Monday, October 31, 2011

Teamsters strike produce co. for firing 10 workers

This just in from the Associated Press:

Teamsters pickets are marching outside the Port of Hueneme to protest the firings of 10 truck drivers by an Oxnard produce company.
There are about 20 people, including the truck drivers, carrying signs at the Ventura County deep water port 60 miles west of Los Angeles.

Teamsters Union Local 186 has told the Del Monte and Chiquita shipping companies not to use Seaboard Produce Distributors trucks.
According to the Ventura County Star,
The 10 truck drivers are attempting to regain their jobs, fair pay, lost wages, benefits and to remain unionized...
"We're trying to correct a social injustice here," said Bill Elder, secretary-treasurer/CEO of Teamsters Local 186....

The 10 men said they decided to reach out to union officials this summer because they were paid below the minimum wage.
Driver Eddie Castaneda has said an average day transporting fruits from Port Hueneme to a distribution facility would include a 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift where a driver can take anywhere from one to four loads. He added that drivers made $35 per load transported and some workers couldn't afford health benefits.
On deliveries from Ventura County to Los Angeles, drivers were paid $150 for one day, while a three-day transport to Reno netted a $450 payday, according to the former drivers.

Woo-hoo!! Teamsters sign multi-year contract with BMW

Great news! Teamsters Local 495 members just ratified a contract with BMW for 9-1/2 more years of job security than they expected earlier this summer.

The auto giant wanted to eliminate all but three of the 71 jobs at its California parts distribution center. Teamsters stood together, fought like hell and prevailed. What a sweet, sweet victory!

Here's Andrew Edwards at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on the contract:
..."Our members are excited," said Teamsters Local 495 representative Gene Rivera. "They are happy to have a job. They are happy to have security for 9 1/2 years."
The deal, ratified Saturday, resolves a dispute that began between the automaker and the union in June when BMW announced plans to lay off the facility's employees and bring in a third company to manage the distribution center...
Rivera said base wages will fall from $25 per hour to $23.50 per hour, but the contract includes performance incentives that could raise wages.
Teamsters all over the country rallied on behalf of their brothers outside offices of Jackson Lewis, the union-busting law firm hired by BMW to ruin their employees' lives. They set up protests at 50 BMW dealerships in 11 states. They got their elected representatives involved.

Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times wrote a tremendous column in July about why BMW's attack should resonate throughout America. The job cuts, he wrote, epitomized the evisceration of the American middle class.

Proud to be a Teamster!

Fast-buck artists KKR, CD&R push IL Teamsters to strike at US Foods

Chaz is right. No one wants to strike, but US Foods in Streator, Ill., forced our Teamster brothers to take action yesterday. Maintenance workers went on strike, and drivers and warehouse workers refused to cross the strike line. Hundreds of Teamsters at US Foods facilities are expected to show solidarity, too. 

Things have been nasty at US Foods ever since it was bought by fast-buck artists KKR & Co. and Clayton, Dubilier & Rice four years ago. They looted the company of as much cash as they could even as they waged a vicious war on their own workers. In Boston, US Foods took $900,000 in government tax subsidies, then had the stones to close a massive new union facility. They cut 114 good union jobs in Boston and shipped the work to out-of-state facilities.

@longhairedfool from Boston tweets of his bitter experience with the company:
Worked there 28 yrs since it was MonarchFood, then JP foodservice used to be a great place to work they cared about us then
Support you from Boston South!!!bastards locked us out and closed. STAY STRONG!!
these are the bastards who tried to exclude active military members from severance when shutting us down#Teamster
Under the corporate predators KKR and CD&R, union and non-union workers were harassed and intimidated throughout the country. In Streator, management refused to bargain in good faith -- and then retaliated against the bargaining committee. They tried to take away workers’ ability to honor picket lines if a sister facility struck. They tried to freeze the pay of drivers and warehouse workers. They demanded unprecedented increases in health care costs. The company's unfair labor practices finally pushed the maintenance workers from Local 722 into a strike.

It goes on and on. In Reno, Nev., U.S. Foods refused to bargain with Teamsters Local 533. They tried to force workers to accept a substandard agreement that would have undercut the standard set by Sysco. They forced workers to accept potentially unlimited health care cost increases and drastically expanded management’s right to change working conditions.

In Arizona, Region 28 of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint of almost 200 unfair labor practices. The NLRB said the conduct of U.S. Foods prior to a union election in Arizona was “so serious and substantial that the possibility of erasing the effects…by the use of traditional remedies is slight.” In May 2009, U.S. Foods agreed to recognize the union, hire back 14 illegally fired workers, and provide more than $163,000 to 22 workers who had faced discrimination.

They've tried the same thing against workers trying to join a union in Ohio, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and California.

In Alabama, the company interfered with workers' rights to join the Teamsters -- including firing a non-union worker for supporting a Teamsters organizing drive, holding anti-union meetings, printing ugly anti-union lies and making implied threats about jobs and pay.

In Florida, the company hired Ogletree Deakins, a pricey union-busting law firm, to illegally interfere with workers' rights to join a union.  
Read more at the new US Foods website, US

War on Workers goes Down Under

Teamters Local 911 shows its solidarity with locked-out Qantas workers.
Locked-out Qantas workers are back on the job today after hundreds of flights were canceled and tens of thousands of passengers stranded. The disruption was caused by one man -- Alan Joyce -- who is waging a war on good Australian jobs. The story is sadly familiar to workers in the U.S. and Canada.
Bernard Keane at Crikey describes what happened:
You’re a historic Australian company, but you’re doing it tough. You claim you’re struggling to cope in a highly competitive international market, with subsidised foreign competition, high energy prices and a high Aussie dollar killing you. So you’ve focused on slashing labour costs and gunning for the unions that represent your workers.
But in reality, it’s your management mistakes, and their failure to respond innovatively to challenges like your competitors have, that have been critical to the problems you now face. So you try to force government intervention to help you out of the corner you’ve painted yourself into...
...the list of failures of Qantas management in recent years has been lengthy. Many of the competitive pressures it is facing have, in effect, been self-inflicted. has substituted aggression towards unions for competence and innovation...
...Joyce has used the threat of economic damage and the political pressure of Australia-wide transport chaos to force the government to intervene to end the dispute and force a resolution.
I called it industrial terrorism on the weekend, a description some readers had a problem with. It’s no moral judgment, simply an accurate description of what Joyce is doing — threatening havoc and spreading fear as a means of achieving political and economic ends. It’s industrial terrorism by definition. And it’s worked.
Some suggest Joyce has failed to anticipate how much the grounding will harm Qantas’s brand. The stories from airports here and overseas, of angry, tearful or disconsolate Qantas passengers desperately searching for alternative flights, are undoubtedly very damaging, particularly for Qantas’s international services. But from Joyce’s point of view, there’s no particular problem with brand damage, because his longer-term strategy is offshoring anyway. Why worry about damaging the airline’s brand if your goal is to run that airline down anyway and replace it with offshore-based airlines?
How many times have we heard this story?

Today's Teamster News 10.31.11

Over 800 Occupy Protesters Charged, But How Many Will Go to Court?  New York Observer   ...the lawyers for OWS aren’t playing: they say that their clients would rather have their day in court than take a plea that might prohibit them from participating in any more protests...
Editorial: Scrutiny of Walker's pay adds tension  Green Bay Press Gazette   ...We saw last week what happens when the government proposes a wage freeze for state workers in the same document that shows the governor earns more than his predecessor. Discord...
Florida Democrats: Rick Scott the poster boy for GOP extremism  The Tampe Tribune   ...Democratic activists and insiders gathered here to kick off the 2012 campaign season believe Scott, whose job approval ratings have hovered among the lowest of any governor in the nation, will help them in the coming election – even though he won't be on the ballot until 2014...
Inkster being reviewed by state officials under emergency manager process  Detroit News   ... State officials have begun a 30-day review of the city's finances under the toughened emergency manager law for local governments and school districts...
Teamsters Condemn Qantas CEO Alan Joyce for Attack on Workers  IBT   ...As Largest U.S. Transportation Union Takes Local Action to Stand with Aussies, Teamster Delegation to Sydney, Melbourne Remains “Stranded in Solidarity”...
Mobility falls to record low as Americans stay put  Associated Press   ...Yet another symptom of the economic downturn: Americans aren't moving...U.S. mobility is at its lowest point since World War II...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Teamsters Occupy some surprising places

Teamsters Occupy Provo.
The Occupy movement isn't just for big city Teamsters. Sure, Occupy Chicago protested Madison Dearborn's greed alongside the Teamsters and other unions on Thursday. Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Museums have taken direct actions against Sotheby's for locking out Teamster art handlers. Joint Council 7 passed a resolution supporting Occupy San Francisco. Teamsters have Occupied Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, St. Louis, Vancouver and dozens of large cities.

But Teamsters are also Occupying smaller, redder cities and towns. Teamsters Occupied Naples, Fla., recently in a demonstration that attracted at least a hundred people, according to reports. Teamsters Occupied Provo, Utah, according to the tweetosphere:
@OccupyProvo: #union members here from teamsters and postal service union. We are the 99% here in #provo #utah.
Our Teamster sister Kelly Leigh Andrews reported yesterday on Occupy Chattanooga -- and offers some good advice:

Mom and I just got back about an hour ago. It was so great. Tennessee is such a red state that I wasn't sure we would have anyone show up. But there was a great kids, retired couples, and I believe every union in the state represented. It was so nice to spend the afternoon meeting my Brothers and Sisters from my neighbor unions. The next plan is to attend the city council meeting on Tuesday and then Occupy! It was a memory with my Mom that I will treasure. She is 62 years old and this was her first rally. Go to your local Occupy even if it is a few hours. Meet great people and make a difference.

Today's Teamster News 10.30.11

Occupy Oakland: inspiration, frustration at return  San Francisco Chronicle   ...Dozens of new tents sprang up outside Oakland City Hall on Friday, a sight that encouraged some Occupy Wall Street supporters but infuriated others, who expressed frustration at the city's about-face on the encampment...
'Occupy' demonstrators battle wind and cold as storm moves in  CNN   ...Demonstrators encamped in a Lower Manhattan park faced New York's first snow storm of the season Saturday without the benefit of propane tanks and generators that they had been using to cook food and keep warm...
Why the latest eurozone bail-out is destined to fail within weeks  The Telegraph   ...the responses of our politicians to recent financial troubles – hiding behind complexity and kicking the can down the road – have not only failed to temper the volatility, but have actually made it much worse...
Qantas Fleet Grounded for Second Day  New York Times   ...A series of labor disputes has hit the airline, the world’s 10th largest, as employees have voiced concern about jobs being moved out of Australia...
Teamsters Protest Madison Dearborn's War on Workers  IBT   ...More than 100 members of the Teamsters Union, UNITE HERE, Occupy Chicago and religious and community supporters rallied in downtown Chicago today to protest private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners’ bad values and its disregard for American workers...
FL Teacher Faces $1000 Fine for Registering Students to VOTE!  Daily Kos   ...Mrs. Cicciarelli helps her senior class EVERY year with the paperwork to preregister for the voting rolls. But she was on maternity leave in the spring when the Legislature passed a a new voter suppression law that, among other things, requires third parties to register with the state before they help sign up new voters...
Poll: Majority don't like Walker's performance, but state residents split on recall  Wisconsin State Journal   ...Some 56 percent of those polled disapprove of Walker's performance. But only 47 percent want to recall him, compared to 49 percent who don't - a statistical tie...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wall Street's criminals aren't camping in Zuccotti Park

The corporate-owned media is doing its best to discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement -- obviously, because it's a threat to the corporate-owned media. Smear after smear has been reported by Rupert Murdoch's New York Post and Fox News, the Examiner papers and the Washington Times. They tried to paint the Occupiers as un-American hippies until military veterans and union members showed up. They tried to portray the movement as unfocused until it became clear that it's protesting corporate greed. Now they're trumpeting any kind of misbehavior among the thousands and thousands of people who've joined the extraordinary Occupy movement in the past few weeks.

So let's take a moment to review the criminal allegations against Wall Street. To give you an idea of the scope of the financial crime wave, one congressional investigator described it as "a million fraud cases a year." That's 2,739 fraud cases a day -- a sum that makes John Dillinger look like a piker.

First off, there's Raj Gupta, the former managing director of the international consulting firm McKinsey and a Goldman Sachs director. Gupta did a perp walk yesterday for allegedly cheating investors through insider trading.

Then of course there's Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, aka the Great Vampire Squid that jams its blood funnel into anything that smells of money.  Blankfein almost certainly lied to Congress; but that's the least of his crimes. Blankfein and top Goldman executives David Viniar and Thomas Montag lied to their clients about the crappy real estate investments they sold them. The deal was a little more complicated than that, but here's how Matt Taibbi describes it:
Goldman, to get $1.2 billion in crap off its books, dumps a huge lot of deadly mortgages on its clients, lies about where that crap came from and claims it believes in the product even as it's betting $2 billion against it. When its victims try to run out of the burning house, Goldman stands in the doorway, blasts them all with gasoline before they can escape, and then has the balls to send a bill overcharging its victims for the pleasure of getting fried.
You won't be surprised that Goldman Sachs fleeced the Greek government as well.

Angelo Mozillo is another prime candidate for Club Fed. According to Forbes,
The perpetually suntanned founder of Countrywide Credit– Angelo Mozillo– made $521.5 million in compensation from 2000 until 2008. He also coined $140 million in gains from selling his Countrywide stock between November 2006 and October, 2007, at the very moment he was learning internally that his company was merchandising soon-to-collapse subprime mortgages– what he described as the most “toxic product” he’d ever seen. He called this expectation “a looming disaster” and the company’s “poison” according to internal emails. But, he told no-one on the outside, not his shareholders, not the regulators, not his board of directors– not even the politicians like Sen. Dodd for whom he had arranged sweetheart deals.
That's known as fraud and it's a crime.
We've discussed another Wall Street criminal, John Paulson, on this blog before. So we'll skip over to AIG's Joe Cassano, who told investors they wouldn't lose a dollar just months before they lost billions. Then on to Lehman Brothers Dick Fuld, who lied about the bank's finances along with his own obscene compensation of $484 million -- for driving his company into bankruptcy and causing a global financial crisis. These aren't just white lies. They're crimes.

More than 2,700 Wall Street Occupiers have been arrested. Only a handful of Wall Street bankers have been prosecuted.

It hardly seems fair. But that's the point.

Teamsters + Occupy Museums = Occupy Sotheby's

Yesterday in front of Sotheby's.
Paddy Johnson offers this report about last evening's Occupy Museums action against Sotheby's, in solidarity with our locked-out brothers from Local 814:
Rain did not deter this week’s Occupy Museums General Assembly, the second in what is an ongoing series of protests. Joined this week by the Art Handlers’ Union, Teamsters Local 814, a group of roughly 60 people collected on the steps of MoMA to protest a system they say has a funding structure and relationship to the market that “disempowers artists, and alienates art from the 99%”. From the museums, they traveled across town to join the picket lines at Sotheby’s just before the launch of their evening Prints sale.
The crowd of protesters was unusually diverse for an art-specific event and according to some protesters larger, even in the rain than last weeks. In attendance was one Guerrilla Girl, a performance poet, and several teamsters. Also, some requisite art folk and a bunch of theatre professionals.
Sounds like an interesting event. Johnson has more...
in front of Sotheby’s ... (n)o general assembly took place, but a clammer of whistle blowing, bells, and chanting could be heard nearly two blocks over. Art handlers have been locked out by the auction house for more than three months, and are striking against the Sotheby’s proposal to eliminate their retirement benefits completely and gut the union.
Indeed, at Sotheby’s the contrast between the 1 percent and the 99 couldn’t have been more stark. Rain-drenched protestors in plaid shirts and blue uniforms faced Sotheby’s glass doors, behind which men and women in corporate attire chatted amicably as though nothing were going on outside. At one point, Sotheby’s representative Diana Phillips was spotted in the lobby, and an art handler shouted out, “That’s the woman who’s responsible for this!” A billow of boos and whistles erupted from the crowds, but no acknowledgement was offered...
By the end of the night, the signs supporting the strikers were tattered by the rain. The words of warning given to occupiers on the way to Sotheby’s hung in the air. Stopping the crowd, a teamster member prepped the protesters. “This won’t be quite as rosey.” He was right.
Read the whole thing here.

Teamsters Occupy Everywhere

Occupying Portland.
We took a quick roam around the Internets and found Teamsters occupying all over the country this week. West Coast Teamsters are Occupying San Francisco, Portland and Oakland:
@samalcoff: #occupyoakland crowd still controls street, members from teamsters, seiu, operating engineers, longshoremen all out #OWS
They dropped off water in San Diego:
@LorenaSGonzalez: Thank you #Teamsters local 542, for dropping off the cases of water for tonight #occupySD Solidarity Vigil #1u
But it isn't just the big cities that Teamsters are occupying. Virginia Harp-Sanders, the wife of a retired Teamster, asked us to post this invitation to join Occupy Redlands, Calif.:
I am the wife of a proud Construction Teamster Retiree, Local 166, Bloomington, CA. My husband, John Sanders, and I are involved with our local Occupy movement, Occupy Redlands, CA. We have a website We would like to invite Teamsters to march with us. So far we are not camping out but we do march in our financial district and convene in a small park for general assembly. This Saturday, October 29, 2011, for example we are planning a march in our local outdoor mall past the Target store in particular to protest non-union jobs, minimum wage part-time no benefit jobs, wage disparity, and imported goods.
On Saturday, November 5th, 2011 we will be marching around Bank of America for "get your money out day".
The tweet-o-sphere tells us Teamsters helped Occupy Pittsburgh:
@nunyaman: Thnx to teamsters#211 for the morning smiles and cookies #occupypittsburgh #occupypgh
Our Teamster sister Kelly Leigh Andrews reports on Facebook:
my Mom, Son (Sam), Brother, Lori Kirk Mize and I are going to attend the Occupy Chattanooga Rally. My Mom and I have worked on some signs . We are ready. I have to work tonight so I will be worn out but that's ok.
We're hearing from Teamster brothers and sisters who are heading out to Occupations in Iowa City, Detroit, Atlanta and Savannah. We've also been hearing about Teamster Occupations in Amarillo, Texas, Lansing, Ann Arbor and Flint. Occupy Philadelphia is marching for Fair Trade, not Free Trade.

We expect to hear more. Stay tuned!

Today's Teamster News 10.29.11

Walker recall could open spending spigot  Wisconsin Watch   ...Normal individual contribution limits, set at $10,000 for a gubernatorial race, are suspended from the time a recall drive is launched until … well, that’s a good question...
In Florida Battle, Casino Cash vs. Disney Image  New York Times   ...The focus of the battle is a bill that, if adopted, would drastically change the profile of the gambling industry here by allowing three lavish $2 billion resort casinos to open in South Florida — Dade and Broward Counties...
SB 5 camps report spending more than $23 million  Cincinnati Enquirer   ...We Are Ohio, which is seeking to defeat Issue 2, on Nov. 8 spent $17.3 million, while Building A Better Ohio spent $5.9 million to support Issue 2...
Occupy Wall Street protesters stripped of their power, literally, by fire department and NYPD  Daily News   ...Claiming safety concerns, city confiscates gas canisters and generators from Zuccotti Park...
Occupy Oakland: mayor sorry for clashes that injured Scott Olsen  The Guardian   ...Quan, who has been roundly criticised for her handling of the Occupy protests against economic inequality, said she had met Scott Olsen and his parents and was concerned about his recovery...
Goldman Sachs and Occupy Wall Street's bank: the real story  The Guardian   ...When Goldman got huffy at a credit union honouring OWS and pulled its anniversary dinner funding, much more was at stake...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cameras, but not guns, banned in WI Statehouse

It's down the rabbit hole time in the Wisconsin Legislature again. The state is allowing people to carry guns secretly into the Assembly, but not the Senate. (So can we assume it's okay to shoot a member of the Assembly, but not the Senate?) 

Though firearms are allowed in the elegant marble halls of the Capitol, cameras are not.

A reporter was actually arrested last week when he tried to videotape protesters who were arrested for sitting in the gallery with signs pinned to their shirts. Yup, signs aren't allowed either, if they're pinned to shirts. They're allowed, though, if they're sewn to shirts.

What will those apocalyptic lunatics think of next?

Whoa! Hourly wage up $1.23 in 36 years

It's class warfare all right. Warfare on workers.

But we've been saying that all along. Now the Center for American Progress reports the typical American worker's wages rose by $1.23 in the past 36 years. That's an 8.4 percent increase.

It's a good thing housing, tuition, food and gas haven't gone up that much in 36 years.

Oh, wait, they've gone up more. College tuition alone doubled every nine years.  In 1975 the average price of a new house was $39,300 and a gallon of gas cost 44 cents.

Do we need to mention what happened to the rich?

Sotheby's: The international symbol of reckless greed

TWU demonstrates outside of Sotheby's in Australia.
Workers on a third continent are now protesting Sotheby' abuse of its Teamster art handlers as socialites affiliated with the auction house are villified and another Occupy march gears up.

Our TWU brothers and sisters just staged a rally outside of the Sotheby's auction house in Australia. Add that to the direct actions in London and New York -- along with the international press attention -- and you get one hell of a damaged international reputation for Sotheby's.

No wonder the art press calls Sotheby's lockout of 43 Teamsters "idiotic."

Columbia students are now circulating a petition (sign it here) calling on Sotheby's to end the lockout. The petition shames Columbia's president emeritus, Michael Sovern, who is chairman of Sotheby's board of directors.

The wives of Teamsters art handlers last night embarrassed Mayor Bloomberg's galpal, Diana Taylor, who sits on Sotheby's board. Five wives attended the annual neighborhood dinner of the New York Women's Foundation, where Taylor chairs the board of directors. They passed out handbills that read, "Diana 'Wall Street' Taylor: Killing Jobs, Hurting New York Families." Said Pat Walsh, wife of art handler John Walsh,
Sotheby's and Diana Taylor are part of the top 1 percent in this country. As chair of the Women's Foundation, Diana Taylor should support their mission of working for economic security and justice for women. So why, as a board member of Sotheby's Auction House, does she condone Sotheby's throwing hardworking New Yorkers out on the street without paychecks? Our families rely on these good jobs and benefits.
The corporate-owned media is doing its best to discredit the Occupy movement as a bunch of dirty hippies, but it's backfiring in large part because of Sotheby's. Bloomberg News, the mayor's company, reports that the Teamsters' own Dave Martinez symbolizes the 99 percent who are crushed as the 1 percent get richer:
Far from battling unions, Occupy Wall Street has their active support. David Martinez, a shop steward for Teamsters Local 814, has been shuttling between Zuccotti Park and Sotheby’s, the Upper East Side auction house that’s in a labor dispute with its art handlers.

...Martinez, the son of a fireman, will turn 50 in November. He graduated from Pomona College, an elite school in Southern California, got a master’s in religious studies from Yale, and started work on a PhD. He dreamed of being an artist while teaching religious studies; the closest he came was handling art for Sotheby’s, and now even that job is on the ropes.
We are unaware of anyone who has come to Sotheby's defense even as the Teamsters' art handlers continue gather support -- from workers around the world, from the news media, from the art world, from students, from Occupy Wall Street. Tonight, Occupy Museums -- an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street -- will march on Sotheby's in solidarity with the Teamsters.

Even Wall Street may be turning on Sotheby's. Yesterday, an investment analyst downgraded Sotheby's rating from "outperform" to "neutral."

"Idiotic" doesn't begin to describe it.

Today's Teamster News 10.28.11

Internal labor memo warns Ohio union fight could go either way  Washington Post   ...An internal memo from a key labor-backed group in the state is flatly warning that the polls are “flawed” and that a big win for labor is not even “remotely possible...”
Wisconsin voters split on Walker recall in new poll  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ...Wisconsinites are very evenly divided over whether GOP Gov. Scott Walker should be recalled from office, with 48% favoring recall and 49% opposing it, according to a new statewide survey by Public Policy Polling...
Judge hears Fla. retirement contribution case  Associated Press   ...A judge on Wednesday repeatedly challenged the state's defense of a new law that requires public employees to contribute 3 percent of their pay to the Florida Retirement System...
Iowa Senate district 18: Early vote lead for Liz Mathis  Bleeding Heartland   ...Two weeks before the special election in Iowa Senate district 18, the number of absentee ballots requested and returned favored Democratic candidate Liz Mathis over Republican Cindy Golding by a two to one margin...
Mortgage Registry MERS Sued by Delaware Attorney General  Bloomberg   ...The MERS database, which tracks ownership interests in mortgages, impeded the ability of homeowners to fight foreclosures and obscures its data, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said in a complaint filed today...
GDP grows. But how long until full employment?   Washington Post   ... But 2.5 percent growth won’t bring us back to full employment anytime soon...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The auto bailout's happy ending

Not all bailouts are equal. Wall Street's bailout hasn't done much for anyone except for the bankers who are still taking home obscene amounts of money as a reward for looting the middle class.

The auto bailout is something quite different. Our friend Rob Scott at the Economic Policy Institute tells us how the bailout of GM and Chrysler is benefiting the U.S. We'll steal cross-post his blog:
In Dec. 2008, the U.S. auto industry stood on the brink of collapse. The Obama administration negotiated a restructuring plan for the industry that took General Motors and Chrysler through quick bankruptcies, helped get them back on their feet again, and provided bridge financing for auto parts makers and auto finance companies. This plan was widely criticized at the time but restructuring has paid big dividends for the nation, autoworkers and the domestic auto industry.
If the auto industry had been allowed to collapse, between 1.1 and 3.3 million jobs would have been lost between 2009 and 2011. After restructuring, more than 78,000 jobs have been added in U.S. motor vehicle production. All three U.S. auto companies returned to profitability in 2011 and they earned combined profits of nearly $6 billion in the first quarter of this year. Total sales and market share of the Big Three are all up sharply since 2009.
GM, Ford and Chrysler have bargained new labor agreements with the UAW, recently approved by workers at each company, which will ensure increased employment and investments in the United States by all three firms. The completion of these agreements and the strong improvement in the performance of U.S. automakers shows that the Obama administration made a wise decision to invest in the auto industry restructuring package. If the industry had been allowed to fail, costs to federal, state and local governments in the form of reduced tax payments and increased unemployment compensation would have totaled between $83 billion and $249 billion in 2009 alone.
The auto industry restructuring plan has yielded a huge return on taxpayer investment and put the industry and its workers on a solid path to recovery. I estimate the federal, state and local governments saved between $10 and $78 for every net dollar invested in auto industry restructuring—a very savvy investment at a time when failure to intervene would have been catastrophic for the domestic economy.

Small business owner to GOP: You don't know what I need

It's a good thing Congressional Republicans are so focused on dismantling the National Labor Relations Board. That's obviously the best possible way to create desperately needed jobs in this country.

Yes, we're being sarcastic. And a small business owner, Willie West, agrees with us. He posted an opinion piece in The Hill today that deserves reading:
West writes:
As a small business owner, I have an odd experience nearly every time I open a newspaper. Day after day, pundits and politicians — most of whom have no actual experience running a business — rattle off talking points on what I supposedly need. It’s strange. Even though I’ve never hired a K Street consultant, there’s an army of them ready to speak for me. The free public relations service would be nice, but unfortunately the Wall Street rhetoric doesn’t match Main Street’s reality.
Their latest claim is that small business owners such as myself vehemently oppose the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Since the 1930s, the NLRB has been charged with regulating union elections and protecting workers’ rights against violations by both employers and unions. Rep. John Kline of Minnesota is the latest in a string of lawmakers to introduce legislation that would limit, weaken, or dismantle the NLRB altogether. Earlier this month, lawyers and anti-union spokesmen railed against the NLRB in Congressional hearings, claiming this small agency is killing small businesses and, to use Rep. Kline’s phrase, “wreaking havoc” on the economy.
That simply isn’t true.
Reviewing the NLRB’s decisions this summer, I fail to see a single action that will negatively impact my business. I have strained to see how informing workers of their right to form a union or modernizing the outdated union election process will hurt my business. The connection simply isn’t there. These seemingly minor changes certainly do not create uncertainty for me and they will not affect my ability to create jobs. In fact, if the NLRB standardizes the election process, it seems to me that this will reduce uncertainty and turmoil in the workplace — especially for small businesses.
So here’s what a real small businessman says he needs to succeed: talented and committed workers with a voice on the job.
I run a sheet metal company in Sterling, Va., where we fabricate and install sheet metal duct work for ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems. My workers are an integral part of my business and an important asset to its success. They are my business partners, not a line item on my accounting forms.
My employees are members of the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 100 and collective bargaining helps us work together. Despite what you’ve heard, I’m not experiencing any undue burdens because of my union workforce.
Quite the opposite—when I hire a union member, I know I’m getting a qualified, well-trained worker who has undergone rigorous and thorough skills training. Their union provides an educational infrastructure that frankly, as a small business owner, I could not offer on my own. Having these skilled workers means my workplace is safer, which lowers costs, makes my business more efficient, and helps raise profits.
According to groups like the U.S.Chamber of Commerce – who, by the way, have never done a thing to help my business grow – the only way I can succeed is to mimic overseas employers with bottom of the barrel labor practices. Only unskilled workers with no voice will allow my business to thrive, they say.
Read the whole thing here.

This is what we union thugs do on our Friday nights

(UPDATES to correct that Local 727 hosted, STED sponsored; CTHC sponsored.)

We raise money for college scholarships for kids.

Teamsters Local 727 hosted Friday Night boxing on Oct. 7. The proceeds went to the Chicago Teamsters Hispanic Caucus Scholarship Program, which pays for scholarships for the children and grandchildren of active Teamsters.

The evening featured a fight card with eight sanctioned three-round bouts. There was planty of musical entertainment as well: a mariachi band played early, a salsa band during intermission and Teamsters Local 731 member Hector Hernandez III served as the DJ throughout the night.

Cristian Leiva, business representative for Local 727 and a director of the Chicago Teamsters Hispanic Caucus, said it was a great night with incredible turnout:
We wanted to use this event to promote our scholarship program, to encourage our Hispanic members to become more involved in their local unions and to have a good time. We were successful across the board.
Props to Local the Chicago Teamsters Hispanic Conference!

Why this Teamster Occupies Wall Street (video)

Tommy McCallister can speak for himself.

Walker runs into Occupy Iowa

The guy still can't go anywhere. Radio Iowa reports:
Over 150 people gathered on a public sidewalk tonight to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s private appearance at a political fundraiser in West Des Moines.
Walker was the keynote speaker at a Heritage Foundation event held in a hotel ballroom. The protesters stood along the sidewalk outside, getting supportive honks from passing motorists. Iowa Federation of Labor president Ken Sager was among the first to arrive, shortly after five.
“Governor Walker needs to understand that we recognize what he’s done to working people and the middle class in Wisconsin and we don’t need that here in Iowa,” Sager said. “We don’t need to destroy jobs. We need to create jobs.”

Ruh-roh: Union busting bill on agenda in IN

IN Teamsters fighting right-to-freeload earlier this year.
We pretty much knew that the crazies would be back in Indiana after the rock 'em, sock 'em legislative battles of the spring. We were right.
The Associated Press reported,
An Indiana panel is set to tell lawmakers to revive “right-to-work” legislation when they reconvene in January in a move that could set the stage for another showdown with House Democrats, who staged a five-week walkout over a similar proposal this year.
A draft of a report compiled by the Legislature’s Interim Study Committee on Employment says businesses refuse to locate in Indiana because it is not a “right-to-work” state.
Here's some rhetorical ammunition for the upcoming battle, compliments of Peter Armstrong's letter to the editor of the Muskegon Chronicle.
You need to understand what a right to work law does. By law a union must represent all employees in the bargaining unit, even those who are not members of the union. This representation covers negotiation of wages, benefits and safety, as well as a grievance process that protects workers from arbitrary discharge. Right to work does nothing more than allow an employee to receive these benefits without paying his or her fair share. It is not "right to work," it is right to freeload. It is akin to saying, "You will receive all the services of government but you don't have to pay taxes unless you want to."
Right to work laws are also an example of the government interfering with freedom to contract since they prohibit an employer and a union from voluntarily agreeing to certain terms of their contract.
Claims of economic benefits from right to work laws are entirely speculative. Six of the 10 states with the highest unemployment are right to work states.
...Even if you dislike unions and want to see their already diminished political power further reduced, this is not the way to do it. Promoting freeloading is contrary to American values.

Terrific takedown of Paul Ryan

Premium-wine enthusiast Paul Ryan gave a hideous little speech the other day at the Benedict Arnold Koch-funded Heritage Foundation.  We're lucky that Charles Pierce over at Esquire found time to dissect Ryan's screed.

Here's what the Wisconsin congressman had to say:
We're coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition. Because what we will end up doing is we will convert our safety net system ... into a hammock that ends up lulling people into lives of dependency and complacency which drains them of their incentive and the will to make the most of their lives.
Pierce points out that we don't "make" much in this country any more:
...the reason that we don't make much in this country any more is because, 30 years ago, we put our brains in cold storage and started taking crackpot conservative economics seriously. The difference between a maker and a taker in the economy is whether or not the widget plant moved to China, or whether or not the company got broken up and its pension plan pillaged because some deregulated Wall Street ferret created a new way to steal other people's money. That's what we "make" now: complicated new financial instruments with which the "makers" can lift our wallets.
Pierce then asks how long Ryan accepted Social Security benefits:

Tell us, congressman, when you were skating for a couple of years on your Social Security survivor's benefits, and when your family stayed on the government dole for longer that that, "taking" from, among other people, my parents and me, how did you manage not to be "lulled" into a life of "complacency" and "dependency"? How were you not "drained" of your "incentive"? How was your "will to make the most of your life" not drained, as well. What's the magic number? Two years on the dole? Three? Five? Let us know so we can stop pestering you and find our bootstraps....
Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 10.27.11

Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests  New York Times   ...The protests showed little sign of slacking...
Crony Capitalism Comes Home (opinion)  New York Times   ...while alarmists seem to think that the movement is a “mob” trying to overthrow capitalism, one can make a case that, on the contrary, it highlights the need to restore basic capitalist principles like accountability...
Repealing SB5: On the verge of victory in Ohio  In These Times   ...Two weeks before Election Day, a union canvasser says efforts to repeal the state's new anti-union law through the ballot are paying off...
Wis. Democrats to start process of recalling Gov. Scott Walker  The Advance-Titan   ...United Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will have 60 days beginning on Nov. 15 to gather 540, 206 valid signatures for a recall election on Gov. Scott Walker to occur...
Ethics commission tosses Teamsters complaint against Scott  Palm Beach Post   ...The Florida Commission on Ethics dismissed a complaint filed by the Teamsters accusing Gov. Rick Scott of a conflict of interest in a prison privatization plan ordered by the legislature...
Why is the SEC Willing to Get Aggressive and Creative on Big Names Only in Insider Trading Cases? (opinion)  naked capitalism   ... Given the level of criminality in the top echelons in the US, we should see a lot more in the way of prosecutions...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Romney head spinner: Now he's FOR SB5

Mitt Romney once again proves he'll say anything to get elected president of the United States.

Yesterday he went to an Ohio phone bank where Republican lackeys were making phone calls in support of SB5. But Romney wouldn't say if he was for or against the union-busting bill. He'd probably seen the polls showing the measure going down to a big defeat.

Turns out Romney had already said he was for it.

So now he says he's 110 percent behind SB5.

Perhaps The New Republic's headline, "Mitt on Ohio's Union Fight: A Flip Too Far?" persuaded him to take a stand.

More likely it was the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers-linked Club for Growth, which issued a statement saying,
The big problem many conservatives have with Mitt Romney is that he’s taken both sides of nearly every issue important to us...He thinks that collective bargaining issues should be left for states to decide if he’s [in] Ohio, but he took the opposite position when he was in New Hampshire. This is just another statement in a long line of statements that will raise more doubts about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be in the minds of many Republican primary voters.

Sotheby's to get another Occupation

Sotheby's previous unwelcome visitors.
Art Info's In The Air blog reports that Sotheby's will have more unwelcome visitors tomorrow evening:
After an initial protest action that struck a controversial chord, Occupy Museums is barreling ahead with another occupation of MoMA and then a trip to Sotheby’s, where the group will support the picket line of Teamsters Local 814, the Sotheby’s art handler union who have been locked out of their jobs for the past three months after protests over planned cuts.
At 4 p.m., Occupy Museums will meet at MoMA along with members of Teamsters Local 814, then march (or take the bus) to Sotheby’s at 1334 York Avenue just in time for the house’s evening auction at 6 p.m., which the art handlers union will be picketing. On the group’s Facebook page, they write that Occupy Museums is meant to “claim space for dialog and transparency through the physical presence of our bodies. It is to hold space that was previously inaccessible.” As occupiers, the group will “bring the General Assembly to the doors of the museum, to engage in a dialog about the relationships between the arts and capitalism.”
You may be wondering what, exactly, is Occupy Museums. In The Air has the answer:
We are artists, art lovers, and art workers! We live and love art and are committed to its growth. However, we see many museums in their current manifestations as key elements of a larger system whose funding structure and relationship to the market, disempowers artists, and alienates art from the 99%. Value is manufactured by false scarcity, propped up by the cult of celebrity and the parlor game of speculation. This undermines the potential power of art to be a much greater force in our society. 

More Koch brother shenanigans in MI

The Benedict Arnold Koch brothers are at it again. When they aren't selling capital goods to America's No. 1 enemy, they're trying to destroy the American middle class.

The Koch-funded Tea Party front group, Americans for Prosperity, put out a poll in Michigan that alleged strong support for right-to-work legislation to destroy unions.

There was one teensy little problem. The words "right to work" didn't appear in the poll.  The question asked was, "Do you support or oppose giving Michigan workers the right not to be forced to join a union?"

As all good Teamsters know, it is against federal law to force someone to join a union.

Ironically, the "poll" from AFP actually showed that 71 percent of Michigan voters essentially support Michigan's current free bargaining system, which does not "force" workers to join a union.

About that phony skills shortage

Every trucker knows about the shortage of truck drivers that doesn't exist. What the trucking industry constantly complains about is a shortage of truck drivers willing to work for slave wages. Their solution, of course, is to open the border to dangerous trucks from Mexico.

The truth came out in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) today:
Some of the complaints about skill shortages boil down to the fact that employers can't get candidates to accept jobs at the wages offered. That's an affordability problem, not a skill shortage. A real shortage means not being able to find appropriate candidates at market-clearing wages. We wouldn't say there is a shortage of diamonds when they are incredibly expensive; we can buy all we want at the prevailing prices.
Robert Oak over at the Economic Populist points to the real problem with the skills of American workers: U.S. corporations won't train their employees any more. Apprenticeship programs disappeared. So did management training programs. Private investment in training is down. And today 44 percent of corporations don't offer any kind of tuition reimbursement, up from 35 percent in 2007.

Concludes Oak,
Once again we see pretty much a complete disregard for the U.S. citizen worker, student and U.S. middle class. No jobs, no training, no investment in America and especially Americans. Opportunity denied at every turn to the point the U.S. has a gini coefficient above the entire industrialized world and third world social mobility. Maybe we should change the nation's title, United States of America, to Disposable American Land instead.

Iowa: The next Wisconsin?

The turmoil that roiled Wisconsin this spring could be repeated in Iowa, as control of the state's agenda is up for grabs.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad comes right out of the Scott Walker mold. He's a quisling for reactionary billionaires like the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers. And he has the Iowa House on his side.

Until now, Branstad's anti-middle-class agenda has been held in check by a 26-24 Democratic majority in the Iowa state Senate. Branstad, though, named a Democratic senator to a statewide board so he could call a special election and try to capture control of the Senate. If the Republican wins, the Senate would be evenly divided, and the reactionary lieutenant governor would break any tie.

Right now, Senate candidate Liz Mathis is all that's standing between sanity and the complete Kochification of Iowa. She's the Democratic candidate for state Senate in a district that leans slightly Republican. Mathis' opponent, Cindy Golding, loathes unions. Here's some crap from Golding's website:
By protecting Iowa’s right-to-work law, Cindy supports an individual’s right to choose to participate in a union. This freedom is vital to attracting new business to the state and to creating the jobs we so desperately need.
blogforiowa reports on what's likely to happen if Golding wins:
The Republican governor and State House want to kill HAWK-I, Iowa’s health insurance program for low- and middle-class children.
They want to kill universal pre-school.
They want to kill collective bargaining rights for hard working teachers, nurses, firefighters and other community heroes.
They want to discriminate by taking away the rights of some Iowans to get married.
The election is only two weeks away. Check out Mathis' website to find out how you can help.

Entitled jerks get nasty surprise at Sotheby's bash

Teamsters and OWS at Sotheby's on Thursday.
Sotheby's socialites learned last night that they were justifiably concerned about the turmoil surrounding the auction house -- the protests, the international news coverage, the disruptions, the embarrassing youtube videos.

Brown Brothers Harriman, an investment firm representing the 1 percent, was holding a private "investment seminar and prints exhibition" at Sotheby's on Tuesday night. An email was sent to attendees assuring them that locked-out Teamsters from Local 814 wouldn't create any problems.

Surprise! Teamsters from Local 814 created problems. They made an unpleasant ruckus as BBH bankers entered the auction house and handed them flyers saying:
Brown Brothers Harriman
Banking on Misery
Brown Brothers is know for targeting clients in the top 1%, so it makes sense that tonight’s investment seminar is at Sotheby’s, where CEO Bill Ruprecht locked out Sotheby’s art handlers and refuses to negotiate a contract in good faith.

Sotheby’s longtime employees were thrown onto the streets without paychecks three months ago. They are now struggling to support their wives and children...
Brown Brothers Harriman and Sotheby’s are part of the top 1% that are willing to destroy families just to siphon a few more dollars their way. While Sotheby's starves the lockedout workers' families and entertains the 1% at investment seminars, Brown Brothers goes along for the ride.
Sotheby's was freaked out by the action. According to Local 814 organizer Julian Tysh:
We had a good turnout. We made lots of noise. We yelled at Brown Brothers bankers...they were not happy. Tommy McCallister was taking people's pictures as they were crossing our line.
And from shop steward Dave Martinez:
Yeah, we kicked their ass - we were totally belligerent - and those trust funders totally hated us. They are not gonna forget it.
Keep up the good fight, brothers!

Inspiration Wednesday: 'The Workers' Song'

This one's for you.

Today's Teamster News 10.26.11

Top Earners Doubled Share of Nation’s Income, Study Finds  New York Times   ...government policy has become less redistributive since the late 1970s, doing less to reduce the concentration of income...
U.S. Expected to Charge Executive Tied to Galleon Case  New York Times   ...Federal prosecutors are expected to file criminal charges on Wednesday against Rajat K. Gupta, the most prominent business executive ensnared in an aggressive insider trading investigation...
Televangelist Pat Robertson Calls GOP Field Too ‘Extreme’ To Win General Election  ThinkProgress   ... You know you’ve hit rock bottom when one of the most radical, hate-spewing figures in America calls you “extreme.”...
EU rescue plans hostage to raw politics  The Telegraph   ...Europe's debt crisis has taken a deeply political turn as parliamentary battles rock Italy and Greece and once again cause simmering dissent in Germany, vastly complicating the search for a workable solution...
Romney supported Kasich laws in June  Politico   ...In a visit to Ohio today, Mitt Romney declined to state on his position on a high-profile referendum there on the new state law that curtails the bargaining rights of public employee unions. But earlier this year, Romney indicated support for the reforms signed by Gov. John Kasich...
Wis. Dems Kicking Off Rallies And Training For Recall-Walker Effort  Talking Points Memo   ...Wisconsin Democrats are gearing up for their petition drive to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, in the wake of his anti-public employee union legislation, with a series of public rallies and closed volunteer-training sessions...
Judge Blocks Florida's New Welfare Drug Testing Law  Associated Press   ...A federal judge temporarily blocked Florida's new law that requires welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving benefits on Monday, saying it may violate the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

VIDEO: LA port drivers seek justice

The video speaks for itself.

Strange SB5 developments

As the hated anti-union bill SB5 heads toward defeat in Ohio, presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited a phone bank today to encourage Republicans fighting for the bill.

Only Romney refused to take a position on SB5.

According to a tweet by Peter Hamby at CNN:
10/25/11 11:02 AM

Incredible moments in politics: Romney visits OH GOP phone bank to rally troops opposing SB5 repeal, but refuses to take a position on SB5
On top of that, ThinkProgress reports that a right-wing radio talk show host is opposing SB5:
Ohio right-wing radio host Bill Cunningham is taking a surprising stance on GOP Gov. John Kasich’s (R) anti-workers’ rights law, Senate Bill 5, which will face a referendum come Nov. 8. Cunningham, a Rush Limbaugh disciple, recently recorded a message blasting the “rock-red Republican conservative” Kasich for failing to meet with the labor unions over the elimination of their collective bargaining rights, saying “he was wrong.” “From my perspective, those affected by governmental decisions need to have a place at the bargaining table to determine the outcome of what’s being discussed,” he said. “The best Americans I know are cops, firefighters, and teachers. They’re reasonable and they’re good people,” he added, urging Ohioans to vote no on Issue 2 (which would repeal the law).  

Occupy is working

Occupy Wall Street picketing with locked-out Teamsters.
 Bloomberg News reports that the Occupy movement is pushing cities to stop doing business with the banks that caused our economic troubles.
Advocates for the poor are using the Occupy Wall Street protests in city halls to push municipalities to divest from banks blamed by demonstrators for the global financial crisis and persistent unemployment in its wake.
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors weighed such a move yesterday during a hearing in which activists, including supporters of the local Occupy SF encampment, urged the adoption of policies that would prompt big banks into modifying mortgages for struggling homeowners.

Communities from California to New York are considering demands to halt doing business with some of the biggest U.S. banks, or at least to focus attention on their local investment activity. The Los Angeles City Council on Oct. 12 accelerated plans to issue report cards on lenders that may lead the nation’s second-most populous city to withdraw funds from those that score poorly on criteria such as home-loan modifications. New York City may make a similar change in bank-selection rules.
Sounds good to us. Read the whole thing here.

Cross-border trucking: Full employment program for ambulance chasers

The San Diego Reader posted this tongue-in-cheek comment about opening the border to dangerous Mexican trucks:
"I understand that (U.S. Rep. Duncan) Hunter wants to protect American jobs, but does he have any idea how many unemployed lawyers there are in California right now? More Mexican trucks means more Mexican truck-related accidents on California's roadways, and that means more Mexican truck-related accident lawsuits and legal proceedngs in California's courtrooms. And at the end of the day, if you're a congressman looking to close up California's massive budget deficit, you're better off having an employed lawyer than an employed trucker."

Teamsters Occupy All Over

Oct. 15 Occupy Tri-Cities Meeting from Whitman Pioneer on Vimeo.

We took a quick spin around the Internets this morning to find where Teamsters have been occupying. The short answer: All over.

Teamsters Joint Council 7 strongly supports Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco. The Joint Council donated bathroom tissue, bottled water and bales of hay to a march and rally last week. Teamsters brought along their "Stop the War on Workers" signs to the rally.

In Miami, Local 769 joined 14 organizations signing a letter asking government officials to support the Occupy movement.

Here's what Occupy Miami looks like, according to the Miami Herald:

There are no immediate plans to boot the group from their makeshift community of tents stationed at the rear of the Miami-Dade Government Center, 111 NW First St., according to county officials. A steadily growing group of 40 to 50 “occupiers” have slept overnight at the camp since Saturday, using tents and ponchos to shield from the rain. 
Your News Now quoted Local 657's President Phil Bunker at Occupy Austin. Bunker said he's outraged by the high number of minimum wage jobs in Texas. Writes YNN:

"It's not going to change this year, it's not going to change next year, but with activities of this sort, it will change," Bunker said.

Occupy Austin began on Oct. 6 and organizers say they have no plans of ending the occupation.
The Pioneer reported on an Oct. 15 rally in Walla Walla, Wash.:
Representatives from labor unions turned out in force, including members of the local teachers’ association and the Teamsters union.
“This is not a union gathering,” explained preschool teacher and Teamster member Tina Urban. “It’s not a left or a right [movement]. The middle class is deteriorating and going away.”
Teamsters at Occupy Hartford met up with the antiwar movement on Oct. 16, according to CT News Junkie:
Dan Durso of Teamsters Local 559 recalled the Edwin Starr song, “War (What Is It Good For?)” The crowd shouted back the refrain “absolutely nothing.”

But he said there are some wars worth fighting like the “war on bigotry, or the war on hunger, or the war on ignorance, or what about the war on corporate greed? Now there‘s a war worth fighting.”

“It’s great to see us fighting back. The U.S. wants to occupy the Middle East to protect American interests, American interests otherwise known as Exxon Mobile. We’re occupying Wall Street for American interests also. Interests like economic justice and social justice,” Durso said. “We’re occupying Turning Point Park in Hartford for American interests such as living wage jobs, Social Security, and health care for all.”
We'll keep you posted as the Occupation wears on.

Today's Teamster News 10.25.11

Opposition To Ohio's SB 5 Grows, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Women, Union Members Push Kasich Deeper In Hole  Quinnipiac University   ...Ohio voters support 57 - 32 percent the repeal of SB 5, the centerpiece of Gov. John Kasich's legislative program, as the margin against the governor's measure has almost doubled in the last month, from 51 - 38 percent for repeal September 27, a 13-point margin, to a 25-point margin...
Vatican Calls for Oversight of the World’s Finances  New York Times   ...The Vatican called on Monday for an overhaul of the world’s financial systems, and again proposed establishment of a supranational authority to oversee the global economy, calling it necessary to bring more democratic and ethical principles to a marketplace run amok...
Occupy Wall Street protesters making preparations for long, cold winter in Zuccotti Park  Daily News   ...If Mayor Bloomberg thinks Occupy Wall Street protesters will fold up camp once winter sets in, he better think again...
Rick Scott Says He May Reject Federal Education Funding He Already Applied For  ThinkProgress   ...Gov. Rick Scott said Florida will reject a federal early learning grant if it comes with strings attached...
Another Dept. of Workforce Development Secretary Abandons Ship  blue cheddar   ...(Gov. Scott) Walker ran on a promise of creating 250,000 jobs by 2014, but job creation numbers released by the DWD during Walker’s short time in office have been dismal...
Greektown Casino workers OK agreement  Detroit News   ...Workers at Greektown Casino voted today to ratify a new, four-year agreement by a margin of 3-1, said Shawn Ellis, communications director for Teamsters Local 372...

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Occupy" takes on the Koch brothers

You knew it had to happen sooner or later. Occupy Atlanta is demanding that the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers take their money out of politics.

They've put up a Facebook page, "Capitulation or Levitation: Occupy Atlanta takes on the Koch brothers." Here's what they say:
We demand that the Koch brothers withdraw all of their money from politics by 5:00pm on Tuesday October 27th. If they do not capitulate we will levitate the Georgia Pacific headquarters where they do their business. Capitulation or levitation? The choice is theirs.
Occupy Atlanta is taking a page from the antiwar movement of the 1960s. Protesters threatened to levitate the Pentagon. It didn't work, but it got some attention.

How not to hire an American (VIDEO)

Thanks to Robert Oak at the Economic Populist for this shocking video. Oak posted it as part of a report about the Teamsters' good friend U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio.  DeFazio learned that stimulus money -- your tax dollars -- were hard at work hiring foreign guest workers.

Writes Oak,
A host of Oregon forest thinning and clearing jobs, created by the American Recovery Act and funded by taxpayer dollars, went to foreigners, brought over on H-2B guest worker visas, instead of unemployed Americans. DeFazio fought and obtained funding for those forest projects and jobs in the 2009 Stimulus bill. DeFazio assumed with so many unemployed and desperate U.S. Citizens in his state, of course those jobs would go to them. He was wrong.
 Read the whole thing here.

Momma Was A Teamster (VIDEO)

A hat tip to our sister Diane Ersbo, who posted this on the Teamster Women Facebook page.

iszikala, who we assume is a Cheesehead, explains how she came to record the song:
I cracked myself up one day in the Labor Temple when I walked past the labor mural in the stairwell and the first 2 lines of this song popped into my head. So I went home and wrote the song, put together a GarageBand soundtrack, and made a slideshow. The first slides are pretty lame, but maybe someone in my family will come up with some better pictures for that. The later slides are from the Wisconsin protests of this last year.
In the interest of full disclosure: My mom really was a Teamster, and she really did negotiate for her teacher's union the year they had a strike, in Beloit in the 70's. Of course she wasn't a Teamster when she was a teacher; that was later when she worked for the state of Michigan.
My dad did pick up a lot of slack around home when my mom went back to work, but he wasn't a total housedad. He was very politically active as well. Also the strike was when I was in my teens, and we didn't have a baby at the time. So really maybe my little brother was learning to ride a bike.
The last photo is of my mom & dad earlier this year when they came with us up to the Capitol to protest. They are pretty cool.

Occupy Newsrooms

David Carr at the New York Times reports on two big media companies that share Wall Street's foul characteristics: risky borrowing, incompetent management and a culture of personal enrichment.

Ironically, one of those companies is Gannett. Ironic, because Gannett owns USA Today. Recently, notes Carr, USA Today ran an editorial that said,
The bonus system has gone beyond a means of rewarding talent and is now Wall Street’s primary business. Institutions take huge gambles because the short-term returns are a rationale for their rich payouts. But even when the consequences of their risky behavior come back to haunt them, they still pay huge bonuses.
Writes Carr:
If you were looking for bonus excess despite miserable operations, the best recent example I can think of is Gannett, which owns USA Today.
The week before the editorial ran, Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett’s chief executive. His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster. Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.
Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.
Given that legacy, it was about time Mr. Dubow was shown the door, right? Not in the current world we live in. Not only did Mr. Dubow retire under his own power because of health reasons, he got a mash note from Marjorie Magner, a member of Gannett’s board, who said without irony that “Craig championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information.”
But the board gave him far more than undeserved plaudits. Mr. Dubow walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits. That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years.
And in case you thought they were paying up just to get rid of a certain way of doing business — slicing and dicing their way to quarterly profits — Mr. Dubow was replaced by Gracia C. Martore, the company’s president and chief operating officer. She was Mr. Dubow’s steady accomplice in working the cost side of the business, without finding much in the way of new revenue. She has already pocketed millions in bonuses and will now be in line for even more.
Carr also takes on the Teamsters old nemesis, Sam Zell.
The Tribune Company, a chain of newspapers and television stations run into the ground by Sam Zell after he bought it in 2007, is paying out tens of millions of dollars in bonuses as part of a deal in which it would exit bankruptcy.
Over 4,000 people in the company lost their jobs, and the journalistic missions of formerly robust newspapers it operates — including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun — have been curtailed. And even though Randy Michaels and some of his corporate fraternity brothers who operated the company into bankruptcy are gone, more than 600 managers who were there while the company cratered remain.
Not only do they have jobs while so many others were sent packing, but the remaining leadership will be eligible for a bonus pool from $26.4 million to $32.4 million under the current plan.
And we can heartily agree with Carr's conclusion about people "who are content to slide people out of the back of the truck until it runs out of gas:"
(They) not only don’t deserve tens of millions in bonuses, they don’t deserve jobs.