Saturday, March 31, 2012

Republic sues Teamsters for telling the truth

NH Labor News invited us to repost this item, and we are taking NHLN up on it:

For many people in New Hampshire and around the United States, flying is part of everyday life. Many people commute to work on small aircraft. In New Hampshire, I personally know people who commute to New York, and DC weekly. The Manchester / Boston Regional airport uses a mix of major and commuter airlines to provide airline service to New Hampshire. Republic Airlines, which I will discuss more about, is the largest commuter airline to fly in and out of New Hampshire.

For pilots, flying can be a great career choice. Big airlines seem tempting with perks like international trips, retirement plans, five day on / seven days off, and pay that could exceed $250,000. For most pilots, these luxury flying jobs are becoming harder and harder to get. Most of the pilots flying today are flying smaller commuter jets, and for smaller commuter airlines. Commuter airlines used to be the place where newer pilots would work to gain hours and experience before being hired for a "major" airline.

As the aviation industry grew and fuel costs get higher and higher, airlines have been forced to cut back. They have raised the prices of tickets and cut the wages of pilots. According to the average commuter airline pilot makes between $16,000 and $60,000 per year. That may seem like a good number but what they are not telling you is that starting pay is $16,000 and their top pay is $60,000. For Republic Airlines the starting salary for a co-pilot (entry level) is $35,000. This does not seem like adequate pay for someone who is handling the lives of millions of people a year. The life of a commuter pilot is no picnic. They work 10-14 hours per day, and fly around 23 days a month. This means they get 7 full days off in a month, that is if you live at the home base of the airline. If you have to commute to your airlines hub airport to start your work week, you may loose one of your days off.

Pilots have long known the power of organizing and being members of unions. Most of the major airlines are represented by the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). Recently the Teamsters have been working to organize some of the commuter airlines. Indianapolis based Republic Airlines (RAH) is one of the largest commuter airlines in the market. For the last five years RAH Pilots have been working without a contract. It has become so bad with RAH and the Teamsters that Local 357 members have already voted to strike. They have been in heated contract negotiations since 2007.

Now RAH is attempting to sue the Teamsters for their website Why would you ask? Because it is causing problems with RAH hiring new pilots. “As a result of these inaccurate statements,” the airlines said, “Republic has had an increase in the number of pilots who have not called back for interviews and dropped out of the application process (1).” RAH is working to quickly hire enough pilots to continue operations if and when the union goes on strike. The Teamsters are just telling the prospective applicants what it is really like working for RAH.

Here are a few examples (2):
Incredibly long upgrade time. Currently 5 years. For a pilots hired today, they need the fleet to double, or for roughly 800 current First Officers to upgrade before they could upgrade.

It is not uncommon to have a few flights of your schedule canceled. Flights cancel, that's life. But at RAH, you don't get paid for them unless the company finds something else for you to do. For many of our pilots, this could constitute a 20% pay cut any given month. Cancellations strike without regard to seniority, paycheck, or previous cancellations.

RAH displaced an entire base of pilots from HNL (yes, Honolulu) to LGA (yes, New York City). How much time were the pilots given to make the move, you ask? 3 weeks. 3 weeks to cancel their leases and relocate their lives 5,000 miles away.
As you can see these are merely statements of facts from the people who are actually working for the airline, not people paid to promote the airline. These points are also very important to potential pilots. Remember how I said that RAH starts pilots out at $35,000 per year. Without any contract, the pilots have not received any raises in over four years, and the average "upgrade time" is five years. That means if you take this job, it will be five years or more before you will move from co-pilot to captain, and you will make $35,000 max. That is if you fly all of the flights they have planned for you. Lets hope they do not cancel any of your flights, because if your not flying their not paying.

Good pilots are hard to find. Republic Airlines should be respecting their pilots and working with the Teamsters to create a collective bargaining agreement. They should not be trying to hire a secondary workforce so they can fire all the union workers when they go on strike. These corporate tactics should not be allowed and public needs to be aware of these actions as well. I applaud the Teamsters for speaking the truth and working to spread the word about the horrible treatment of Republic Airlines employees. I went to college with many pilots who now work for Republic Airlines. To them I say, Stay Strong!

Additional Information

Teamsters Local 357 represents pilots and airline crew from Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines, Shuttle America, and Frontier Airlines.


Today's Teamster News 03.31.12

A Health Law at Risk Gives Insurers Pause  New York Times   ...As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of the federal health care law, one option that had seemed unthinkable to its designers and supporters now seems at least possible: that the court could strike down the entire law...
Despite accord, ‘Made in the USA’ no driving force for South Koreans  Washington Times   ...“I don’t think there’s going to be a massive increase in American cars in Korea,” said Victor Cha, chairman of the Korea program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “They like what they make over there. And they like BMWs and Mercedes, not Cadillac” among imported luxury vehicles...
Corporate Taxation - The Next Race to the Bottom  Tax Justice Network   ...If it is allowed to continue, the tax race will undermine what little is left of progressive taxation all over the globe as well as our slow economic recovery. On the one hand, it threatens to throw more and more of the costs of essential government services onto the backs of the middle class and the poor, slash their services even deeper, and cost them jobs, even as they are still struggling to recover from the “1%-made” financial crisis. On the other hand, the tax race threatens to force governments around the world to go even deeper into debt...
Economist Debate: Airport Security (Opinion)  The Economist   ...Exactly two things have made air travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers that they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money...
Women In Trucking Celebrates Safe Driving at MATS  Truckinginfo   ...The group included 67 women who had driven one-million accident-free miles...
CEO pay rises again in 2011, while workers struggle to find work  USA Today   ...Employees are starting to see some wage growth ... Average weekly earnings for all employees rose 2.7% in 2011 ... Real average weekly earnings, which are adjusted for inflation, though, have fallen 1.2% from the October 2010 peak through February ...
Some Red Cross workers in state go on strike  Associated Press   ...More than 200 American Red Cross workers in Michigan are on strike in a dispute related to contract negotiations. Red Cross spokeswoman Monica Stoneking told The Associated Press that some blood drives had been canceled or rescheduled because of today’s work stoppage...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Holy Moley! Spain's general strike

The people of Spain are furious about the austerity their government imposed on them (and that Paul Ryan is trying to impose on us).

Hard to blame them. Their unemployment rate is 23 percent, and somehow the solution to that is to take away workers' rights. The Spanish workers' answer: a rock 'em, sock 'em 24-hour general strike on Thursday.

As Expatica reported,
Recession-hit Spaniards staged a 24-hour general strike and took to the streets Thursday in anger over labour reforms, austerity cuts and soaring unemployment.
Carrying placards declaring "Work Reform, No", unions picketed businesses, wholesale markets, industry, banks and public transport hubs as police deployed in heavy numbers.

Workers walked out a day before ministers adopt a 2012 budget set to axe tens of billions of euros more in spending, adding to cuts that have already squeezed public services...
Spain's major CCOO and UGT unions called the strike over the right-leaning government's February 11 labour reform which makes it cheaper to lay off staff and easier to cut salaries.
They plan protests in 100 towns and cities.
"If they don't go back on the reform there will be a growing social conflict until they fix it," said CCOO general secretary Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, warning of a new show of force on May 1.
Minimum service agreements kept schools and hospitals open, ensured that 20-30 percent of trains and buses ran, and allowed some planes to fly despite Iberia, Air Nostrum and Vueling cancelling two-thirds of flights.
The Guardian has amazing photos here.

Woo-hoo! Key parts of WI anti-union law thrown out

We're admitting to feeling very good about the very bad day Dairyland Dictator Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is having. Not only did the elections board order his recall election, but a federal judge struck down parts of his precious Act 10.

The judge said it was unconstitutional to require government employee unions (except for law enforcement and firefighters) to be recertified every year by a majority. He also ruled it was unconstitutional to ban them from voluntarily deducting their dues from their paychecks. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports,
Several major unions had challenged the fact that Act 10 required absolute majority union recertification and denied voluntary union dues deductions as to general employee unions.
The court found those provisions violated the union members' First Amendment rights, considering that the same rules did not apply to unions for public safety workers like police and firefighters.
"So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," wrote U.S. District Judge William M. Conley.
Their collective bargaining rights are still severely restricted, thanks to Walker. But still...

As @steelekelly tweeted,
Walker's politically-motivated exclusion of cops & firefighters from attacks on unions has officially backfired. #wiunion #wirecall

This is what solidarity feels like

(UPDATES to correct typo in last graf, spotted by @trkrsvoice)

We're hoping to hear some good news soon from our brothers and sisters at Republic Services. In the meantime, we again praise the remarkable solidarity of 400 Teamsters in New York, Ohio and Washington. They refused to cross the picket line, giving up their pay, to help out their 24 brothers in Mobile.

Alternet had a story about the spreading sympathy strike. The reporter interviewed Alabama striker Robert Agee.
“It means a whole lot to know that other guys stand behind us…” says Alabama striker Robert Agee. “To have that much support from people you don’t even know means a whole lot.” That solidarity – from South to Northeast to Midwest to Northwest – may be what brought Republic back to the negotiating table for the first time in months.
The photo above shows a FedEx driver refusing to cross the Republic picket line in Mobile. That should lift all our spirits. The company had to send a representative out to sign for the packages. We hope that was a very long walk.

Red Cross strike spreads to MI, grows in OH

The front line in the War on Workers.

"Non-profit" doesn't mean "non-greedy," which is why workers at the American Red Cross in Lansing were forced to strike today. About 150 workers represented by the Teamsters and the Office and Professional Employees International Union had to walk out over cuts in health care benefits and dangerous understaffing. They join 400 striking Red Cross workers in Ohio.

The Red Cross rakes in $2 billion a year from blood donations, and yet it wants to take away workers' restroom and fatigue breaks. Workers fear their exhaustion could lead to mistakes and endanger the blood supply. Red Cross has already racked up more than $40 million in fines from the Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, Red Cross pays CEO Gail McGovern more than $1 million a year with unlimited restroom breaks.
McGovern received a letter from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, saying:
Red Cross employees have made every attempt to settle outstanding contract issues. They love the work they do, but long shifts with short staff and high pressure, combined with management’s insistence on replacing their quality health insurance with a far inferior one, has left them no other choice.
Earlier this week, 150 Red Cross workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) walked off the job in Toledo, Ohio. They joined 250 Teamsters who were forced to strike in Cleveland on February 14.

Lansing Red Cross Teamsters have been without a contract for nearly 3 years. Jennifer Hemstreet has been a mobile unit assistant for blood drives in Lansing for 19 years. She said,
I want Red Cross to bargain in good faith over our health care. Blood donors provide their own blood for free and Red Cross turns around and sells it for $250 or more a pint. They say it’s to pay my salary, but it doesn’t add up. The CEO of Red Cross makes more than $1 million a year.
Michael Parker, secretary-treasurer of Local 580 in Lansing, pledges to fight Red Cross for the right to bargain over health care:
They are cutting the health benefits of their employees around Ohio, Michigan and everywhere else ... the big shots in Washington are feasting over workers’ sacrifices. If you ask me, the Red Cross is infected with greed.
View photos of these brave workers here.

Teamsters Marchin' on the Ritz in Boston

This is how you build a middle class.
Hundreds of Boston Teamsters staged an ear-shattering rally outside of the veddy, veddy upscale Ritz-Carlton yesterday on behalf of 330 parking workers. Some of them work for the employer, Central Parking, at the Ritz garage. They voted to join Local 25 on Feb. 8.

You know what happened next: Central Parking stalled the certification process and fired union supporters.

And so Teamsters -- including parking workers from New York and California -- raised a hellacious noise while marching on the narrow sidewalk outside of the posh hotel in downtown Boston. The local's semi was parked nearby, making it clear which union was outside the house.

Brother Ernie Yates flew in from San Francisco to rouse the crowd at the rally. Yates is secretary-treasurer of Local 665 and chairman of the Teamsters National Parking Council. We don't know exactly what he said yesterday, but here's his take on parking from a few years ago:
When I first became a member of the Teamsters, I was parking cars at age 17 and did that for 13 years. I’ve seen some real changes in the parking industry over the years but one thing has stayed constant—this is tough work. When I first started doing this job, I thought it was the easiest job in the world. But it is not. You’re constantly moving, which is exhausting. It is also stressful because it is a job that requires a lot of skill. To be able to back up through a crowded garage and swing it into an extremely tight spot before hopping out the window of the car and moving on to the next one—it is not easy.
Local 25 President, Sean O'Brien, said the company should work with its workers, not against them:
Parking attendants and frontline workers are usually the first and sometimes only interaction drivers have with the company.
Teamsters Local 25 believes that all workers should have the right to organize and fight for quality wages and benefits. Instead of investing in the people who drive the company, Central Parking would rather invest in keeping out the union.
The local filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board over Central Parking's harassment of workers during the eleciton. The company fired union sympathizers and intimidated workers into voting no. Once a union-friendly employee was physically assaulted.

(Btw, we always love it when corporate thugs like Central hide behind pretty websites and slogans like, "The Leader in Professional Parking Management.")

Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

WI to Walker: 'Time's up!'

Actually, only four fake names.
Wisconsin's elections board today officially ordered the recall election of Dairyland Dictator Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four anti-worker state senators. Walker's Waterloo is scheduled for June 5, while the state senators will meet theirs on May 8.

What is truly amazing is the integrity of the 900,000+ signatures collected by 30,000 volunteers. Only four were potentially fake, according to the elections board lawyer. (Fungky Van Den Elzen was deemed a real name.)

A new poll shows Walker would lose to a generic Democrat. According to National Journal,
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is running neck-and-neck against a generic Democratic opponent in a new NBC News/Marist survey of the state's all-but-certain recall election released on Friday morning.
A generic Democrat holds a small lead over Walker -- 48 percent to 46 percent -- which falls within the poll's margin of error. Independents are split, with 45 percent favoring Walker and 46 percent going for the Democrat.
Voters are similarly split evenly when it comes to Walker's job approval numbers: Forty-eight percent approve of the job he is doing while 48 percent disapprove.
Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is the current frontrunner on the Democratic side, but she may soon get some company in the Democratic race from another big name. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010, will announce before Tuesday whether he will run. 
StandUpWisconsin tweeted it best:
Time to turn up the volume! Ramp up the action! Get out the vote & #reclaimWI!

So you think you have the right to vote?

Think again. Voter suppression laws -- masquerading as "voter ID" -- are spreading like chicken pox throughout the states.

We found this terrific infographic from Craig Newmark, who founded Craig's List. It shows:
  • There were 164 bills introduced in states that would restrict voting in the 2012 election.
  • 21 new voter suppression laws and two executive actions were passed to suppress voting since the beginning of 2011.
  • 5 million eligible voters may find it too hard to cast a ballot in the 2012 election because of these new laws.
  • 4 states passed laws restricting the kind of ID that can be used to identify yourself at the ballot box, with 5 more pending.
  • 18 percent of people over 65 don't have that kind of ID.
  • More than 20 million voters don't have the kind of ID needed in states where these new laws were passed.
  • 2 states passed laws outlawing voter registration drives.
There's way more. We realize the infographic is impossible to read. We just put it there to tantalize you and direct you here for the larger, readable version. And hat tip to Talking Points Memo for bringing this to our attention.

Today's Teamster News 03.30.12

Spain's general strike shows first signs of rebellion against austerity  The Guardian   ...With near-empty railway stations, shut factories, mass marches and occasional outbreaks of violence during a general strike on Thursday, Spaniards showed the first signs of rebellion against the reformist, austerity-preaching conservative government they voted in four months ago...
Foxconn Auditor Finds ‘Serious’ Violations of Chinese Law  Bloomberg   ...An audit of Foxconn Technology Group (2354) found “serious and pressing” violations of Chinese labor laws, prompting the biggest maker of Apple Inc. (AAPL) devices to pledge to cut working hours and give employees more oversight. Inspectors found at least 50 breaches of Chinese regulations as well as the code of conduct Apple signed when it joined the Fair Labor Association in January after deaths of workers at suppliers, the monitoring group said today...
China's Industrial Espionage Knows No Bounds  Economic Populist   ...Every major company in the United States has already been penetrated by China. So says cyber security expert and former White House counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke. In a new Smithsonian Magazine interview, Clarke amplifies what has already been revealed, China is ripping off U.S. and other corporations left and right...
Taking Bosses Hostage: A Labor Negotiating Tactic In France  Testoserone Pit   ...In France, the labor negotiation tactic of locking up bosses is not unusual after a company threatens with layoffs or plant closings. Law enforcement rarely intervenes...
Garbage Company’s Trashed Promise Sparks Rare Rolling Sympathy Strike  Alternet   ...Teamsters in Alabama went on strike against a giant garbage company--and in Seattle, New York and Ohio, workers joined them in solidarity, in a move that's usually illegal...
Judge Orders Hearing in Teamsters' Challenge to FDOC Probation Rules  Local 2011   ...An administrative judge today ordered a hearing in Teamsters Local 2011's legal challenge to restore the requirement that probation officers visit the homes of dangerous criminals on probation...

Woo-hoo! SB 469 killed in GA!

At midnight in Georgia we celebrated a tremendous and unexpected victory for labor, civil rights groups, religious groups and the Tea Party. The heinous SB 469 bill -- anti-union, anti-free speech and un-American -- died when the legislative session ended.

We're relying on our fabulous tweeps in Georgia -- @erictheteamster (Teamster Eric Robertson), Teamster @JimNichols and @JennAudrey (Jennifer Kauffman of the AFL-CIO) -- for the news. The bill would have criminalized picketing and interfered with a worker's right to decide to join a union.

Last night @jennaudrey tweeted:
Sine die! Georgia session over and anti-free speech bill #SB469 is dead! #WeAreGA! #1u #stateSOS #p2 #ows
We were up against a powerful enemy. The bill was sponsored by four members of ALEC, the corporate conspiracy supported by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers. ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) writes bills for state lawmakers that are good for corporations and bad for ordinary people and democracy. SB 469 had ALEC's fingerprints all over it. Here's the New York Times' Paul Krugman recently on ALEC:
What is ALEC? Despite claims that it’s nonpartisan, it’s very much a movement-conservative organization, funded by the usual suspects: the Kochs, Exxon Mobil, and so on. Unlike other such groups, however, it doesn’t just influence laws, it literally writes them, supplying fully drafted bills to state legislators. In Virginia, for example, more than 50 ALEC-written bills have been introduced, many almost word for word. And these bills often become law.
Many ALEC-drafted bills pursue standard conservative goals: union-busting, undermining environmental protection, tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.
What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.
In defeating SB 469, Teamsters Local 728, led by President Randy Brown and energized by organizer Ben Speight, deserves huge props. They did extraordinary work bringing attention to this attack on our rights and reaching out to allies in the community. Without them, SB 469 would have passed through the House and Senate like poop through a goose. A handful of people made an enormous difference.

A big lesson from this amazing victory is the power of social networking -- especially twitter -- to inform and mobilize allies you didn't know you had. You may not find more passionate or effective tweeters in the union than Eric and Jim. It's hard to imagine this victory without twitter. So folks, get tweeting!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's official! Walker to be recalled

We'll let our good friend blue cheddar tell us what's next for the "Dairyland Dictator":
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) has recommended that a recall election against Scott Walker and his Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch should proceed.

You knew it was coming. But still – every movement forward on this momentous recall against our dairyland dictator is a glorious thing to witness.
Care for one more moment of pleasure? As for the right wing spin trying to say there was SO much “fraud” – the validity rate of signatures came out to just under 97 percent for the Walker recall and 96 percent for Kleefisch.[from MaddowBlog]
GAB is scheduled to vote tomorrow, Friday March 30, on certifying the election. The primary is slated to be May 8 and the general election would then be slated for June 5.
It's on, Wisconsin!

Republic Waste strike spreads to WA

Steve Burroughs holding the line in Bellevue.
Steve Burroughs takes the Republic Services strike from Mobile, Ala., to Washington state and holds the line in Bellevue. In another inspiring act of solidarity, members of Teamsters Joint Council 28 and community supporters also put up sympathy pickets at Seattle-area Republic Services facilities. Refusing to cross the lines in Kent, Bellevue and Lynnwood were 250 members of Teamsters Locals 117 and 174, 38 and 763.

Burroughs, who has worked at Republic for 16 years, didn't want to strike. But, he said,
These top 1 percent corporations have done nothing but harass and intimidate us. As a worker, I’m part of the 99 percent in America and I can’t stand by any more while our jobs are destroyed.
According to Local 991's press release,
On Thursday night, March 22, all 24 Republic Services workers in Mobile went on strike, including two workers who are not members of Teamsters Local 991. They are striking over Republic’s labor laws violations. In February, Republic negotiators agreed to a contract, then backed out when they decided they wanted to pay less for workers’ families health care coverage.
It sure helps when your brothers and sisters have your back. Hours after Mobile workers went on strike, members of Local 284 in Columbus and Local 449 in Buffalo refused to cross sympathy picket lines at Republic Services facilities. Props to the 400 Teamsters who have honored picket lines so far.

There's even more to come. Sympathy strikes are spreading to Republic facilities across the country, as the Teamsters represent 9,000 employees with nearly 150 contracts in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

In 2011, Republic Services/Allied Waste earned $8.2 billion in revenues and declared profit of $589 million, up 15 percent per share from 2010. And yet it claims it can't afford to provide quality, reasonably priced health care for its employees.
Stand strong, brothers and sisters!

WI gets hard lesson in how unions protect workers

No wonder these peeps protested.
Life has been hard without a union for 175,000 government workers since Gov. Scott "I Only Tell the Truth 31% of the Time" Walker signed his union-busting law last year.

They've lost income, they're subject to humiliating new work rules and their communities are losing private sector jobs. In fact, Wisconsin has the worst job creation record in the nation; its economy is shinking while the surrounding Midwestern states are experiencing economic growth. (No coincidence).

Here's Alternet telling us what it's like in Wisconsin without collective bargaining rights:
According to information gathered by the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, a state worker who earns $40,000 a year, under Act 10, has lost an average of $3,668 from her paycheck. “That's $70 a week cut from a family budget, $70 weekly which cannot be spent at local stores,” they point out.
They also estimate the loss to local economies caused by the pay cuts and hikes in the workers' side contributions to health insurance premiums will be over $700 million—and that taking that money out of Wisconsin's economy will lead to the loss of nearly 7,000 private-sector jobs in the first year of the governor's austerity budget.
Punitive work rules include the requirement that teachers report all traffic incidents or tickets to their school district and must wear skirts below the knee:
Wisconsin's teachers, are also feeling the loss of their protections at work, with new handbooks replacing their old union contracts, containing strict and arbitrary rules on dress code and restrictions on their outside-of-work activities. In New Berlin, teachers reported [PDF] that not only were workdays for teachers getting longer with no pay increases, but that teachers must adhere to a dress code that includes skirts below the knee, no jeans, no open shirts, and that they can be dismissed for the crime of having students as “friends” on Facebook. They are also required to report any traffic incidents or tickets to their school district.
This is how Walker's "reforms" are working.

Awesome anti-SB469 rally with Tea Party, labor, civil rights, faith groups

Debbie Dooley at today's news conference.
Our brothers and sisters in Atlanta are rocking the Statehouse Dome right now with a rally against the anti-worker, anti-free speech bill that could pass today. It's high drama on the last day of the session. They're shouting "We own the Dome" in protest against Senate Bill 469.

SB469, an ALEC-related union-busting proposal, would criminalize picketing and let the government interfere with a workers decision to join a union.

Teamsters from Local 728, firefighters and members of the AFL-CIO were joined at a 10 a.m. news conference by Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta Tea Party and Dr. James Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The alliance between the Tea Party, labor unions and civil rights groups is like catnip to the news media. More than 200 people came to the news conference, according to Eric Robertson, political director for Local 728. (Follow him @erictheteamster).

We gleaned some news conference highlights from the tweetosphere:
Debbie Dooley of Atlanta Tea Party spoke opposing #SB469 - this bill a violation of constitution, we will remember your vote #weareGA #1u

#SB469 is class warfare! - Georgia Firefighters Union

#SB469 would not allow churches to assemble peacably. We are calling on the Christian church to stand up for freedom and justice. -@IWJ
Georgians are urged to come to the Statehouse any time between now and midnight, when the session ends. Tweets our brother Jim Nichols,
kill SB469 come out to the Gold Dome. Tell the 1% Free Speech is not for sale #weareGA #union @OWSAtlanta

Today's Teamster News 03.29.12

JOBS Act benefits financial criminals (Opinion)  Marketwatch  ...Criminal minds must be working overtime now, because the new legislation — which seemingly every investor- and consumer-protection group has railed against — effectively makes it open season on small investors...
US employs Vinnie the Kneecapper to collect student debt  Automatic Earth   ...With $67 billion of student loans in default, the Education Department is turning to an army of private debt-collection companies to put the squeeze on borrowers. Working on commissions that totaled about $1 billion last year, these government contractors face growing complaints that they are violating federal laws...
Bill banning picketing of homes unites unlikely Ga. coalition of tea partiers, labor unions  Associated Press   ...State lawmakers must decide Thursday on the final day of their session whether to pass legislation that targets labor unions. A range of groups who don't often agree with organized labor — libertarian tea partyers, small-government Republicans, anti-abortion activists and others — want it rejected, saying the bill fixes a problem that doesn't exist and would harm their free speech rights, too...
Mitt Romney amuses Wisconsin voters with yarn about Michigan losing an auto plant  Detroit Free Press   ...Mitt Romney told a jokey anecdote on a conference call today with Wisconsin primary voters that had Michigan – and the closing of an auto plant – as part of the punch line...
Public safety concerns amid probation cutbacks  ABC 7   ...The Teamsters Local Union 2011, which represents most Florida corrections officers, filed an administrative petition, challenging the decision on grounds it violates Florida law and endangers its communities. Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott calls the decision regrettable, noting "folks are generally better behaved when they know they are being watched."... 
Teamsters join in the protest against selling off Ontario Northland assets  Timmins Times   ...Queen’s Park has alternatives to selling off the 106-year-old Ontario Northland Railway and killing jobs and negatively impacting thousands of lives in Northern Ontario, according to the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Maintenance of Way Employees, which represents 200 ONR workers...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Get ready for The 99% Spring: 60 days of protests, sit-ins, marches.

The 99 Spring may eclipse Occupy Wall Street in capturing the world's attention. The upcoming trainings, from April 9-16, are aimed at preparing for two months of protests, sit-ins, rallies, marches against the power and greed of the 1%.

Here are some details:
Our movement will be holding huge rallies in every major city on Tax Day to call out the 1% who refuse to pay their fair share. We'll be gathering massive crowds to confront CEOs and top executives at annual shareholder meetings of Wall Street banks, dirty energy polluters, and corporations that refuse to treat workers fairly. And we'll be doing everything we can to call out the corrupting influence of corporate money on our elections.
Wondering what the trainings are all about? In other words, are you worried that they're some un-Teamsterlike drum circles or Kumbaya kind of thing?

Here's a description by someone who attended a training in New York:
I met community organizers, peace activists, union members, occupiers, and many more. The group was inter-generational, racially diverse, gender balanced, and included folks from all NYC boroughs, Long Island, CT, NJ, and upstate. My impression is that most are experienced organizers, but from many different traditions and organizational homes.
The curriculum had three parts:
The first is your basic Marshall Ganz story of self/us. This is training delivered for years now at countless political and organizational homes, including my old synagogue. For those who don’t know, Ganz started his career at the United Farm Workers, working with Cesar Chavez.

The second is your basic nonviolent direct action training, with roots in Gene Sharp, Training for Change, and the Direct Action Group that emerged post-Seattle in the anti-globalization movement. It wasn’t out of step with anything that say, Starhawk or Lisa Fithian or the Ruckus society would have done.

The third part was the story of the 1% vs. the 99%. It’s basic training in understanding the economic crisis and our collective crisis as a country. This is more or less the kind of training being used by unions and community organizing groups around the country for the last 2-3 years.

There was zero, none, nada discussion of the Obama campaign, electoral politics, the Democratic Party, or MoveOn.
And then there's this:
The overall strategy seems to be similar or based on what Stephen Lerner (formerly of SEIU) was articulating in a series of talks about “creating a crisis for the rich.” In a nutshell, it proposes mass direct action aimed broadly at the 1% in order to force them to make concessions.
When we talk about ‘demands’ or ‘goals’ there are laundry lists galore. Winning strikes, raising taxes, winning elections, targeting specific corporations, etc. But behind all those disparate goals lies a framework: increasing the share of wealth that flows to the 99% and reducing the portion controlled by the 1%. That’s the prize. And large parts of the power structure (i.e., Democrats and even some corporations) think it’s a good thing too.
Read the whole thing here.

Find a local training by clicking on the link below. (If you live in Kentucky or Southern Indiana, we can tell you right off that Local 89 is hosting a training on April 15.)

Missouri Teamsters take fight to Capitol

Of all the battleground states, Missouri often gets overlooked. It's not that the attacks on working families are more spectacular in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio or Indiana. It's that Missouri workers have a good friend in Gov. Jay Nixon, and he's been able to veto some of the worst anti-worker legislation.

Missouri Teamsters are in the midst of the fight against heinous proposals such as right-to-work-for-less and limits on wages for public works projects. Yesterday, they joined thousands at a massive rally in Jefferson City. KMOX reports:
Thousands of people from labor unions and religious advocacy groups convened at the Missouri Capitol Tuesday, clogging up the hallways and filling up the front lawn.
Hundreds of these protesters came to the Capitol as part of a protest from union members on legislation that would alter the workplace and affect workers. Many of the union members and speakers said provisions limiting wages for public works projects and dealing with right-to-work were anti-worker and an attack against the middle class.
Teamster Local 618's Facebook page tells us the photo above shows:
Teamsters Local 618 staff and other Joint Council 13 Teamster offcers and members at the State Capitol fighting for our Teamster members rights yesterday . In center is State Rep. Tim Meadows and Missouri Secretary of State candidate Jason Kander. Jason is currrently a State Rep. in the 44 Dist.
(Tim Meadows, of course, is vice president of Local 600 in St. Louis.)

The We Are Missouri Facebook page posted some terrific photos of the rally, like the one at the left.

It tells us:
Massive rally at the Missouri State Capitol. Gov. Nixon and Rep. Jacob Hummel burned up the crowd as Union members stood shoulder to shoulder for working families all over the state! Solidarity!

Ohio Red Cross strike spreading to Michigan

Marching against Red Cross greed in Washington.
(UPDATE: Corrects 2nd paragraph to indicate Michigan strike will start Friday, sted Thursday.)

Northeastern Ohio Teamsters from Local 507 in Cleveland are standing strong against the Red Cross. About 250 blood services workers were forced to strike on Feb. 14 because Red Cross had ignored workers’ concerns about understaffing and the impact on blood safety.

On Friday they will be joined by Lansing Teamsters Local 580 and Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 459. Both have sent notices of intent to strike over cuts to their health benefits.

Last week, hundreds of striking Teamsters boarded a bus at 3 a.m. to come to a rally at Red Cross national headquarters. They came to protest management's disrespect for its workforce and its greed. (If you doubt that, check out their CEO's pay. It's over $1 million.)

The workers wore monkey pins to the rally because management told them their jobs could be done by monkeys. They were joined by members of the United Auto Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers, United Steel Workers, Occupy DC and Jobs with Justice.

Stay strong, brothers and sisters.

Teamsters, Tea Party fight SB 469 in GA

Last week's rally against SB 469.
This will get their attention: The Teamsters and the Tea Party will join together at the Georgia state capitol to fight an anti-free speech bill that could be enacted tomorrow.

Senate Bill 469 would criminalize picketing and let the government interfere with workers' decision to join a union. It has already passed the House and is headed for the Senate floor. Tomorrow is the last day of the Georgia legislative session.

Our brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta are urging all those who support workers' rights and free speech to come to the Capitol tomorrow. A news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. outside the Statehouse. So far, the speakers include Debbie Dooley, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, and Charlie Flemming, president of the Georgia AFL-CIO. Plenty of Teamsters will be there too.

We Party Patriots notes
:...what has been quite interesting about this issue, is that SB469 has brought together labor unions and the Tea Party, as well as the Occupy movement. They all agree it is an utter bastardization of American values and Democracy.
Now it gets even better as the Atlanta Tea Party has issued the following call to action and has invoked Martin Luther King. Take that, people who call the Tea Party racist.
Live in Georgia? Click here to tell your state Senator to vote no on SB 469.

Whoa! Record no. of union members running for IN Statehouse

We said we'd remember in November.
More than 55 union members, former members or retirees are running for the 125 Indiana House and Senate seats up for election this November.

What an inspiration to know that 44 percent of all legislative races involve our union brothers and sisters. It's a huge step forward in the fight to repeal anti-worker laws in Indiana. Rock on, Hoosiers!

About those races: The Indiana State AFL-CIO reports,

To support our union brothers and sisters who are running, the Indiana State AFL-CIO is implementing an aggressive statewide campaign that includes voter registration efforts, an aggressive member-to-member education campaign and training for candidates.

In fact, this past weekend dozens of campaigns and candidates from around the state came to Indianapolis for the first of a series of candidate trainings. Held at the NALC Branch #39 office, the daylong session included training on how to create a campaign plan, fundraising, volunteer recruitment, message development, media training, voter outreach and real world advice from State Senator Tim Lanane and Rep. Terri Austin, both of Anderson.
The Indiana AFL-CIO will soon be holding our COPE convention to make formal endorsements. Further details about endorsed candidates will be made available at that time.
We know of at least one of our Teamster brothers who's running for state representative: Jerod Warnock, business agent for Local 135 and brother of Local 364 President Robert Warnock III. His race, in South Bend Districtt 5, is considered a tossup.

'Roll the Union On' by The Raging Grannies of S. Fla.

This video from last spring will make you smile.

Today's Teamster News 03.28.12

Justices signal deep trouble for health care law  Associated Press   ...The fate of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was cast into deeper jeopardy Tuesday as the Supreme Court's conservative justices sharply and repeatedly questioned its core requirement that virtually every American carry insurance...
Red States See Massive Public Sector Job Losses  The Nation   ...Republicans seized control of both branches of the legislature in 11 states after the 2010 elections. It’s in these very states that public sector layoffs are disproportionately concentrated, leading to one of the biggest rounds of job losses for the public workforce since record keeping began...
Home Prices in U.S. Cities Fell at Slower Pace in January  Bloomberg   ...Prices were little changed in January from the prior month, the best performance since July... 
A national sex strike! Spain's 'high-class hookers refuse to sleep with bankers until they open up credit lines to cash-strapped families'  Daily Mail   ...Sneaky bankers were trying to circumvent the protest by claiming to be architects or engineers, the sex-workers said...
When privatisation doesn't work (opinion)  The Guardian   ...What politicians typically mean when they speak of greater efficiency is lower costs, typically achieved by employing cheap, non-unionised labour. This is the real reason so many public services are outsourced...
Teamsters challenge Florida probation change  Associated Press   ...The Teamsters union is challenging a decision to suspend visits by Florida probation officers to the homes of released convicts...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to rise up and join The 99% Spring

In two weeks, hundreds of union halls, churches and living rooms will host trainings for the massive mobilization dubbed The 99% Spring. Organizers are well on their way to training 100,000 people for non-violent direct action against the status quo between April 9-15.

Teamsters are on board with the movement; many have already gotten emails telling them how to find a training near them.

Jake Olzen, writing for Alternet, explained the 99% Spring is intended to inspire existing organizations to incorporate direct action into what they're already doing -- and to capture some of the Occupy spirit:

...this massive and controversial effort is coming from ... a diverse coalition of labor unions, environmental and economic justice groups, community organizations and trainers’ alliances.
...Earlier this month, more than 70 people participated in a two-day national training in preparation for the upcoming regional trainings. The hope is that more than 1,100 trainers will be equipped to organize local trainings in their communities during the week of April 9–15, when more than 700 trainings around the country have already been scheduled.

Each training will have its own local flavor, depending on who the trainers are and where it is located, but a common curriculum ties The 99% Spring together. In an email sent from SEIU Vice President Steve Thorton to potential trainers, he broke down what to expect at each event: storytelling; teach-ins on economics; community-building skills; goals, strategies and tactics to mount campaigns; and, of course, techniques of nonviolent direct action.
Click here if you're ready to rise up and change the direction of this country:

'Should Be Made In America' campaign launched

And it's high time!

The Alliance for American Manufacturing kicked off "Should Be Made In America" in San Francisco yesterday at a news conference overlooking the new Bay Bridge.

California taxpayers are paying for Chinese steel in the bridge. That hasn't worked out too well. The project has been plagued by cost overruns, project delays, faulty rivets, subspec cement and charges of fraud against two bridge inspectors.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports,
At a press conference at the top of an Emeryville hotel with a sweeping view of the bridge, the group unveiled posters reading “The Bay Bridge — 100% foreign steel” with the tagline “Should Be Made in”
A pair of matching billboards have been posted along Interstate 880 north of the Coliseum and on the sewage treatment plant property near the MacArthur Maze. They’ll remain there for at least three months, said Scott Paul, the alliance’s executive director.
Paul and a panel of speakers excoriated Caltrans for not using American steel, and steelworkers, to assemble the $6.3 billion bridge.
“It was originally designed to save tax dollars, to be more efficient,” said Scott Paul, executive director of the alliance. “It turned out in hindsight to be a horrible decision. It ended up sourcing steel from a Chinese government- supported fabrication and steel company when those jobs could have been done right here at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.”
Rock on!

Like pre-Civil War slaves, workers' value increasing

Today's One Percent views workers much the same way as Confederate planters viewed their slaves -- as assets from which to extract as much profit as possible. So argues writer Mark Ames. He calls it "The 1% Doctrine for the 99%."

Here's Ames on the value of slaves, from
This graph tells the real story behind the South’s secession: the value of the South’s “slave stock”—the property of the ruling class — soared as secession approached, reaching an almost 90-degree angle in those final years before Harper’s Ferry. The South’s ruling class seceded to protect their riches, period:...
Like the worst wars and the worst of history’s villains, the Confederacy’s one percenters seceded and fought in order to continue profiting from their most valuable investment properties — their human slave stock...
As they showed, slavery produced huge profits for southerners who invested in slave capital — to the detriment of all other portfolio investments, as the value of slaves soared in the mid-19th century. By that time, by far the largest cotton-growing states’ wealth was in slave stock, not in real estate or other investments.
Ames concludes the Confederacy's one percenters aren't all that different from today's version. The graph, he writes,
...suggests darker things to come as we try to free ourselves from their vision of civilization, and our place in it...
He illustrates that dark vision by quoting a report by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
...the report argues that the best performing firms in our increasingly financialized era are those companies that have learned to squeeze ever-larger profits out of each employee...
The McKinsey report looked at the world’s 30 largest companies between 1995 and 2005, and found that their return on human capital more than doubled, from an average of $35,000 profit per employee to $83,000, leading to this rather frank and nauseating conclusion:
“If a company’s capital intensity doesn’t increase, profit per employee is a pretty good proxy for the return on intangibles. The hallmark of financial performance in today’s digital age is an expanded ability to earn ‘rents’ from intangibles. Profit per employee is one measure of those rents. If a company boosts its profit per employee without increasing its capital intensity, management will increase its rents.”
(Wikipedia offers an explanation of what "economic rents" are: "excess returns" above "normal levels" that take place in competitive markets.)

Ames concludes:
Extracting rent from “employees” as a business strategy: This is supposed to be the language of feudalism, not modern advanced capitalism — and yet this is the cutting edge in 21st century capitalist thinking, unashamed and unvarnished.
And he doesn't even get into dead peasant insurance.

Today's Teamster News 03.27.12

Iowans Win Victory Over Gov. Branstad’s Abuse of Power  AFSCME   ...A unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling declares that Gov. Terry Branstad ... cannot unilaterally shut down the unemployment offices...
Judge Sides with Maine Governor in Labor Mural Dispute  Maine Public Radio   ...U.S. District Court Judge John Woodcock found that Gov. Paul LePage was within his rights to order the mural removed last year...
Minnesota’s War on Voting  The Nation   ... the legislature is bypassing the governor by approving a constitutional amendment for voter ID that will go on the November ballot... 11 percent of US citizens lack government-issued ID, including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans...
Runaway Spending: Private Contractors Increase the Cost of School Transportation Services in Pennsylvania  Keystone Research   ...We estimate that if all districts switched to the self-supply of transportation services, total spending on student transportation services would fall by $78.3 million, with all of the cost savings accruing to the state...
Your morning jolt: ‘Right to quiet enjoyment’ bill passes House committee  Atlanta Journal Constitution   ...State Rep. Bill Hembree, chairman of the House Industrial Relations, confirmed that his committee this morning passed out SB 469, which would ban union pickets at private residents and require union members to confirm the dues check-off on their paychecks on an annual basis...
Wisconsin One Year Later  Economic Policy Institute   ...overall non-farm employment since Jan. 2011 has rebounded in the Midwestern states surrounding Wisconsin, with Michigan leading the region with Jan. 2012 employment 1.6 percent higher than in Jan. 2011. Wisconsin stands out in the region, lagging with employment significantly lower — by 0.5 percent — in Jan. 2012 than a year earlier...
Nazareth Area School District custodians union agrees to salary reduction to help balance budget proposal  The Express-Times   ...the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, representing custodians and other maintenance personnel, has agreed to give back an undisclosed percentage of next school year's pay raise...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teamsters endorse 99% Spring

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is endorsing the 99% Spring, a week of training for direct action to take America back. It's a coalition that includes unions, community groups, faith groups, students, civil rights organizations -- you get the picture. Here's what it's all about:
From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:
Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it

Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and

Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
Stay tuned; there'll be lots more!

Republic sympathy strike disrupts Buffalo waste and recycling pickup

We're a little late to this news story, but better than never.
Proud of Teamster solidarity!

Why are Chinese companies building U.S. roads and bridges?

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Props to ABC News.

Cash Mobs support local businesses

We're not sure how we missed International Cash Mob Day on Saturday, but we're sorry we did.

The Cash Mob people describe themselves this way:
Cash Mobs is a new movement aimed at supporting local businesses and rebuilding communities. A Cash Mob is a Flash Mob, but instead of singing, dancing or rioting, Cash Mobbers join together and each spend $20 at a local business.
We harp about good union jobs supporting local businesses. A great way to make that point might be for a local union to organize a Cash Mob.

Reuters tells us more: a group of online activists is harnessing social media like Twitter and Facebook to get consumers to spend at locally owned stores in cities around the world in so-called Cash Mobs.
At the first International Cash Mob day on Saturday, wallet- toting activists gathered in as many as 200 mobs in the United States and Europe, with the aim of spending at least $20 a piece in locally owned businesses, according to the concept's founder, Cleveland lawyer Andrew Samtoy...
...he only has three rules or goals as he explains them: "You have to spend at least $20, meet three people you never met before and have fun."
Dane County, home of the Wisconsin Uprising, has once-a-month Cash Mobs. Here's their Facebook page. We understand they've been organized in 32 states and in Canada. They even have their own rules, such as,
5) The business must be locally owned and independently operated.
6) The business owner must give back to the community in some way.
7) The business owner must approve the CashMob before the mob is announced.
8) The business must be within one block of a locally-owned watering hole.
As we said, we're sorry we missed it...

Today's Teamster News 03.26.12

On the Meaninglessness of Contracts and the New Optionality  nakd capitalism   ...the evidence is growing that when there is a meaningful power disparity between two parties to an agreement, the odds are high that the bigger player will elect to behave badly. This blog is rife with examples: pervasive contractual and regulatory violations in securitizations and foreclosures, banks exploiting not just ordinary consumers with “tricks and traps” but even billionaire clients; debt collection abuses; routine raiding of employee pensions while CEO pay and perquisites remain sacrosanct; and, of course, the pilfering of customer accounts at MF Global...
Student-Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion  Wall Street Journal   ...The amount Americans owe on student loans is far higher than earlier estimates and could lead some consumers to postpone buying homes, potentially slowing the housing recovery, U.S. officials said...
John Doe investigation documents name sheriff’s comm. director  FOX 6 Now   ...Another name has surfaced in the ongoing John Doe investigation that has led to criminal charges against several aides to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker...
What stinks? Bizarre trash collects near oil patch  Associated Press   ...North Dakota has leapfrogged past a half-dozen states since 2006 to become the nation's No. 3 oil producer, and ... The number of trucking companies operating in North Dakota increased by 600 last year to about 6,000, with most working in the oil patch...
Teamsters strike at local waste company over contract dispute   ...While the strike primarily affects operations in Mobile, Teamsters at Republic operations in Columbus, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y. have also manned picket lines in support of Mobile's workers...
Teamsters ready for TV   Boston Herald   ...“We want to focus on how we stand up for people and provide for our members,” O’Brien said, “What we do in the community, how we stand up to Wall Street, our battles in the Legislature to keep people working, and the individuals who work hard every day trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. These are stories that need to be told.”...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

If corporations are people, why don't they pay taxes?

Here's another question: When did freeloading become an American value?

Right-to-work-for-less proposals that popped up across the country this January would let workers benefit from union representation without paying for it. And corporations have become obsessed with avoiding the taxes that pay for their educated work force, the infrastructure with which they move their goods to market and the firefighters and police officer who protect their assets, to name just a few.

We already know that 37 multinationals didn't pay a penny in taxes last year.
Alternet points out that a whole bunch of smaller companies don't either:
The percentage of U.S. corporations structured as “nontaxable businesses” soared from about 24 percent in 1986 to about 69 percent as of 2008, according to the Internal Revenue Service. If you include partnerships and sole proprietors, the number gets even bigger.
And there’s more: Up to 60 percent of all U.S. businesses with profits of $1 million are structured as pass-throughs. In the Wall Street Journal, John D. McKinnon points out that their enormous popularity is “one big reason why federal corporate tax collections amounted to just 1.3% of GDP in 2010, well below their mark of 2.7% in 2006 and far beneath their peak of 6.1% in 1952.”
You can buy a Stop Corporate Greed button here. Then wear it to your nearest protest.

Today's Teamster News 03.25.12

How the legal assault on Obama's health law went mainstream  Politico   ...Many legal scholars, including respected conservatives, pooh-poohed the idea that the courts might actually strike down the law or the individual mandate requiring most Americans to get health insurance or pay a fine.Yet on Monday, three days of oral arguments about the law begin at the high court — the most time justices have devoted to a single law since 1966...“Once the Supreme Court grants review of the case and sets six hours of arguments over three days, it becomes a blockbuster case where, either way, there’s going to be a landmark ruling,”...
Labor Unions' Cash Infusion Stimulates St. Louis Home Sales   ...Eight local builders and nine unions joined forces to create a stimulus program for new home buyers. It is thought to be the only program of its kind in the country...
Mike & Andy $tep up against angry unions  New York Post   ...Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo upped the ante in their pension war with organized labor yesterday, pitching in $36,000 apiece to bail out this weekend’s Latino legislative conference in Albany after teacher unions pulled their support...“They [unions] are angry about the passage of pension reform,” they said in a joint statement...
Victory in Oakland County Transfer Tax Case Paves Way for Other MIchigan Suits Against Fannie and Freddie  naked capitalism   ...Interest in local action to bring the big banks to heel seems to be heating up. Rachel Maddow discussed the efforts of local registers of deeds to straighten out the mess created by cavalier bank attitudes towards land records and other legal niceties...
Can Radical Efficiency Revive U.S. Manufacturing?  Scientific American   ...Both traditional and new U.S. industries will have to increase energy efficiency if the nation is to retain its global position as a leading manufacturer...
Eurozone 'poster child' Ireland slumps back into recession  The Telegraph   ...Ireland tumbled back into recession at the end of last year, dousing political claims that the "Celtic Tiger" has benefited from its tough austerity programme...
US Airways Seeking To Acquire American Out Of Bankruptcy  Associated Press   ...US Airways has put forward plans to take over American, which is in the process of restructuring its operations through bankruptcy...AMR...said it plans to ask for its labor union contracts to be voided...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Today's Teamster News 03.24.12

Randy Hopper Found Not Guilty Of DUI Charge, After Union-Conspiracy Defense  Talking Points Memo   ...Former Wisconsin state Sen. Randy Hopper (R) was found not guilty by a jury Friday on a charge of drunk-driving, after mounting a court defense that his arrest in October was the product of a conspiracy by the public employee union members who had successfully worked to recall him from office earlier last summer...
Plain Talk: Indiana’s pro-union ‘Lunchpail Republicans’ bear watching  The Cap Times   ...“A Lunchpail Republican believes in the rights to speak freely and bear arms, supports labor and business, and insists that the government should not interfere with the day-to-day operations of private-sector organizations,” he added. “We should not have to choose between our party, our union and our guns.”...
Italian truckers' strike seen crippling car deliveries  Reuters   ...A bitter Italian truckers' strike is seen cutting car deliveries by 40 percent in March, adding to the pain on the country's hard-pressed auto sector, carmakers said, with top producer Fiat planning to halt production at two plants next week...
Companies Pick Up Used Packaging, and Recycling’s Cost  New York Times   ...A growing number of large food and beverage companies in the United States are assuming the costs of recycling their packaging after consumers are finished with it, a responsibility long imposed on packaged goods companies in Europe and more recently in parts of Asia, Latin America and Canada...
JPMorgan Sued by Trader Over $3 Million Decimal Point  Bloomberg News   ...JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) is being sued by a trader who says he accepted a contract from the investment bank because a typographical error made him believe he would be paid 10 times what was actually offered...
270,000 More IT Jobs Headed Offshore  Information Week   ...Mounting political pressure will do little to stop the flow of technology and other jobs moving offshore to low-cost destinations like India and China, new research indicates. Some 750,000 jobs in IT, finance, and other business services will be offshored from the U.S. and Western Europe to developing nations between now and 2016, according to a study released this week by the Hackett Group...

Friday, March 23, 2012

RTW4Less dying in MN

Minnesota Teamsters at the Capitol, fighting RTW4Less.
Cross your fingers, everybody. We may just be beating back RTW4less in Minnesota.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports,
The Minnesota House fell silent Thursday evening as an attempt to revive the proposed 'right to work' constitutional amendment fizzled.
And this:
House Majority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester, has since said the bill does not appear to have enough Republican support to pass, and is stalled. Senate supporters are trying to again revive it.
From the tweetosphere:
@IBT_320: Fight against #rtw4less is front and center at @Teamstersjc32 we're making progress with Teamsters Truth Squad & we will not relent #mnleg
The always-entertaining Charles Pierce offers this commentary:
You want to see some first-class chickening out? You want to see a white feather the size of a California condor? You want further experimentation from today's Laboratories of Democracy? Well, check out what's going on in Minnesota. The Republican majority in both of the houses of the state legislature got all chuffed with their newfound power, and they were all, like, We can make you do anything you want, Minnesota. Why do you keep hitting yourself in the face, huh? Huh?
Then, of course, things got a little rough for the bullies in the neighboring states, what with John Kasich in Ohio getting roughed up at the ballot box, and Rick Snyder in Michigan getting slapped around by the courts, and goggle-eyed homunculus Scott Walker across the border in Wisconsin getting pummelled by most of the state all at once. Suddenly, thing started looking a little hairy for the local authoritarians. In Minnesota, they proposed an amendment to the state constitution that essentially make Minnesota a right-to-work state, just as Mitch (Presidential Kindling) Daniels pulled off in Indiana. Then they looked at some polls, and started getting some e-mails and, well, some serious rethinking — and scarpering, and buggering-off — seemed to be in order.
Great work, brothers and sisters!

Scratch a Hollywood liberal, find a union hater

We don't think so, but sometimes we do worry. David Macaray in a recent Huffington Post pointed out something we all basically knew -- that a lot of limousine liberals don't exactly like labor unions. They won't come out and say it, most of the time, but you know they don't.

Here's Macaray:
While the Democrats have thrown a few crumbs its way, and academics have eloquently given voice to the Movement, and even non-union workers have grudgingly recognized organized labor's historical contributions, when it comes to the down-and-dirty battles necessary to get the job done, working people realize that no one can be relied upon except other working people, and the unions that represent them.
A character actor I know, a long-time SAG member, once told me: "Scratch a Hollywood liberal, and you'll find a union hater." Granted, it was a broad generalization, but having swum in the Hollywood tank for more than 30 years, he was convinced that the majority of those affluent, progressive-minded denizens of Malibu and the West Side (often stereotyped as "knee-jerk liberals") not only don't respect or admire organized labor, they actually root for it to fail.
And Macaray offers a great example: the reliably lefty Pacifica Foundation, which operates about a dozen radio stations around the country, just hired the union-busting Jackson Lewis law firm. Reports the California Labor Fed:
Last week, the union representing KPFA’s workers, Communications Workers of America Local 9415, became aware of Jackson Lewis’ hire by Pacifica at all five stations in the network – KPFA in the San Francisco Bay Area, KPFK in Los Angeles, KPFT in Houston, WPFW in Washington D.C., and WBAI in New York. At a meeting of KPFA’s bargaining unit, the station’s union workers voted to demand that the Pacifica National Board immediately terminate its arrangement with Jackson Lewis, and sent a letter to all members of Pacifica’s board to that effect. The board met Wednesday, March 7, but chose not to take action to reverse its employment of the union-buster.
KPFA's union stewards wrote:
We see the entry of Jackson Lewis as a declaration of war on the unions that represent Pacifica workers. We fear it will lead to unnecessary legal expenses the network can ill afford, sour Pacifica’s already dismal relationship with its union workers, and alienate many listener-supporters who do not want their donations to be handed over to one of organized labor’s greatest enemies in the United States.
Here's how the Pacifica Foundation self-righteously describes its mission: engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.
Sign a petition here to tell KPFA to call off its union busters.