Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WTO rules against U.S. on meat labeling

Very, very nice. The World Trade Organization has secretly (yup, secretly) ruled the U.S. discriminates against Mexican and Canadian ranchers.

Our laws require meat sold in supermarkets to be labeled with the name of the country where the meat came from. That, say the Canadians and the Mexicans, makes it hard for them to sell their beef in the U.S. The WTO agrees with them -- on a preliminary basis.

Reuters reports:
The World Trade Organization has ruled against some U.S. labeling regulations for meat sold in supermarkets, saying they discriminate against foreign suppliers, people close to the case said on Thursday.
The confidential interim ruling, if approved later this year, would deal a partial victory to Mexican and Canadian breeders frustrated in their attempts to export to the United States, and opens the way to scores of similar legal challenges, the sources said.

A WTO spokesman said the interim report -- expected to be largely unchanged in its final version later this year -- was circulated to the United States, Canada and Mexico on May 20. The WTO declined to comment on its contents, citing its confidentiality.
Even worse, Reuters reports similar cases are expected to be filed.

This is just lovely. A secret world court is overruling U.S. laws. You just have to wonder, why on earth would we continue to be part of the WTO???

The U.S. has 60 days to appeal the ruling, something we certainly hope happens. In the meantime, go to this website to find out how to buy U.S. foods -- while you still can: http://www.efooddepot.com/products/grid/24/0/0/0/0/5/6/all.html

WI recall: 3 more GOP senators down

Mark  July 12 as the possible day of reckoning for the six Wisconsin senators who voted to take away government workers' collective bargaining rights.

Last week, Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board approved the recall petitions against Dan Hanky-Kapanke, randy Randy Hopper, and Lex Luther Olsen. Today the GAB approved the petitions against Subsidy Sheila Harsdorf, Cowardly Robert Cowles, and Alberta Not-So-Darling.

Hmm, wonder why the GAB hasn't approved the petitions against the three Democrats -- our Teamster brother Dave Hansen, Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin? Could it be questions about the fraudulent methods used to collect signatures against them? Will the Democrats even face recall elections?

We're not sure what the final outcome will be. But remember, in 85 years,  Wisconsin only held four recall elections. This year, corporate-backed attacks on the middle class resulted in six recalls. Also remember, we will recall Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 215 days.

DVD piracy: Another reason to oppose Mexican trucks

The Teamsters may have actually missed a reason to close the border to Mexican trucks in the more-than-1,000 comments they submitted to the Federal Register.

We thought we had it all. We wrote about dangerous trucks, Mexico's inability to guarantee the safety of its drivers, the cost to American taxpayers, the unfairness of forcing American taxpayers to pay for equipment on Mexican trucks, the danger to border security, the loss of American trucking and warehouse jobs.

But now the Washington Post comes up with a new reason: Mexican drug cartels are trafficking pirated DVDs and CDs. That directly hurts the U.S. motion picture and recording industries, and the Teamsters who work in those industries.

Reports the Post:
Led by the notorious La Familia and Los Zetas drug mafias, Mexican cartels now take a big cut of the hundreds of millions of dollars in bootleg disks sold in Mexico each year, according to U.S. officials and representatives of film studios and software manufacturers...
Disk piracy and U.S. copyright violations are a challenge around the world, but in Mexico the sale of bootleg copies of “Toy Story 3” and Microsoft Windows XP are funding the powerful mafias whose relentless violence has left more than 35,000 Mexicans dead in the past four years.

Mexico has become the pirate capital of Latin America, exporting so many bootleg movies to Central America, for example, that the major studios no longer bother to sell their products on the shelves there, according to industry watchdogs.

So let's get this straight: The U.S. Department of Transportation is buckling to Mexican pressure to open the border to dangerous Mexican trucks. That pressure comes in the form of excessive tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of American goods exported to Mexico. And yet it's okay for Mexico to turn a blind eye to its criminals who are stealing from one of our major export industries.

We think there's something wrong with this picture.

Hello? Anyone notice there's a JOBS CRISIS??

Expect to hear the word "debt ceiling" a lot this week. That is, if you haven't tuned out the crap coming out of Washington.

Don't expect to hear the word you should be hearing. That would be "jobs."

Sadly, our elected representatives seem more interested in taking an ax to protections for working people than they are in creating jobs and strengthening the economy. Employment numbers remain abysmal month after month -- but is anyone paying attention? Tax cuts for millionaires don't create jobs -- but is anyone paying attention? Wages have stagnated for the past decade -- but is anyone paying attention?

That's the question David Leonhardt asks in Thursday's New York Times:
The latest economic numbers have not been good. Jobless claims rose last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Another report showed that economic growth at the start of the year was no faster than the Commerce Department initially reported — “a real surprise,” said Ian Shepherdson of High Frequency Economics....
An economy that is growing this slowly will not add jobs quickly. For the next couple of months, employment growth could slow from about 230,000 recently to something like 150,000 jobs a month, only slightly faster than normal population growth. That is certainly not fast enough to make a big dent in the still huge number of unemployed people.
Are any policy makers paying attention?
Here's another question: Is anyone paying attention to what deficit reduction -- aka austerity -- is doing in Europe? IT ISN'T WORKING.  In fact, it's failing miserably. As the Guardian notes, Ireland, Greece and Portugal, 
...face years of austerity, yet wage cuts, job losses and crumbling public services will not extricate them from financial crisis. In fact, by driving their economies into an ever deeper slump, it may even make things worse. The pain could just bring more pain.
Economist Paul Krugman argues there are things we can do to create jobs. Put people to work on infrastructure. Modify loans for troubled homeowners. Spur inflation.

But policy makers have adopted a position of learned helplessness, he writes: the more they fail to do anything about the jobs crisis, the more they convince themselves that there's nothing they can do. And, he rightfully concludes,
And those of us who know better should be doing all we can to break that vicious circle.

Koch whores campaign against OH anti-union law

Here's a shock: Americans for Prosperity (for the Koch brothers) are campaigning against SB5, the bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from government workers in Ohio.

Yup, in their relentless drive to shrink the middle class so they can drown it in a bathtub, the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity (Tea Party) plans to go door-to-door to convince voters it's a good thing to destroy unions.

According to The Toledo Blade,
...the Ohio chapter of the Washington-based Americans for Prosperity is raising money to conduct its own door-to-door grass-roots campaign to sell the merits of Senate Bill 5 to voters before the Nov. 8 election...
In addition to selling Senate Bill 5 door-to-door and in town-hall meetings, Americans for Prosperity plans to promote, at the same time, a proposed constitutional amendment to exempt Ohioans from the mandatory coverage requirements under the federal health-care law. Petitions also are circulating to put that question on the fall ballot...
This could be a real test of whether we can hang on to our democracy or not. Polls show Ohioans strongly support repeal of SB5 because they see it as an attack on working families. Volunteers are well on their way to collecting the 231,149 signatures required to put it on the ballot in November (and we hear the Teamsters are kicking butt on the signature collection).

But predatory billionaires will spend hand over fist to lower their labor costs (i.e., impoverish the middle class). They'll hire clever consultants, they'll do market research, they'll blanket the air waves (remember the $5.6 million FreedomWorks ad spreading lies?).
Let's just hope Ohioans can hold the line for the middle class.

Today's Teamster News 05.31.11

Obama visits tornado struck Joplin, Missouri   Los Angeles Times   ...On Sunday, a community memorial service tried in some way to offer comfort and hope to those who remain to rebuild...
Officials delay decision on 3 recall petitions targeting Dems  Associated Press   ...A Government Accountability Board spokesman said Friday the board's staff needs more time to review factual and legal challenges to the petitions targeting the senators, Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Jim Holperin of Conover and Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie...
Pro SB5 group will become official on Tuesday  Columbus Dispatch   ...The group that will lead the effort to save Senate Bill 5 from a November referendum effort is expected to officially file with the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday...
Gov. Rick Scott signs budget, vetoes $615 million in spending  Tampa Bay Times/Herald   ...Democrats couldn't help but note the irony that Scott's "jobs budget" eliminates roughly 4,500 state-worker jobs and could therefore make matters worse in a state with record unemployment...
Divisive labor union bill headed for hearing  Bangor Daily News   ...the tight timeline and high emotions surrounding the so-called “right-to-work” issue have combined to generate additional partisan friction as lawmakers enter crunch time on the budget — friction evident during the Senate debate...
Minnesota governor vetoes voter identification bill  Reuters   ...Dayton cited a lack of broad bi-partisan support for the bill and its potential as a $23 million unfunded mandate on local governments in part for his veto.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today's Teamster News 05.29.11

DOJ asks Supreme Court to overturn ruling invalidating collective bargaining changes  WisPolitics Budget Blog   ...The state Department of Justice today asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling invalidating the collective bargaining changes, charging a Dane County judge exceeded her authority in issuing the ruling....
Public officials, employees speak out against state budget, SB 5  Lancaster Eagle Gazette   ...The officials on Thursday said they are confident Senate Bill 5 will be overturned by voters in November, and they don’t see it as providing sufficient tools for local governments to balance their budgets....
Governor creates fake enthusiasm - but not jobs  (opinion) The Palm Beach Post   ...Scott's overall job approval rate is down to 29 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week...
Gov signs new Fla. budget but vetoes $615M first  Bloomberg   ... The austere spending plan is expected to result in layoffs for hundreds if not thousands of public employees, including teachers. A new retirement provision also will effectively cut the pay of those who still have jobs...
End of pension exemption is biggest change to tax code  Detroit News   ...Direct taxation on business activity will fall about $1.1 billion in 2012, and $1.6 billion in 2013, say legislative analysts...
Group collecting signatures to recall governor  WZZM   ...Critics are one step closer to recalling Governor Snyder...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Teamsters mourn dead, help the living after MO tornado

A Missouri Teamster helps out in Joplin.
Teamsters are mourning the death of their sister Heather Baum Terry, who died in the 250-mph tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., five days ago. Terry, 35, was an employee of LeBarge Inc. and a member of Local 823.

The death toll from the mile-wide tornado reached 132 victims today. Many Teamsters lost their homes and a Teamster plant was destroyed. Four thousand jobs were lost and 156 people are still missing from the horrific storm.

Local 823 members and Joplin residents have been helped by Roy Gillespie, Teamsters human rights commissioner and member of Joint Council 13, along with other HRC representatives. Gillespie and Rod Taylor, president of Local 823, searched for missing members by walking through shelters and coordinating with FEMA and the Red Cross. They helped find 40 missing Teamsters.

A grilling station was set up in Joplin for disaster victims and rescue workers. Annie Deken, AFL-CIO community services liaison with the Springfield Labor Council, reached out to Teamsters Local 245. They offered food and utensils. Tim McPhail, assistant business agent at Local 245, brought the supplies to the station. Local 45 also helped feed people after the disaster.

Roy Gillespie helped find warehouse space for donations on Tuesday. The next day, Teamster volunteers from St. Louis and Joplin started loading and unloading trucks right away. Said Deken:
The work that was accomplished in such a short time was amazing. It was a great feeling to see the unions come through and play such a vital role in the process.
Tractor trailers and drivers from Joint Councils 13 and 56 are also helping in recovery efforts. Clean-up efforts began on Thursday. Rod Taylor, president of Local 823, helped get a group of Teamster volunteers from all over Missouri to put in a full day of work on Saturday.

“The best thing to do is donate to the Disaster Relief Fund,” Gillespie said. “These people have lost everything. If you give them food and clothing and furniture, they have no place to put it.”

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in WI!

We'd like to welcome 10 new Teamster brothers and sisters who joined us in a sweet organizing victory in Wisconsin, where (as we're all painfully aware) government workers are under attack. They are all dispatchers who work for the beautiful and historic small town of Greendale, just west of Milwaukee.

Brother Randy Monroe, business agent for Local 200, tells the story:
I am proud to say that even in these difficult times here in Wisconsin we have managed to get a new group of ten dispatchers employed at the Village of Greendale this month. The group came to the Teamsters and asked if we would represent them because they were having problems with the association (Labor Association of Wisconsin) they were with at that time.Teamsters Local 200 met with them and explained the process and if they still wanted to move into the Teamsters we would gladly represent them.

The vote was counted on May 4, 2011, with ten being eligible to vote eight voted to become Teamsters. The certification was finalized on May 16th from the Wisconsin Employment Relation Commission.

Teamsters say NOOOOO!! to Mexican trucks

Hats off to Teamsters for submitting at least a thousand comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation!

There were so many comments it took the DOT weeks to post them all. We think all 2,275 comments have finally been posted, and the vast majority say "NOOOO" to Mexican trucks. 
You can read them all here.

We looked at 10 percent of the postings (this takes time!) and figure comments were running at least five-to-one against opening the border. Just about the only people who support it are the growers and pork producers who were hurt by the excessive tariffs that Mexico wrongly imposed on the U.S.

Some of the Teamster comments were long and thoughtful and some were short and angry, but it was clear Teamsters dominated the discussion. Independent drivers joined us in condemning the program for its threat to jobs, safety, air quality and border security. We saw comments from Vic Terranella, president of Local 41 in Kansas City, Thomas Ratliff, president of Teamster Local 639 in Washington, D.C., Patrick Kelly, secretary-treasurer of Local 952 in Orange, Calif.; Rick Hicks, secretary-treasurer of Local 174 in Tukwila, Wash., Michael Ceoffe, vice president of Local 249 in Pittsburgh. The IBT submitted comments, of course (read a summary here) and there are undoubtedly plenty more.

Some interesting points:
  • Linda Sunkle-Pierucki, a long-time trucker and trucking journalist writes that "Mexican carriers have already stated that they do not expect to be able to meet EPA standards for clean diesel as the supply is not in place and won't be for quite some time. Should we expect, then, that U.S.-domiciled trucks will be given a waiver of all EPA standards until Mexican trucks can meet the requirements? If not, the U.S. is violating the terms of NAFTA in that Mexican trucks and US trucks must meet the same standards.
  • Dale Newkirk writes "CVSA sticker mandate is a joke. These can be "purchased" by mechanics that patrol the lots of truckstops for $45." He also notes there is no active enforcement of cabotage rules for Canadian truckers.
  • Vic Teranella writes "the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General has reported that Mexican carriers in significant numbers are already operating illegally byond the commercial zone even before the implementation of the cross-border pilot program. Mexico's complete disregard for existing rules and regulations is a clear in dication that they do not intend on honoring the government provisions negotiated in this agreement and are therefore not to be trusted with our public safety."

We actually got some help from Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, who referred to a poll showing only 19 percent of Americans support opening the border. She also notes that the regulation calls for "review" of the drivers' records and inspections of their trucks, but doesn't even state whether trucks and drivers who flunk inspection will be injected.

We hope the DOT takes a good, long time to digest all these comments and then makes the only wise decision possible -- to pull the plug on the program.

ME's wingnut gov. to gut child labor laws

Wingnut Maine Gov. Paul LePage is expected to sign new legislation loosening child work rules. The Bangor Daily News reports the bill, which has already passed the Senate, allows teens to work an additional four hours during the school week, increasing the limit from 20 to 24 hours, and allows them to work 15 minutes later, until 10:15 p.m. on school days. Republican legislators said the new law will allow teens to contribute to their families’ finances and pay for increasing college costs, while Democratic legislators rightfully say Maine needs to create good jobs for adults first.

“Given the current high unemployment rate in Maine, we should be spending our time and energy here creating jobs for people’s parents not increasing the amount of hours 16- and 17-year-olds can work,” said Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast.

It comes as no surprise the bill has the support of the Maine Restaurant Association and the Maine Innkeepers Association.

“I think this bill should be more rightly titled an act to exploit our children for the financial benefit of the restaurant and the hospitality industry,“ Rep. Timothy Driscoll, D-Westbrook, told The Bangor Daily News.

The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, would have lifted all of the restrictions on the hours 16-year-olds can work while school is out of session and would have eliminated all restrictions on the hours 17-year-olds can work.

Legislation that would have instituted a “training” minimum wage of $5.25 for teens, below the state’s $7.50 minimum wage, was defeated by the legislature’s labor committee earlier this month. A very small favor for which it is difficult to be thankful.

Today's Teamster News 05.27.11

State Senate limits collective bargaining rights; approves $30.5b budget  Boston Globe   ...The Massachusetts Senate voted tonight to curb the collective bargaining rights of police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees, making it likely the overwhelming Democratic state will limit union power in an effort to ease budget woes...
Judge Voids Wisconsin Law Curbing Unions  New York Times  ...Some Democrats could flee the state again, and some Republican senators are facing recall elections...
Ohio schools cut jobs anticipating funding cuts  Associated Press   ...Ohio school districts already are cutting thousands of jobs in anticipation of losing funding in the upcoming state budget, as unions and other education groups lobby hard at the Statehouse to get some of it restored...
Collective bargaining bill revived for June 2 hearing  Portland Daily Sun  ...A Thursday, June 2 public hearing on a controversial "right-to-work" bill in Augusta could be a prelude to quick passage of a piece of Maine legislation that critics say is similar to what happened with collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin...
Bully House speaker shows his true colors  Seacoast Online   ... O'Brien retreated to wait for a time when the numbers in the House chamber are stacked in his favor. He and his leadership team are literally going to wait until enough Democrats or anti-Right to Work Republicans are away and then, when they think they have the numbers, they'll call the vote...
Massive corporate tax cut becomes law in Michigan  The American Independent   ...Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation which eliminates the state’s Michigan Business Tax and Surcharge, replacing it with a six percent tax on businesses...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WI court ruling: 'Big boost for the recall effort'

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post thinks a Wisconsin judge's decision to strike down the state's anti-union law is good for the Democrats' recall effort (including for our Teamster brother, state Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay). Sargent makes a good point:
It gives Democrats and labor a powerful new weapon to make the case that Wisconsin Republicans deserved to be recalled because they abused the power of their office. The argument Dems and labor are making is that the decision by Senate Republicans to jam the rollback of bargaining rights through is precisely the kind of conduct that justifies the extraordinary step of recalling them. Now a court has pronounced that they violated state law.

He also argues that Republicans may have to take a second vote on the bill (it's now part of the budget bill) after the public clearly rejected it and a court ruled it a power grab. Writes Sargent,
Such a display of total deafness to public opinion would only reinforce impressions that these public officials have gone rogue and need to be dealt with by extraordinary means — and must be recalled.
What happens next isn't clear. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to decide on June 6 whether to hear the case. But, according to The Huffington Post,  Republican lawmakers declared legislative immunity, so they aren't a party to the case. That means they can't appeal.

Watch Dave Hansen here talk about how the Republicans backed away from their responsibilities to the middle class when they illegally rammed the colllective bargaining rights bill through the Legislature. 

Drive-through petition signings in OH

Ohio's SB5 bill, which strips government workers of their collective bargaining rights, was the result of a vast, coordinated conspiracy to turn America's middle-class workers into starving peasants. CEOs and Wall Street billionaires funneled millions of dollars to groups like FreedomWorks, which spent it on lying television ads to attack unions.

Our side may not have billions of dollars, but we have millions of people. And we have trucks, empty lots, clipboards and a passion for what is right and what is fair. That's one reason volunteers are well on their way to collecting enough signatures to put SB5 on the November ballot.

Mark Cleland, an Ohio Turnpike worker and member of Teamster Local 436, had the brilliant idea of setting up a drive-through petition venue at a former high-school in the Youngstown area. He got a permit for the land, had the sign made up and put it on the back of his pick-up truck. Last Saturday, he had volunteers bring the petitions on clipboards for drivers to sign. The drivers didn't have to leave the comfort of their cars. Cleland collected 700 signatures in one day.

Our Ohio sources tell us that all Teamster locals are pitching in to collect signatures. Local 507 in particular is knocking it out of the park. There are so many signatures, in fact, that the umbrella group, We Are Ohio, is looking for volunteers to sort through hundreds of thousands of signatures in Columbus. If you're in the area, find out more here.

UPDATE WI: What happened

Day 24 - The People Take Their House Back from Dave Kreisman on Vimeo.

Here's  dramatic video that shows what happened the night Judge Sumi ruled Wisconsin's open meetings law was violated.

House Minority Leader Peter Barca explains that a conference committee meeting was announced at 4:10 pm. The meeting started at 6 pm. According to Sumi, the law requires two hours' notice.

The state Supreme Court will rule on the case on June 6. The Legislature will also vote again on the anti-worker law as part of the Wisconsin budget. Will all 19 senators vote for it, as six of them are facing a recall? There's plenty of Koch money to be had for toeing the corporate line....

WOW!!!: WI collective bargaining law struck down

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi today struck down Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union law. She ruled that there is "clear and convincing evidence" that Wisconsin's open meetings rule was violated when Republicans rammed through the bill stripping government workers of their collective bargaining rights.

Sumi issued a permanent injunction preventing the law from taking effect.

Read her decision here.

Rick Scott signs away good jobs

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will sneak off to The Villages, a retirement community in central Florida, today to sign what he calls "Florida's first jobs budget," a budget that will actually eliminate jobs. The bill includes language allowing the state to privatize prisons in 18 southern counties, also known as Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) Region 4. At risk are about 4,300 correctional officer positions.

Florida has the third largest state prison system in the country, a potential windfall for corporations. It should come as no surprise that the prison industry has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Scott and the GOP in Florida since 2003, but not everyone, even members of the Republican party, are happy about this privatization plan. ThinkProgress quotes Republican Sen. Mike Fasano:
"It's unprecedented in the United States,” said Fasano, who heads the Senate budget committee with oversight of prisons. “I’m a conservative Republican that believes in privatizing certain parts of government services but we should never privatize public safety."
Florida correctional, probation and parole officers couldn't agree more. They've been busy contacting their legislators and making their voices heard in public on this issue. Here are some great letters to the editor that have been published in recent weeks.

Glynn Reeder, a sergeant at Florida State Prison, writes in the Chipley Bugle:
"Times are tough for all of us. We’re all tightening our belts. But as a correctional officer and a member of this community, I am furious at the politicians in Tallahassee for passing a dangerous plan to privatize some of the prisons in the state. They claim that this plan saves us taxpayers’ money, but I wonder what our public safety is really worth."
As Reeder points out, it's not cheaper to privatize:
"The State pays $42.26 per inmate per day. You can find this information on the Department of Corrections’ web page. The state pays, as of this day, to the GEO group which has a correctional facility in South Florida and one in Milton, Florida, $45.80 per inmate per day."
Thomas Johnson, a correctional officer at Marion Correctional Institution in Lowell, writes in the Ocala Star-Banner:
"I see first-hand what the state’s most dangerous criminals are capable of. My fellow officers and I do our best to keep you and your families safe. Private, for-profit prisons refuse to deal with inmates who have extreme mental and medical issues. Instead, they simply send needy inmates back to the state-run institutions. Not only are these practices extremely dangerous to the community but they also create a smokescreen as to what is really going on in the private, for-profit prison industry. We’ve seen it happen before and I guarantee you that we will see these same problems in our own backyards."
New Hampshire, Texas, New Mexico and Ohio are all considering outsourcing their prison operations to corporations. Corporate stooge Ohio Gov. John Kasich went so far as to hire a prison industry official as his Director of Rehabiliation and Corrections.

Teamster retirees living at The Villages,  make sure you pay Rick Scott a visit today and let him know what you think of his job-killing, public safety-endangering bill.

Teamsters protest M&I Bank in NYC

"Corporate plunderer" is probably what you'd call a bank that accepts bailout money, doesn't pay it all back and then has its executives contribute to Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's political campaign.

That, at least, is what New York Teamsters and other union members thought about M&I Bank. When the bank moved its shareholders meeting from Milwaukee to New York on May 18, they were there protesting.

Here's Talking Union on the protest:
Instead of turning the bank around or paying back all of its $1.75 billion bailout it got from taxpayers in the fall of 2008, executives like M&I CEO Mark Furlong negotiated gigantic bonuses for themselves while at the same time investing in politicians like Scott Walker who stripped collective bargaining rights from workers who were used as scapegoats for the excesses and failures of bank executives like Mark Furlong.
The video begins with Madison, WI firefighters addressing the crowd of New York firefighters, construction workers, sheet metal workers, service workers, and public employees in front of the M&I shareholders’ meeting at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.
You'll recall the firefighters took their money out of a Madison M&I bank branch in March, and protesters forced it to shut its doors for the afternoon.

Today's Teamster News 05.26.11

DOT Outsourcing Costs Taxpayers Millions  Channel 3000   ...The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is spending millions of dollars on outside contractors when even state officials admit the work can be done cheaper by state employees...
Republican facing criticism over SB 5 vote to leave Senate   Columbus Dispatch   ...Sen. Jimmy Stewart, an Albany Republican who was facing heavy criticism from parts of his nine-county southeastern Ohio district for his vote in favor of the bill slashing collective-bargaining rights for public workers, told the Senate president yesterday that he will step down in July...
‘Right-to-work’ debate reignites  Bangor Daily News   ...A debate over organized labor and union dues roared back to life on Wednesday after Republican leaders appeared to reverse course and scheduled a late-session public hearing on a politically combustible “right-to-work” bill...
Editorial: Union report merits study  Detroit News   ...A new union-financed report says state government could save big money if it spent less on third-party contracts, had fewer managers and placed a higher priority on service to the public from front-line workers...
NH House doesn't take up labor bill veto override  Associated Press   ...Republican House Speaker William O'Brien ignored a nearly full House on Wednesday and refused to call for a vote on a vetoed bill that bars unions from collecting a share of bargaining and administrative costs from non-members...
New Jersey governor's school budget ruled unconstitutional  CNN   ...The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that $500 million must be restored to the state's poorest school districts after it found part of Gov. Chris Christie's controversial 2011 budget to be unconstitutional...
ALEC's radical right wing agenda comes to Pa.  Philadelphia Progressive Examiner   ...Many Democrats and Independants believe that Metcalfe's bill is part of a Right Wing national agenda sponsored by the Koch Brothers to buy government and fund their key ideas for maintaining power...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Masterminding the War on Workers: ALEC

Kind of like this.
Oh this has been an evil, evil few months in statehouses around the country. Extremist corporate-backed lawmakers have passed or tried to pass cookie-cutter legislation to further weaken the middle class. Repealing child labor laws, destroying unions, giving polluters free rein, passing Jim Crow voting laws, giving barrels of money to corporations. You name it.

Wonder why these politicians are all marching to exactly the same drumbeat and introducing exactly the same legislation (instead of doing what their constituents actually want them to do)?


Yup, ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council. Sounds like a decent enough group, right? One of those earnest, good-government talking shops where people wearing name tags talk about combined sewer outflow projects?


ALEC puts Republican state lawmakers together with Koch-funded think tanks and corporations like, well, Koch Industries and Wal-Mart. Then the corporations have their lawyers draft "model legislation" that the lawmakers can cut and paste into a bill. ALEC will even supply talking points to make the bills sound as if they're not aimed at destroying the middle class. Like the way the corporate stooge governors of Ohio and Wisconsin talk about giving cities and towns "toolkits" --i.e., union-busting -- to "solve their fiscal crises."

Here's how it works: A little old lady state representative from Nebraska, say, pays $100 in dues to belong to ALEC. She might even make the state's taxpayers pay for it. The corporate donor pays thousands of dollars to wine and dine the simple rube -- up to $1,900 a meeting. Now a $1,900 trip to Las Vegas is bound to bedazzle a little old lady from Omaha who's idea of a night out is the salad bar at the Golden Corral.

Then she gets to see the model legislation that, say, prevents municipalities from offering cheap broadband. Or deregulates electric utilities (that worked out well, didn't it?) Or forbidding the reimportation of prescription drugs. It's the ultimate smoke-filled room, only maybe without the smoke.

Lately ALEC has been pushing draconian anti-union legislation, as we've seen in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, New Hampshire and elsewhere. Why? We like this take on it, from Scott Marshall at People's World.
Because giant corporations fundamentally want dictatorial powers. They abhor the idea of employees having any, even a limited, voice on the job. But the corporate elite's undemocratic appetites go far beyond union workers. They can't abide any democratic resistance to their economic or political goals.
DailyKos today reports that at least 14 of the 19 Republican senators in Wisconsin belong to ALEC. No shock there. What is shocking is how secretive the group is. They don't like you to know anything about them. When a University of Wisconsin professor, William Cronon,  exposed ALEC's influence on Wisconsin lawmakers in a blog posting, he was persecuted by the state Republican party. They demanded to see all of his e-mails from his university email account. (They didn't dig up anything juicy).

One more thing about ALEC: it's behind a lot of nasty anti-woman, anti-immigration, anti-gay, racist legislation. Why? Because it wants to divide working people. Writes Marshall,
Unity is a central component of working class resistance to attacks on democracy. ALEC focuses on budget and tax legislation not only to cut their own taxes, but also to disempower working people through economic crisis and poverty. ALEC would "shrink government to the size that can be drowned in a bathtub."...very importantly, organized labor has increasingly focused on being a voice for all of the working class - multinational, multiracial, male and female, young and old, gay and straight, middle class and poor, union and non-union. Labor is critical in building the biggest, broadest possible people's coalition that can actually resist and reversecorporate America's grab for power and profits before people.
If you'd like to harass your Republican state representatives for belonging to ALEC, the Man from Middletown at DailyKos drafted a nifty model letter you can send them. He suggests asking questions such as
  • Are you a member of ALEC, yes or no?
  • If Yes, when did you join?
  • Have you ever sponsored, or co-sponsored legislation written or partially written by ALEC?
  • Please identify all ALEC written legislation you have sponsored or co-sponsored.
  • ALEC has a series of conferences and workshops throughout the year.  The next event is the Annual Meeting which is to be held in New Orleans, LA August 3-6, 2011.  Do you intend to attend this event?
  • If you attend this event, will you be traveling at Taxpayer expense, Yes or No? 
Great idea, no?

More anti-Walker protests as he sinks in polls

Power-hungry clown Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was once again met with raucous Statehouse protests today as he signed a bill to suppress voter turnout.

In a bald (note photo) power grab, Walker signed a voter-ID bill that will make it harder for students, minorities, the disabled, the elderly and the homeless to vote. Now, Wisconsinites must produce a photo ID with an expiration date on it (something University of Wisconsin IDs don't have) if they want to vote to recall him once he becomes eligible on Jan. 3, 2012.

Which they will, because polls show Walker is more unpopular than ever. A new poll by Public Policy Polling shows 43 percent of Wisconsinites approve of the job he's doing while 54 percent disapprove -- a drop from the 46-52 he scored previously. According to Dean Debnam, president of PPP,
He’d be done if the vote was today, it’s just a question of whether that desire to put him out can
continue to be sustained in the coming months.
We suspect that recall fever won't abate any time soon in Wisconsin, as Walker will continue to attack the middle class. Plus, the July 12 (and beyond) recall elections will stoke the flames. PPP reports that potential challengers to Walker -- former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett -- would croak him if the recall election were held today.

But back to the protests: We'll let the tweetosphere describe it:
@analieseeicher: Still going strong w/umbrellas and noisemakers! Those w/umbrellas sharing w/ those w/o them.
@news3jessica: loud outside Gov rm for #VoterID bill signing. Protesters yelling "shame" at lawmakers. 
@jvanegeren Crowds chanting "recall Walker" outside his office where he will sign voter ID bill at 12:30
@millbot: Appropriate that Walker signs bill to disenfranchise voters on such a gray, rainy day.
@MSpicuzzaWSJ: Chanting protesters gather outside WI gov's conference room as he signs #voterID into law.
@tiffanybrault: I'm completely soaked from chanting outside the Capitol, but one day longer, one day stronger.
@SnufkinsHat: Excellent hallway rally outside the Gov.'s office, but he left by a side door. Sure are a lot of secret passages here.

TJI: NH postpones right-to-work veto override

This just in: Republicans postponed a much-anticipated vote today to override New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch's veto of a right-to-work bill to destroy unions.

The Nashua Telegraph reported this morning that Speaker William O'Brien was 5 to 10 votes short of the majority needed to override the heinous bill. Around noon today O'Brien held a press conference in which he said he'd hold the vote, "When he sees fit." The public was shut out of the meeting.

Though right-to-work to destroy union bills had been introduced in more than a dozen states this year, New Hampshire was the only state in which the bill had advanced to the governor's desk for a veto. Fortunately for the Granite State's working families, Lynch strongly opposes right-to-work laws.

File this under "Good-ish News."

Govs Gone Wild sink in the polls

Approval ratings are reaching all-time lows for Governors Gone Wild across the country.

Florida Skelator Gov. Rick Scott is one of the least popular governors in America, according to a Quinnipiac University poll that shows 57 percent of voters disapprove of the job he’s doing. From the Miami Herald:
Scott's job-performance numbers mirror public sentiment about the $69.7 billion state budget, which cuts schools, healthcare and programs for the environment. The poll finds that 54 percent of voters say the budget is "unfair" to someone like them, while 29 percent favor it.
Scott has praised what he calls the “jobs budget” as a way to get Florida’s economy moving. But despite the nickname, the budget will lead to more layoffs in the short-term because it eliminates nearly 4,500 state worker positions.
Ohio corporate stooge Gov. John Kasich’s approval numbers are also falling. In a recent poll, Ohio voters disapproved 49 to 38 percent of Kasich’s job performance, compared with 46 to 30 percent in March.

The poll also showed Ohio voters reject Kasich’s support for Senate Bill 5, the bill that stripped Ohio government workers of their collective bargaining rights. Only 36 percent of respondents said the measure should remain law. Teamsters and fellow Ohioans have collected an impressive 214,000-plus signatures on petitions to put a repeal of SB5 on the November ballot. They did this all in one month and will have until June 30 to collect the required 231,149 signatures.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is also tanking in popularity. Voters are split 44 to 44 percent on whether they approve or disapprove of Christie’s job performance. This is a new low for the governor whose administration is proposing cuts that would make a family of three with an annual household income of about $4,650 to $5,375 ineligible for Medicaid. The current limit for new enrollees is an income of about $24,700 for a family of three.


Look what our trade policy did to Detroit

Check out these magnificent 3-D photos of Detroit's decline. The once-grand Michigan Central Station now a graffiti-covered ruin, the empty Packard and Fisher Body plants strewn with trash and weeds. 

It wasn't just NAFTA that destroyed Detroit. Even before the U.S. government decided to send much of our our auto industry to Mexico, our leaders made stupendously awful concessions to other countries.

The U.S. government thought "trade, not aid" would be a great way to rebuild Japan after World War II. It was great for Japan but not for the U.S. auto industry. We gave Toyota a big boost during the Korean War by buying Army vehicles from it.

As economist Judith Stein points out in her masterful book, "Pivotal Decade, How the United States traded factories for finance in the Seventies," the U.S. allowed Japan to protect its domestic auto industry while the U.S. threw open its doors to Japanese imports. Writes Stein,
Japan excluded foreign imports and foreign producers during its drive to build a major auto industry. Orchestrating the whole show, the United States took the lead in reducing tariffs and refrained from pressing other nations to abandon the protection they used to build up their own industries even when they violated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rules.
Japan imposed 40 and 50 percent tariffs on foreign imports, controlled foreign investment, made cheap loans, gave favorable tax treatment and directly subsidized its infant auto industry. The Japanese government even encouraged large ships to be built so it would be cheaper to send its cars overseas.

And it sent them to the U.S. It had to. The U.S. was the only open market available. Europe strictly limited the number of Japanese cars that could be imported (under trade rules, that was okay, because Japan limited European imports). Writes Stein,
...the unspoken rule of global trade policy was that the United States would look the other way when American goods were discriminated against.
The story with Canada was a little different, Stein writes. Canada didn't want to produce a Canadian car but did want to increase Canadian auto employment. So President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 signed a deal with Canada that U.S. companies would manufacture enough cars and parts in Canada to offset 95 percent of the cars and parts made in the U.S. and sold in Canada.
And what did the U.S. government do when the U.S. auto industry was flat on its back? Asked -- yup, asked -- Japan for voluntary restraint.

Continuing along that same self-destructive path, the U.S. now wants to enter into a trade deal with South Korea that will open our market further to Hyundais and Kias while allowing a teensy bit more U.S. cars into their country. Worse, those Hyundais and Kias can have as much as 65 percent of their parts from sweatshops in China, North Korea, or anywhere else the multinationals are setting up their sweatshops these days.

Detroit's decline can be reversed. All it takes is sane trade policy.

Today's Teamster News 05.25.11

New York Election Results: Kathy Hochul Projected Winner  Associated Press   ...Democrats picked off a heavily Republican upstate New York congressional seat Tuesday night in a special election that became a referendum on Medicare...
Note to Boeing's Jim McNerney: All We Are Saying Is Give the Truth -- and Your Union -- a Chance  Huffington Post   ...he is defending Boeing's decision to retaliate against its union workforce in Everett, Washington, by moving thousands of jobs to a non-union location in South Carolina, with statements that are among the most misleading and disingenuous by a major American CEO ever...
New dollars would go to malpractice fund, delay union concessions  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...The state would use a huge influx of new tax money expected over the next two years to help pay a looming debt to a medical malpractice fund but drop some $30 million in concessions from state workers, under draft legislation circulated Tuesday by Republican lawmakers...
Walker’s wasteland budget threatens families  Madison.com   ...In the last four months, Gov. Scott Walker has launched an unprecedented attack on Wisconsin’s families, freedom, environment and future...
Speaker may be shy 5-10 votes   Nashua Telegraph   ...A bare-knuckles showdown between House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, and Gov. John Lynch over a right-to-work bill set for today could be put off, officials said...
Vermont Health Plan Advances  Wall Street Journal   ...Vermont is moving one step closer to a goal of its Democratic governor: a state-run health plan that would insure most of its 625,000 residents...
Unions want judge to void 2 new Arizona laws  East Valley Tribune   ...Calling the measures illegal, public and private unions want a federal judge to void two new laws they say interfere with the rights of their members...
Lawmakers scheduled to have final vote on Neb. bill to overhaul collective bargaining process  Daily Journal   ...A bill that would alter Nebraska's collective bargaining process is set for a final legislative vote...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WI recall challenger has shady past

Wisconsin election officials will decide Friday whether to allow recall elections to move forward for three Republican and three Democratic senators. Dave Hansen is one of the Democratic senators facing recall for having the courage to leave the state to stave off a vote to end collective bargaining rights for government workers. Hansen is a 20-year member of Teamsters Local 662 -- and of the “Fab 14" senators who stood up to Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda.

If the Government Accountability Board approves the recall petitions on Friday, Hansen will face a field of Republicans interested in his 30th Senate District seat. This includes David VanderLeest, a wind farm developer who led the recall effort against Hansen. VanderLeest's record speaks for itself. It includes bankruptcy, a home foreclosure, an unpaid judgment, building code violations and a misdemeanor conviction. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Specifically, he was convicted of disorderly conduct, a Class B misdemeanor, in 2007. He said the conviction was part of a plea deal in a domestic dispute.
That same year, a bank foreclosed his Green Bay house, which was sold at a sheriff's sale.
Another bank, Associated Bank, won a court judgment for nearly $30,000 against VanderLeest and his company, VanderLeest Enterprises. That sum has never been paid, VanderLeest acknowledged.
In addition, VanderLeest and his then-wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2006, meaning he did not have to repay most of his creditors. The bankruptcy filings show that they reported $118,341 in assets and $291,674 in liabilities, including unpaid credit card debts, health care bills and loans.
VanderLeest said he expects to be targeted by top officials in Green Bay. The city has taken him to court over building code violations at properties he owns, leading to more than $1,300 in fines for VanderLeest. His buildings were deemed nuisance properties.
Vanderleest, former second vice chairman of the Brown County Republican Party, said he expected his past problems to become an issue. He vowed to post all of the records related to his troubles on his campaign website, which is not yet online.
Yesterday the GAB cleared the way for a July 12 recall election for three GOP Sens. Dan Hanky-Kapankerandy Randy Hopper and Lex Luther Olsen.

Just 222 days left to recall Scott Walker!

What if they gave a Tea Party and nobody came?

Actually, that's what happened in South Carolina last week.

Columbia's Tea Party chairman, Allen Olson, said he expected as many as 2,000 to show up a rally last Thursday at the Statehouse because Donald Trump would be there.

The Donald stood them up, however. And The State newspaper ran a delicious photo of Nikki Haley speaking on the Statehouse steps to exactly two lonely Tea Partiers. You can see it here.

Haley, of "I don't like the unions" fame, announced to the tiny group that she was starting a "Governors Tea Party Coalition." Good luck with that. 

Here's a question, though. Why did the newspaper send a photographer to a Tea Party rally where only a handful of people showed up? We saw no photos at a March 12 Statehouse rally where 2,500 people showed up to protest cuts to education and health care.

Maybe we just didn't look hard enough. Or maybe the Tea Party is just one fiction the media can't let go of.

No, the unions didn't ruin Detroit

Globalization destroyed the Motor City, and a lot of other towns, too: Flint, Youngstown, Toledo, Benton Harbor, Gary, Rockford, to name just a few.

These were once thriving manufacturing centers. Not anymore. We've lost much of our auto industry to Mexico, which now sells us $42 billion more autos, trucks and automotive parts than we sell them. Mexico! Where do you think Mexico got its auto industry from? Can you say NAFTA?

The corporate and financial elite want you to believe that the high wages earned by union members are the reason American manufacturers can't compete in the global marketplace. They just hate it when they have to pay their workers living wages. That's why they pour hundreds of millions of dollars into think tanks, political committees, advertising campaigns and phony grass roots groups like the Tea Party. They spread their message through these groups because they want you to grab on to feel-good words like "freedom" and "opportunity." Then they want to scare you by waving their voodoo charm word "protectionism." Then they want to get another job-killing trade deal passed so they can cut your pay or, better yet, send your job to Malaysia.

Has anyone noticed that South Korea enjoyed tremendous economic growth since 1970 while its union membership grew by a whopping 239 percent? Michael Collins noticed over at the Economic Populist.  In a post titled, "Strong unions -- the worst nightmare of the financial elite," he writes,
A look at the growth in gross domestic product ... shows that the nation with the most powerful union movement, the Republic of Korea, had the most consistent growth in GDP since 1996.
Collins notes there are two powerful unions in S. Korea:
...the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KFTU) and somewhat larger Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU). Both are in clear opposition to austerity programs and the labor disruptions caused by globalization and elitist contrived austerity programs. KFTU  is clear about its underlying philosophy. The organization opposes "the uncontrolled rampage of globalisation, which is threatening to reduce systems of social justice and economic democracy to shambles."
The Korean unions want the job-killing trade deal that's coming to Congress soon about as much as we do. That is to say, not at all. 

It would be nice if our leaders listened to the people who make economies strong, instead of the financial elites who simply want to plunder what's left.

FL gov. buys pricey 2nd roof while Floridians lose homes

Florida's charming governor.
Floridians will soon feel the sting of the Legislature's cruelty. Lawmakers recently passed bills that will hurt working families, including a cut to unemployment benefits to pay for a corporate tax cut. Many Floridians are worried about losing unemployment, losing their jobs and losing their homes to foreclosure. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott is concerned enough about hurricane season to have purchased a second roof for his Naples mansion. Miami New Times reports:
Apparently the Illinois native wasn't fully aware of the destructive forces of a hurricane when one hit his home in either 2004 or 2005 (he can't recall which) and his $9.2 million mansion lost about a third of the roofing tiles.
Informed that whatever fancy tile was used on the original roof was no longer in production, Scott, who is worth upward of $200 million, purchased enough tiles for a second roof and put them in storage.
How much did that cost? "Expensive," was all he said.
NBC 2 recently featured a heartbreaking story on the rise in homelessness in Florida. The Vantassel family was evicted from their apartment in the Naples area after Garrett Vantassel lost his construction job late last year. The family, including daughters Destiny, 5,  and Katrina, 4, have been living in their car for the past four months:
"When I lost my job, everything just started tumbling down. Sleeping in the car was hot and humid. Everybody was sweating to death," said Vantassel. "I told them things would get better, along the way. They accepted it. But in my mind, it hurts. Even in my heart, it hurts, to know we have to live in a car. That's not a place I want my kids to be."
Five years ago, the Florida Department of Education estimated there were 1,700 homeless kids in Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties. After evictions, foreclosures and job losses, there are now over 2,900.

These families would love to have a roof over their heads.

Let alone two.

6K in MI on Sat., and no press came

Working families came to Lansing on Saturday, 6,000 strong, to protest Gov. Rick Snyder's savage cuts to education to pay for an 86 percent corporate tax break.

No news media came.

This is why we like blogs. Blogging for Michigan did come to the protest, and this is what they saw:

Eclectablog wrote:
The two biggest newspapers in Michigan did not report a single word about a rally with over 6,000 people in attendance on the front lawn of the Capitol building. They did, however, have a picture of some tea partyers from Wisconsin on the Opinion page.
Tea partyers show up in a cluster of 15 people and a dozen reporters are there to cover it. Union members, in a stunning display of unity, show up by the thousands and the two largest newspapers in Michigan don't cover it. It is astonishing that event this large and this important went completely ignored by the News and Free Press.
We are being miserably failed by our media and our society is the worse for it. "Liberal media"? Please.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in MD

Welcome to our 102 new brothers and sisters in Cheverly, Md.! They not only voted to become Teamsters, but voted to approve a two-year contract as well. They're bindery workers, drivers and quality assurance workers at Craftsman Press.

They join 32 pre-press and pressmen employees at Craftsmen who've been members of the Teamsters Graphics Communications Conference for more than 30 years.

Ed Williams, President of GCC Local 285-M, said,
There is a lot of enthusiasm here for having a solid contract in place.
The bindery department, the drivers and the quality assurance workers reached out to the local because they wanted a similar Teamster contract like their friends in other departments, Williams said.

We like how Craftsman promotes itself on its website:
We're called Craftsman Press for a good reason. The name implies that something lasting and valuable is produced by people of great skill and collective ability, learned over many years.

Randy IMF chief not the only danger housekeepers face

The alleged perp.
Hotel housekeepers are a largely invisible work force. Their jobs are physically demanding. They spend their days lifting heavy mattresses and cleaning up after messes left by guests who sometimes pose a threat to their safety. While media focus in the recent sexual assault allegations against IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was on his career, The Daily Beast reports on working conditions for hotel maids:
It’s a perfect storm of factors that make the job so dangerous: Housekeepers often are tasked with cleaning whole blocks of rooms, so they’re alone in isolated wings or halls of their hotels, without security or any means of calling for help. The women who fill these positions tend to have humble backgrounds, have few means, or are illegal immigrants—and may indeed have all those characteristics. They consequently are less likely file complaints or speak up about mistreatment, for fear of jeopardizing their jobs. And there’s an inherent power dynamic at play, wherein a hotel’s management is eager to please wealthy clients—even if that means turning a blind eye to the complaints of one of their staffers.
Most of the workers are women. One single mother in Chicago said she and her co-workers are subject to harassment by hotel guests, but telling management rarely gets them anywhere.
“The bosses tell us to be pleasant, smile, say thank you, and offer good service. But some guests think this is an open invitation for other things ... There is no sense of security.”

Woo-hoo! WI orders recall elections for GOP senators

It's official. The Wisconsin board that oversees elections cleared the way today for a July 12 recall election for Sens. Dan Hanky-Kapankerandy Randy Hopper and Lex Luther Olsen. The three are among the eight Republican senators who voted in favor of the bill to end collective bargaining rights for government workers in Wisconsin.

The Government Accountability Board (GAB) today rejected most challenges to the recall petitions. About 15,000 signatures were needed to trigger recall elections for each senator and in each case there were roughly 21,000 signatures gathered.

The board will evaluate challenges to the remaining recall petitions at its May 31st meeting. There are a total of six Republicans and three Democrats facing recall.

Sen. Dave Hansen, a 20-year Teamster, is facing recall for leaving the state to stave off a vote on this anti-worker bill. Earlier this month a pro-CEO assemblyman who supported Koch whore. Gov. Scott Walker's anti-worker agenda announced he would challenge Hansen. Check out this great video that highlights Hansen's efforts to protect Wisconsin's working families.

There are only 223 days left to recall Scott Walker. Keep up with the countdown on our Stop the War on Workers website.

Today's Teamster News 05.24.11

Apologies for the light posting -- been under the weather. Blogging will resume today. 
Right-to-work veto targeted  Manchester Union-Leader   ...There may be other bills pending, but right-to-work is the biggest piece of business on the agenda this week...
Wisconsin Orders Recall Election For Three GOP State Senators   Think Progress   ...Today, the non-partisan state election officials announced the success of their efforts by ordering a recall election for state GOP Sens. Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, and Luther Olsen on July 12...
Another GOP candidate in Holperin recall means 3 Republican primaries  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...A second candidate has announced that he'll run against Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) if a recall election is declared in that northern Wisconsin Senate district...
Wisconsin elections board certifies Supreme Court recount win for Prosser  Associated Press   ...The Wisconsin board that certifies elections declared Monday that a recount had confirmed state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg in the hard-fought April 5 election many saw as a referendum on polarizing union rights legislation...
Kasich doesn't expect rising state revenue to ease budget cuts  The Columbus Dispatch   ...Even if revenue improves, local governments and schools should not expect much relief from the cuts proposed in the two-year state budget, Gov. John Kasich said yesterday as he again stressed the need for governments to become more efficient...
Road builders turn up pressure on Scott   Post on Politics   ...Road builders are upping the pressure on Gov. Rick Scott to veto the Legislature’s decision to pull $150 million out of the state’s transportation trust fund and scatter it across the budget, filling holes...
Petitions for Snyder recall to circulate  Detroit News   ...A group seeking the recall of Gov. Rick Snyder is to begin collecting signatures today as the Michigan Republican Party begins a fundraising campaign to fight the effort....

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Teamster News 05.23.11

State proposal would send $250 million to certified capital companies  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...Legislation that Gov. Scott Walker says will create jobs would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to insurance companies, while giving control of a $250 million fund to out-of-state financial management companies that would not have to pay back the fund's principal and would keep up to 80% of its profits...
Kasich friends in high demand  The Columbus Dispatch   ...3 who have long been advisers to governor become top lobbyists...
Our View: LePage has not made case for energy overhaul  (opinion) Portland Press-Herald   ...His bill that would stop the diversification of Maine's electricity portfolio would not help the businesses that want to invest billions of dollars in Maine on renewable energy projects, including wind, tidal, biomass and solar...
Thousands at Michigan Capitol protest school cuts  Associated Press   ...Several thousand people have demonstrated at Michigan's Capitol to protest against past and future cuts in state funding for public schools...
Petitions for Snyder recall to circulate  Detroit News   ... A group seeking the recall of Gov. Rick Snyder is to begin collecting signatures today as the Michigan Republican Party begins a fundraising campaign to fight the effort...
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs controversial election laws  CBS News  ...Florida Gov. Rick Scott this week signed a set of election law changes intended to curb voter fraud that Democrats and other groups say amount to voter suppression...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's Teamster News 05.22.11

Republican Daniels says he won't run for president  Reuters   ...Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said on Sunday in an email to supporters he had decided not to seek the Republican presidential nomination because of family considerations...
County, union playing hardball  (Local 79)  Tampa Bay Online   ...The county's negotiating team doesn't want to rush the first contract...
GOP told to take Wis. recalls seriously  Chicago Tribune   ...Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other Republican leaders urged party members at their annual convention today to take seriously the threat of losing control of the state Senate through recall elections...
GOP operative to lead defense  Columbus Dispatch   ... a coordinated defense of Ohio's new collective-bargaining law is beginning to take shape....
Lawmakers keep it sane  (opinoin) Springfield News-Leader   ...We commend legislators and the governor this session for staying on real ground and not going off the far right cliff...
Legislative leaders working on Right to Work vote  Nashua Telegraph   ...The state House of Representatives bid to push the Right to Work bill (HB 474) into law over the dismissive veto of Gov. John Lynch is going right down to the wire...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today's Teamster News 05.21.11

Walker breaks campaign promise, raises taxes on the poor  Politifact   ...The largest involved a reduction in a state tax credit for low-income working families, known as the earned income credit. A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe...
In One Month, 214,399 Ohioans Sign Petition To Stop Kasich’s Anti-Worker Law  We Are Ohio   ...According to the organizers of that petition drive, they are now 93 percent of the way to achieving this goal after just one month of signature gathering:..
Private Prisons Found To Offer Little in Savings  New York Times   ...Arizona shows that popular wisdom might be wrong: Data there suggest that privately operated prisons can cost more to operate than state-run prisons — even though they often steer clear of the sickest, costliest inmates....
'Right to work' bills inspire little support  Kennebec Journal   ...Two bills that would affect organized labor appeared to be headed for the waste bin Tuesday after an aggressive campaign against them over the last few months...
Protests planned in Lansing over budget  wwmt.com   ...This weekend more protestors are set to show up in Lansing to speak out against education funding cuts...
Quandt: Gov. Lynch should speak up in fight versus 'Right to Work'  Seacoast Online   ... Gov. John Lynch needs to raise his voice if he wants to garner enough support to sustain his veto of Right-to-Work legislation, a local lawmaker said...

Friday, May 20, 2011

NV Teamsters rally at capitol

Teamsters rallied at the Statehouse in Carson City, Nev., yesterday to take a stand for workers’ rights. The rally drew about 500 construction workers and supporters from across the state. Teamsters from Local 631 in Las Vegas were there, having made the 450 mile trip by bus. Sister Almaraz with Local 631 reports:
The major issues we rallied around are prevailing wage and collective bargaining. Legislators want to cut public employee wages, repeal the minimum wage and push a lot of other proposals that will hurt working families. The rally was great because we made our voices heard.
Workers in Nevada are already suffering. The recession and housing slump have had a huge impact on the state. A recent article referred to Las Vegas as "the new Detroit." Last year, Nevada was one of the states with the largest drops in construction employment and reported its first population decline in 90 years.

The momentum of the Nevada protest continues with rallies over the weekend, including rallies in Florida and Michigan.

Go to our Stop the War on Workers site for more info on the latest events.

NJ gov bails out American Dream -- the shopping mall, that is

New Jersey needs good jobs and education funding. Instead, residents of the Garden State are getting another ugly mall.

The Xanadu Meadowlands complex, a monster retail and entertainment boondoggle, has been in the works since 2003. The tacky, multi-colored facility boasts an indoor water park and a 600-foot ski slope. Already, $1.9 billion has been spent on the project under the past three governors, and its development is back on under Gov. Chris Christie, as ThinkProgress reports:
"Though the Christie administration has criticized Xanadu, once calling it a 'failed business model,' and the governor said he was uncomfortable getting the state involved in private development, the state would provide $180 million to $200 million in low-interest financing and forfeit a similar amount in future sales-tax revenue. The administration has argued that the project is too big and too far along to let it lie fallow."
Adding insult to injury for New Jersey taxpayers, Xanadu was recently renamed the American Dream Meadowlands.

The real American Dream stood for something: that if you put in a hard day's work, you could expect good American wagers, benefits and a better life for your kids. It meant that when products were made in America, people knew they were getting the highest quality manufactured goods money could buy.

The real American Dream is what New Jersey residents would certainly prefer. Already, they've seen hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to education funding, impacting some of the state's poorest communities. Christie wants to institute cuts that would quadruple public workers' health care costs. He has already cut funding for women's health programs, mental health services and more.

It looks like New Jersey will be getting the American Dream after all. Just the wrong one.

Great news on SB5 repeal

This is awesome: Volunteers in Ohio have collected an astounding 214,399 signatures on petitions to put repealing the heinous SB5 on the November ballot. It took them just one month to collect all those names; maybe the fact that 10,000 people (including plenty of Teamsters) were working to gather them.

Volunteers have until June 30 to collect the 231,149 signatures to put the measure on the ballot. They'll collect a lot more, though, to be sure they're all valid.

If you haven't been keeping up, SB5 is a bill to strip government workers of their collective bargaining rights. It passed into law on  March 31 and was signed by corporate stooge Gov. John Kasich on April Fool's Day. A recent poll showed that Ohioans strongly support repeal.

It's important not to get too confident, though. You can bet that big money from the corporate front groups and the billionaires will be flooding into Ohio, paying for ads that spout half-truths and lies about the bill.

Surviving the zombie-apocalypse

Rally Girl was quite taken by the news that the Centers for Disease Control has advice on battling zombie hordes, and offers up the following post:

The CDC recently announced how to prepare for and what to do in the event of a zombie-apocalypse, but the organization is too late. Our nation is already under attack by an army of the mindless, brain-hungry creatures. The reason for the outbreak? None other than David and Charles Koch.

Koch-whore zombies have been trying to do away with America’s middle class by ruthlessly devouring common sense. Their preference is brains that belong to those who are ignorant, apathetic and lazy.

In their unholy march, Koch-whore zombies have successfully begun ripping apart the American Dream. Their path of destruction is littered with the broken spirits of low-wage workers whose lives they destroyed. We saw the havoc they wrought on Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. And it isn’t over. They’re creeping into every neighborhood in every community of the United States, unless we do something to stop them.

The hard-working, dedicated, soulful people of this country are the last line of defense against the zombie-pocalypse. You can fight Koch-whore zombies and here’s how:

• Get educated—the best way to fight against zombies is to not become one yourself;

• Like the Teamsters "Stop the War on Workers" Facebook page and post comments;

• Attend union meetings and spread the word that zombies are coming;

• Write a letter-to-the-editor thanking a public worker for their service—through public support of public workers, you have the power to turn ignorant brains into educated ones;

• Register to vote and cast your ballot for politicians who support labor—many of these same politicians have signed pledges to fight the zombie menace;

• Sign up for Teamster Take Action Alerts, which will keep you up to date on the latest movements of Koch-whore zombies;

• Write to a member of Congress and explain your concerns about the effect Koch-whore zombies are having on our country;

• Purchase Tom Morello’s new EP, Union Town—100 percent of the proceeds go to stopping the war on workers and ending the Koch-whore zombie-pocalypse;

• Pretend to be David Koch and call a governor.