Friday, August 31, 2012

3 wins for voting rights in Ohio, Texas and Florida

It just got a little harder to steal the presidential election for Mitt Romney.

Courts in three states struck down efforts to prevent Democrats from voting in November. In Florida, a judge permanently removed insane restrictions on voter registration drives. In Texas, the court struck down a law requiring people to show a photo ID to vote. And in Ohio just today, a judge ruled the state cannot stop early voting three days before the election

Vote suppression is usually cleverly disguised as "Voter ID" laws. They try to prevent voting by likely Democrats by requiring identification that's extremely difficult for some people to obtain. But this year voter suppression is taking new shapes, such as an insane law criminalizing voter registration in Florida.

ThinkProgress reports on Florida:
Three months after a federal judge blocked much of Florida’s year-old voter suppression law as an unconstitutional infringement on speech and voting rights, the same judge agreed Tuesday to permanently remove the restrictions on voter registration drives, pending final confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case. In a settlement, the civil rights groups challenging the law and the state agreed not to appeal the case.
In Texas, the Associated Press tells us:
A three-judge panel in Washington unanimously ruled that the law imposes "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty... 
Republicans are aggressively seeking the requirements in the name of stamping out voter fraud. Democrats, with support from a number of studies, say fraud at the polls is largely non-existent and that Republicans are simply trying to disenfranchise minorities, poor people and college students — all groups that tend to back Democrats.
And in Ohio, we learn from Plunderbund:
A Federal judge rules with Obama that Ohio cannot stop early voting during the 3 days before the election as HB224 attempted. It’s unclear what effect this will have on Secretary of State Jon Husted’s recent directive and firing of two Democrat elections officials who defied said directive. 
Jon Husted, meet the United States Constitution.
In case you have any doubt that these new laws are aimed at stealing elections, please note that Pennsylvania's House Majority leader was caught on tape saying his state's voter suppression law "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." Or consider that Democratic voter registration all but stopped in Florida. According to the Florida Times-Union,
Just 11,365 new Democratic voters were registered in Florida in the last year vs. 209,425 four years earlier. 
What could have caused such a sharp dropoff? A lack of voter enthusiasm? Maybe lack of proximity to a major election? 
Those were the weak explanations that a Florida secretary of state official gave to Times-Union reporter Matt Dixon. 
What really happened were registration rules that were so radical that a federal court stepped in and invalidated them. 
At issue is giving third party groups just 48 hours to turn in new registration applications or face criminal charges.
All these efforts to take away the right to vote come from ALEC, the corporate cabal that legally bribes lawmakers to help it destroy the middle class. Jerry Kremer, a former New York state lawmaker, writes in The Huffington Post that ALEC champions voter ID laws. And Kremer points out:
In the 2011 and 2012 sessions lawmakers introduced 62 photo ID bills in 37 states and 10 states have passed photo ID laws since 2008. The legislators who propose these bills claim that they will stop voter fraud but no state that has such a law has been able to prove that there had been any fraud.
Andrew Cohen, writing in The Atlantic, remarked on the reaction stories about voter suppression always get:
Whenever I write about this topic, the reader reaction is always: "I have to show my identification every day. What's the big deal?" But that's not what these laws are about. No one, in South Carolina or elsewhere, votes without first establishing their ID. The central question instead is how far these states may go to force registered voters, who have voted without incident for years, to obtain new forms of identification. Why don't poor people have driver's licenses? Because they can't afford cars. There is a constitutional right to vote -- men and women have died over it. There is no such right to drive.

'The Fighter' won't back anti-union Sen. Scott Brown

Micky Ward speaking to the Teamsters convention last year.
Our Teamster brother Micky Ward, proud member of Local 25 and subject of the film 'The Fighter," likes Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.

But he can't endorse him for re-election.

Brown wants to take away collective bargaining rights. Surely a sad state of affairs considering his Senate seat was long held by Edward M. Kennedy, a true champion of labor.

Evan Lips at the Lowell Sun has the story of Ward's brief endorsement and then un-endorsement of Brown:
Mill City ring king Micky Ward found himself backed into a corner Thursday when word trickled out that he was supporting U.S. Senator Scott Brown’s re-election campaign. 
It started with a tweet from Republican National Convention in Florida. Then came word from Brown’s camp that the Wrentham Republican would be making an appearance Friday morning at Ward’s favorite gym, Forever Fitness in Chelmsford. 
Reached on his cell, Ward said he admired Brown’s spirit and respected the way he could “go out there and listen and talk like a guy who is positive and wants to do right by us...” 
Roughly a half-hour after Ward confirmed he was backing Brown, ‘The Fighter’ called back. He said he had given his endorsement a little more thought. 
“I can’t support Scott Brown,” Ward said. “I just can’t do it.”... 
“I found out Scott (Brown) is anti-union and I’m a Teamster guy,” said Ward. “I found out he’s also against gay marriage and I say if you love someone you should have the same rights no matter who you are.”
Atta boy, Micky!

Woo-hoo! Wells Fargo dumps ALEC

Another corporation dropped its membership in ALEC, the secretive corporate cabal that writes much of the anti-middle-class legislation passed in state legislatures these days. Wells Fargo became the 39th (by our count) company to leave the group.

The Denver Business Journal reported on the bank's departure:
Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), the largest bank in metro Denver by deposits, ...(has) joined nearly 40 other companies that have cut ties to the group.
ALEC stands for "American Legislative Exchange Council." Here's what's "exchanged": lavish family vacations and access to deep-pocketed political donors on the one side. On the other side, pro-corporate-bills that hurt consumers, communities, workers and the environment. ALEC wrote Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law that sparked such outrage after the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Wells Fargo still has much to atone for. But dumping ALEC is a good start.

For more information about ALEC, go to

Teamster troubadour to play for Woody at Kennedy Center

Thousands of Teamsters remember Joel Rafael from his performance at the March 26, 2011 rally for workers in Los Angeles. Now this former Teamster is taking his show to an even grander venue: The Kennedy Center. On Oct. 14, he'll participate in a hootenanny celebrating Woody Guthrie's centennial along with Arlo Guthrie, Tom Morello, Ry Cooder, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.

Rafael is a longtime Guthrie aficionado. He told TeamsterNation that Guthrie is getting the recognition he deserves after being called a traitor and Communist during his lifetime:
Woody Guthrie is finally being recognized as one of America's greatest literary treasures. He was a prolific wroter, who wrote songs and letters and poems. He wrote prolifically on every subject...instead of radical, no-talent hobo... nobody's calling him that any more.
Guthrie championed unions, said Rafael, once a Teamster as a concert grunt at the San Diego Wild Animal Park ini 1985. Now Rafael is a member of the Musician's Union Local 47 and the Traveling Musician's Union Local 1000.
Woody Guthrie was a union champion. He was the original union champion. ... Somehow it doesn't matter what he's talking about, he gets the subject back to unions.
Protest music, says Rafael, is alive ... and if not well, at least it's getting stronger. The reason: widespread economic distress, which includes the worst drought since the Dust Bowl of 1936 that Guthrie sang about. Rafel recently contributed to an Occupy album (called "Occupy This Album") along with 98 other musicians. 

Rafeel and Hoffa at the 2011 LA rally.
Music can make people realize the seriousness of economic inequality, he said.
People are so busy. The style of life is so all-encompassing. There's not enough time in the day. That keeps people so busy that it's easy to not see how far off into this control by corporations we've already fallen into...They don't believe how serious it is...
Rafael wrote recently about Guthrie in Music Radar and Elmore.

He's totally stoked and thrilled to be part of the Kennedy Center tribute to Woody Guthrie.
We've been in the trenches for Woody for two decades. Now all this stuff has come to light. We were so lucky to get on this Kennedy Center show.
Rafael's new album, his eighth, came out on July 17. "America Come Home" has been called "a wonderful request to restore the American Dream." You can find out more about Joel Rafael and his music on his Facebook page here.

Today's Teamster News 08.31.12

Low-wage jobs replace middle-wage positions  Tampa Bay Business Journal   ...Jobs created in the years following the economic downturn pay less on average than jobs lost in the midst of the recession...
U.S. flower growers fight to survive amid flood of imports  McClatchy   ...With Colombian imports now accounting for three of every four cut flowers sold in the United States, domestic growers say they can’t compete with the planeloads of Colombian flowers that are flown in through Miami each day...
Federal courts rejects Texas voter ID law, but state vows to win Supreme Court appeal  Associated Press   ...A Texas law requiring voters to show picture ID at the polls was struck down by a three-judge federal panel, who said the state failed to prove the legislation wouldn’t harm low-income and minority voters...
Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words   ...Ryan may have helped solve some of the likeability problems facing Romney, but ultimately by trying to deceive voters about basic facts and trying to distract voters from his own record, Ryan’s speech caused a much larger problem for himself and his running mate...
Teamsters reach deal with SuperMom's, end lock-out  Pioneer Press   ...The settlement between Teamsters Local 120 and Northern Tier Energy LP was reached late Wednesday afternoon, said Christine Carnicelli, Northern Tier Energy spokeswoman...
Republic Airways employees stage protest in Indianapolis  Indianapolis Star   ...Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics for Republic Airways protested this morning against what they call low wages and intimidation tactics by the airline's management...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Buy these Made-in-America school supplies

  1. LiquiMark Washable Markers - Hauppauge, NY.
  2. Pilot Easy Touch Pen - Jacksonville, FL.
  3. Crayola Crayons 16ct. - Easton, PA
  4. Elmer's School Glue - Statesville, NC
  5. Cutco Super Shears (may not be suitable for younger students) - Olean, NY
  6. Art Bin Pencil and Marker Box - Middlefield, OH
  7. Laptop Bento Lunch Box - Northern California (will not share specific city)
  8. Naked Binder - Des Moines, IA
  9. Nicky's Folders - Rochester, NY
  10. New Leaf 100% Recycled 1 Subject Notebook - California (will not share specific city)
  11. The Write Dudes USA Gold Natural Wood #2 Pencils - Lewisburg, TN 
Parents, please try to buy school supplies that were made in the U.S. The Alliance for American Manufacturing tells us you can find most of these products in local stores. 

Fight backroom deals for the 1%

Teamsters from the Capitol Region will protest the 14th round of secret talks for the latest job-killing trade deal in Leesburg, Va., on Sunday. Many social justice organizations want the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be negotiated in the open. They include unions, environmental, public health, family farm, consumer, and Occupy.

Here's what the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is telling its members in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The TPP is poised to become the largest job-killing trade deal Free Trade Agreement in U.S. history.  Approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access to the negotiating texts, while the general public is barred from even reviewing what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names.  If it continues on its current course, the TPP is likely to:
  • Offshore good-paying jobs to low-wage nations and undercut working conditions globally 
  • Create new tools for attacking environmental and consumer safety policies 
  • Deregulate Wall Street banks, hedge funds and insurance companies 
  • Further concentrate global food supplies, displacing family farmers and subjecting consumers to wild price fluctuations 
  • Lengthen patents thereby blocking access to affordable, generic medications 
Rally cosponsors include the American Medical Student Association, CISPES, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America, Friends of the Earth, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, HealthGAP, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters,, National Family Farm Coalition, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, Nodutdol, Occupy Wall Street Trade Justice Working Group,, Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Trade Justice New York Metro, United Students Against Sweatshops and many others.
If you live in the region, you can RSVP for the rally -- and get a free ride on a union-operated bus -- here.

Today's Teamster News 08.30.12

Bank of America hasn't modified any mortgages so far under settlement  Reuters   ...The agreement required Bank of America, which bought subprime lender Countrywide Financial in 2008, to provide the most consumer relief. But in a securities filing this month it said a significant number of modifications had not yet been completed "due to the time required to underwrite the modified loans." The bank so far has provided no relief through refinancings, according to the report...
California Defies Lower-Tax Texas In Creating More Jobs  Bloomberg   ...California, which sent a delegation to Austin last year to find out how the Lone Star State had beat it in employment growth, surged ahead of Texas to lead the nation in job creation for the last two consecutive months...
Romney Party Yacht Flies Cayman Islands Flag  ABC News   ...Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign toasted its top donors Wednesday aboard a 150-foot yacht flying the flag of the Cayman Islands...
Paul Ryan’s brazen lies  Salon   ...His Republican National Convention speech was stunning for its dishonesty...
Florida Victory: Federal Court Removes New Restrictions on Voter Registration Groups  Brennan Center for Justice   ...Civic groups and Florida voters scored a decisive victory today when a federal judge indicated he will permanently remove controversial restrictions on community-based voter registration drives...
The Party of Lincoln and the Right to Vote  The Atlantic   ...While Republicans convene in Tampa this week to figure out how to win more votes, a three-judge panel of jurists convenes in the nation's capital to evaluate the legality of a new state law that's designed to ensure that fewer registered voters are permitted to cast a ballot...
Teamsters Local 79, Pasco still at odds  Tampa Bay Online   ...Pasco County has rejected a special magistrate's ruling that union employees should get a 3 percent pay raise...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Greatest Generation did it with collective bargaining

It's time to return to the values embraced by The Greatest Generation.

The Greatest Generation fought two world wars, beat back communism, built the interstate highway system, put a man on the moon and created the most powerful manufacturing economy the world has ever seen.

The Greatest Generation bargained collectively for a fair share of the prosperity it created. That's why America led the world during the postwar era. That's why the words "Made in America"meant something then.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who constantly attacks collective bargaining, would undermine everything the Greatest Generation accomplished. And yet he praised the Greatest Generation at the Republican National Convention last night.

Steve Cooper at We Party Patriots shared another politician's response to Christie. Elizabeth Warren, candidate for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, sent an email to her followers that said:
Let’s talk about what really made the Greatest Generation so great. 
Coming out of the Great Depression, America was at a crossroads. The future of our economy — and our democracy — was at stake. 
We made a decision together as a country: To invest in ourselves, in our kids, and in our future. For nearly half a century, that’s just what we did. 
And it worked. For nearly 50 years, as our country got richer, our families got richer — and as our families got richer, our country got richer. 
And then about 30 years ago, our country moved in a different direction. New leadership attacked wages. They attacked pensions. They attacked health care. They attacked unions. 
And now we find ourselves in a very different world from the one our parents and grandparents built. We are now in a world in which the rich skim more off the top in taxes and special deals, and they leave less and less for our schools, for roads and bridges, for medical and scientific research — less to build a future.

'Collective bargaining got us here' (video)

Here's a new ad for the Protect Our Jobs campaign in Michigan. Protect Our Jobs would amend Michigan's constitution to protect collective bargaining rights. Opponents have been trying to keep the question off the November ballot. A state appeals court ordered it on the ballot, but opponents will appeal to the state supreme court.

According to the campaign,
Once near-death, the auto industry has risen to record-breaking sales and produce vehicles of exceptional quality. Plants are adding jobs and bringing work back from overseas as employers and managers work together to ensure the future of the auto industry remains bright. 
The UAW and auto executives worked together to make historic changes in production, pay and benefits. Since 2009, productivity has increased, loans given by the government have been repaid ahead of schedule and profits soared to all-time highs. 
Collective bargaining helps everyone because the wages, benefits, working conditions and safety procedures laid out in contracts become industry standards. Working families have more money to spend in local economies, small businesses benefit from the boost in sales and communities are strengthened. 
Corporate special interests want to block Michigan’s working families from exercising their right to vote on the proposal, pushing Lansing politicians to pressure the courts to keep the proposal off the ballot. 
On Monday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered the Board of State Canvassers to place the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot. The board, which previously deadlocked on placing the proposal on the ballot, followed the court’s order.
Stay tuned.

Today's Teamster News 08.29.12

The Jobs Crisis  Nieman Reports   ...even with the most optimistic assumptions about economic growth, current trends indicate that the average American’s wages will drop about 20 percent. One big factor is that more and more good jobs will go overseas, leaving even America’s best and brightest no alternative but to enter the service industry...
Principal reduction: A lifeline for underwater homeowners (opinion)  The Hill’s important for federal policy makers to continue to pursue foreclosure mitigation efforts including reducing the outstanding principal on homes for borrowers whose mortgages greatly exceeds the value of their homes...
Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital  Rolling Stone   ...How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill...
"Fuck You, Tyrants!": Ron Paul Supporters Rebel on Convention Floor  Mother Jones   ..."They're cheating. The Republican National Committee is not transparent and does not have integrity. They stole votes."..
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra asks musicians' union for deep cuts and concessions  Indianapolis Star   ...According to committee chairman Rick Graef, a horn player with the ISO for the past two decades, management wants to reduce the number of musicians under contract from 87 to 63, cut wages by 45 percent, reduce the schedule from 52 to 36 weeks and revisit the terms of the musicians’ pension...
Tacoma: Council executes new contract with Teamsters Local 117, calling for pay raises amid grim budget forecast   The News Tribune   ...Tacoma’s City Council unanimously executed a new contract for 239 city employees across various departments today — an agreement that will cost the city about $125,000 more per year in pay raises covered by the next general fund budget...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The super-rich are the new secessionists

Here's a terrific article by Mike Lofgren in The American Conservative about the revolt of the super-rich. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's the meat of the argument:
...the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. 
Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare? 
Being in the country but not of it is what gives the contemporary American super-rich their quality of being abstracted and clueless. Perhaps that explains why Mitt Romney’s regular-guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained.
And here's an interesting fact about who is supporting our government (our military, our health care system, our highways, our space program):
In 1950, payroll and other federal retirement contributions constituted 10.9 percent of all federal revenues. By 2007, the last “normal” economic year before federal revenues began falling, they made up 33.9 percent. By contrast, corporate income taxes were 26.4 percent of federal revenues in 1950. By 2007 they had fallen to 14.4 percent.
Lofgren has written a new book, The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. We just may have to pick it up.

Well Fargo fires worker for incident 49 years ago

There are lots of reasons to dislike Wells Fargo: illegal foreclosures, illegal subprime loans, illegal discrimination, to name a few. The Des Moines Register just came up with another one.

The bank fired Richard Eggers, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran, from his $29,795-a-year job for  putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine in Carlisle, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1963.

Reports the Register:
Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since the issuance of new federal banking employment guidelines in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines in February. 
The tougher standards are meant to weed out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes, like identity fraud or mortgage fraud, but they are being applied across-the-board thanks to $1-million-a day fines for noncompliance. 
Banks have fired thousands of workers nationally because of the rules, said Natasha Buchanan, an attorney with Higbee & Associates in Santa Ana, Calif., who has helped some of the banking workers regain their eligibility to be employed. 
“Banks are afraid of the FDIC and the penalties they could face,” Buchanan said. 
The regulatory rules forbid the employment of anyone convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, breach of trust or money laundering. Before the guidelines were changed, banks widely interpreted the rules to exclude minor traffic offenses and some other misdemeanor arrests.
You can bet the people at the top don't get fired. They just get golden parachutes, usually after they've settled with the U.S. Department of Justice for massive financial crimes -- without admitting wrongdoing. reminds us:
The pension assets of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf stand at $16 million, according to the company’s proxy statement. The vast majority of these assets came from a special plan available only to the company’s top executives. As high as Stumpf’s retirement assets have soared, they’re exceeded by those of another Wells Fargo executive. Mark Oman oversees the company’s consumer lending division, where most of its ill-fated subprime loans were made and where many customers have lost their homes to foreclosure. His retirement assets top $17 million

Today's Teamster News 08.28.12

Libor Scandal's Potential Costs Exploding To $88 Billion Or More  Huffington Post   ...The high-end estimate of the potential cost to the 16 banks being investigated in the Libor probe has risen to $176 billion, the WSJ writes, citing a July report by Australian firm Macquarie Research...
Unilever sees 'return to poverty' in Europe  The Telegraph   ...Unilever will adopt marketing strategies used in developing countries in order to drive future growth in Europe, as the head of its European business warned that poverty will rise in the region as a result of the debt crisis...
Appeals court rejects challenge to collective-bargaining-rights ballot proposal  Detroit Free Press   ...The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected this afternoon a challenge to a ballot proposal aimed at enshrining collective bargaining rights in the state constitution...
Frequent Capitol protesters face crackdown  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...Erwin recently met with legislative aides who were feeling threatened or intimidated by protesters who have come into the aides' offices to berate them and have followed them to their cars. He suggested they try filming a demonstrator and, if that didn't work, punching the person with their free hand...
Teamsters Local 399 will start talks next week  Variety   ...Casting directors ratified a one-year successor contract last September following negotiations between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and Local 399 of the Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters...
Teamsters locked out by SuperMom's  Minneapolis Star Tribune   ...Twenty-two Teamsters drivers for SuperMom's bakery in St. Paul Park have been locked out of their jobs in a contract dispute. While a small work stoppage, it's part of growing national wave of labor lockouts initiated by corporations...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't let bureaucrats tell New Yorkers what drinks to buy

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of sugary drinks avove 16 ounces. The New York City Board of Health has until September 13 to decide whether to go along with him.

New York Teamsters staunchly oppose the job-killing ban. They made a big showing at a rally against the  on City Hall steps several weeks ago. (Watch the rally here.)

Now, Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda wants New York Teamsters to join New Yorkers for Beverage Choices:
I encourage each of you to become a member of the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition to let them and the mayor know that we oppose this ban. Please go to sign up and be sure to share the link with your friends, family and neighbors.I encourage each of you to become a member of the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition to let them and the mayor know that we oppose this ban. Please go to to sign up and be sure to share the link with your friends, family and neighbors. 
It is important that we stand together to let city bureaucrats know that the Teamsters can pick out their own beverages!

5 more companies leave ALEC!

This just in! Five more companies have left ALEC, the corporate front group behind most of the anti-worker, anti-middle class laws that state legislatures have passed.

Color of Change tells us:
Five more major national and global corporate members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have told leading online civil rights group ColorOfChange that they have cut ties to the right-wing policy group, bringing the total of companies to drop ALEC to 38. They include: General Electric, The Western Union Company, Sprint Nextel Corporation, Symantec Corporation, and Reckitt Benckiser Group plc. The announcement of these major departures comes days before the Republican National Convention is scheduled to open in Tampa, FL. 
"These significant developments, coupled with recent withdrawals from ALEC by companies like Walgreens and GM, further prove that everyday people working together to hold corporations accountable can achieve tremendous change," said Executive Director Rashad Robinson. "ColorOfChange celebrates these corporations who have withdrawn their funding from ALEC, which continues to defend its push to enact discriminatory voter ID laws across the nation." 
ColorOfChange has worked in collaboration with the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which launched last summer to highlight the corporations and politicians that vote on ALEC "model" bills. CMD has also documented ALEC's role in pushing controversial Stand Your Ground and discriminatory voter ID laws. Other allied organizations include CREDO Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Common Cause, ProgressNow, People For the American Way, and
To read more about the damage that ALEC wreaks on our democracy and our economy, check out the ALECExposed website here.

Reagan-era judge says deregulation 'a mistake'

We know deregulating the banks was a mistake. But here's a judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan saying it was a mistake to deregulate the banks.

Huffington Post has the story:
Federal judge Richard Posner said his one-time support for deregulating the financial industry was based on a “basic misunderstanding,” in an interview with Eliot Spitzer on Current TV. His about-face is all the more noteworthy because Posner was appointed by Ronald Reagan, the president known to advocate for leaving businesses alone. 
“I was an advocate of the deregulation movement and I made -- along with a lot of other smart people -- a fundamental mistake, which is that deregulation works fine in industries which do not pervade the economy,” he said in the appearance on Spitzer’s “Viewpoint.” “The financial industry undergirded the entire economy and if it is made riskier by deregulation and collapses in widespread bankruptcies as what happened in 2008, the entire economy freezes because it runs on credit.”

Today's Teamster News 08.27.12

Light blogging for the next few days. TeamsterNation is taking a break.

Laid-Off US Workers Are Taking Huge Pay Cuts At Their New Jobs  Associated Press   ...Only 56 percent of Americans laid off from January 2009 through December 2011 had found jobs by the start of this year, the Labor Department said Friday. More than half of them took jobs with lower pay. One-third took pay cuts of 20 percent or more...
Mitt Romney Reaped Huge Tax Benefits Based On 'Active' Role At Bain Capital  Huffington Post   ...Even if Romney could persuade the IRS his involvement was legitimately active, that still leaves him in a rhetorical jam: For tax purposes, he claims an active status; for political purposes, he claims to have zero to do with the investments...
Human rights in Honduras: State Department looks the other way (opinion)  Los Angeles Times   ... In March, the AFL-CIO filed a complaint under the Central American Free Trade Agreement documenting widespread abuses of labor rights in Honduras since the 2009 coup, including firings of those who signed union petitions and assassinations of trade unionists active in the resistance...
One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food  Gallup   ...Residents in Alabama and Delaware are also among the most likely to struggle to afford food...
California Legislature sets ambitious agenda in last week of session  Los Angeles Times   ...Entering the final week of their legislative session, state lawmakers still must grapple with controversial proposals to overhaul California's overburdened public pension system, revamp its costly workers' compensation scheme and change the way corporate taxes are assessed...
Michigan court's collective bargaining rights decision will be sweeping  Lansing State Journal   ...union advocates believe collective bargaining has helped bring about safer hospital conditions, more effective police patrols and better learning environments for students...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Today's Teamster News 08.26.12

CBO: Ending High-Income Tax Cuts Would Save Almost $1 Trillion  Off the Charts   ...The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) new report shows that allowing President Bush’s 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts on income over $250,000 to expire on schedule at the end of 2012 would save $823 billion in revenue and $127 billion on interest on the nation’s debt, compared to permanently extending all of the Bush tax cuts...
How Voter Suppression Endangers our Democratic Process  policymic   ...Despite virtually no evidence of voter fraud, states all across America continue to enact voter “reform” legislation. Since 2011, 17 states have passed voter reform measures. Not surprisingly, 15 of these states are either solid red/Republican or toss-ups...
Cal State thaws admission freeze for nonresidents  Los Angeles Times   ...Some campus leaders criticize plans to admit higher-paying out-of-state and international students while barring California residents...
So, Mitt, what do you really believe?  The Economist   ...Too much about the Republican candidate for the presidency is far too mysterious...
Ryan's Medicare Cuts Would Hurt Wisconsin and America's Seniors  Huffington Post   ...As Ryan attempts to dismantle Medicare as we know it, he is trying to distract attention from his plan by falsely claiming that Obama is the one who is cutting Medicare...
Pendleton, Teamsters at odds on pact  Buffalo News   ...The Town Board rejected recommendations made by the New York State Public Employment Relations Board, insisting that extreme changes must be made to the old agreement to remain on budget...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Today's Teamster News 08.25.12

Big Income Losses for Those Near Retirement  New York Times   ...The typical household income for people age 55 to 64 years old is almost 10 percent less in today’s dollars than it was when the recovery officially began three years ago...
Unemployment woes hit hard for displaced workers, Labor Dept. study shows  Washington Post   ...
Only about a quarter of the 6.1 million workers displaced from 2009 to 2011 found new work that paid as well or better. The others remained unemployed, stopped looking for work or accepted jobs at lower wages...
Growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost more than 2.7 million jobs between 2001 and 2011, with job losses in every state  Economic Policy Institute   ...China is the most important source of downward wage pressure from trade with less-developed countries because it pays very low wages and because its products make up such a large portion of U.S. imports...
Iceland’s recovery continues, declared ‘impressive’  IceNews   ...Unlike the US and several countries in the eurozone, Iceland allowed its banking system to fail in the global economic downturn and put the burden on the industry’s creditors rather than taxpayers...
Teachers speak up to refute claims of reformers  Diane Ravitch's Blog   ...If unions were “the problem,” we would expect to find high (academic) performance in right to work states.  But we don’t. On the NAEP, the highest performing states are Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, all strong union states (up until now). The lowest performing states do not permit collective bargaining...
UPS, Teamsters to Restructure New England Pension Plan  Business Wire   ...UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced an agreement with the New England Teamsters and Trucking Industry Pension Fund (NETTI) to restructure pension liabilities for approximately 10,200 UPS employees...Subject to approval by local unions, the withdrawal will be effective Sept. 16, 2012...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Teamster women won't back down

The hundreds of Teamster women converging this year in San Francisco are ready to go home and campaign for political candidates who side with workers. Today was the second day of inspirational speeches and calls to get out and work for fairness, for justice, for the future of the middle class.

Kelly Rivera Craine, is a shop steward and members of Teamsters Local 332 in Flint, Mich. Interviewed at the Teamsters Women's Conference, she said she loves coming:
It gets me pumped up and motivated. We went through negotiations this year at Genesys Health System, where I work as a registered nurse. This conference gets me recharged and ready to go back to my local and my job. We are excited to have 20 women here from Local 332. 
At the conference today we heard from President Hoffa. He was inspirational. He’s an awesome speaker.  President Hoffa and Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, both talked about getting people out to vote. It’s our right and it’s one of the reasons I became a shop steward, because I don’t want to sit back. I decided to try and make a change. When I see people not voting, it’s like why are you complaining? Everyone needs to get out and vote. 
We also heard from Joanne Hayes-White, the chief of the San Francisco Fire Department. She made a comment about grabbing on to opportunities and about never knowing what you can do until you try. Fire fighters are predominantly male, so to see what she has done while raising a family shows that if you really work hard, you can do it. 
Diane Ersbo, a member of Teamsters Local 638 in Minneapolis, says there aren't enough words to describe the feeling of being in San Francisco with her Teamster sisters. But she tried!

This year is more important than any other voting year. We have everything at stake and we need to know who we are voting for. It’s time we organize our neighbors, our friends, our cousins and everyone we know. This isn’t just about this election; it’s about the shoulders we stand on. It’s about the life we were given because of the work done by our parents’ generation. We cannot lose all the gains our union has made in building the middle class. I have had a good life and I want to pass that on to my son. 
There is a war on workers like never before, and that was the topic of the conference today. We know how to build Teamster power and we need every single Teamster in the Teamsters Union to do that now. You’re being called out on the battlefield to stand up for justice and for workers’ rights, so grab your boots, sisters and brothers, and let’s go! Make sure you organize, organize, organize and get yourself to the polls to vote. Get educated. Make a difference.
You heard the sisters.

Woo-hoo! Organizing victory for Allegiant Air pilots

Please welcome our new Teamster pilots at Allegiant Air! The approximately 350 pilots voted yesterday to join the Airline Professionals Association (APA), Teamsters Local 1224 in Wilmington, OH.

According the the press release, the pilots voted to join the Teamsters to negotiate fair work rules, improved scheduling, better benefits and job security.

This is a big win for the Allegiant pilots and for the Teamsters Airline Division, said Airline Division Director Capt. David Bourne:
This election is a major victory for Allegiant Air pilots. The Teamsters Union stands ready to assist these pilots in securing their future with Allegiant Air.
APA Local 1224 is thrilled to have the Allegiant pilots join its family of flight crew members at nine other airlines. Said the Local's president, Daniel C. Wells:
We look forward to representing the pilots of Allegiant Air as they begin negotiating their first contract. But even beyond the scope of representation, we are excited about their future participation and professional contributions to our local and the Teamsters.
Traey Ligget, an International Representative with the Airline Division, commended the pilots' hard work and committment to organizing, calling them "true unionists."

As one Allegiant pilot said after the victory was announced,
The pilots of Allegiant have spoken and chosen to be represented by the Teamsters. We look forward to working with management to build a career airline and strong company. We also thank the Teamsters Airline Division, Local 1224 and the 1.4 million Teamsters for their continued support.

-- Union Thug

Romney's Medicare plan will cost you thousands of dollars

The Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would raise health care costs by a whopping $11,000 per year for the average person who is 65 years old today. (We TOLD you they want you to be poorer.) The Center for American Progress released a report today that analyzes the impact of the health care plan put forward by Mitt Romney and premium wine enthusiast Paul Ryan.

The report also found:
  • For seniors turning 65 in 2023, Medicare costs during retirement would increase by $59,500 
  • Seniors choosing traditional Medicare could wind up paying an extra $29,000 on average over their retirement lifetime.
Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 08.24.12

Household income is below recession levels, report says  Washington Post   ...median income is 7.2 percent below its December 2007 level and 8.1 percent below where it stood in January 2000, when it was $55,470, according to the report...
China Confronts Mounting Piles of Unsold Goods  New York Times   ...The glut of everything from steel and household appliances to cars and apartments is hampering China’s efforts to emerge from a sharp economic slowdown. It has also produced a series of price wars and has led manufacturers to redouble efforts to export what they cannot sell at home.//
Scott says no to more days for early voting  Associated Press   ...Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday flatly rejected any talk of expanding the number of early-voting days in the state prior to this year's presidential election despite a federal court ruling that a new state law could hurt minority participation...
Freedom of the Press dies in Wisconsin  CNNiReport   ...WTDY News reporter Dylan Brogan was barred from covering a Mitt Romney campaign event Wednesday in Madison featuring US Senator Ron Johnson. The event, held at the Monona Terrace, was open to the Press...
Teamsters, carpenters say protest is "for the middle class"  Patriot Ledger   ...100 Teamsters and union carpenters picketed outside the Braintree solid waste transfer station lateThursday morning...They were picketing Callahan Inc. of Bridgewater, the general contractor for a $4 million renovation and improvement to the facility...because the company uses subcontractors who have especially poor labor and job-related records...
Arizona Teamsters File Labor Board Charges Against US Foods  IBT   ...The charges against US Foods include instances of threatening and interrogating workers; issuing unwarranted discipline against union supporters; unilaterally changing work policies and conditions; withholding pay and falsifying company records to discriminate against union supporters; and unlawfully denying employees union representation...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What do Teamster women do when attacked?

Dancing dragons kicked off the Teamsters Women's Conference
UPDATES with more AWESOME photos, CORRECTS Mauren's title to director)
We fight back!

That's the message at the Teamsters Women's Conference just getting underway. They're in San Francisco, "a great union town," Sue Mauren called it, to applause.

There was plenty of applause, cheering, whistling and whooping among the 835 participants at the conference known for its energetic (putting it mildly) spirit.

Sue Mauren
Mauren is the director of the Women's Committee, which stages the annual event. She opened the proceedings with a call to fight for worker-friendly candidates in November.

"Politicians are trying to take away the right to vote and that's wrong," Mauren said. "We're under attack, and when we're under attack, what do we do?"

"We fight back," bellowed the sisters in the audience.

Mauren's advice: "Make sure you network, see old friends, meet new friends, get energized and put on your fighting spirit!"

Local 856 was already energized. They'd already registered dozens of new voters on Wednesday at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel where the Teamster women are staying.

Rome Aloise, president of Teamsters Joint Council 7 in San Francisco, stressed the importance of voting this fall. "If we don't win this election, we're toast," he said.

California Sen. Barbara Boxer took it one further: "If we don't win this election, the middle class will disappear."

Boxer gave a stemwinder of a speech, calling this November's election an urgent and stark choice between a president who stands up for the middle class or a secretive republican who serves the wealthy elite.

Boxer said she had just delivered 100,000 signatures on a petition to Mitt Romney's $12 million home in San Diego asking him to release his tax returned. "We want to see how much money he shipped overseas," she said. "The wealthy have to pay their fair share."

"When women go to the polls, we win." Boxer said, to applause, cheering, whistling and whooping.

The Onion's hilarious take on voter suppression

There's nothing funny about the new Jim Crow laws that are springing up all over. Their purpose of the cleverly misnamed "voter ID" laws is to prevent minorities, seniors and students from voting. They do it by requiring ridiculously difficult-to-get IDs. ALEC and extremist politicians are behind these laws.

The Onion manages to find humor in the new wave of voter suppression.
Here are a few "sample" restrictions from the satirical newspaper:

  • Nevada: Polling places will no longer supply ballots; voters must bring their own
  • Ohio: Voters must present valid Republican Party membership card
  • Tennessee: All registered voters must show up at polling areas with at least one normal-looking coworker who promises that voter is cool

Read the whole thing here.

NC guv takes on misclassification

Good news from North Carolina! Gov. Bev Perdue ordered a task force yesterday to investigate the misclassification of workers (can you say FedEx Ground?).

According to a press release from the governor's office, the task force will "identify effective mechanisms to combat unlawful practices like employee misclassification that harm workers". It will:
...strive to: (a) protect the health, safety and benefits of workers; (b) eliminate any competitive advantage currently enjoyed by businesses who violate the law; and (c) educate employers and employees regarding applicable legal requirements relevant to the practice of employee misclassification.
The task force was set up after the News Observer ran a series on how companies misclassify workers to cheat the government of revenue.

Misclassification is part of a huge problem. A consensus among experts and labor organizers is that 30 percent of U.S. workers are freelancers, temporary workers, on contract, on call, or illegally defined "independent contractors."

That's according to a terrific story in Alternet that laid bare the precarious existence of temporary workers, the "precariat:"
These workers are often called the “precariat,” a combination of “precarious” and “proletariat,” because the traditional social safety nets for workers don’t cover them. They have no job security as they hustle from one gig to the next, and they often don’t know where their next job is coming from or when it will come. They very rarely get paid sick days or vacation. They don’t get paid extra for working overtime. They are usually not eligible for unemployment benefits. They generally have to pay both the worker’s and the employer’s share of Social Security taxes. They have to pay for their own health insurance...
The story went right where you'd expect: at FedEx Ground. Our friends at American Rights at Work point the finger:
FedEx Ground, for example, defines its 15,000 drivers as independent contractors, even though they drive company-assigned routes and must drive vans with the FedEx logo and color scheme. 
“There are millions of Americans classified as independent contractors by the companies they work for, but effectively working as employees,” American Rights at Work, a Washington-based labor-rights nonprofit, said in a 2007 report on FedEx Ground. “These workers suffer the worst of both worlds: they toil without the protections and benefits of employees, yet are without the control over their work that true independent contractors enjoy.”...
The scam’s advantage for employers is that they don’t have to pay minimum wage or overtime, Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes, or workers’ compensation. The result, the American Rights at Work report said, is that FedEx drivers not only make less money than those at UPS, who are permanent workers with a union; they also have to pay for gas and maintenance for their vans. Many lease vans from a company-approved supplier, Ruckelshaus says. 
Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 08.23.12

Sorry for the late posting folks ... we're on the West Coast today.

The Lost Decade of the Middle Class  Pew Research Center   ...for the first time since the end of World War II, mean family incomes declined for Americans in all income tiers. But the middle-income tier—defined in this Pew Research analysis as all adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median —is the only one that also shrunk in size, a trend that has continued over the past four decades...
Paul Ryan's 'Path to Prosperity' Is Really a Bad Trip on the Road to Economic Ruin  Alternet   ...Your guide to Ryan’s irresponsible budget fantasies and the lessons of economic history he missed...
China brazenly devalues its currency again  manufacture this   ...The yuan’s recent decline, the first in seven years, is raising eyebrows among U.S. politicians and sparking concerns that the weakening currency could trigger another round of nasty bickering between Beijing and Washington...
Colombian Hunger Strikers Sew Mouths Shut To Protest Firing By General Motors  International Business Times   ...Outside of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, 13 former General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) employees are staging a hunger strike protest charging worker mistreatment by the company, and seven of those men have sewn their mouths shut...
Democratic senators highlight bill to stop outsourcing of call center jobs  The Hill   ...The United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act would make businesses that move call center jobs overseas ineligible for federal grants or loans in order to protect call center jobs in their home states...
Teamsters President Hoffa: "We Have To Fight" To Stop Right-To-Work  Real Clear Politics   ...James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, tells Jennifer Granholm that the first thing Romney would do is push for a national "right-to-work" law to restrict the rights of unions...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hoffa: 'They are out to take away your jobs'

Hoffa, live tonight.
Whoa! Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa was fired up tonight on "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm."

Appearing live on Current TV, he told the former Michigan governor that we've never had the extremism that we have today:
You don't have a choice. They are out to take away your jobs.
He condemned the influence of money in politics:
Unions are made up of millions of people. They have a handful of people and they are going to outspend 13 million working people. That's wrong.
The way to counter that influence is to organize, he said.
We are organizing in every state to end the gridlock we have now.
Stay tuned. We'll continue to keep you posted on Teamsters fighting the war on workers at the ballot box.

Missouri newspaper to Karl Rove: Get lost!

Well, that isn't quite what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editors said. But it's close.

Here's what they said about Rove, whose Crossroads GPS Super PAC (along with the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity) has already dumped $60 million of unknown origin into political attack ads:
The 217,430 Missouri GOP voters who decided on Aug. 7 that they wanted Mr. (Todd) Akin to take on Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in a race for the U.S. Senate should be deeply offended by what Mr. Rove is trying to pull. 
On Monday, following Mr. Akin's ridiculously stupid comments about "legitimate rape," Mr. Rove's billionaire-funded Crossroads GPS, a Super PAC that intends to spend millions of non-Missouri dollars to defeat Ms. McCaskill, said that it would take its money and spend it elsewhere if Mr. Akin didn't withdraw from the race. 
Once Mr. Rove spoke with his donors' cash, other top Republicans fell in line. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and former Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond, John C. Danforth and John Ashcroft all called on Mr. Akin to step down. 
As we write this, Mr. Akin hasn't withdrawn. 
That one man — Mr. Rove — has the power and audacity to try to undo the will of 217,430 voters, and that many top Missouri Republicans are aiding and abetting his efforts, should confound and dismay most Americans.
The editors note that Rove did something like this before in Missouri 39 years ago. He tried to steal the leadership of the national college Republicans by questioning his opponent's qualifications to vote.

They conclude that Rove's bullying has nothing to do with Todd Akin saying dumb things or Sen. Claire McCaskill's vote on health insurance reform:
To Mr. Rove, this is simply about removing obstacles to his power. Ms. McCaskill was in his way. Now it's Mr. Akin. Voters? They're just a means to an end.

Teamsters help write the book on saving the airline industry

Why has air travel become so miserable? It's fraught with delays, lost luggage, fees, congestion and all manner of unpleasantness.

A recently published book by consumer advocate and journalist William McGee examines the airline industry’s race to the bottom and what we can do to stop it. He quotes Teamster leaders in the book, Attention all Passengers: The Airlines’ Dangerous Decent – and How to Reclaim Our Skies.

McGee, a former airline dispatcher, links the industry's degeneration to executives’ relentless efforts to cut costs. They outsource aircraft maintenance and farm out flights to smaller regional carriers. The results have been devastating for travelers and workers -- but lucrative for legacy airlines. They've made billions from checked baggage alone.

Among his many interviews with industry experts,  McGee sat down with both Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and director of the Teamsters Airline Division, Capt. David Bourne. McGee also interviewed Airline Division representative Chris Moore and United Airlines mechanic Dave Saucedo, both of whom are on the Teamsters Aviation Mechanics Coalition steering committee. He also interviewed pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, CEOs, and government inspectors.

McGee describes how major airlines contract out repairs and other maintenance work to unlicensed mechanics in places like El Salvador and Mexico. Bourne told him,
This is not a paper argument. I have personally encountered problems with outsourced maintenance. We could tell where the repairs had been done when we flew the planes after servicing.
McGee describes his conversation with Hoffa:
If the battle lines are being drawn, I moved from one side of the skirmish to the other, interviewing airline executives and financial analysts, as well as labor officials and academics. But in the annals of the American labor movement, one name undoubtedly stands out from the others: Hoffa…
Once inside the office of James P. Hoffa, the general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, I was equally struck by the spectacular picture-window view of the Capitol dome and the striking resemblance to his father, James R. Hoffa…
I asked to visit Hoffa because I wanted a big-picture perspective, and his opening remarks were as expansive as our view of the Washington Mall…“Corporate America has betrayed America and American workers,” Hoffa said. “Executives don’t see their obligations. All they think about is the next quarter.”…

“There’s a way to pay fair wages,” he responded. “A 747 pilot flying to Japan with three hundred people on board? Look how productive he is. He should be paid well.”…“The airlines are part of a bigger picture. They’re moving back all borders. And American corporations are dodging taxes. That’s why there are no jobs.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. McGee lists a number of changes needed to reclaim our skies. They include: partial reregulation; enforcing fair competition and international emissions standards; an end to maintenance outsourcing; higher standards for regional airlines and more transparency for foreign ones; revamped corporate bankruptcy laws; and a passenger bill of rights.

We hope McGee's book inspires more workers and the flying public to come together and take back our skies.

-- Union Thug

Today's Teamster News 08.22.12

Paul Ryan Defended Stimulus -- When George W. Bush Wanted It In 2002 (VIDEO)  Huffington Post   ...Biden's analysis -- that the government needs to juice the economy to promote growth, or else revenue will fall long term -- is one that Ryan himself articulated cogently back when the GOP was urging stimulus...
Court Voids Rule on Coal Pollution  Wall Street Journal   ...A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected the Environmental Protection Agency's latest effort to limit soot- and smog-forming air pollution that blows across state lines, providing a short-term lifeline for aging coal-fired power plants and removing a significant accomplishment from the Obama administration's environmental résumé...
State Workers' Vacation, Sick Time Eyed for Cuts  The Ledger   ...(Florida's) rank-and-file state workers who haven't received a pay raise in the past half-dozen years may now see some perks reduced to help pare what some lawmakers say is a worrisome liability...
Paterson to join protest against Goodwill’s low pay for the blind  Albany Times-Union   ...David Paterson is joining in the protest against Goodwill Industries in the wake of revelations that they paid some workers as little as 22 cents an hour...
Teamsters says it cannot endorse Hostess ‘final offer’ – but puts it to union vote  Food Navigator   ...The Teamsters union has said it cannot endorse a “final offer” put forward by Hostess Brands, which includes an 8% pay cut in the first year of a five-year contract, but it will let members vote on the offer, considering that their jobs may be at stake if they do not come to an agreement...
NY Teamsters Endorse For Senate, Assembly  Daily News   ...President George Miranda (said)  “These endorsements are more than pronouncements for the press; rather, Teamsters will be in the streets in districts across the State putting shoe leather and hard work behind these endorsements...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real men (and women) register to vote

The Atlanta Falcons (yup, those Atlanta Falcons) are helping out with a voter registration drive in Marietta, Ga., tomorrow.

Other real men and women are registering voters across the country, especially our brothers and sisters in California. They're busting their butts to register voters so they can defeat the the Billionaires' Bill of Rights, Proposition 32, in November.

But about those Falcons: The AFL-CIO tells us,
If you live in the Marietta, Ga., area and haven’t registered to vote and are a football fan, you have a chance Wednesday to make your voice heard at the ballot box and meet members of the Atlanta Falcons and NFL Players Association (NFLPA). 
The players are pitching in with the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council for a voter registration event from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches at 801 Church St., N.E. 
No matter where you live, if you haven’t registered to vote, click here to find out how to register in your state.

Kochs control the courts with junkets for judges

You don't suppose that all-expenses-paid trips to posh resorts just before important case reviews would have any effect on a judge's decision, do you?

Of course they do. It's exactly what the Koch brothers and their cabal have done for years. The Kochs honed the technique with state lawmakers through ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. They use the same thinly-disguised bribery methods through their other front groups. Here's a list of phony think tanks and academic centers funded by the Kochs and their corporate pals:

  • George Mason University(Law and Economics Center - LEC)   (Recipient of Koch funding totaling $20,297,143 from 1986-2006 ), Earhart Foundation, JM Olin Foundation.
  • Foundation for Research on Economics and Environment (FREE).  Funded by ExxonMobil, GE Foundation, Koch Family Foundation  ($1,305,500 through 2006), JM Olin Foundation, Earhart Foundation and Castle Rock Foundation (Coors). ($65,000 in 2009) and the Claude Lambe Foundation ($1,540,000).
  • Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program (funded by many key ALEC members, including Koch)
  • Liberty Fund providing judicial conferences and seminars to/for Judges.
  • Federalist Society  (Koch funded   $1,437,200 through 2006).
  • Aspen Institute (Koch funded  $1,115,000 through 2006 with David Koch on the BOD).
  • University of Kansas, Law and Organizational Economics Center (LOEC) begun in 1995 by Henry Butler  with a $1,000,000 grant from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation (see section on Henry Butler below).
  • International Judicial Academy which provides seminars for judges on the International level.

Bob Sloan at Daily Kos explains how the Koch-led cabal influences judges with junkets:

These junkets are designed to provide attending judges with an ultra-conservative, pro-corporate outlook on key issues.  During these free trips judges attend daily seminars provided by purported scientists, corporate executives and others advancing a one-sided, pro-corporate, free-market conservative ideology.  The seminars are designed to impart to the attending judiciary, corporate or business points of view on critical issues involving environment, economics, tort reform, EPA and takings law (eminent domain). 
The cabal uses these free vacations in the same manner as the travel companies and time share companies do...everyone of us has been subjected to offers of "free vacations" for simply attending a time share presentation.  None of us plan on buying a time share, or joining a "discount" club - but face it, many do and for that reason the techniques are successful and continue to be used year after year.  These judicial education trips are no different.  Judges get an all expense paid trip, thinking they will have fun and can ignore the  propaganda presented in the seminars...but in the end, if they want to be able to take more of these trips, at some point they have to rule as if they've "learned" something at the previous ones, and thus be allowed subsequent trips.
Sloan concludes:
...all of this is being done to advance an agenda that is totally partisan and dedicated to the views and positions held by one political group - a minority view.  This is how the conservative faction has become able to successfully pursue their vision of democracy and America over the objections raised by the majority.  We now can clearly see all their activities; the model legislation, resolutions, judicial and legislative influences and the corruption bought through campaign contributions.  It all has a purpose, design and end goal...none of which any of us as true Americans will accept or condone. 
For an exhaustive investigative report on how these groups pervert our democracy to their own benefit, read the whole Daily Kos diary here.

Rove and Kochs secretly outspending everyone in 2012

Add this to middle-class woes: Two Super PACs that have vacuumed millions from billionaires and corporations are outspending political parties, unions, trade associations and political action committees, according to an analysis by Pro Publica.

The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS have already spent $60 million on attack ads. The electorate has no way of knowing which corporations and billionaires are contributing to this tsunami of deceptive anti-middle-class propaganda.

Reports Kim Baker at Pro Publica:
Campaign-finance reform advocates say the spending by the two organizations highlights the role anonymous money is playing in this election, which will be the most expensive in history. 
"First of all, it shows how much desire there is for secrecy among huge donors who want to be able to spend money to influence this election without leaving any fingerprints," said Fred Wertheimer, who runs Democracy 21, a watchdog group. "Secondly, it shows that so far, there is an enormous advantage being played in this election by just two groups that are exercising undue influence in the elections..."
After the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in January 2010, which paved the way for unlimited corporate and union spending on federal elections, many predicted that super PACs would become the biggest vehicle for outside spending. Hundreds of super PACs soon sprang up, some of which paired up with c4s. 
But it's the sidekicks, the c4s, that have proved more muscular. Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, has spent an estimated $6.6 million on broadcast TV ads mentioning a candidate for president, CMAG data shows. Crossroads GPS has spent more than six times as much.

Today's Teamster News 08.21.12

Judge throws out Palmer suit against Infosys  Computerworld   ...In his lawsuit, Palmer claimed he was harassed at work, sidelined and even received death threats for refusing to participate in an alleged Infosys scheme to use workers on business visitor, or B-1 visas, for tasks that required an H-1B work visa...
U.S. troops' kids early victims of Congress budget inaction  Reuters   ...The stressed school systems are one more instance of a country struggling to keep up with the needs of military families, worn down by a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Romney Gains Huge Cash Advantage Over Obama  New York Times   ...Mr. Obama and the Democrats raised a combined $75 million during July, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed Monday, compared with $101 million for Mr. Romney and the Republicans. The Democrats had about $124 million in cash on hand, most of it in Mr. Obama’s campaign account, while the Republicans had $186 million...
Megadonors taint Florida politics, appointments  Orlando Sentinel   ...just Friday, we heard from a longtime GOP donor who said he was denied a seat on Orlando's airport board — simply because he wouldn't cough up $10,000. Florida is so flush with special-interest cash that our state is drowning in it...
Why Are Our Public Schools Up For Sale?  Alternet   ...While charter proponents claim that their schools are less bureaucratic, more efficient, and more effective, the evidence fails to back those claims...
Hammond begins contract negotiations  NWI Times   ...Contracts with the Hammond Police and Fire departments' unions and the Teamsters, who represent most of the city's public works employees, expire at the end of the year...