Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teamsters mobilizing for Aug. 11 rally in Philly. Are you?

Looks like the Aug. 11 Workers Stand For America (#ws4a) will be one hell of a rally. Hundreds of Teamsters are making plans right now to participate.

The tweetosphere is filled with reasons to attend. Here are a few:
@Workers4America: Why we're going to Philly Aug.11. B/C poverty keeps rising, while Washington debates squeezing us more http://t.co/zZYCdAiY #ws4a 
@GJSmitty1: I'll be in Philadelphia on August 11 to #standup to @Verizon with @workers4america. Join Me. http://t.co/vnVvPXy3 #verigreedy #ws4a 
@tmont: The @steelworkers support Second Bill of Rights and Aug. 11. RT if you do too. #ws4a #1u http://t.co/gxPQ5bg7 
@IBEW: #IBEW protests under staffing at Connecticut Light & Power http://t.co/X95HxLvq #ws4a
The IBT set up a web page where information is updated as it comes in. Click here for the latest on hotels deals and schedule updates.

And while you're at it, sign the 2nd Bill of Rights here.

5 good reasons why you should get a raise

There’s plenty of reasons why workers deserve a raise. Heck, the one percent gives itself a raise every chance it gets while median household income fell more than 20 percent since 2001. The federal minimum wage ($7.25) hasn’t been raised in six years.
A recent piece by Marshall Auerback at AlterNet distills the top five reasons for raising the minimum wage. They are:
  1. It’s good for families. According to economist James Galbraith, a higher minimum wage would increase the income of 28 million working Americans, especially for women who tend to work lower wage jobs than men. More family income means some choosing to retire or go back to school, creating more job openings for those who need work. And more revenue from payroll and income taxes would also help bring down the deficit. 
  2. It’s good for the economy. A higher minimum wage means putting more money into the hands of those who actually spend it. Working Americans – not the super-rich who like to hoard their wealth and stow it away in a tax shelters overseas – are the ones who put their money back into the real economy.
  3. It helps people get out of debt. That’s because more money for workers means less money going toward the unproductive, shadow economy of finance, insurance, and real estate. Since deregulation took hold in the 1970s, more of the national income has been funneled into the pockets of the one percent who like to gamble with our money in the Wall Street casino, putting workers in debt. 
  4. It protects workers from abusive employers. A higher minimum wage would give bosses less power to exploit low-wage labor like undocumented workers. That also means less downward pressure on wages in general. 
  5. It delivers justice for working people. Raising the minimum wage is the least we can do to restore some fairness for workers who have been robbed by 30 years of class warfare orchestrated by the one percent. It’s one of many overdue reparations owed to working Americans.
As Auerback writes in his piece, increasing the minimum wage would do even more for the middle class than token tax hikes on the super-wealthy:
This is far more sensible policy than symbolic nods to the left through gimmicks such as the so-called Buffett Rule, which might raise new revenues from the mega-wealthy through taxes, but will likely amount to very little because gazillionaires can hire clever accountants to help them get around it. No, we need policies that clearly do something for hard-working people who have been clobbered by a financial crisis they didn't create.
Several states are pushing measures to raise the minimum wage, including Massachusetts, which is looking to move it up to $10 per hour.

Workers came out in dozens of cities nationwide last week demanding an increase in the federal minimum wage, part of a coalition campaign led by SEIU, AFL-CIO and other groups.

-- Union Thug

Grand Rapids Gravel provokes, Teamsters strike

Resistance fighters in the war on workers.
Our brothers and sisters in Michigan are fighting back against a vicious attack by Grand Rapids Gravel. The company wants $6-an-hour pay cuts across the board. They want to cut vacation to a maximum of two weeks a year and eliminate as much as 75 percent of overtime pay. They're trying to eliminate retiree health care. Oh, and they seem to be doing fine.

The workers -- not so much. Their last raise was 50 cents an hour eight years ago.

So you know what happens when Teamsters are provoked.  Michigan Live reported:
...the 58 members of the union now say they have no choice after the owner of Grand Rapids Gravel refused to budge on $6-an-hour cuts across the board that will scale back workers' health care benefits, vacation time and overtime pay. 
The striking workers drive heavy equipment trucks that haul cement to cranes and loaders used in the mining of aggregate. 
The union’s last contract expired in September, and both sides have met 15 times since then to try to reach a deal, (shop steward Craig) Salzwedel said. 
The unionized workforce, which last received a raise of 50 cents in 2004, has offered to take $3.26-an-hour cut in concessions in exchange for maintaining its current health care package that doesn’t have high out-of-pocket costs.
Follow the strike on Teamsters Local 406 Facebook page. Yesterday, for example,
....Day 12 of the Grand Rapids Gravel strike......scabs are busy getting nothing done.......they don't know what they're doing, and not very good at doing it......they don't care about efficiency and product integrity, like our skilled group. The guys are in good spirits cause of our rally Saturday @ the Boulder Creek gravel pit across from the owners golf course and restaurant. Over a hundred present with Michigan State House Rep. Brandon Dillon speaking to the group of proud Teamsters from LU 406.
We hear they're getting lots of support from other unions and passersby. Donations are coming in.  Salzewdel says they're thrilled:
It shows people are tired of getting shoved to the bottom. Now, there’s just an upper class and no class.
The union is also picketing in front of owner Andy C. Dykema's other businesses, Dykema Excavating at 1730 Three Mile Road NE, and and Coit Avenue Gravel Co., at 4772 Coit Ave. NE.

Stand strong, brothers and sisters.

Wolf in sheep's clothing supports Prop. 32 in CA

The National Federation of Independent Businesses came to our attention this morning because it endorsed the Billionaires' Bill of Rights in California, aka Prop 32. The BBR is just another attempt to destroy our union, and our western brothers and sisters are fighting hard against it.

Anyhoo, a credulous Sacramento Bee reporter wrote a story about NFIB's endorsement of Prop 32, saying "small businesses endorse California measure affecting unions."
The National Federation of Independent Business/California, a group that represents small businesses, has endorsed Proposition 32. The ballot measure would ban union and corporations from contributing money directly to candidates. It would also eliminate payroll deductions, unions' primary way of raising political money.
There are two deceptions here. One is that the proposition would affect corporate political donations. It wouldn't. As John Logan in The Guardian notes,
Prop 32 would have almost no impact on the ability of corporate executives to contribute unlimited money to candidates or campaigns, but would have a devastating impact on the ability of unions to participate in state politics. Its restrictions on unions are so sweeping that it would prevent them from communicating with their own members on political issues. Worse still, Prop 32 would enhance the ability of super political action committees (PACs), and other wealthy groups that are exempt from the measure, to dominate elections.
The second deception is that the NFIB represents small businesses. It doesn't. Like ALEC, which claims to be a nonpartisan good government group, the NFIB is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Reports the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the group often lobbies for policies that benefit big business at the expense of small. The NFIB supports a higher tax on the income of independent businesses and families so that big national chains can avoid paying state taxes. Nor has it taken a position on an Internet sales tax, which would help small retailers.

As Robb Mandelbaum wrote in the New York Times,
...the N.F.I.B. has never made halting the big box expansion — or curbing the many tax policies that local activists say give national retailers an unfair advantage over independent small competitors...
Moral of the story: Appearances are deceptive. (But you knew that.)

Today's Teamster News 07.31.12

The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare  Truthout   ...the top executives of some of the country's largest companies are getting together to craft a budget package that they will try to push through Congress and get the president to sign…At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare...
Criminals are choosing free room and board over freedom  Financial Armageddon   ..."Some people that are coming to jail are not bonding out because of economics," said Thomas County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Steve Jones. "It's cheaper to stay here and to sit for a couple weeks and then go to court."...
There Are 25 Million People Unemployed, Underemployed or Out of the Workforce Altogether and NPR's Presidential Debate Moderator Just Wants to Talk About the Budget Deficit   Beat the Press   ...the deficit is actually shrinking...
Teamsters: Will Republic Airways CEO, Board Show At Shareholder Meeting?  IBT   ...On Wednesday, Aug. 1, Republic Airways Holdings [NASDAQ: RJET] will hold its annual shareholders' meeting in New York City amid worker protests and growing investor concerns about the company's mismanagement and weak governance structure...
Teamsters file suit against ABX Air  Teamsters Local 1224   ...The lawsuit stems from an incident in June, in which an ABX Air captain operating in Japan requested changes to a flight plan after identifying safety concerns. The captain was terminated last week following his refusal to sign a coerced statement that would have required him to acknowledge that his reasons for questioning the flight's safety were invalid and that he had unreasonably used his captain's authority...
Teamsters say no new offer was made to Waste Management  NWCN.com   ...A Teamsters spokesperson on Monday disputed a statement from Waste Management that the union had made a proposal through a federal mediator to end the 6-day-old strike by drivers of the company's garbage and recycling trucks.  Brenda Wiest with Teamsters Local 117 said the union is in frequent contact with the mediator on how to approach the situation, but a formal proposal was never made...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in CA

Please welcome our seven new brothers and sisters in Vernon, Calif., who voted unanimously today to join Local 396 in Covina. They work as operators, loaders, mechanics and scale house attendants at a Republic Services waste transfer station.

Ron Herrera, secretary-treasurer of Local 396, said the Teamsters now represent 100 percent of Republic Services workers in Los Angeles County. Herrera said,
This win will give all our members at Republic more power to make their futures more secure.
Victor Mineros, Local 396 organizer, said the workers want an end to favoritism and more affordable health insurance. Now, he said, there's good news for the workers:
There is the possibility of significant job growth at the transfer station.

These Teamster kids will make your day (video)

Joseph Harmon (@scarab187) tweeted out this video today, and we thought everyone should see it. It's nice to see union families teaching their children well!

Teamsters fight billionaires' bill of rights in California

Resistance fighters in the war on workers.
Our western brothers and sisters are battling the latest outrage from the 1% with spirit, commitment and solidarity. On Saturday, more than 800 Teamsters from Arizona, Nevada and California rallied against an attack on our wages, our benefits and working conditions. It's called Proposition 32.

In November, Californians will vote on Prop 32, which claims to take money out of politics. What it really does is take organized labor out of politics. California's billionaires and their manservants were the ones who put it on the ballot.

The Guardian calls California's Prop 32 "a bill of rights for billionaires":
This is not genuine campaign finance reform ... California voters have twice before rejected rightwing initiatives to destroy labour's political voice, in 1998 and 2005. Unable to win by honest means, conservative groups decided to come up with something more deceptive this time round.
Rome Aloise led the Joint Council 7 rally on Saturday. "Defeating Prop 32 is about protecting our ability to defend our wages, benefits and working conditions today and in the future," said Aloise, president of Joint Council 7.
It is this kind of mobilization that will defeat corporate America’s latest attempt to silence the voices of working people and, in the end, crush unions all together. Prop 32, unlike past attempts to restrict union power in California, masks itself as a reform measure impacting corporations and unions equally. However, if passed, the proposition will virtually eliminate the right of workers to have a voice in politics while, at the same time, creating special exemptions for corporate CEO’s, special interest and Super PAC’s. 
I also want to thank California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski for sharing their knowledge, experience and solidarity. 
This is the important part: Every Teamster needs to register to vote and then go out and get others to register. Said Brother Aloise, "If every Teamster gets just 20 others to register, we can defeat this attempt to destroy our union."

Keep fighting, brothers and sisters!

This is what we union thugs do for premature babies

We ride 60 miles on our bikes to raise money for them.

Teamsters Joint Council 13 President Marvin Kropp and a passel of Teamster Horsemen rode all the way to Grafton, Ill., from the St. Louis area on a Bikers for Babies ride.

Wrote Brother Kropp on his Facebook page:
Great ride today, started at Teds Harley Davidson then nice 60 mile ride , then to Hawg Pit in Grafton, IL. All for a good cause. Over 400 bikes in ride!
The cause is Bikers for Babies, which helps The March of Dimes continue its important work of  funding medical research, health education for mom-to-be and support for families in newborn intensive care. According to the March of Dimes,

Bikers for Babies® is the March of Dimes fastest-growing fundraising event and it plays an integral role in the advancement of our mission. When you raise money for Bikers for Babies®, you’re helping fund research and programs that find answers to the problem of premature birth and other threats to infant health.

This year, more than 35,000 people will participate in March of Dimes Bikers for Babies rides across the country. ... There is a registration fee to participate in Bikers for Babies and all riders must be legally licensed and follow all local laws. Do more to support babies’ health by collecting donations from family and friends before the ride.
Teamsters Horsemen raise quite a lot of money for charities throughout the United States and Canada. There are more than two dozen chapters of these THUGS -- Those Helpful Union Guys (and Gals).

Today's Teamster News 07.30.12

Mexico Violence: Unidentified Bodies, Missing Cases Mount  Huffington Post   ...nearly 16,000 bodies remain unidentified, says the National Human Rights Commission, an independent government agency. In total, 24,000 people have been reported missing. Many say the country's police are simply overwhelmed by the number of drug war casualties as they struggle with poor forensic capabilities and the reluctance of some witnesses and victims' relatives to help...
Don’t Expand NAFTA: A Warning Against the TPP  Economy in Crisis   ...The United States recently announced that Canada and Mexico will join negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a secretive U.S.-led multinational trade and investment agreement currently being negotiated with eight other countries in the Pacific Rim region...
Potential failure  Economic Policy Institute   ...The economy has grown at an average rate of 1.75 percent so far this year. ...  this slow growth is not moving the economy much closer to full health, and may even be doing real damage to that long-run health.
Student Loan Debt Time Bomb  Economic Populist   ...Student loan debt is now the next great bubble, threatening the U.S. economy as the mortgage crisis did. The NACBA released a study and calls student loan debt the next financial crisis, on the level of the mortgage crisis...
Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It? (opinion) New York Times   ...The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages...
Striking garbage drivers brace for showdown over replacements  Seattle Post-Intelligencer   ...There were a few workers picketing Sunday outside Waste Management buildings, but Monday morning could be when the real confrontation unfolds between what could be hundreds of strikers and hundreds of replacements driving their garbage trucks...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in MA!

Please give a warm welcome to our 34 new brothers and sisters who work as front-load drivers, residential drivers, mechanics and container repair workers at Republic Services/Allied Waste on Cape Cod. They voted 22-8 to join Local 59 in New Bedford because they want respect, better benefits and a pension.

Ed Swale is a driver who joined the company last year after returning from serving in Iraq. He contacted the Teamsters after he found out 113 workers at Republic joined Local 251 in East Providence, R.I., in May. He said the workers want respect.
The workplace had really spiraled out of control. We had a new district manager who treated us poorly and nine workers left. As Teamsters, we will have the respect we deserve.
Dave Laughton, secretary-treasurer of Joint Council 10 in New England, said the workers need to be treated with dignity because they put their bodies in harm's way to protect every resident in every community on Cape Cod.
The workers stood up to the second largest waste and recycling company in the United States because they are tired of not being treated fairly.
George Belanger, Local 59 secretary-treasurer, pledged to work hard for a contract.
For far too long, they have had to endure terrible working conditions and a lack of respect. That will change immediately now that they have joined the Teamsters.
Welcome to our great union!

Teamsters prepping for Aug. 11 Philly rally

A thousand Teamsters will converge on Philadelphia for the Workers Stand for America rally on Aug. 11. It's being organized by the IBEW and Pennsylvania Teamsters are working hard to support it.

The event will promote America’s Second Bill of Rights:
  • Full employment and a living wage.
  • Full participation in the political process.
  • A voice at work.
  • A quality education for all.
  • A secure and healthy future.
We understand President Obama supports it.

There's a Facebook Event page where you can learn more: Labor Rally in Philadelphia - Workers Stand for America - August 11.
Union members across Pennsylvania and surrounding areas are asked to join in a rally in downtown Philadelphia on August 11. Teamsters JC 53 is working to coordinate Teamster local union participation. Its an all-day event to focus on challenges and solutions for America's working families. Questions? Contact PATeamsters@verizon.net

Wisconsin dyes lake blue to disguise pollution

Oh this is priceless.

Blogging Blue notes that in Scott Walker's Wisconsin a lake is dyed blue to disguise algae.
The lake that’s home to the long-running Tommy Bartlett ski show has gone from pea green to a more aesthetically-pleasing color. 
Five-hundred gallons of dye bought with nearly $30,000 in taxpayers’ money has turned the 267-acre Lake Delton to a tranquil, tourist-attracting aqua-blue.
The comments are the best:
The dye used is questionable for an open body of water, and I can’t imagine any dye that would be appropriate for any natural water system – because it’s you know – a lacustrine ecosystem and all… The dye pond is a perfect example of a solution made out of ignorance and one lacking in prudence.
And this:
Siphoning $30,000 of taxpayer monies into the private sector for, at best, a 30 day fix to a long-term problem is the consequence of state leadership that does not value its environment and waterways.
And then this:
There’s conflict of interest… one of the four village trustees who approved the expenditure is Tom Diehl, the president, general manager and co-owner of Tommy Bartlett, Inc., whose ski show uses the lake... 
Is that what government should be, using public funds to promote private business? Because it generates more tax revenue? Algae grows because its food is present. If they’d tried to pass a rule banning the use of fertilizers on lawns around the lake, Republicans would’ve railed about the loss of personal freedom. Or creeping socialism. Or the because three people testified that the lake seemed just fine for most of last year.

Today's Teamster News 07.29.12

Job Study Tells a Terrible Tale for U.S. Workers  Instapopulist   ...One the most damning findings is how many people middle aged are lasting in a job. When late baby boomers were in their 40's, a third of them had jobs which didn't last a year and almost 70% of 'em were out of a job in less than five years...
Fed Governor Speaks Out For Stronger Rules  The Baseline Scenario   ...A powerful new voice for financial reform emerged this week – Sarah Bloom Raskin, a governor of the Federal Reserve System. In a speech on Tuesday, she laid out a clear and compelling vision for why the financial system should focus on providing old-fashioned but essential intermediation between savers and borrowers in the nonfinancial sector...
German Solar Companies Also Bring Trade Complaint Against China  Trade Reform   ...Oil-backed Republicans are fighting our solar industry tooth-and-nail, complaining that the Obama administration attempted to foster an alternative-energy industry that could bring us a share of millions of new jobs and trillions of dollars...
"Voluntary" Work Program Run in Private Detention Centers Pays Detained Immigrants $1 a Day  Truthout   ...In private prisons around the country, immigrants languishing in detention centers are being put to work by profit-making companies like the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) for far below the minimum wage. For doing a range of manual labor in the facility, the immigrants, many of whom are not legally permitted to work in the United States, are paid between $1-$3 a day...
The Corporate Rot Eats Away at Wisconsin  The Progressive   ...The corporate coup d’etat in Wisconsin is harder to ignore since June 5 when Scott Walker was deemed winner of the recall election...
Garbage strike enters day 4  kirotv.com   ...Strikers are refusing to put down their signs until Waste Management resumes negotiations, but the company said it won’t happen until the picket lines come down...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Quarterly profit destroyed whole regions of U.S.

We all know the destruction wrought by corporate greed. Lives ruined by job loss, wage theft, workplace danger, debt slavery. But now we find entire regions of America have been destroyed by the quest for quarterly profit.

Journalist Chris Hedges just wrote a book called "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt." He was interviewed by Bill Moyers about it. Here are some excerpts:
These are sacrifice zones, areas that have been destroyed for quarterly profit. And we're talking about environmentally destroyed, communities destroyed, human beings destroyed, families destroyed. And because there are no impediments left, these sacrifice zones are just going to spread outward.
and this:
The political system is bought off, the judicial system is bought off, the law enforcement system services the interests of power, they have been rendered powerless. You see that in the coal fields of Southern West Virginia. 
Now here, in terms of national resources is one of the richest areas of the United States. And yet these harbor the poorest pockets of community, the poorest communities in the United States. Because those resources are extracted. And that money is not funneled back into the communities that are sitting on top of, or next to those resources. 
Not only that, but they're extracted in such a way that the communities themselves are destroyed quite literally because you have not only terrible problems with erosion, as they cause when they do the mountaintop removal, they'll use these gigantic bulldozers to push off all the trees and then burn them--
and this:
Camden, New Jersey, which is the poorest city per capita in the United States and always, the one or two in terms of the most dangerous, it's a dead city. There's nothing left. There is no employment. Whole blocks are abandoned. The only thing functioning are open-air drug markets, of which there are about a hundred. 
and this:
...fighting for the sanctity of life is always worth it. Because you know, if we don't fight, then we are finished. Then we signed our own death sentence. And Camus writes about this in “The Rebel,” that I think resistance becomes a kind of way of protecting our own worth as an individual, our own dignity, our own self-respect. And I think resistance does always leave open the possibility of change. And if we don't resist, then we've essentially extinguished that hope.
Read the whole thing here.

No surprise here: Sanitation work can kill you

It shouldn't be news that it's dangerous to be a sanitation worker. And people shouldn't have forgotten that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated while supporting a sanitation workers' strike in Memphis -- a strike sparked by the deaths of two workers.

But it is. And they have.

The Seattle Times actually ran one of those "fact check" stories on Teamsters Local 117's ad that four Puget Sound sanitation workers were killed on the job since 2005. The local bought the ad to support striking recycle workers at Waste Management.

The newspaper found five workers had actually died. Here are the heartbreaking details:
The most recent was April 2011, when a 25-year-old woman was killed after recycling materials fell on top of her while she was clearing jammed plastics from a bailing machine at Smurfit-Stone Recycling and Waste Solutions in Renton. 
In addition: 
• A 32-year-old worker for Lakewood Refuse Service died in May 2009 after the recycling truck she was driving was struck head-on by an SUV in East Pierce County.
• A Rabanco Recycling employee in Seattle was run over by a front-end loader in May 2005 as he was walking, counting bales of refuse.
• A 39-year-old man who worked for Waste Management for 18 years was killed in a forklift accident in Burlington, Skagit County, in December 2010. News reports said the accident occurred in an area where recyclable materials were loaded and unloaded.
• In July 2007, a 29-year-old recycling truck driver for Allied Waste was killed in Edmonds after his truck rolled over him, according to news reports.
CNN Money reported sanitation work is the eighth most dangerous job in the U.S. That's saying a mouthful, as 14 workers a day die in this country. CNN Money quoted our Teamster brother Harry Nespoli, who heads the sanitation workers' local in New York City:
Our guys start out in the morning with an empty truck and by the end of the day, it's full. All that time, you're in the street and you put your life on the line.
Today is Day 4 of the Seattle Teamsters Waste Management strike. Find out how you can help here.

Today's Teamster News 07.28.12

“Who’s Got The Guts To Finally Get Tough On China?”  Trade Reform   ...China’s brazen currency manipulation and routine theft of American intellectual property has tilted the playing field unfairly against U.S. jobs...
Spain Jobless Reaches Post-Franco Record Amid Austerity: Economy  Bloomberg   ...Spanish unemployment rose to the highest on record after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made it easier to fire workers while implementing the steepest budget cuts in the country’s recent democratic history...
Fla. Republican: We wanted to suppress black votes  Salon   ...Florida's disgraced former GOP chairman says the party had meetings about "keeping blacks from voting"...
LABOR: Teamsters, Anheuser-Busch set to resume talking  The Press-Enterprise   ...Striking Teamsters and representatives of brewing company Anheuser-Busch will return to the bargaining table Monday, after more than a month where there were no efforts to settle the strike at the Riverside distribution center, a union representative said...
Garbage strike continues with no new talks set  HeraldNet   ...A garbage strike disrupting service in much of Snohomish and King counties dragged into its third day Friday, with little sign of when Waste Management and Teamster drivers would return to the bargaining table. The company began putting replacement drivers on the street...
Delta to Close Regional Carrier Comair in September  Associated Press   ...Delta Air Lines is shutting down its 35-year-old regional carrier Comair at the end of September as it switches to bigger jets. The move will result in a loss of 1,700 jobs...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet our Teamster astronaut (and congressional candidate)

We thought you'd be interested in learning more about Jose Hernandez, former member of Teamsters Local 601, astronaut and now a candidate for Congress in California. He just spoke at the Teamsters National Hispanic Conference in Los Angeles.

This is a guy who spent part of his childhood picking cucumbers. It was the good wages he earned working in a cannery as a Teamster that helped him pay for his education.

In the early stages of his campaign, the opposing party (Republican) made a flap over his claim to be an astronaut. As the blogger Kos pointed out, it was just too inspirational. Here's what they tried to do:

In a pointed new challenge, a Sacramento law firm is asking a judge to block Hernandez from describing himself as an "astronaut/scientist/engineer" on the June ballot. The lawsuit notes Hernandez has left NASA. 
"Hernandez's attempted use of 'astronaut' violates the Election Code's unambiguous requirement that a candidate's ballot designation reflect one's current profession, vocation, or one held during the previous calendar year," the lawsuit states.
His story is truly inspirational. Wrote blogger Senor Unoball recently,
At 10, Hernandez said, came the event that would change his life: The Apollo 17 moon mission. Hernandez said he was enthralled watching coverage of the mission on the small black-and-white TV they owned.
And, after watching the astronauts, Hernandez' father did not laugh at him when the youngster said that he would like to become an astronaut. His father sat him down and gave Hernandez some fatherly guidance: Make a plan; be determined; above all be as dedicated to his education as he was to his fieldwork.
Those lessons took hold, and Hernandez, who did not learn English until he was 12, received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1984, and a master's degree in electrical and computer engineering in 1986 from UC Santa Barbara.
He took a job at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he helped develop digital mammography tools that are now helping diagnose breast cancer. Hernandez said those tools came about due to some imaging experiments he was working on, but that the program funding the experiments got cancelled. However, he said, he and a partner had a wealth of information so they set out to figure out how best to apply the technology, and the imaging tools they developed were perfect for mammography.
That mammography technology is his proudest achievement, he said, because it's directly saving women's lives.
Kos concludes it's a tough battle, but one he can win. Find out more here.

Half of all retirees will be poor. Here's what to do about it.

We're not kidding about the number of poor retirees.

Teresa Ghilarducci recently wrote in The New York Times,
Seventy-five percent of Americans nearing retirement age in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts. The specter of downward mobility in retirement is a looming reality for both middle- and higher-income workers. Almost half of middle-class workers, 49 percent, will be poor or near poor in retirement, living on a food budget of about $5 a day.
If you don't have a pension, you're nine times greater to live in poverty when you retire. The National Institute on Retirement Security issued a report yesterday that said,
Rates of poverty among older households lacking defined benefit (DB) pension income were approximately nine times greater than the rates among older households with DB pension income in 2010, up from six times greater in 2006 a new study calculates.
We're glad he's not retiring.
This is scary, scary stuff. Especially when you consider (a) how few people have pensions these days (b) that 75 million Baby Boomers are beginning to retire and (c) their savings have been eroded by the financial crisis.

Let's face it: America's do-it-yourself pension system is one big fail.

Sen. Tom Harkin thinks so too. Harkin released a plan today to solve the retirement crisis. It has two parts:
  1. Rebuild the private pension system by providing universal access to Universal, Secure, and Adaptable (“USA”) Retirement Funds, a new type of private pension plan that would give people the opportunity to earn a secure benefit and would be easy for employers to offer.  
  2. Improve Social Security by increasing benefits while strengthening the long-term finances of the trust fund.
Harkin explains anyone without a retirement plan could join USA Retirement Funds through the current payroll withholding systems. The funds would pool risk and have professional asset managers overseen by trustees. The trustees would include retiree, employer and employee representatives. Participants would would earn a benefit over the course of their retirement, with survivor benefits, like a pension.

Read the whole thing here.

Mayor Bloomberg: Don't tell us what size soda to drink

New York Nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban 16-oz. sodas in the city. Teamsters from Local 812 are fighting the proposal for reasons obvious to anyone who makes a living in the beverage industry. Bloomberg's plan is being considered by the board of health.

Here's our favorite comment on the controversy so far, compliments of the tweetosphere:
If the NYC soda ban becomes law, Sprite should market a NYC-only 16 oz. drink with 2x as much sugar as regular Sprite and call it “Spite."
For more information, click here.

Hispanic Teamsters converge in LA

Add caption
Members of the Teamsters National Hispanic Conference begin caucusing today in Los Angeles as they look forward to a star-studded program.

The legendary Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez, will speak. So will former Teamster and now-Congressional candidate Jose Hernandez. Hernandez worked in a cannery as a member of Teamsters Local 601. Just yesterday, the blogger Kos wrote this about him:
There are few people in Congress who have accomplished so much after starting with so little. Heck, there are few people anywhere that have done so.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa, General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis -- daughter of a Teamsters shop steward -- will make video presentations.

George Miranda, president of the TNHC, noted that much of the Teamsters recent growth has come from its Hispanic members. Miranda, secretary-treasurer of Local 210 in New York City and an international vice president, said:
In this election year, the many issues that matter to Hispanic and Latino members of our great union are at the center of national, state and local politics.
That’s why it’s important for us as Teamsters to come together this year to discuss these issues. Hispanic members are a valued part of the Teamster family and the unity of our Caucus is critical to preparing for the elections and the year ahead.
For frequent updates about the caucus, click here.  For the Day One photo gallery, click here.

Looking for corporate good guys

Economist Robert Shiller is quoted today in the naked capitalism blog about a new (as in one-and-a-half years-old)  kind of socially responsible company: the benefit corporation. Here's Shiller:

The benefit corporation is a new kind of corporation that’s halfway between profit and non-profit. It fills a need. The benefit corporation makes profits and distributes them to shareholders just like a for-profit corporation. The only difference is, and this may seem like a small difference to some, the corporate charter specifies a purpose – a social, environmental or charitable purpose – in addition to the profit-making purpose. It doesn’t really clarify how the effort will be divided between the two. Some traditional economists who look at this would say, “This doesn’t make any sense! A company should make profits and it will be focused on that. If there’s any charity it’ll come after the company distributes the profit to shareholders, and they can do what they want with it, including charity.” But the problem is, and this is what’s bothering people these days, a strictly for-profit corporation just seems selfish. And it is selfish, because focusing directly on profit is just not humane. I think everyone will feel better about these benefit corporations, and they’re just starting up now, only in the US at this point but I think the idea will spread.
Here's the Nation about a year ago:
...the Benefit Corporation ... has been written into law in Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Vermont, and is moving quickly in other states too. The new laws permit companies to join the profit motive with the purpose of making a “positive impact on society and the environment.” In their articles of incorporation, Benefit Corporations declare their public missions—things like bringing a local river back to life, providing affordable housing, facilitating animal adoptions or promoting adult literacy. Under the law they must go regularly before a third-party validator like B Lab, the visionary Philadelphia-based alliance of more than 400 so-called B Corps across the country, to prove that they are not only meeting their goals but treating their employees, customers, communities and local environments with the same respect as their shareholders...
Looking for examples? King Arthur Flour, which is worker-owned and committed to sustainability.

Rock on!

Today's Teamster News 07.27.12

Economy In U.S. Probably Expanded At Slowest Pace In A Year  Bloomberg   ...The U.S. economy probably expanded in the second quarter at the slowest pace in a year as a softening labor market caused Americans to cut back on spending, economists said before a report today...
Investigations reveal forced labor of immigrants but Congress won’t allow the Labor Department to combat it  Economic Policy Institute   ...The new rules would require employers to first recruit unemployed workers before turning to foreign workers, ensure that U.S. and foreign workers are not underpaid, and protect guest workers from becoming victims of forced labor and human trafficking, as well as from being retaliated against if they attempt to assert their labor and employment rights...
States that Follow ALEC's Recommendations Fare Worse  Wisconsin Budget Project   ...States with minimal public services, tax systems that favor the rich, and weak or non-existent unions fared worse economically during the recession compared to other states, according to a new report. States that followed recommendations made by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) were more likely to experience increased poverty rates and falling income...
Pennsylvania Governor Can’t Recall Requirements Of Voter ID Law He Signed  TPMMuckraker   ...Corbett was asked about a new report showing that 43 percent of Philadelphia voters lack a valid form of identification issued by the state...
Teamsters, Waste Management tussle over picket lines  Seattle Times   ...As garbage sat uncollected for a second day, Waste Management and its recycling and yard-waste drivers argued in competing news releases Thursday about whether picket lines would need to come down before labor negotiations could resume...
Con Ed and Union Reach Contract Agreement  New York Times   ...The settlement came as the two sides worried that severe weather was closing in on New York City and could leave large numbers of customers in the dark for the first time since the lockout began...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Remember in November: Who voted against the middle-class tax cut

Yesterday the Senate voted 51-48 to extend the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent and let them expire for the richest 2 percent of Americans.

If any of those 48 represent you, remember that in November.
Here are the senators who voted against your interests:
Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); John Barrasso (R-WY); Roy Blunt (R-MO); John Boozman (R-AR); Scott Brown (R-MA); Richard Burr (R-NC); Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Dan Coats (R-IN); Tom Coburn (R-OK); Thad Cochran (R-MS); Susan Collins (R-ME); Bob Corker (R-TN); John Cornyn (R-TX); Mike Crapo (R-ID); Jim DeMint (R-SC); Mike Enzi (R-WY); Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Chuck Grassley (R-IA); Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Dean Heller (R-NV); John Hoeven (R-ND); Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX); Dan Inhofe (R-OK); Johnny Isakson (R-GA); Mike Johanns (R-NE); Ron Johnson (R-WI); John Kyl (R-AZ); Mike Lee (R-UT); Joe Lieberman (ID-CT); Richard Lugar (R-IN); John McCain (R-AZ); Mitch McConnell (R-KY); Jerry Moran (R-KS); Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); Rand Paul (R-KY); Rob Portman (R-OH); James Risch (R-ID); Pat Roberts (R-KS); Marco Rubio (R-FL); Jeff Sessions (R-AL); Richard Shelby (R-AL); Olympia Snowe (R-ME); John Thune (R-SD); Pat Toomey (R-PA); David Vitter (R-LA); Jim Webb (D-VA); Roger Wicker (R-MS).
November is a long time to wait, but you can write your senators and tell them how you feel about their vote here.

Next week the House of Representatives will vote on similar legislation. Call your representative and tell him or her how to vote. (Find your representative here.)

Solidarity on Day 2 of Seattle Teamsters strike

Be strong, brothers!

And props to Teamsters Local 174 Waste Management drivers who are honoring the picket lines set up by Local 117 Waste Management workers.  The Associated Press reports,

Teamsters Local 117 recycling and yard waste workers are picketing and Local 174 garbage truck drivers are honoring the picket lines. 
About 150 recycling and yard waste drivers walked out Wednesday demanding their pay equal the higher pay of garbage truck drivers.
Local 117 says,
Our region prides itself as one of the leaders in recycling in the country, yet Waste Management continues to devalue the work of recycle and yard waste drivers who help protect our environment and keep our cities clean. 
Sanitation work ranks as the 5th most dangerous job in the country. Drivers deal with rats, maggots, used syringes, chemicals, and rotting meat on a routine basis. Since 2005, four Puget Sound recycle workers have been killed on the job. 
Teamsters Local 117 calls on Waste Management to prevent a public health crisis and return to the bargaining table immediately and bargain a fair contract in good faith that recognizes the health and safety hazards its drivers face on the job.
The striking drivers will hold a news conference at 5 pm EDT in the Tukwila union hall.

Here's how you can help:
Visit www.SeattleTrashWatch.org and sign up.
Text TRASH to 206-535-1859 for updates and information.
Call 1-800-230-7418 to report trash, yard waste, or recycle service disruptions.
Email Theo Galoozis, Waste Management's VP of Labor Relations, and tell him to bargain in good faith.
And don't cross those picket lines (we know you wouldn't dream of it)!

Woo-hoo! 2 more cos. dump ALEC

This just in: Walgreens and General Motors became the latest companies to drop the corporate front group known as ALEC.

The announcement was made in Salt Lake City, where ALEC is holding its annual bribefest meeting with junketing politicians state lawmakers this week.

Walgreens and GM are the 29th and 30th corporation to drop out of ALEC. Walgreens issued a statement:
Walgreens will not be renewing its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”) where we have participated on ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force. Walgreens will continue to be an active presence on critical health care and pharmacy issues facing the country and looks forward to continuing to work across the political spectrum in the public policy arena.
And this from GM:
GM has communicated to ALEC that we will no longer fund nor participate going forward.
ALEC writes corporate-friendly laws, including those allowing prison privatization, charter schools, voter suppression and union busting.

Chalk up two more for the good guys.

Florida's rush to privatize caused scandal. Surprise.

So says Sarasota County's new administrator, Randall Reid. According to the Herald Tribune,
Reid ... said that as the recession hit, the county laid off staffers with experience managing contracts. At the same time, the county started using more contracts. 
The staffers that were left got little to no training in contract management. 
In this environment, the companies that had contracts could easily boost their bottom lines by proposing change orders that allowed them to do more work under the same contract. Staffers did not object because the work was done, and they did not have to renegotiate the contract.
It appears that privatization in Sarasota led to corruption so blatant as to be almost comical. The Herald Tribune reported,
  • A mowing contract resulted in three-foot weeds on a main thoroughfare.
  • Judges voided a $2.5 million software contract because the county violated its own spending rules.
  • Audits showed employees misused county-issued credit cards.
  • The director of community services was reassigned away from baseball spring-training projects because he helped a friend land a $500,000 construction contract.
  • County project manager Rodney Jones was charged with taking bribes from a company that did $5.1 million in work for Sarasota County without a competitive bid.
  • An investigation led to the resignation or firing of a number of employees, including the county administrator.
Florida has had other privatization scandals, of course. One of our favorites was the public-private, not-for-profit economic development corporation (it sounds like one of those public-private partnerships from which any sane or honest person would flee).

Plunderbund reported,
It didn’t turn out so well for Florida. 
In a 2001 audit, the State’s Comptroller found that the private corporation “treats its top executives to bonuses and lavish travel while making grants to businesses whose officers sit on its boards.”  It also did such a poor tracking of its disbursements that it couldn’t guarantee that the funds that it reported coming from “private business donations” didn’t originate from… aid that the agency had given those companies. 
A report issued by a non-partisan office of the Florida legislature that same year found that the agency’s exaggerated its role in creating jobs particularly in distressed urban and failed to provide adequate economic development services in rural areas.


This is what we union thugs do for the jobless

Some thug.
(UPDATE: Changes 2nd paragraph to clarify only employees of contractors with educational institutions lost benefits recently, Adds 700 members of Local 728)

We buy food and distribute it to workers whose earned benefits were arbitrarily cut off by the state of Georgia.

This spring, the Department of Labor suddenly cut off the unemployment benefits earned by 64,000 Georgians (including 700 members of Local 728) who had no work during the summer. They were employed by companies that contracted with educational institutions.

Lots of food for lots of hunger.
Velmar Hightower, a food service technician for Aramark at Spellman College, had depended on her unemployment benefits for 20 summers. She was shocked when the Georgia Department of Labor told her at the end of May that she no longer qualified. Like tens of thousands of others, she'd had no time to plan for a summer without income.

The workers are facing eviction, repossession and hunger. There is no work for them in Georgia. There is no pay.

Teamsters from Local 728 in Atlanta bought $3,000 worth of food and set up a food distribution center. Several hundred union members whose unemployment benefits were cut picked up groceries at the IBEW Hall in Savannah on Saturday and Wednesday. Local 728 will also deliver bags of groceries to the homes of 50 unemployed school bus drivers at Fort Stewart later this week.

Remember "Thug" stands for "those helpful union guys (and gals)."

The myth of Romney's "we did it ourselfers"

Motto: "We became wealthy by ourselves."
Oh this is rich.

Mitt Romney's been making a big deal of President Obama's "you didn't build that" comment. But more than half of the "we did it ourself" companies he's featuring on campaign stops depend heavily on the government. They've borrowed money from, benefited from tax credits by and sold refrigerator magnets and boat propulsion systems to the federal government.

To back up a little, here's what Obama said:
If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Romney immediately pounced. And now he's holding 24 "We Did Build This" events in battleground states. And guess what? The companies featured got lots of government help. The Miami Herald reports that Romney's campaign featured two government contractors from Tampa who said they didn't need government.

Think Progress reports:

  • Ball Office Products hosted the “We Did Build This” event in Richmond, Virginia. The company received a loan of $635,000 through the Small Business Administration in 2012, according to USASpending.gov. The company was also awarded a lucrative $52,525 contract with the General Services Administration just a year after its founding.
  • Midwest Tape, a media distributor of Holland, Ohio, was showcased at a local event and has been contracted by the Department of Defense since 2008, earning a cumulative $13,659.
  • Columbus Truck and Equipment was featured in a neighboring event and has received $6,643 in contracts with the Department of Defense.
  • Cranston Material Handling Equipment Corporation, the owner of which spoke Wednesday morning at a campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has reaped a total of $61,729 in contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2007.
  • Systems Engineering Co.The owner of Systems Engineering has received a total of $180,200 in DOD contracts, as recently as last year.
  • Brady Industries in Las Vegas has received $54,425 in contracts with Veterans Affairs since 2009.
  • Pennsylvania business PRL Industries Inc. received a $167,847 contract through the Department of Homeland Security for ship and boat propulsion components for the U.S. Coast Guard in August 2008... 
  • An Iowa event featured Competitive Edge, Inc. which was contracted by Veterans Affairs for $3,543 to make informational refrigerator magnets.
  • J & W Cycles of Missouri was awarded $25,808 in contracts from the DOD and Department of Interior.
  • Total Resource, featured in a Sparks, Nevada campaign event, has been a federal contractor since 2010, and received a $11,200 contract from the DOD in 2009.
  • Applegate Insulation, which hosted one of the events in Michigan, benefited from an energy saving federal tax credit worth 30 percent of the installation project, up to $1,500.
  • Home Instead Senior Care supported Romney in Roanoke, Virginia, even though home health care companies receive 75 percent of their funding from public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Home Instead franchises in Virginia have received at least $3,613,549 in federal funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2008.

  • Perhaps Romney should go to Somalia to see how well people fare without a strong central government. Good luck with the warlords.

    Today's Teamster News 07.26.12

    Senate passes bill to keep tax cuts for the middle class  Washington Post   ...The Senate on Wednesday narrowly approved a plan to preserve tax cuts for the middle class while letting them expire for the wealthy, a powerful if largely symbolic victory for Democrats who have been pushing to raise taxes on the rich for more than a decade...
    Reliance on imports leaves U.S. vulnerable to disasters, report says  Washington Post   ...The report, which (former homeland security secretary Tom) Ridge shared with homeland security officials Tuesday morning, warns that the offshoring of U.S. factories means that rebounding from a catastrophe will be more difficult because so many critical supplies would have to come from overseas...
    Public pension funds to face calls to set realistic targets  Reuters   ...At least three of the nation's largest U.S. public pension funds have already announced returns of between 1 percent and 1.8 percent, far below the 8 percent that large funds have typically targeted...
    Wisconsin second worst in construction job losses  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...the employment is likely to remain flat or shrink if federal and state officials continue to pull back on large infrastructure projects, Simonson said...
    Waste Management drivers strike; trash, recycling collection halted  Seattle TImes   ...Garbage, recycling and yard-waste pickup for most of Waste Management's 220,000 customers in King and South Snohomish counties stopped Wednesday when Teamsters went on strike against the region's largest refuse service over wage and benefits issues...
    McKesson Shareholders Back Teamsters' Call For Independent Chairman - Quick Fact  Nasdaq   ...McKesson investors have been concerned with board oversight since 1999, when the company was the center of an accounting fraud that resulted in a single day loss of $9 billion of shareholder value and paid out nearly $1 billion in shareholder lawsuit settlements...

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Woo-hoo! Senate extends tax cuts for bottom 98%

    Now it's up to the House of Representatives to go along. 

    Here's what happened late this afternoon: The Senate rejected the Republican amendment to extend the Bush tax cuts to everyone by a vote of 45-54. The plan, according to ThinkProgresswould have extended all of the Bush tax cuts — including those on income of more than $250,000 — while eliminating tax credits that help 20 million working families.

    Then the Senate voted FOR the Democratic plan that keeps the tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000 a year -- the 98 percent. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
    Not one Republican voted for the one-year, $250 billion measure. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), Jon Tester (D., Mont.) and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) voted with their party, in spite of pressure to break with Mr. Obama ahead of competitive re-election races.
    For those tax cuts to take effect, the House of Representatives now has to approve the Senate proposal.

    Here's what President Obama had to say about it:
    House Republicans are now the only people left in Washington holding hostage the middle-class tax cuts for 98% of Americans and nearly every small business owner.  The last thing a typical middle class family can afford is a $2,200 tax hike at the beginning of next year.  It’s time for House Republicans to drop their demand for another $1 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and give our families and small businesses the financial security and certainty that they need.  Our economy isn’t built from the top-down, it’s built from a strong and growing middle class, and that’s who we should be fighting for. 

    Washington Teamsters strike Waste Management

    Stand strong, brothers!
    This just in: Local 117 Teamsters went on strike against Waste Management at today at 1 pm EDT. According to the Local:
    Waste Management forced recycle and yard waste drivers who service King and Snohomish counties to strike this morning by violating federal labor law. Picket lines were established at several Waste Management facilities at 10 A.M. this morning. 
    The National Labor Relations Board is investigating a number of violations committed by the company, including bad-faith bargaining, coercing and direct dealing with its employees, threatening to retaliate against workers, and unilaterally changing working conditions. 
    “Waste Management has forced this labor dispute through its blatant disregard of U.S. law,” said Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer, Tracey A. Thompson. “Now they are on the verge of provoking a public health crisis. Waste Management needs to realize that this community will not sit idly by while they put our families at risk. We call on Waste Management to return to the bargaining table immediately and bargain a fair contract in good faith that recognizes the health and safety hazards its drivers face on the job.” 
    153 recycle and yard waste drivers employed by Waste Management have been working without a contract since May 31, 2012. On June 2, the drivers unanimously voted to authorize a strike after Waste Management committed a series of labor law violations. 
    Sanitation workers perform one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, putting their lives on the line every day to protect the public health. Since 2005, four Local 117 members in the industry have been killed on the job.
    @komocohen tweeted:
    Teamsters 117 organizing workers to head to sites in King and S. Snohomish Counties to picket. Largest line at #SoDo facility (1st & Kenyon) 
    Go to www.SeattleTrashWatch.com to find out how you can help your striking brothers.


    Half of Americans are poor. Raise the minimum wage.

    Half of the U.S. population is now officially poor, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Worse, poverty is spreading like a cold in a day care center.

    There's a way to stop it. Raise the frigging minimum wage.

    Find out what your state's minimum wage is here.

    That is all.

    Senate vote delayed on Bush tax cuts

    We hear there's all kinds of scrambling going on in the Senate. The 2:15 vote has been postponed to 4 pm and reports of deals and compromises are surfacing.

    Our latest understanding is that the Senate will conduct votes on the competing Republican and Democratic tax cut proposals to extend 2001, 2003, and 2009 tax cuts.  The Republican bill would temporarily extend tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003, provide for temporary alternative minimum tax relief and extend increased expensing limitations. There's more in the fine print, we expect.

    The Democratic proposal is S. 3412, President Obama's proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans. But it looks as if it may be amended.

    Put simply by @NHAFLCIO,
    US Senate will vote on Dem plan to extend Bush tax cuts for middle Americans & R plan to extend tax cuts for billionaires @ 4 p.m. #1u 
    Stay tuned. We'll keep you posted.  

    End Bush tax cuts for top 2%. Call 888-744-9958.

    That's right, call that number right away and tell your senators to vote against extending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans. The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote on the bill at 2:15 EDT today.

    The bill would extend tax relief for 98 percent of U.S. taxpayers but end them for people with household income of more than 250,000.

    Because of the Senate rules, 60 votes are required to bring the bill to a final vote. Make your senators feel the heat!

    The entire concept of "trickle-down economics" is rejected by every credible economist in the country. As Bloomberg reported today,
    How about the oft-cited Republican claim that tax cuts will boost the economy so much that they will pay for themselves? It’s an idea born as a sketch on a restaurant napkin by conservative economist Art Laffer. Perhaps when the top tax rate was 91 percent, the idea was plausible. Today, it’s a fantasy. The Booth poll couldn’t find a single economist who believed that cutting taxes today will lead to higher government revenue -- even if we lower only the toptax rate.
    Now make the call.

    Charter school billionaire charged with massive fraud

    Don't forget union-busting.
    As the blogger Atrios says, we'll find out soon what happens when all the public schools are shut down and all the charter school owners go to jail.

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday,
    A charter school mogul was charged today in a multimillion-dollar fraud case by the U.S. Attorney's Office. 
    Dorothy June Hairston Brown, who received accolades for students' test scores and gained notoriety for collecting large salaries and suing parents who questioned her actions, was indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. 
    Brown, 75, and four executives from her charter schools, were charged with defrauding three charter schools of more than $6.5 million in taxpayer funds. 
    U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger announced that a federal grand jury had returned a 62-count indictment against Brown and four of her trusted employees.
    David Love nailed it in firedoglake:
    ...corporate education reform is big business.  And the rightwing, plutocratic agenda— of school privatization, government austerity measures and deunionization— clashes with the needs of poor, working class, and disproportionately black and brown public school students.

    Today's Teamster News 07.25.12

    The U.S. Economic Policy Debate Is a Sham  Bloomberg   ...The debate in Washington has become completely unmoored from this consensus, and in a particular direction: Angry Republicans have pushed their representatives to adopt positions that are at odds with the best of modern economic thinking. That may be good politics, but it’s terrible policy...
    White House warns of $1,600 tax hike on 114M middle-class families  The Hill   ...The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to vote this week on legislation to extend tax rates only on those with annual income up to $250,000. Senate Republicans are pressing for a separate vote to extend all of the tax rates...
    China Continues Push to Control North American Energy  Economy in Crisis   ...A Chinese oil company has purchased  Canadian firm Nexen Inc. for $15.1 billion in cash, expanding China’s ever growing presence in the North American energy market. This deal, if approved, will give the Chinese firm CNOOC Ltd access to oil drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as shale oil reserves in British Columbia...
    Ahead Of Voter ID Trial, Pennsylvania Admits There’s No In-Person Voter Fraud  TPMMuckraker   ...The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states...”
    Marijuana Dispensaries Banned in L.A. Per City Council Vote  LA Weekly   ... No more weed retailers in the pot shop capital of the nation. Maybe...
    Cronyism and Corruption Define Walker’s Reign  The Progressive   ... Start tugging at a thread in that story and the whole tapestry of corporate domination of state policy starts to unravel. It leads everywhere: From the recently awarded federal waiver of the No Child Left Behind law to the imposition of more and more standardized testing in schools; from the initiative to orient K-12 curriculum away from the needs of children and toward needs of employers to the practical elimination of teachers’ unions and catastrophic cuts to education budgets...