of the Taunton Employment Task Force, says 20 to 25 employers are needed for the fair scheduled for April 6, but just 10 tables had been reserved. One table was reserved by a nonprofit that offers human services to job seekers, and three by temporary employment agencies.

Shafer tells the Taunton Daily Gazette the lack of employers means the task force won't have enough money to properly advertise the fair.
We have a message for these pinhead governors (for example, Scott in Wisconsin, LePage in Maine, Kasich in Ohio) whose goal is to raise profits for their corporate supporters. It's simple: More profitable corporations don't create more jobs.

Well, maybe they do. But they don't create them in Taunton, Mass., or anywhere else in America. 

Teamsters gear up for massive LA rally on Sat.

Tomorrow morning, more than 35 buses will drop off thousands of Teamsters from across California and Nevada at the corner of Chick Hearn Court and Georgia Street. They'll join thousands of their union brothers and sisters to protest anti-worker attacks in statehouses across the country.

Mercedes Gaitan, senior office assistant at Los Angeles Trade Tech College (and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1521A) will be there. Gaitan was in Wisconsin, helping feed protesters free pizza. She said,
People would come and take exactly what they needed. Nobody was greedy. It was just one example of how everyone was fighting for something bigger than themselves.
Just because we live halfway across the country, doesn’t mean what’s happening in Wisconsin can't happen here.

I will be marching on March 26 because I'd rather be involved than have my rights stripped away.
She will join students and activists from the environmental, faith, civil rights and immigrant rights movements. They will march in solidarity with workers under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Missouri and elsewhere.