Sunday, September 30, 2012

This is what we union thugs do in the NYC Marathon

We raise thousands of dollars for Autism Speaks.

We learned about this tremendous effort from our Teamster brother Joseph Mosca, Jr. He wrote on our Facebook page:
This is for a fellow sanitation worker and teamster brother. Running the nyc marathon and trying to raise money for autism. Please share thank you so much
And so we followed the link and came to Dennis Palazzola's personal donation page. He has already raised $8,365 for the Nov. 4 NYC Marathon.

He writes on his page:

My Thomas is on the left my Jack is on the right.Thomas was diagnosed with Autism at a very early age(17months)My family's whole world,expectations and purpose changed that very day! as it has for so many families just like mine.No one ever asks for this journey or even expects it,but as a chosen family for this beautiful,trying,challenging journey we are all doing the best we can for these beautiful gifts that are our children.I want to personally thank every person who opened their hearts to support Autism Speaks and Team Up as they continue to tirelessly help all of these beautiful familes.God bless all of you!
If you'd like to support your brother in this worthy cause, just go to his page here.

Autism Speaks, according to its web page, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
And remember, 'thugs' stands for Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals.

Love, respect and gratitude for Jimmy Hoffa from Teamsters

The Teamsters Facebook page on Friday posted an eloquent plea for compassion as yet another search began for leads in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. It was linked to a Huffington Post by Bret Caldwell, communications director for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Caldwell wrote:
The family I know has stood together through the most trying times and provided love and support to each other for the past 37 years. The Hoffa family deserves the compassion and respect that every other family in our great nation receives when they encounter such a tragedy. 
This is how Teamsters and their friends responded:
Kevin Cicak So well stated, thanks for putting into words something many of us felt but didn't have the opportunity to say with this level of exposure. Jimmy Hoffa's greatest legacy, the NMFA, allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans a middle class life and I and my family will be forever grateful to the Hoffa family for their sacrifice. 
Jake Gann Hoffa was a living legend he did so much for this country. Much respect from local 87 vice president Bakersfield ca 
Rose Berberian Hoffa...a TRUE American hero. God rest his soul. 
Jim Crowley Thanks for making it possible for my old man to give me a middle class upbringing Mr Hoffa. 
Bill Crawshaw RIP Jimmy , You are what built the middle class in this country and gave the working men and women dignity. Every Teamster Brother and Sister owe you for what you gave us. THANK YOU, Local 688 St. Louis Mo. 
Ernie Sanchez Hoffa Sr worked hard all his life, let him rest in peace. Thanx for paving the way for many Americans to reach the middle class.  
Robert Bellino Thanks jimmy, from local 641 
Raylene Barton i was at a ufcw 655 ladies night out and we gaveup a toast for Jimmy RIP 
Joseph Saroli Since the 1950s and continuing through today, the Saroli family has had their lives improved by the Hoffa family. Peace be with you all. Rest in peace James R Hoffa. 
Dave Williams God Bless Jimmy Hoffa Jr. and Sr. If it wasnt for Hoffa Sr. I wouldnt have what I have as a UPSer/Teamster in Local 710. Many thanks to the Hoffas. 
Manny Quintero you retired teamsters thanks hoffa sr for the pension you recieve today 
Mike Halsey Thanks Jimmy Hoffa. The NMFA you put together still provides me & my family a middle class life. IBT Local 100. Cincinnati, OH. 
Michael H. Orr RIP Jimmy Hoffa a true hero to the working people. Local 107 Philly 
Sandy Schmiehausen Woodworth Our greatest respect to our Brother & his family that gave so much of their own lives for the good of all middle class, hard working Americans. You will continually be an inspiration to all of us and will never be forgotten. We will always stand and fight for the principles, and beliefs that have held us together. All of our love and prayers to the Hoffa family. Teamsters Local Union No. 688 St. Louis, MO. 
Marie Donovan I idolized Jimmy Hoffa since I was 12 yrs old or younger. Hoffa took care of his people. 
Mario Ramirez Jr. Much love and respect ..... Teamsters local 463... Pennsylvania!!! 
Mike Ruelas Thank you Mr Hoffa for your dedication and sacrifices..I work under the NMFA now, something you created so long ago..I hope that it can continue on..Teamsters Local 104 Phoenix Az. 
Shelly Mategko My grandpa and his Brothers from the late great Local 1140 had the utmost respect for their Brother Jimmy Hoffa and credited him for winning most of the rights we now take for granted. Their loyalty was unwavering and that says a lot about the kind of leader - and man- Hoffa was.
There's more here.

Today's Teamsters News 09.30.12

I am a job creator: A manifesto for the entitled (opinion)  Washington Post   ...I am the misunderstood superhero of American capitalism, single-handedly creating wealth and prosperity despite all the obstacles put in my way by employees, government and the media...
Europe is Revolting  Counterpunch   ...A general strike in Greece, massive protests by the indignados in Spain, public transport strikes in Portugal (and Spain), and industrial action by aluminium, steel and public sector workers in Italy headlined this week...
The “Pauperization Of Europe”  Testoserone Pit   ... “Poverty is returning to Europe,” said Jan Zijderveld, head of Unilever’s European operations, in an interview. The British–Dutch consumer products company, third largest in the world, was adjusting its commercial strategy to this new reality, he said, by redeploying to Europe what worked in poor countries of the developing world...
Bain Workers Bus Tour Slams 'Romney Economy' In Swing State Excursion  Huffington Post   ..."Bain workers know firsthand what a Romney-Bain Economy looks like," the group wrote on its website. "Outsourcing the good jobs to China, [and] leaving mostly low-wage jobs with limited benefits here in our communities..."
Vote counting company tied to Romney  The Free Press   ...Bain alumni, now raising big money as Romney bundlers are also in the electronic voting machine business. This appears to be a repeat of the the infamous former CEO of Diebold Wally O’Dell, who raised money for Bush while his company supplied voting machines and election management software in the 2004 election...
Teamsters reach deal on pay-hike contract  The Olympian   ...Teamsters Local 117 struck a deal with negotiators for Gov. Chris Gregoire late last night, assuring a deal that mirrors one struck two weeks ago by the larger Washington Federation of State Employees...the Teamster deal reverses the 3 percent reduction in pay and hours worked for all 5,690 covered workers...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Scott Walker fails to pick winners as WI economy flounders

Job-killers like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker like to say "government shouldn't pick winners and losers."

Or "government doesn't create jobs, people do."

Then they try to shovel government money at their corporate pals.

Unfortunately for Wisconsinites, Walker's attempts to pick winners isn't working so well. His new Economic Development Agency is forking over money to corporations without finding out first if they'll even survive. Or the Agency is giving vast quantities of cash to companies that will create only a handful of jobs.

At least that's what the federal government says, according to the Wisconsin State Journal in a story titled, 'Feds slam state agencies over use of economic-development money.'

Whether it's corruption or ineptitude, Wisconsin's economy is sucking wind. The Econbrowser blog reports that Wisconsin is not only doing worse than the nation, it's doing worse than neighboring states:

The employment picture in Wisconsin so far this year has been grim. Whereas the country has seen year-on-year (y/y) job growth above 1.0% each month through July, the Badger State has seen y/y declines every month. As of July, Wisconsin payrolls had shed 0.8% since the same time last year. Although the state's important manufacturing sector is creating jobs, expanding at a 1.3% pace since July 2011, many other sectors continue to decline.
Clearly, austerity in Wisconsin isn't working any better than it is in Europe.

This is what we union thugs do at Jones Beach

Teamster "THUGS" raising money today for the Brain Aneurysm
Foundation. Diane Gatto, who spearheaded the walk, is in white; Demos
Demopoulos, secretary-treasurer of Local 553 on the right.
We raise thousands of dollars for brain aneurysm research.

Teamsters Local 854 with the support of Joint Council 16 locals raised money and awareness today for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Diane Gatto led the team in a 2-mile walk/4-mile run at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island. We just checked and the team raised $5,000. The money funds aneurysm education, research and clinical care.

For those of you that would like to contribute to Team Gatto please click here.

And remember, thugs stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals."

Today's Teamster News 08.29.12

China's currency suddenly gains value as U.S. presidential candidates talk tough on trade policy.  manufacture this   ...China's currency has recently gained value, despite Beijing's long-term policy of deliberate undervaluation.  By keeping the Chinese currency, the Yuan, undervalued, Chinese exporters have continually enjoyed an artificial price advantage over their U.S. competitors...
Portugal at flashpoint as austerity lights fires in mild-mannered populace  Guardian   ...On Saturday, demonstrators will gather again to march against the spending cuts they believe have pushed their country deeper into recession. Meanwhile, workers have downed tools in protest over changes to working regulations...
Washington liquor privatization increases consumer cost  The Oregonian   ...The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Washington shoppers are paying 17 percent more for distilled spirits since the Costco initiative was passed. Store, bar and restaurant volume was down 9 percent in June...
Suspicious voter registration forms found in 10 Florida counties  Los Angeles Times   ...Florida elections officials said Friday that at least 10 counties have identified suspicious and possibly fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by a firm working for the Republican Party of Florida, which has filed an election fraud complaint with the state Division of Elections against its one-time consultant...
Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra cancels Oct. 5 and 6 performances  Indianapolis Star   ...The ISO locked out the musicians and terminated their health benefits Sept. 8. Since then, the musicians have been performing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday outside Hilbert Circle Theatre in Downtown Indianapolis and will continue to do so during the lockout...
School bus drivers roll with Teamsters  Southtown Star   ...Drivers and bus aides at Alpha School Bus Co. in Crestwood have voted to be represented by Local 777 of the Teamsters, the union said Friday...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ryan campaigns against the defense cuts he voted for News, Weather

Whoa! Mitt Romney must be in trouble when Fox News exposes Paul Ryan for being against defense cuts after he was for them.

Weekend TV: Exposing ALEC's right-wing conspiracy

Bill Moyers will expose the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) on his show, "Moyers & Company," this weekend. Writes the Center for Media and Democracy, which is behind the effort to expose ALEC:
Bill Moyers will be examining the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) this weekend on his weekly television show "Moyers & Company." The show entitled "The United States of ALEC" will highlight the work of the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy and its many allies in the effort to expose ALEC's inner workings.
Click here to check the schedule by entering your zip code and your service provider. It should be worth watching.

New mass workers' movement demanding change?

Demanding change yesterday in Crestwood, Ill. 
Steven Ashby thinks that might be happening. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, he points to teachers' strikes in Chicago and suburban Lake Forest, a walkout by Chicago symphony musicians, machinists on picket lines in Joliet and Wal-Mart warehouse workers striking in Elwood. (He could have mentioned the Alpha bus workers rallying for respect yesterday in Crestwood.)

Before that, there was a massive uprising in Wisconsin, the stunning defeat of an anti-union law in Ohio and Occupy Wall Street. 
Ashby concludes There's something happening here:
Historical change is often best understood by looking at turning points — key moments when history began to dramatically change. Three citywide labor strikes in 1934 ended a period of relative passivity and heralded the country's largest and most successful worker uprising. The 1955 Montgomery bus boycott initiated the nation-changing civil rights movement. 
So are Wisconsin, Occupy and the CTU strike another turning point that future historians will see as the beginning of a new mass workers' movement demanding social change? 
If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on it. One key ingredient in the making of historical turning points is that people begin to view street protests as normal instead of weird. Instead of viewing a mass march on TV or the occupation of a building as strange and scary, many people watch those same events and think to themselves, "Good for them. That's what it takes to get anything done in this country. Maybe I'll join them."
Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 09.28.12

No, ALEC isn't for the little guy (opinion)  San Francisco Chronicle   ...Americans are getting wise to the lasting damage caused by the American Legislative Exchange Council - the corporate-bill mill known primarily for pushing discriminatory voter ID laws through statehouses across the country...
High-frequency trading insanity (opinion)  USA Today   ...the high-frequency trader ... deploys massive computer capacity and complex algorithms to buy and sell individual stocks multiple times in a fraction of a second, all in search of micro-profits with each trade. This trader cares not a whit about a stock's the bizarro world that Wall Street has become, such activity now makes up the majority of all trades. It is manufacturing risk while siphoning money and talent that growth-producing sectors of the economy need...
Phoenix Mayor Attempts To Live On A Food Stamp Budget: ‘I’m Tired, And It’s Hard To Focus’  ThinkProgress   ...When local activist groups challenged Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to live on a food stamp budget for a week to mark Hunger Awareness Month, he took them up on the offer and found out just how hard it was. Stanton kept a diary on the challenge, which allotted him roughly $29 a week...
Targeted Members of the Press Denied Access to Walker Press Conference  Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative   ...Governor Scott Walker and his staff are taking extraordinary steps to control his public image and protect him from the public outrage his policies have engendered. Yesterday, these measures included kicking out independent journalists from a press conference...
Crestwood bus workers to decide on union representation  Southtown Star   ...On Friday, about 270 employees at Alpha, which transports special-needs students around the Southland, will vote on whether to have the Teamsters represent them in negotiations...
Teamsters Local 164 union in Jackson files unfair labor-practice charges against Hendrickson Trucking Co.  MLive   ...The Teamsters Local 164 union has filed unfair labor-practice charges against Jackson’s Hendrickson Trucking Co. as its employees continue to strike...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 a big year for Teamster candidates

Nearly two dozen Teamsters are running for office this November, including an international vice president who wants to be a New Hampshire state representative and a former Teamster (and astronaut) seeking a congressional seat from California.

Cross your fingers. A win for Teamster candidates is a win for all working people.

We're not just saying that. A recent report showed politicians with roots in organized labor are reliable friends of working families. Writes Cole Stangler in The Huffington Post
Politicians who come of age with the labor movement in their lives are more likely to advocate on behalf of worker-friendly policies, regardless of their political leaning, the makeup of their district and financial support from labor, according to a new study on union members and voting behavior. 
Gary McDowell
Pro-worker advocacy extends far beyond issues that directly affect labor unions, and includes stronger support for policies such as family and medical leave or paid sick days, according to the study. It puts numbers on an ephemeral but intuitive notion: that having direct experience under a boss in solidarity with other coworkers shapes people's worldview in lasting and profound ways, even after they've moved up the class ladder. 
At the same time, the report, which was funded by the pro-labor group American Rights At Work, helps explain the disconnect between working-class America and Congress, where working people are barely represented. Recruiting more union members to run for office would be an effective way of finding reliably worker-friendly legislators, the study implies.
Teamsters are already serving in high office, including Lynn, Mass., Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, Missouri state Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Missouri Rep. Tim Meadows.

Here's a partial list of the Teamsters now running for office (forgive us if we've left anyone out):

Jose Hernandez
  • Jose Hernandez, former member of Teamsters Local 601 and a former astronaut, is running as a Democrat for U.S. House of Representatives from the 10th Congressional District.
  • Dr. Lee Rogers, affililiate member of the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, is running as a Democrat for U.S. House of Representatives from the 25th Congressional District.
  • Jim Cahill, president of Teamsters Local 716, is running as a Democrat for state Senate from District 37.
  • Brad Thompson, president of Teamsters Local 1070, is running as a Democrat for state Senate from District 7. 
  • Jerod Warnock, business agent for Teamsters Local 135, is running as a Democrat for the state House of Representatives from District 5.
Steve Sodders
  • Steve Sodders, member of the Teamsters Law Enforcement League, is running for re-election as a Democrat for state Senate from District 36.
  • Gary McDowell, former UPS package delivery driver, is in a rematch against the incumbent Republican congressman from District 10.
Kim Gillan
  • Bob Burns, Teamster retiree from Local 600, is running as a Democrat for state House of Representatives from District 93.
  • Raymond Kinney, a carhaul member of Local 41, is running as a Democrat for state House of Representatives from District 51.
  • Terry Lesinski, a 30-year ABF member from Local 600, is running as a Democrat for state House of Representatives from District 104.
  • Jim Sweere, ABF member from local 41, is running for state House of Representatives from District 16.
  • Clint Zweifel, member of Teamster Local 688, is running as a Democrat for re-election as state Treasurer.
  • Steve Bullock, state attorney general and former Teamster attorney, is running as a Democrat for governor.
  • Kim Gillan, state senator and former Teamster member, is running as a Democrat for the U.S. House at large.
New Hampshire
John Murphy
  • John Murphy, international vice president for the IBT, is running as a Democrat for state House of Representatives for House District Rockingham 8.
New York
  • Thomas L. Quackenbush, business agent, Teamsters Local 294, is running for the state Assembly from District 111.  
  • Osman Kamara, member of Teamsters Local 776, is running for the state House of Representatives from District 106. 
  • Dave Hansen, member of Teamsters Local 662, is running as a Democrat for reelection to the state Senate from District 30.

SC's War on Workers = 9.6% unemployment rate

Mismanaging SC's economy.
TeamsterPower's morning commute on public transit was nastily disrupted by a loud conversation among South Carolina jackasses businessmen. They were praising their union-hating governor, Nikki Haley, because "she has a real nice manner and she's done a great job with economic development."

About that nice manner: Haley was widely reported to have said,
There’s no secret I don’t like the unions. We are a right-to-work state. I will do everything I can to defend the fact we are a right-to-work state. We are pro-business by nature. I want us to continue being pro-business. If they don’t like what I said, I’m sorry, that’s how I feel.
Charming. And guess how well her pro-business nature is working? Not so well, regardless of what those jackasses on the train think. South Carolina has the sixth worst unemployment rate in the country. Reported the Associated Press last week,
South Carolina's jobless rate held fast at 9.6 percent in August, essentially remaining the same as in July, the state Department of Employment and Workforce reported Friday. 
The July rate had inched up from a 9.4 percent rate in June... 
Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased from 8.3 percent in July to 8.1 percent in August...
And it's no surprise that wages have gone down in South Carolina since Haley took office last year. Economy News reports,
When Haley took office average weekly pay for a SC worker was $775. The latest data from the BLS shows that 2011 third quarter average SC weekly pay is now $746. Nearly a 4% decrease in weekly wages over a year’s span.
And just last week, medical device manufacturer Covidien announced it's shutting down its Seneca, S.C., plant and moving it to Costa Rica. Six hundred jobs will be lost.

Heckuva job, Nikki.

Teamsters, school bus workers rally for R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Ill.

Happening now: "We need a union at Alpha and Teamsters is the way to go."
School bus drivers and attendants with Alpha School Bus are right now rallying for respect in Crestwood, Ill., with hundreds of Teamsters, political, religious and community supporters.

About 270 Alpha drivers and attendants who transport Northern Illinois schoolchildren fought for years for respect and decent working conditions.  Many of the school children have special needs. The bus workers simply want a living wage and safer buses.

Chanté Jones, a driver at Alpha, describes their struggles:
This is a multi-million dollar company because of us, but we barely make enough to support our families. We need better safety standards and to be treated like human beings by this company. I know we are going to make a change, as long as we continue to stick together and form our union.
Teamsters International Vice President Al Mixon said the drivers need to hear the words "Thank you."
Thank you for transporting our children. Thank you for having the courage to stand up to an employer that would rather keep you down. We are proud of you and we are standing together with all Alpha workers.
Jim Glimco, president of Teamsters Local 777 in Lyons, said the drivers and attendants haven't wavered in their fight to form a union since 2010.
You are an inspiration to school bus workers and workers everywhere who want a better life, and the ability to stand up to their anti-worker, anti-union employers.
The company resisted the workers’ efforts to bargain collectively, setting up a fake union called the Executive Committee. Understanding that they did not have true representation or a legally binding contract, the workers held an internal vote to affiliate with Local 777 in April 2011.
The company wouldn't recognize the workers' federally protected right to bargain collectively. On Friday, the workers will vote again.

Mixon told the Alpha drivers and attendants that 1.4 million Teamsters from all over the U.S. and Canada are behind them.

Memo to Ohioans: Vote 'Yes' on Issue 2

We'll let the Teamsters' good friend state Rep. Bob Hagan explain why Buckeyes need to vote "Yes" on Issue 2 in November:
We Democrats were over run by the Republican's majority in this state.  Since they had control they re-did all the Congressional districts and the Statehouse districts to their advantage. 
The League of Women Voters said it was wrong. They disagreed, and wanted to take it out of the control of the party in power, to draw fair districts that would be more competitive and fair. 
Voting Yes takes it out of the legislative control and puts in the hands of a quasi-independent committee to make a fair determination of the population. Vote yes on this NEW ISSUE 2. It has nothing to do with last year's issue 2. VOTE YES ON ISSUE 2 ...hope this helps.
Yes it does, Bob.

For a shorter version: Vote for fairness in redistricting.

Today's Teamster News 09.27.12

Chart of the day: The long decline of labor  Reuters   ...Labor income has been declining for a good 25 years, and the only substantial countertrend was the dot-com bubble. The trend is a bad one, and it’s getting worse. And while I don’t see any policies, on either side of the aisle, which really try to address it, the fact is that Republican policies seem explicitly designed to exacerbate it...
NFL, referees end labor dispute  Boston Globe   ...on the toughest issue to hammer out, the NFL has agreed to extend the defined pension plan for five more years before the referees are converted to a 401(k) plan...
Union Background Has Profound Influence On Politicians: Study  Huffington Post   ...Politicians who come of age with the labor movement in their lives are more likely to advocate on behalf of worker-friendly policies, regardless of their political leaning, the makeup of their district and financial support from labor, according to a new study on union members and voting behavior...
On the job, Scott Walker's failing jobs' performance  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...the rough total of jobs created since Walker took office (is) at 27,311. That leaves about 222,689 jobs to go, with a little more than two years left in his term...
Feds slam state agencies over use of economic-development money  Wisconsin State Journal   ...Among the most serious findings are that the state failed to perform required underwriting — the proceess of determining the financial soundness of a company — before giving $390,000 to Gilman USA LLC, a machining company in Grafton, and $1 million to Morgan Aircraft in Sheboygan...
“Questionable” Palm Beach County voter registration forms forwarded to state attorney for review  Palm Beach Post   ...The Republican Party of Florida is dumping a firm it paid more than $1.3 million to register new voters, after Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher flagged 106 “questionable” registration applications turned in by the contractor this month...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More austerity, more unrest in Europe

Unions in Greece declared a nationwide general strike today and protests in Spain turned violent as more austerity measures threaten the lives of workers already hurting from high unemployment and suffocating budget cuts.

Greek workers have endured massive cuts over the last several years and have repeatedly been forced to use the one thing they still have: the power to withhold their labor.

According to the Washington Post,
The country’s prime minister, Antonio Samaras, has been pushing a package of pension cuts and public salary reductions worth $14.6 billion next year in order to satisfy the conditions of its February aid package from the rest of Europe. In a country with 24 percent unemployment, those measures are already inciting protests and labor unrest.
Up to 200,000 are protesting in Athens and major public services including transportation have been shut down. Smoke and teargas fill the streets in front of the parliament building and protesters have been joined by police who are also upset about the additional cuts.

You’d think European leaders would have gotten the hint the last couple of times Greeks struck against the priorities of the elite.

Clearly austerity isn’t working. And one of the big selling points for budget cuts – that workers have been living beyond their means and are lazy – isn’t working either. Greek workers (the ones who still have jobs) work the longest hours in Europe.

Austerity is doing a lot of damage in Spain, too – so much so that the country’s Catalonia region is threatening to secede.

David Dayen at Fire Dog Lake writes,
Police beat protesters near the Parliament in central Madrid [on Tuesday], firing rubber bullets and charging the crowds…The massive protests we’re seeing in Madrid today [are happening] in advance of what will likely be another austerity budget by the Spanish government. The people only suffer from continued austerity at a time of 25% unemployment. So they filled the Plaza de Espana and elsewhere to call for changes
The crisis in Europe might be the strongest argument against the politics of austerity. It makes us wonder why so many politicians in America continue to push for the same anti-worker policies that are unraveling whole countries on the other side of the Atlantic.

As Dayen at FDL explains,
The common thread here, as well as in Portugal, is resistance to austerity. This has been a feature of Europe for months and has not generally slowed the march down the path of budget-cutting… The bond market participants and financial market analysts thought that Europe had gotten through its rough patch… But the people, for some reason, don’t support needless suffering. Go figure.
                                                                   --Union Thug

Middle-class jobs are disappearing in the U.S.

And when middle-class jobs disappear, the middle class is close behind. 

Writes the Economic Populist:
We have a huge problem. Americans are absolutely desperate for decent paying jobs ... Economists call what's going on job polarization, meaning jobs for the middle class are literally being wiped out. We won't hear them mention the obvious, offshore outsourcing and use of foreign guest worker Visas as being a major cause of the hollowing out of American jobs. Nope, these various studies refuse to mention the O word. You also won't hear about corporations using recessions as an excuse to offshore outsource even more jobs. Yet, that's in part what is happening.
Here's the scary chart: 

The chart uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It shows the hollowing out of middle class jobs -- the ones that require routine work but can launch people into higher-paying work. Economic Populist notes,  
What all of this research shows is good old fashioned work that doesn't require you to be Einstein or chanting do you want fries with that, is being obliterated in America.
And here's a scary statistic, from macroblog:
...the fraction of unemployed workers who have been looking for a job for more than six months has increased to a share not seen in the United States in at least 60 years.
Be very afraid.

Mexican drug gangs now control most Mexican prisons.

Drug cartels now control 60 percent of Mexican prisons, reports the government’s National Human Rights Commission. Mass prison escapes are common in Mexico.

Are you thinking what we're thinking? That it's a good idea to keep the border closed to unsafe trucks from a country where drug lords control most of the prisons and don't even hide their power and influence any more?

For a roundup of the worst drug-related atrocities in Mexico, click here.

About those prisons, Reuters reports:
Six out of 10 Mexican prisons are "self-governed" by prison gangs or drug cartels, according to a report issued Monday by the country's human rights commission. 
Commission representative Andres Aguirre said at a news conference that Mexico's prisons also are plagued by overcrowding, a shortage of guards and corrupt employees who sometimes help with breakouts.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported,
More than 130 inmates escaped through a tunnel from a Mexican prison on the border with the United States in one of the worst jailbreaks the country's beleaguered penal system has suffered in recent years...
Corrupt prison officials may have helped the inmates escape, said Jorge Luis Moran, chief of public security in Coahuila, adding that U.S. authorities had been alerted to help capture the fugitives if they try to cross the border... 
There have been numerous mass breakouts in the last few years from Mexico's penal system, and prison officials are frequently accused of complicity with drug cartels.
Fortunately, very, very few Mexican trucks travel beyond the border zone in this country as part of the cross-border trucking pilot program.

Today's Teamster News 09.26.12

QE3 = Jobs for Wall St  zero hedge   ...QE3 was basically a program for the Federal Reserve to give money to the banks until Beethoven writes his 10th Symphony. There is no connection to employment whatsoever...
Bacon, pork shortage 'now unavoidable,' industry group says  Los Angeles Times   ..."a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable," according to an industry trade group. Blame the drought conditions that blazed through the corn and soybean crop this year...
IMF says risks remain in financial system as US investors take fright  Guardian   ...A Federal Reserve official's scepticism about the US central bank's efforts to stem the financial crisis alarmed Wall Street on Tuesday, as the International Monetary Fund warned that the global financial system remains as risky as it was before the credit crisis...
Lang says Packers discussed extreme measures on flight home  NBC Sports   ...during the flight home from Seattle, the players discussed the possibility of going on strike — or simply taking a knee on every offensive snap — until the lockout of the officials ends...
Teamsters union rallies to keep jobs intact  Hernando Today   ...some members of Teamsters Local 79 were outside protesting recent personnel decisions. Union steward Dan Oliver expected many of the unionized employees to walk around the building expressing their displeasure over human resources, which he said is engaged in rewriting many of the county personnel job titles and forcing those employees to reapply for their jobs at lower pay scales...
Waste Management to pay $1.24M in settlement over garbage strike  Seattle Times   ...The longest garbage strike in Seattle history has resulted in rebates to customers whose trash wasn't collected, sometimes for as long as 12 days...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sanitation work just got deadlier

Sanitation workers put their lives on the line every day. Rarely is that recognized.

But Waste & Recycling News reported recently that collecting trash and recyclables is not only dangerous, it's getting more dangerous:

One of America's most dangerous jobs, being a trash and recyclable collector, just got deadlier. 
On-the-job fatalities among trash and recycling collectors dramatically increased last year, making the job the fourth most dangerous in the land, according to statistics released minutes ago by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
The much-anticipated numbers show that 34 waste and recycling collectors died on the job in 2011. 
That compares with 26 such fatalities in 2010, according to the BLS.
When Local 117 claimed that four Puget Sound waste workers were killed on the job since 2005, the local newspaper felt the need to check that fact. (Local 117 was supporting striking workers.)  The Seattle Times then reported that five sanitation workers had been killed during that period.

(By the way, Waste Management just agreed to rebate Seattle residents $1.24 million because of the 8-day strike.)

And let's not forget that Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in Memphis while supporting a sanitation workers' strike. And the strike was inspired by the deaths of two sanitation workers.

Tariffs on China steel, tires created jobs in Ohio

Thousands of jobs are back in Ohio because President Obama did two things: He got tough on China and he rescued the auto industry.

That's according to Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who represents Youngstown. He should know. Northeastern Ohio suffers deeply because manufacturers fled to foreign competitors. But now they're coming back, partly because President Obama slapped tariffs on Chinese tires and steel tubing.

Ryan said today in a conference call with bloggers and reporters that those tariffs have had huge benefits in Ohio:
When we see tariffs and then we see jobs in Northeast Ohio, then we know that a policy of being assertive and firm with China leads to job creation in the U.S. The sky didn't fall. It brings fairness and balance back. That's what leaders are for; bringing fairness to a system that's unfair.
Obama's tariffs on tires brought back a thousand jobs to Akron and Northwest Ohio, Ryan said. And after the president imposed tariffs on oil country steel tubing, a French company invested $700 million in two steel tubing plants in Youngstown. Those plants are creating nearly 500 direct jobs and as many as 700 building trades jobs constructing them, Ryan said.

Ryan said the president's auto rescue saved the Lordstown plant from closing. The GM plant, just south of Youngstown, makes the Chevy Cruze. Said Ryan,
The plant was down to one shift, it's now up to 3 shifts, with 4500 workers. (These are) good-paying, solid middle-class jobs. A few weeks ago, GM announced it's making the second-generation Cruze in Lordstown with a $200 million investment. That will help the building trades.
Earlier this month, Obama challenged China for unfairly subsidizing auto parts. Said Ryan:
Auto parts is a critical issue for us in Ohio. He has been there.  
But Mitt Romney has not. Romney opposed President George W. Bush's tariffs on steel imported from China and he opposed President Barack Obama's tariffs on tires imported from China, Ryan said. (What Ryan didn't mention was Romney's opposition to the auto rescue.) Said Ryan,
Romney is late to the party. How do you not support tariffs on tires, auto parts, oil country steel tubes. He has zero credibility on this issue. He has stock in a Chinese oil company! For him to say he's going to be tough on China, it's laughable. 
Ryan has a bill to end the currency manipulation that gives China an unfair trade advantage. Though it has the overwhelming support of both Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner hasn't brought it up for a vote. Ryan said if Romney really wants to get tough on China he should have been calling Boehner to bring his bill up for a vote.
I've never heard him ask it. Why hasn't he called the Speaker of the House to bring it up? That would have been very helpful to the cause. It's another (case of) Mitt Romney trying to find some political advantage but the problem is he has zero credibility on this issue.
Ryan said Romney has another problem in Ohio: He campaigned there in support of SB5, the bill to strip government workers of collective bargaining rights. Ohioans rejected SB5 with 62 percent of the vote. Said Ryan:
Romney came in and campaigned on the losing side of that issue. Police, teachers, firefighters have no interest in voting for Mitt Romney because he wasn't there when they needed him.

Scott Walker wishes union refs officiated at last night's game

Whoa! The NFL replacement referees blew the Green Bay Packers game last night so badly they're turning job-killer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker into a union supporter.

Dave Jamison at the Huffington Post writes
Once NFL owners have lost Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), perhaps it's safe to say they've lost the nation. 
After Walker's Green Bay Packers suffered a devastating loss on a controversial last-second play Monday night, the governor whom labor activists consider the most anti-union in the nation took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to call for an end to the lockout of the league's unionized referees. 
Walker's brief plea echoed the tweets of thousands of other exasperated fans over the preceding weeks. "After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful," he wrote. The governor, who last year championed a law that stripped most public-sector workers of their collective-bargaining rights, ended his tweet with the hashtag "#Returntherealrefs."
Writes Marcy Wheeler at empty wheel,
The entire country has discovered that unions do more than just inconvenience them. They ensure that experienced workers are not prevented by greedy profit-seekers from placing safe quality work over profit.
You betcha.

Today's Teamster News 09.25.12

Spain Recoils as Its Hungry Forage Trash Bins for a Next Meal  New York Times   ...As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink...
I.M.F.’s Call for More Cuts Irks Greece  New York Times   ...The government is resisting a push by the International Monetary Fund to impose additional austerity measures that Greek leaders fear could destabilize the shaky coalition government...
Prison Break: Budget Crises Drive Reform, But Private Jails Press On  ABA Journal   ...In return for sacks of cash, the company wants 20- to 30-year contracts for housing criminals. And the already controversial full privatization also requires states to grind out convictions and sentences for two or three decades at today’s pace and severity, maintaining a guaranteed 90 percent occupancy rate—calibrating the wheels of justice to fit a profit-margin spreadsheet...
Citizens United accounts for 78% of 2012 election spending, study shows  Guardian   ...Almost $465m of outside money has been spent on the US presidential election campaign so far, including $365m that can be attributed to the supreme court's landmark Citizens United ruling, according to a report released on Monday.udy shows...
STUDY: U.S. Spends $59 Billion on Social Welfare…$92 Billion on Corporate Welfare  We Party Patriots   ...the numbers clearly show that corporations are “mooching” off the government at a much higher rate than 47% of citizens...
AE union suspends its strike  DesMoines Register   ...Striking Anderson Erickson Dairy employees returned to work late Monday evening after the company and the Teamsters Union agreed to meet Oct. 3 to discuss union members’ health care benefits...
Sysco Teamsters achieve 3-year deal; FSA Teamsters achieve 4-year deal  Teamsters Local 117   ...Teamsters at Food Services of America (FSA) and Sysco voted overwhelmingly to ratify their contracts this weekend...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Once more, with feeling: Trickle down doesn't work

Never did and we doubt it ever will.

Economist Jared Bernstein reminds us:
...over the long, historical record of special tax treatment for investment incomes and tax cuts to the top marginal tax rates, one simply doesn’t find significant correlations with greater investment, savings, productivity, or income growth. 
Lowering the top tax rates do correlate with something, though: higher income inequality. Amazing that people still pretend that tax cuts for the rich (the, ahem, "job creators") will help us all prosper. Especially since the author of the trickle-down theory, Arthur Laffer, made up his theory on a restaurant napkin.

Here's how a union creates jobs

Jack Taylor posted his dad's union card from Teamsters Local 299 on our Facebook page. His message was so important we're sharing it here too:
I was cleaning up old records from my parents house today. I came across my dads membership card to Local 299 signed by Otto Wendzel. Thank you Teamsters for helping my dad to provide me with a good home, food on our table and a college education. Without the unions my dad would never had been able to do all of that with an eighth grade education. He was never rich, but he was paid a fair days wages for a fair days work. Thank you Teamsters........ I will always be a union man even though I'm not an employee but an employer and job creator.
Thank you, John.

Biden visits Teamsters in NH

Vice President Biden with Ryan Ritkers, grandson of Local 633
Secretary-Treasurer Dave Laughton, at the union hall in Manchester.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden got a warm welcome from New Hampshire Teamsters at Local 633 on Saturday.
Joining our Teamster brothers and sisters were carpenters, firefighters, teachers and SEIU members. They were ready to put their boots on the ground to get out the vote in November. Biden got them even more motivated.

Reported Fox News:
Vice President Joe Biden sought to rev up union support in yet another crucial swing state Saturday, stopping by the local Teamsters headquarters to address members getting ready to canvass neighborhoods on behalf of the Democratic ticket. 
The vice president professed his loyalty to the crowd soon after taking the podium. 
"I've never ridden anywhere without the Teamsters," he said. "I've never ridden anywhere without the Teamsters and all of labor industry," he repeated for emphasis.
(Fox seemed to think that was a bad thing.)

The Associated Press reported,
Vice President Joe Biden rallied union workers at a Teamsters union hall Saturday, saying their door-to-door efforts would be an antidote to the millions of dollars spent on advertising by Republican-leaning super PACs. 
Biden told teachers, firefighters and other union members at the rally in Manchester that the middle class wouldn't exist without organized labor and that he was counting on them to counter political advertising promoting the Republican ticket. 
"We're going to be outspent by these super PACs considerably," the vice president said. 
"There's only one antidote, and the people of New Hampshire are used to this ... it's a knock on a door, it's somebody saying 'Look, I know what you just heard, what you just saw in that ad ... I'm here to tell you, I know these guys ... I vouch for them.'" 
Biden said he was glad to hear GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan talk about the struggles of the middle class but said they also should acknowledge the policies Ryan voted for in Congress caused those difficulties. A Romney-Ryan administration would bring more of the same, Biden said. 
"They're doubling down on everything that caused the economic crisis in the first place," he said.
Dennis Caza, Local 633's political coordinator, said days of preparation went into the vice president's visit. But it was worth it, said Brother Caza:
I think it’s nice to have a vice president come to your union hall.
We do too.

Romney demanded, and got, a $10M government bailout

Mitt Romney extracted a $10 million bailout from the federal government for a floundering consulting firm, but still doesn't think much of people who depend on the government.

Go figure.

Rolling Stone reported the story late last month. Short version: Bain & Co.was defaulting on its debt after its founders looted its treasury. Romney took a leave of absence from Bain Capital to rescue Bain & Co., his former employer. He got loans from four banks to repay Bain & Co.'s debts.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had to sign off on the deal because it controlled one of the banks that Bain owed money to. The FDIC also allowed a loophole in the deal. It said Bain could give its cash to Bain's officers before paying off its debt.

(How did that happen? Well, Bill Seidman was then chairman of the FDIC and former finance chairman to Romney's father's presidential campaign in 1968. Can you say "crony capitalist"?)

Rolling Stone reports Romney decided to let the government bail out the company. He threatened to loot Bain & Co. by handing out bonuses to officers if the FDIC didn't forgive $10 million in Bain's debt. Writes Rolling Stone:
The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain's debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million.
Even The Economist -- hardly a left-wing propaganda organ -- concluded the evidence shows Romney extorted a $10 million bailout from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. (The FDIC, by the way, is in the business of shoring up banks, not consulting firms like Bain & Co.)  The Economist reports Romney has some 'splaining to do:
If Bain & Company was just such a "loser" with too big an appetite, and got a handout to keep its loans above water, Mr Romney has some awkward explaining to do. And "it was perfectly legal" will not do the trick. "Legal but stomach-turning" is all too common in American finance these days. Mitt Romney can ill afford to be more closely associated with dealings like that.

Today's Teamster News 09.24.12

Suicide is now the cause of injury-related death in America, and the economy may be to blame  Washington Monthly   ...An extremely disturbing new study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that suicides have replaced car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S...
Foxconn China plant closed after clash involving 2,000  Reuters   ...Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles Apple's iPhones and makes components for top global electronics companies, closed a plant in northern China on Monday after about 2,000 workers staged a riot at a company dormitory...
400 Richest Americans Saw Wealth Grow 13 Percent To $1.7 Trillion  ThinkProgress   ...At the same time that their collective wealth hits new heights, the tax rate for the Forbes 400 has remained low, thanks to the high-income Bush tax cuts, which slashed the rate on investments and capital gains...
Wall Street Rolling Back Another Key Piece of Financial Reform  Rolling Stone   ...if you’re underwriting a municipal bond for a city or a town, and you happen also to give the city or town advice about some deadly swap deal that will put the city into bankruptcy for the next thousand years, you don’t have a fiduciary responsibility to that city or town...
Unions Seek To Entrench Power In Michigan Initiatives  Investors Business Daily   ...The unions seek to bring home health workers under their wing, keep emergency managers of local governments from changing union contracts, and make collective bargaining a constitutional right...
Nick A. Pico, 70, member, business agent of Teamsters  Philadelphia Inquirer   ...Nick A. Pico, 70, of Richboro, a longtime member and business agent of Teamsters Local 107 and a tireless pursuer of self-improvement, died of lung cancer on Thursday, Sept. 20, at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gawker: Strikes work

The 1997 UPS strike. It worked. 
The online publication Gawker usually offers a hilarious take on the news of the day. On Friday, Hamilton Nolan posted an item called "Strikes Work." It's worth reading. Some quotable excerpts:
Strikes work. Workers should have them more often.
And this:
Are strikes an inconvenience for the public? Yes. That is why they work. And that inconvenience, in the long run, is a small price to pay for living in a country that respects freedom enough to allow its workers to organize. Strikes are the pinnacle of workers exercising their freedoms in this capitalist system of ours; conservatives should love them. 
And this:
Restricting the right to strike is tantamount to forcing people to work against their will. That's an even more onerous government demand than taxes. You would think the Republican party would be protecting workers' rights to strike at all costs.
Read the whole thing here.

Today's Teamster News 09.23.12

2011 American Community Survey shows continuing hardship throughout the U.S.  Economic Policy Institute   ...Between 2010 and 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income either fell or stayed the same in every state except Vermont...
Public Opinion And “Elite” Opinion Differ Widely On China  TradeReform   ...A poll released in July by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) found that an overwhelming majority of U.S. voters are greatly concerned by this loss of manufacturing, and they want to see Washington get tough on China...
C.E.O.’s and the Pay-’Em-or-Lose-’Em Myth  New York Times   ... contrary to the prevailing line, ... chief executives can’t readily transfer their skills from one company to another. In other words, the argument that C.E.O.’s will leave if they aren’t compensated well, perhaps even lavishly, is bogus...
Voting Wrongs  New York Review of Books   ...The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it... Teamsters Union Reps In Tulsa To Meet With AA Mechanics  Newson6   ...Teamsters are going door to door in Tulsa Saturday to meet with American Airlines mechanics...
Biden rallies union supporters in NH  Associated Press   ...Vice President Joe Biden rallied union workers at a Teamsters union hall Saturday, saying their door-to-door efforts would be an antidote to the millions of dollars spent on advertising by Republican-leaning super PACs...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

U.S. corps. have $1.7T in untaxed profits stashed overseas

Fortunately for us, The Economic Populist (Robert Oak) paid attention to a recent Senate hearing that discussed this travesty. He is righteously outraged that companies like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft don't pay their fair share despite benefiting enormously from innovation (i.e., the Internet) sponsored by the government. Writes Oak,
Both of these tech companies have fired thousands of U.S. workers, offshore outsourced thousands of jobs and to this day spend millions lobbying Congress to import more foreign workers. In the midst of their never ending layoff bloodbath, Microsoft and HP claim they cannot find tech workers, a very obvious lie... 
...these two companies are more in the business of manipulating the international corporate tax code than designing much. No surprise since both corporations slashed and burned their U.S. citizen R&D staff, which shows in their products and declining market share.
Read the whole post if you want to get outraged here.

3-D printing: Bigger than the Internet?

We've been curious about the rise of 3-D printing, wondering if it's some kind of disruptive technology that will displace jobs, create new opportunities or do both.
IVN says it will be bigger than the Internet.
It will create new industries and eliminate old ones. The trend towards 3D printing cannot be stopped. And it absolutely has a political component, as it can route around government regulations and will undoubtedly make some patent and copyright holders go berserk in attempts to stop it.
Here's how Wikipedia describes it:
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing[1] is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where an object is created by laying down successive layers of material.[2] 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes) which mostly rely on the removal of material by drilling, cutting etc. 
3D printing is usually performed using a materials printer, and since 2003 there has been large growth in the sales of these machines. Additionally, the cost of 3D printers has gone down.[3] The technology also finds use in the fields of jewellery, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.
Bloomberg reports the first retail 3-D printing company opened in New York City:
A quirky kind of store has opened up at 298 Mulberry Street in downtown Manhattan. It’s the first retail location for MakerBot, one of the leading consumer 3D printer companies. People can come in, look at a variety of printed objects, and buy 3D printed knickknacks like watch bands and little plastic squirrels for their friends. They can also check out the just-released Replicator 2 printer from MakerBot that costs $2,199 and lets people build larger, more precise objects than its predecessors could. (It’s aimed at professional designers who want an object factory on their desk.) 
I’ve been waiting a while for one of the 3D printer makers to go the retail route, and it’s quite something to see the initial store appear in New York. Through MakerBot and Shapeways, in particular, New York has emerged at the hotbed of the consumer 3D printing scene. (Shapeways is sort of like the (AMZN) of 3D printing. It lets people order objects made out of plastic, glass, metal, and other materials, and then prints the objects and mails them off.) Later this year, in fact, Shapeways will also open a 3D printing factory in Long Island City and have an area where people can see how these objects get made.
Stay tuned.

Chaos on Bulls**t Mountain

Ya gotta see this.

Today's Teamster News 09.22.12

Lawmakers may push "fiscal cliff" deadlines into 2013  Reuters   ...Slowly and quietly, the U.S. Congress may be arriving at a consensus on how to avoid falling off the "fiscal cliff" on December 31 - by simply putting off its own deadline for most of the major year-end budget and tax decisions...
The decline of collective bargaining and the erosion of middle class incomes in Michigan  Economic Policy Institute   ...This divergence between pay and productivity and the corresponding failure of middle-class incomes to grow is strongly related to the erosion of collective bargaining. And collective bargaining has eroded more in Michigan than in the rest of the nation, helping to explain Michigan’s more disappointing outcomes...
It’s official: Quebec tuition hikes are history  Canadian Press   ...The tuition increase that triggered such social strife in Quebec was cancelled Thursday during an action-packed first full day in office for the Parti Quebecois government...
Editorial: Electronic voting is the real threat to elections  USA Today   ...While state lawmakers burn enormous energy in a partisan fight over in-person vote fraud, which is virtually nonexistent, they're largely ignoring far likelier ways votes can be lost, stolen or changed...
Concord city employees protest furlough days  KGO-TV   ...Members of teamsters Local 856 agreed to 13 furlough days per year back in 2009, but now they say the city is doing so much better and it's time for the furloughs to end...
CL bus drivers, attendants ink deal  Northwest Herald   ...Teamsters Local 731 represents about 60 bus drivers and bus attendants in Crystal Lake school Districts 47 and 155 employed by the Transportation Joint Agreement...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Teamsters fight against furloughs for City of Concord workers

This morning, in Concord, Calif. Resistance fighters in the War on Workers.

Our brothers and sisters who work for the City of Concord came to work today to protest of the first of 13 unlawfully mandated furlough days.

Local 856, to which they belong, explained the voters of Concord passed a measure two years ago that raised city revenue to maintain and protect their municipal services. But the city is ignoring the voters’referendum. Today it forced city services to be shut down.

Reports Local 856:
The City’s own budget projection includes sizable surpluses; however it is still forcing furlough days and cutting city services. City employees maintain that in some cases, furloughs actually exacerbate costs by increasing the amount of overtime the city must pay other employees to cover essential functions.
The workers answer 911 calls,repair and maintain city streets, monitor water and sewer lines, keep city parks safe and clean, issue business licenses and building permits, process background checks, subpoenas,restraining orders and impounded cars and many other public services.

Local 856 is currently in negotiations with the city and headed to fact-finding next month.

Stand strong, brothers and sisters!

Paul Ryan booed by seniors at AARP conference

Seniors roundly booed Paul Ryan today when he claimed his plan to kill Medicare (he didn't quite put it that way) was somehow better for them.

Reports TalkingPointsMemo:
Paul Ryan’s speech to AARP’s national conference in New Orleans did not go over too well with the audience. 
The Republican vice presidential nominee, who has led his party in proposing a privatization plan for Medicare, drew repeated jeers and catcalls as he made the case for Mitt Romney’s platform on entitlements. 
Easily the worst moments came as Ryan discussed repealing the Affordable Care Act, which increased prescription drug and preventive service benefits for seniors. 
“The first step to a stronger Medicare is to repeal ‘Obamacare,’” Ryan said, prompting a chorus of boos. After the outcry, he said: “I had a feeling there would be mixed reaction, so let me get into it.” 
He drew a second wave of disapproval for saying the president’s law “turned Medicare into a piggy bank for ‘Obamacare.’” Ryan was referring to $716 billion in Medicare savings enacted by the ACA — savings he himself has included in two budgets — that largely came out of payments to insurance providers.
Wow. When you've lost the seniors, your campaign is in deep doo-doo.

Wisconsin police object to crackdown on protest at Capitol

Police officers in Madison, Wisc., are denouncing a recent crackdown on the small, almost daily protests that continue in the Statehouse. Job-killer Gov. Scott Walker is demanding that peaceful protesters be intimidated and arrested.

The protesters mostly hold banners and signs and sing, reports the blue cheddar blog. But under newly appointed Chief David Erwin, Capitol police are arresting people for silently holding a sign, delivering citations to their homes and workplaces and even handcuffed a disabled woman who then passed out and was hospitalized.

The Madison Professional Police Officers Association and the Dane County Deputy Sheriffs Association issued a statement denouncing the crackdown. They don't blame the officers for following their orders; in fact, the Madison police and deputy sheriffs say they're concerned for the safety of the officers:
We believe that the recent policy change at the Capitol presents a substantial safety risk to the officers who are tasked with its implementation. Simply stated, these officers are being forced into emotionally charged confrontations that are neither necessary nor advisable.
And they also note the Capitol police are not protected by a contract since Walker took their collective bargaining rights away:
The Capitol Police officers are also the only participants in this situation who stand to lose their livelihood and ability to support their families. These officers are particularly vulnerable due to the fact that they lost their collective bargaining rights with countless other public employees under Act 10. This statement is as much a statement in support of these officers as it is a statement condemning the policies of the DOA and the leadership of the Capitol Police. These officers are being placed in an impossible position.
They ask Walker to "respect the core values and freedoms upon which this great state and nation were founded, and cease their infringement upon these freedoms."

They conclude, "If the current trajectory of these policies continues, we do not believe that history will judge the leaders of this state kindly with respect to the free speech rights of its citizens."

That boat may have sailed already.