Friday, November 30, 2012

Resistance to the War on Workers spreading everywhere

Homeless McDonald's workers speak out.

Today warehouse workers asked a court to include Wal-Mart as a defendant in a class-action suit for wage theft. It was the latest act of worker resistance against poverty wages, exploitation and ill treatment.

Tomorrow, union and community members will take the next act of defiance against plutocrats who are crushing working families. Throughout the country, rallies, news conferences and 30-hour watches will be held to oppose Wall Street's latest attempt to plunder the retirement and health benefits earned by American workers.

Last year, huge labor protests engulfed the capital of Wisconsin. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa then said Gov. Scott Walker's brazen attacks on government employees awakened all American workers.
Scott Walker gave a wake-up call to Wisconsin’s working families, and they gave it right back.
Teamsters supporting striking fast-food
workers in Brooklyn yesterday.
Hoffa called it. Activism has spread from unionized government workers to low-paid non-union employees such as Wal-Mart associates, fast-food workers and misclassified warehouse workers along the supply chain. It's spreading to a broad spectrum of Americans fighting against proposed cuts to programs and benefits for working people.

Teamsters are standing in solidarity with all working families fighting for a better life. And they're standing with us.

Yesterday, dozens of workers at McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's walked off the job in New York City yesterday to protest their poverty wages and ill treatment. Teamsters joined them. (Watch a video of yesterday's fast-food strike here.)

On Black Friday, Wal-Mart workers and supporters took more than 1,000 actions in 46 states. Teamsters stood by them, too.

Josh Eidelson at The Nation tells us what's next for the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart:
During the holiday shopping season, OUR Walmart plans to communicate with Walmart customers about the company’s conditions. That includes internet outreach and face-to-face conversations with people entering and leaving stores. OUR Walmart so far has stopped short of calling on customers to boycott the company. 
At the same time, OUR Walmart has pledged to defend workers it says have been punished for their activism. Along with discussing the allegations with customers, OUR Walmart plans to file a battery of new National Labor Relations Board charges against the company, and to form new rapid-response committees prepared to support workers facing future retaliation. 
Local 707 Teamsters supporting striking Wal-Mart workers
in Kingston, N.Y. 
Both the customer engagement and the anti-retaliation strategy are designed to be ongoing programs that won’t center on a single day like Black Friday. But striker Colby Harris said there’s also a major action planned for an unspecified date next month. He said to also expect “possibly more strikes, more walkouts, maybe some sit-ins, some picketing possibly. Just what we’ve always done, just at a higher volume, more frequent.”
The Los Angeles Times reported today on the lawsuit by the warehouse workers, which is supported by the Change to Win federation to which the Teamsters belong.
The suit accuses Wal-Mart, Schneider Logistics Inc., which operates a Wal-Mart warehouse, and a pair of temporary employment agencies of forcing approximately 1,800 employees "to work long hours, under oppressive workplace conditions, for legally inadequate pay."

The facilities in Mira Loma, near Ontario, receive containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and reship them to Wal-Mart distribution centers and stores around the country.

"It has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Wal-Mart, and not just on the contractors and subcontractors that act as a buffer...," said an attorney for the warehouse workers, Michael Rubin.
We will keep bringing you dispatches from the battlefield.

No decision yet on RTW4less in Mich.

Gov. Rick Snyder said no decision was made Thursday on introducing an anti-union bill that would impoverish Michigan. That may be because hundreds of working Michiganders flooded the Capitol building to lobby their legislators. They told them the bill, cleverly misnamed "right to work," is a scam.
MLive reports:
 Concerned about the right-to-work issue, Michigan union members pulled lawmakers aside in hallways and stairways of the state Capitol today, striking up impromptu conversations. 
Union supporters ringed the rotunda, waiting to catch a brief chat with a lawmaker dashing from meeting to meeting. They jockeyed with schoolkids on guided tours for position among the building's ornate columns. 
The union message to lawmakers? Don’t take up the anti-union legislation. The Michigan State AFL-CIO says about 300 right-to-work opponents were at the Capitol today to make their voices heard.
The AFL-CIO blog quoted Rick Meeth, a teacher from Bay City.
Every working person in Michigan should be concerned about the contents of this 'right to work' bill and question how quickly it is moving. Whether you are a union member or not, employees in 'right to work' states average $1,500 less in wages per year and are less likely to have access to benefits through their job.
Republicans are telling Michigan Live that the bill has been written and they'll propose it if they think it has a chance of passing.

Stay vigilant, brothers and sisters!

This is what we union thuggs do

Check for Danielle, a member of our Teamster family.
We help each other out, union and non-union alike.

When a family member has financial problems, we hold a fundraiser. Above is a photo of a check presentation to Danielle Kowalczyk. Joint Council 13 told us yesterday:
Danielle, a daughter of one of our Teamsters Local 682, fell on very hard times with some major health issues while pregnant. The Teamster Horsemen Chapter 13 did a Poker Run to raise funds for Danielle and her family. Great job Teamster Horsemen ! Channel 2 News was at the presentation of the check and the clip aired last night.
When management loots a company and kicks the workers to the curb, we support our brothers and sisters in need.

Local 222 in Salt Lake City  set up a food pantry for Hostess workers who lost their jobs to Wall Street greed. Last week they'd already collected $5,000.

Mike Philbeck, president of Local 651 in Lexington, Ky., asked members to contribute to their Hostess brothers and sisters. Philbeck posted this message on Facebook:
Dear Teamster local 651 Brothers and Sisters, in the wake of the liquidation of Hostess, I'm asking each of you to donate a few dollars, a simple gift card and or what ever you feel compelled to donate. help our hostess members and their families for Christmas. Donations will be taken up at the local 651 office or at the annual Christmas Dinner December 8th. these families are facing hard times financially and emotionally with the upcoming Holiday season. Please show your support to our fellow union Brothers and Sisters. Thank you and may God Bless.
And when disaster strikes an entire region, Teamsters answer the call for help. Here's what the Red Cross had to say about our brothers and sisters who are giving countless hours to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy:
The American Red Cross has received extraordinary volunteer support for Sandy relief activities from Teamster Union members within the most devastated areas in New York and New Jersey and throughout the country. It’s almost impossible to capture all that they have given in time and resources...
So remember, "thuggs" stands for 'Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals."

Today's Teamster News 11.30.12

Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Raising the Medicare Retirement Age  firedoglake   ...Raising the Medicare retirement age is not only a deeply unpopular way to reduce the deficit, it is also terrible and ineffective policy...
70% of jobs "created" don't require a college education  naked capitalism   ...the US is the only advanced economy to show falling educational attainment levels, which results in its falling in world rankings. In 2007, the US was 12 of 24 OECD nations tallied; it had fallen from number 10 in a mere two years...
Harkin Unveils Comprehensive Report on For-Profit College Industry  U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin   ...Close to one in four students who attends a for-profit school defaults on his or her federal student loans within 3 years of leaving school ... combined with the fact that nearly all students at for-profit schools must borrow money to pay the cost of tuition, has resulted in a sector that enrolls approximately 10 percent of American higher education students but accounts for nearly 50 percent of all student loan defaults...
U.S. Birth Rate Falls to a Record Low; Decline Is Greatest Among Immigrants  Pew Research Center   ...The birth rate for U.S.-born women decreased 6% during these years, but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period.1 The birth rate for Mexican immigrant women fell even more, by 23%...
Citigroup sentences to Europe to faster economic death  The Telegraph   ...Citigroup's end of year forecast – Prospects for Economies and Financial Markets in 2013 and Beyond – is in essence a celebration of American revival and ascendancy. It sentences Europe to slow economic death...
Hostess management milked the company (opinion)  St. Louis Post-Dispatch   ...Twice, the new Hostess management used bankruptcy to pay themselves more fees, avoid payments to vendors and demand concessions from the work force. They were clearly milking the company by reducing their labor costs and coasting...
Ex-Walker aide Russell pleads guilty to stealing from veterans' fund  Wisconsin State Journal   ...A former Walker campaign worker and former deputy chief of staff for Walker in Milwaukee County, Russell had been scheduled to go on trial Monday. He is one of four former aides and associates of the governor who have been convicted of crimes while working for Walker in Milwaukee County or on his 2010 campaign for governor...
Puerto Rico Teamster Retirees to Release Report on the Importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid  The Paramus Post   ... These reports highlight the fact that behind every number is a real person with a real story who utilizes these modest benefits...
Teamsters confront Bill Gates over sanitation firm’s actions  People's World   ...Declaring Bill Gates should be responsible for the anti-worker conduct of Republic Services, a sanitation firm he owns one-quarter of, a group of Teamsters in Atlanta confronted the Microsoft mogul at Gates' speech there...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Memphis leaders to Republic: 'You're unconscionable'

Rev. Mary Edwards, Greenleaf C.M.E. Church; Dr. Elena Delavega, Asst. Professor of Social Work at the University of Memphis; Rev. Herbert Lester, Asbury United Methodist Church; and Justin Sledge, philosophy graduate student at the University of Memphis; sanitation worker Robert Walker.

Today a delegation of workers' rights leaders delivered an open letter to the general manager of Republic Services/Allied Waste in Memphis. The message: Your attacks on sanitation workers are unconscionable.

Specifically, the letter said:
We believe it is unconscionable to risk the workers’ livelihood in old age. We believe it is unconscionable to expose the workers to untold dangers. And we believe it is unconscionable to neglect the needs and the rights of the workers who perform such an important and valuable service to our Memphis community.
The delegation, along with other clergy and community leaders, attended a workers' rights board hearing earlier this month at the Gift of Life Ministries. There, sanitation workers from Republic/Allied Waste testified about Republic’s abuse of workers and Memphis communities.

Republic is trying to take away workers' pensions as part of contract negotiations with Teamsters Local 984. Last month, it flew out-of-town replacement workers into Memphis in an attempt to bully its workers.

Said Brother Walker:
We put our lives on the line every day to protect the public health, and we deserve dignity and respect. Instead, the company is threatening lockouts and trying to intimidate us.
Memphis isn't the only place where Republic abuses its own employees. In May, the company locked out 80 workers in Evansville, Ind., for six weeks because the workers refused to give up their pensions. The company’s out-of-town replacement drivers damaged people’s homes, cars and even power lines. In March, Republic/Allied walked away from a ratified contract with Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Ala. Members were forced to strike and finally secured a contract.

Republic is a rich company that can afford to keep its promises to its employees. Last year it made $589 million on revenues of more than $8.2 billion.

Find out more about the company's dangerous and immoral behavior at a new website: There's a video well worth watching.


Teamsters plugging away at Sandy relief; Red Cross needs more drivers

This photo just came in: Local 294 Teamsters bringing
relief supplies on Nov. 10.

Victims of Superstorm Sandy still need enormous help, and Teamsters are still stepping up.

Today Sister Bernadette Kelly from Joint Council 16 requested volunteer drivers to help the Red Cross over the next two weeks.

Bringing supplies from Albany to Yankee Stadium.
We have no doubt many will answer the call. Consider that hundreds of Teamsters have already loaded trucks, ferried passengers, worked at shelters, driven trucks, set up distribution sites, worked with the National Guard to bring fuel and clean out rubble and opened their homes to people who lost theirs. Members from the following locals all contributed: 202, 237, 282, 584, 854, 808, 805, 814, 707, 210, 553, 295, 817, 831, 812, 802, 917, 813, 560, 863, 445, 804, 177, 730, 294 and BLET Division 269. Local 776 sent a tractor trailer full of supplies from Harrisburg and Local 728 sent its tractor.

Teamsters were especially helpful managing Red Cross logistics (it's what we do, after all!). And our brothers and sisters on the ground became the agency's eyes and ears to direct resources to people who hadn't been served.

Unloading supplies on Long Island.
Teamsters alerted the Red Cross that the St. Camillus neighborhood in the Rockaways was in desperate need. Residents needed underwear, cleaning supplies, personal care items items, blankets and towels. The Red Cross responded with supplies, heaters and portable showers -- and a big thank you to the Teamsters for supplying the information that got those people help.

We just received photos from Local 294 who brought a tractor-trailer full of supplies for Sandy victims to Yankee Stadium on Nov. 10. They returned to Long Beach, Long Island a week later with more. Donating their time and efforts to make both trips were Dave Garhartt, trustee; Gerry Menz, retiree; Ed Oleski, president, Retirees Club; and Tom Pitts.

Here's the message from Sister Kelly about volunteering to drive:
The Red Cross asked for drivers over the next two weeks to assist in driving volunteers and supplies to the impacted areas from hurricane. 
They need a steady stream of drivers over the next 14 days at two locations: 
Long Beach on Nov. 17
Red Cross Warehouse
100 Industrial Drive, Jersey City 
Red Cross Headquarters
520 West 49th Street, New York, NY
(parking will be handled) 
The contact person at the Red Cross is:
Marlys DeVries
(515) 975-5773 (she is in charge of dispatch)

Judge approves Hostess exec bonuses, Teamsters object

Whoa. This is disgraceful. From Twitter:
@CNBC: BREAKING: Judge approves Hostess bonus payout plan; 19 Hostess senior executives in line for up to $1.8M in bonuses
The Teamsters stridently objected. From the court filing:
...there is no basis under any possible standard of review, including business judgment or “justification by the facts and circumstances of the case,” 11 U.S.C.§ 503 (c)(3), for the Court to conclude that the requested payments should be approved. This is particularly true in these tragic circumstances where so many thousands of employees have lost their jobs and benefits, and where remaining non-senior management employees will receive an incentive payment of no more than 25% of their compensation during the wind down period.
Our attorneys argued that the bonuses are against the law:
The Debtors, however, have failed to demonstrate that the proposed bonuses are true incentive bonuses and not disguised retention payments in violation of section 503(c)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code.
Just disgusting.

McDonald's workers strike today in NYC

The first multi-restaurant fast-food strike is happening now in New York City today, less than a week after thousands of Wal-Mart workers walked off the job in 46 states. Steve Greenhouse at The New York Times reports,
Fast-food workers at several restaurants in New York walked off the job on Thursday, firing the first salvo in what workplace experts say is the biggest effort to unionize fast-food workers ever undertaken in the United States. The effort — backed by community and civil rights groups, religious leaders and a labor union — has engaged 40 full-time organizers in recent months to enlist workers at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Taco Bell and other fast-food restaurants across the city. 
Leaders of the effort said that workers were walking off the job to protest what they said were low wages and retaliation against several workers who have backed the unionization campaign. They said it would be the first multi-restaurant strike by fast-food workers in American history, although it was unclear how many workers would walk off the job.
Josh Eidelson adds this nugget at Salon:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs “Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food” as the lowest-paid job category in NYC. State labor department data show the city’s fast food jobs have grown by 55 percent since 2000. Meanwhile, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project, McDonald’s profits have increased 130 percent over four years.
Show your support for New York's fast-food workers by signing the petition here.

URGENT: Bill to impoverish Mich. pushed for lame duck session

A loony billionaire wants a Michigan law in the next few weeks that would weaken unions and drive down workers' wages. We must stop him.

The billionaire's name is Dick DeVos. He's the heir to a Ponzi scheme the Amway fortune. He and his wife want to eradicate public education. Now he's working on turning  Michigan into Mississippi.

Working America tells us:
Republicans in the Michigan legislature are seeking to take advantage of their pre-election majorities to sneak through a “right to work” (RTW) bill, which would ban union security clauses and harm the ability of workers to bargain with their employers. In states with RTW laws on the books, wages are lower, benefits are fewer, and workplace injuries and fatalities are more common. (Learn more.) 
Michiganders don’t want this, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference to right-wing legislators in Lansing...
The Michigan State AFL-CIO is urging citizens to come to Lansing today to lobby lawmakers against a RTW4Less bill. If you're anywhere near the Capitol, sign up here.

Working America suggests Michiganders send a message to one particular lawmaker:  Randy Richardville. Here's why:
One man has the power to stop all of this. No, not Governor Rick Snyder, who said RTW is “not on his agenda” but hasn’t said he wouldn’t sign a bill if it reached his desk. Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) has previously said he would not support RTW, but is feeling pressure from donors, Tea Party activists, and right-wing members of his caucus. He is the chair of the Government Operations Committee that could take up the RTW issue this week. 
We don’t agree with Sen. Richardville on every issue, but we certainly respect that he has opposed RTW in the past. He needs to know that Michganders want more jobs, not fewer rights.
If you're a Michigander, send him a message by clicking here. You can also sign a petition here. And if you tweet, use #righttowork and/or #mileg, and tryto get the attentions of Gov. Snyder (@onetoughnerd) and Richardville (@SenRichardville).

We can stop this thing!

Today's Teamster News 11.29.12

Stand up to so-called Right to Work in Lansing  Michigan State AFL-CIO   ...We NEED you to come to Lansing to join our team of citizen lobbyists talking to legislators about why we don't need a Right-to-Work fight in Michigan Thursday, November 29th. Many Republican legislators and billionaire Dick DeVos are pushing this right wing agenda and we need your help to stop them...
President uses hashtag 'My2K' in fiscal cliff PR effort  CNN   ..."I'm asking Americans all across the country to make your voice heard," Obama said at the event. "Tell members of Congress what a $2,000 tax hike would mean to you. Call your members of Congress. Write them an email, post it on their Facebook walls. You can tweet it using the #My2K..."
Obama On Filibuster Reform: White House Embraces Harry Reid's Rule Changes  Huffington Post   ...Reid has been pushing for a series of changes that would preserve the right of the minority party to hold up legislative matters via a 60-vote threshold, but would make it harder to obstruct Senate business in this manner...
Obama Administration again fails to cite China on currency: Statement from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)  manufacture this   ..."We're disappointed that the Treasury Department has once again declined to designate China as a currency manipulator, which it most certainly is. Yes, the Yuan has appreciated somewhat against the dollar, but it is still far below an equilibrium value. The best evidence of that, other than China's massive foreign currency reserves, is our bilateral trade deficit, which is on pace to top last year's record $295 billion...
US bans BP from pitching for new government work  Independent   ...Oil giant is punished for its 'lack of business integrity' over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010...
Extending Unemployment Insurance Would Create 300,000 Jobs Next Year  ThinkProgress   ...America’s unemployed are facing a cliff of a different kind. In January, the expanded federal unemployment insurance program will expire, cutting off benefits for millions of Americans...
Spencer Black: GOP stacked deck to control Legislature  The Cap Times   ...Voters also cast 193,000 more votes for Democrats than Republicans in the contests for state Assembly. Yet the Republicans ended up with more than 60 percent of the seats in the Assembly...
The Turning Point in Scott Walker's Little Legal Snag  Esquire   ...Walker keeps telling everyone that he is "confident" that he is not a target of the investigation but, considering that both Rindfleisch and Wink are going to jail because they worked on his campaign while simultaneously working for him in his capacity as county executive, those denials have to be taken with a small mountain of salt...
Waste hauler Republic Services to resume talks with Teamsters  Detroit News   ...Republic Services, a Michigan waste disposal company, said Wednesday it will resume collective bargaining negotiations with Teamsters Local 247 after the union's contract expired over disputes over a pension fund...
Teamster Horsemen's annual party to benefit Toys for Tots  Times Herald Record   ...With their mission in mind, members of the Teamster Horsemen Chapter 16 North and the Local 707 Dockworkers at YRC Freight in Maybrook came up with the idea to help the Marines with their Toys for Tots campaign this holiday season...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grocery store owner gives stores to employees

Wow, we thought Jim Sinegal at Costco was a good guy because he pays workers well, allows the Teamsters to represent them and  takes home less than $500,000 a year.

But this guy takes the cake: He gave -- yup, gave -- his three grocery stores to his employees. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story:
Joe Lueken spent 46 years becoming a successful grocer and community benefactor here. Finally, at 70, he's ready to sell the business, travel the world with his wife, Janice, and reap some of what they've sown... 
On Jan. 1, Lueken's Village Foods, with two supermarkets in Bemidji and another in Wahpeton, N.D., will begin transferring ownership to its approximately 400 employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP). 
Lueken said he had multiple offers to sell to large independent chains and might have gotten more money that way. But he and his family believe that selling to workers will be better for them, the business and this north-central Minnesota city of 13,000 people. 
"My employees are largely responsible for any success I've had, and they deserve to get some of the benefits of that," Lueken said earlier this week. "You can't always take. You also have to give back." 
Employees say Lueken's decision, which won't require them to pay anything for their shares in the business, multiplied the high esteem they already held for their boss.
The last two paragraphs are the best:
"The whole move revolves around people, not things or money," Jeff Lueken said. "It's about allowing people to grow with the business and send their kids to college and have a great retirement, and even to express themselves at work." 
The employees say it's a wonderful gift, but Joe Lueken said he's gotten more than he gave. Holding out two palms, one above the other, he said: "To see somebody go from here [up] to here is the best feeling in the world."
Take that, Lloyd Blankfein.

The Red Cross salutes the Teamsters

This is what we union thugs do on Thanksgiving morning.

People are noticing the extraordinary work of Teamsters who helped the New York region recover from Sandy.

The Red Cross sent out a memo yesterday that'll make you proud to be a Teamster:
The American Red Cross has received extraordinary volunteer support for Sandy relief activities from Teamster Union members within the most devastated areas in New York and New Jersey and throughout the country. It’s almost impossible to capture all that they have given in time and resources, but following are few examples.
• Loading hundreds of trucks with relief supplies at staging areas.
• Driving trucks to deliver desperately needed supplies to battered communities.
• Working at Red Cross shelters in mass care and distributing relief items.
• Setting up distribution sites at churches and community centers to cook hot meals and to sort through donated blankets, clothes and food.
• Posting videos on Facebook and other social media sites to bring attention to the plight of people and communities.
• Partnering with Red Cross and the National Guard to bring in essential items such as petrol and clean out rubble from homes and businesses.
• Opening up their homes to those who have lost theirs and offering hope that by sticking together “we will overcome Sandy, rebuild and move on.”
These examples represent but a smattering of what the Teamsters estimate to be hundreds of volunteers, including a corps of retirees, who took part in the operation. And many of the members did so at personal sacrifice even while struggling with their own losses. The Red Cross, indeed our nation, salutes the Teamsters and all union members who responded immediately and will continue to do so throughout the long-expected recovery period.
And today the New York Daily News reported sanitation workers (members of Teamtsers Local 831) have been applauded for removing debris:
New York City’s Strongest — members of the Sanitation Department — are some of the most popular people in the storm-ravaged neighborhoods. 
It’s a welcome change from some of the anger directed their way (many would say unfairly) after the dismal December 2010 snowstorm clean-up. 
Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty received a standing ovation during a recent packed meeting at Queens Borough Hall. Sanitation workers, who also suffered losses during the storm, have cleared more than 300,000 tons of debris since the storm.
We at TeamsterNation would like to recognize the three Teamsters pictured above: John Rieder, Local 202 trustee; Kevin McCaffery, Local 707 president; and Jimmy Gill, Local 202 shop steward. McCaffery lives in Lindenhurst, which was devastated by Superstorm Sandy. He put out the call for help, and on Thanksgiving morning the three men loaded and delivered cleaning supplies from MacArthur Airport, one of the Red Cross staging locations.

You make us all proud!

Greedy Wal-Mart workers strike despite lack of garment fires: The Daily Show

Jon Stewart nails it again.

US should be poorer: Goldman Sachs CEO

Never mind the fatuous interviewer, note that entitled jerk Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is actually saying, "I want Americans to be poorer."

Lynn Parramore at Alternet has the best take on Blankfein's interview. She cites his "smug assurance" that he can disguise Goldman's looting of the taxpayer as concern for America:
Blankfein, infamous for describing his financial activities as “God’s work,” shared his attitude toward society with CBS news recently. He explained his keen desire to see Americans lowering their sights for the future. You really have to watch the interview to get the full flavor of Blankfein’s smug assurance that predation can be sold as concern for the nation’s well-being. In addition to trotting out several myths about Social Security’s design and functions, including the bogus notion that retirement age must be raised , he gives a pithy summary of what life is going to be like for the 99 percent:
“You’re going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people’s expectations of what they’re going to get, the entitlements, and what people think they’re going to get, because you’re not going to get it.”
Not if Lloyd Blankfein has anything to do with it. He calls it managing expectations. Here’s another word: theft. 
Since the financial crash, Blankfein’s company, Goldman Sachs, has received tens of billions of dollars in what the Economic Policy Journal describes as “direct and indirect succor from the Fed." In sharp contrast to average Americans, when Goldman needed help in the 2008 crisis, a friendly Federal Reserve let Goldman turn into a commercial bank almost overnight, so it could go to the Fed for help 24/7.
Actually, it's worse than that. Matt Taibbi explains in Rolling Stone how Blankfein got away with one of the greatest financial crimes in history and then perjured himself. Wrote Taibbi:
They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it. 
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
Now there's an idea.

Fox flummoxed by honest guest

Author Tom Ricks won't be asked back on Fox News after saying the network  is an arm of the Republican Party. On air.

Fox cut short his interview (above) about Benghazi
after he accused Fox of hyping the issue because of its political bias.

But get this -- Fox later lied and said he apologized.

Politico reports:
Ricks told POLITICO that Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice president of news, made the claim he apologized privately because “when the facts aren’t on their side, they attack the person.” 
“Clemente is making it up, and it is sloppy of Hollywood Reporter to not ask him for specifics — what exactly am I alleged to have said? — and also to seek a response from me,” Ricks wrote in an e-mail. “Why are they doing this? Because their MO is that when the facts aren’t on their side, they attack the person.” 
Clemente told The Hollywood Reporter that Ricks apologized privately to the network after the Monday interview.

Today's Teamster News 11.28.12

Durbin Outlines Democratic Approach on Grand Bargain  firedoglake   ...Durbin took Social Security almost entirely off the table...And he sought to line up with the Administration’s viewpoint that any changes to Medicare and Medicaid can happen without cuts to benefits, through payment reforms or provider cuts...
9 Greedy CEOs Trying to Shred the Safety Net While Pigging Out on Corporate Welfare  Alternet   ...A gang of brazen CEOs has joined forces to promote economically disastrous and socially irresponsible austerity policies. Many of those same CEOs were bailed out by the American taxpayer after a Wall Street-driven financial crash. Instead of a thank-you, they are showing their appreciation in the form of a coordinated effort to rob Americans of hard-earned retirements, decent medical care and relief for the poorest...
Highway Grants: Roads to Prosperity?  Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter   ...each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state raises that state’s annual economic output by at least two dollars, a relatively large multiplier...
Michigan Chamber of Commerce says no to "right-to-work"  youtube   ...Rich Studley, Michigan Chamber of Commerce: "The Governor doesn't support right to work, at the Michigan Chamber, we don't support right to work..."
Phil Power: Legislature poised to act on Right to Work   ...A bunch of Republican heavyweights, mostly business types from the west side of the state, are fiercely lobbying legislators to take quick advantage of big GOP majorities in both the House and Senate and pass it once and for all. Other Republican lawmakers -- those who have to face future elections -- are squirming. If they vote “yes,” they most certainly will be the objects of fierce opposition from Democrats and their allies in organized labor come election time. If they vote “no,” they almost certainly will face opposition in primary elections in 2014...
Obama quietly signs bill shielding airlines from carbon fees in Europe  The Hill   ...Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president's commitment to fighting climate change in his second term and urged him to veto it. Obama quietly signed it Tuesday over their objections...
Walmart Paved the Way for Poverty Wages  The Nation   ...Walmart is not only slashing prices on flat-screen TVs—they’re suppressing wages and costing tax payers millions of dollars...
Teamsters President James Hoffa: Go Off Fiscal Cliff If Necessary  Real Clear Politics   ...We won the election, and now we have to stand tall to make sure to protect the safety net, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whoa! Private prison company raids school for drugs

Who on earth thinks it's a good idea for a private prison company to raid a school?

The Center for Media and Democracy tells us that for-profit corrections officers participated in a drug sweep in an Arizona high school on Oct. 31.

At 9 a.m., about 1,700 students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were starting their day. Then the principal ordered everyone locked in the room they were in.

The principal explained:
Everybody is locked in, and then they bring the dogs in, and they are teamed with an administrator and go in and out of classrooms. They go to a classroom and they have the kids come out and line up against a wall. The dog goes in and they close the door behind, and then the dog does its thing, and if it gets a hit, it sits on a bag and won't move.
Three students were arrested for possession of marijuana. (Bet they wish they lived in Washington or Colorado.)

Participating in the raid were the Casa Grande Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Gila River Indian Community Police Department and Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company.

Yup, Corrections Corporation of America. CCA has a vested interest in filling prisons with inmates, so it's a clear conflict for its employees to be trawling for more in a high school.

It's also against the law. CMD explains:
...Arizona Administrative Code provides that, in order for any individual to engage in the duties of a "peace officer," that individual must obtain certification from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. 
And, Arizona Administrative Code is very clear on this point: "a person who is not certified by the Board or whose certified status is inactive shall not function as a peace officer or be assigned the duties of a peace officer by an agency . . . "
The CCA corrections officers were not certified by the board.

Caroline Isaacs, member of the American Friends Service Committee, put it best:
To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the 'schools-to-prison pipeline' I've ever seen ... All the research shows that CCA doesn't properly train its staff to do the jobs they actually have. They most certainly do not have anywhere near the training and experience--to say nothing of the legal authority--to conduct a drug raid on a high school... It is chilling to think that any school official would be willing to put vulnerable students at risk this way.

3 arrested in naked protest against budget cuts

Today's naked protest in Boehner's office.
That got people's attention.

We understand naked protesters took over House Speaker John Boehner's office today to protest potential cuts to HIV/AIDS programs.

Members of Congress are now being prodded to cut the social safety net by CEOs who receive trillions of dollars in -- well, in their own government safety net of defense contracts, bailouts, subsidies and tax breaks.

Negotiations are happening over the next few weeks. Groups representing ordinary Americans -- like the Teamsters -- are fighting strenuously against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Teamster General President Jim Hoffa will appear on The Ed Show tonight to make the case against touching health and retirement benefits that Americans work their lives to earn.

But just this afternoon, AIDS activists decided to push back in their own way. Associated Press reports:
Seven people entered House Speaker John Boehner's office on Tuesday, stripped their clothes, and began chanting to protest anticipated budget cuts to HIV/AIDS programs if a deal is not reached to avoid the "fiscal cliff." The protest ended with the arrest of three of the protesters, all women, for indecent exposure. 
"We grabbed attention by illustrating the naked truth and by showing how people with AIDS have had, literally, all of the clothes off of their backs taken away by these guys in Congress," one of the protesters, Jennifer Flynn, said... 
"The reality is that these draconian budget cuts will actually result in the conservative loss of 600,000 people with AIDS' lives around the world," Flynn said moments before being arrested, referring to several federal programs aimed at fighting AIDS here and around the world. "We're talking about killing 600,000 people around the world if we let these budget cuts go into effect. And that's just one year."
Here's what you can do to aid the fight against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: Sign this petition here. And unless you're at home or in a locker room, it's probably best to keep your clothes on.

The skills gap is phony. Period.

That skills gap you've been hearing about sounds a lot like the fake truck driver shortage the trucking companies are always flogging.

There's no shortage of skilled American workers. The real shortage is people willing to work for slave wages.

Adam Davidson, writing in the New York Times, looked into the so-called skills gap in advanced manufacturing. He concluded that running the computers that run the machines does require a good deal of technical skill:
Running these machines requires a basic understanding of metallurgy, physics, chemistry, pneumatics, electrical wiring and computer code. It also requires a worker with the ability to figure out what’s going on when the machine isn’t working properly.
Here's the rub (you knew what it was): Employers are only willing to pay burger-flipper wages for jobs requiring that technical skill. Davidson visited a Wisconsin manufacturer, and this is what he found:
Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister’s pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a “union-type job.” Isbister, after all, doesn’t abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour. 
Even the management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group concluded that trying to hire highly skilled workers at low wages is not a skills gap.

Commenting on Davidson's article, which was cross-posted on the Trade Reform blog, Will Wilkin wrote there is one kind of skills gap to be concerned about:
If you want a cell phone or an LCD device (from televisions to a Kindle) you will not find one made in USA, despite LCD technology being invented here. LCD being one of hundreds of examples of industrial capacity lost to America, the list is growing every year. 
Look at our trade with China, their #1 export to us is electronics and tech goods and our #1 export to them is scrap metal and other waste. America is losing the ability to make more and more things we use, that is not automation or “productivity gains,” that is offshoring. 
Now that's something to worry about.

Denver election victory puts Teamsters back to work

Denver Teamsters were rewarded for supporting a ballot measure on Nov. 6 that lifted a local spending cap. Because the measure passed, nearly 1,000 Teamster city workers will have five unpaid furlough days restored.

The ballot measure, 2A, frees Denver from a state-mandated spending cap under the 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Teamsters Local 17 played a huge role in the local election victory as part of the Yes on 2A coalition.

Local 17 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Simeone told us the support from the International's DRIVE political action committee was crucial:
We couldn’t have done it without DRIVE. With the help of Joint Council 3 and DRIVE, we were one of the largest contributors to the Yes on 2A effort. Now we have a big seat at the table with the city to represent our members.
This electoral victory by Local 17 shows why it's so important for union members to get involved in politics at all levels of government.

And the benefits of 2A will also be felt well beyond the ranks of Local 17. According to the Denver Post,
Denver has struggled the past several years with an out-of-balance ledger, forcing cuts, furloughs and service reductions. The city has had to slice $540 million over the past five years because expenses exceed revenues from sales and property taxes.

The extra $68 million that the city will be allowed to keep will go to hire 100 more police officers and firefighters, repave 300 lane miles of roads and restore library hours that had been reduced as a cost-cutting move.
Measure 2A will also allow Denver to replace 1,000 public service vehicles, provide $7 million for child services and $1 million in property tax credits for low-income senior citizens.

As Local 17 posted on Facebook,
Now all City employees can join Teamsters Local 17 and say in a loud voice, IT PAYS TO BE UNION AND IT IS THE TEAMSTERS, WE BELIEVE, THAT MAKE OUR WORKPLACE BETTER!
Way to go, brothers and sisters!

ALEC + Walker = Jobs killed in Wisconsin

The corporations comprising ALEC call themselves job creators. They are anything but.

We know this because ALEC hijacked Wisconsin when Scott Walker became governor. His "pro-business," pro-ALEC agenda resulted in a net loss of jobs even as new jobs were created throughout the rest of the country.

Econbrowser reports:
Civilian employment in Wisconsin is less than it was when Governor Walker took office in January 2011. In contrast, US employment is almost 3% higher.
Heckuva job, Scotty.
If you haven't been following ALEC, it's a corporate dating service for state legislators. (Hence the name, American Legislative Exchange Council.) ALEC lawmakers put their names on bills written by corporations to gouge consumers, bust unions, strengthen monopolies and immunize corporations from lawsuits when they damage people or communities. In exchange, the lawmakers get lavish family vacations and introductions to deep-pocketed corporate donors.

Scott Walker is an ALEC alum. The Koch brothers are big ALEC supporters.

Anyhoo, since the ALEC-Walker cabal started running Wisconsin, jobs are scarcer than ever. The ones that have been created don't pay much. Wisconsin's average wage fell during Walker's first year in office, while the national average rose. Commerce is dwindling..

The Center for Media and Democracy, which has exposed much of ALEC's nefarious activity, explains how ALEC took over Wisconsin here. Shorter version here by Mary Bottari, who runs CMD:
Anti-consumer bills, union busting legislation, voter ID, enormous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy along with requirements for "super majority" votes to raise revenue were fast tracked through the legislature.
The extreme agenda sparked massive protests regularly topping 100,000 and an 18-day Capitol occupation... 
Wisconsin's 49 ALEC lawmakers (there are 132 in the state) shepherded at least 32 bills reflecting 41 ALEC provisions, most of which Walker signed into law.

Here are some of them:
  • An "omnibus" tort bill that makes it harder for Wisconsin families to hold corporations accountable when dangerous products injure or kill people.
  • The "Budget Repair Bill," which effectively eliminates collective bargaining for state workers. (Key provisions have since been vacated by the court.)
  • A prohibition on the state collecting union dues.
  • A prohibition on unions to re-certifying unless they get the majority of 100 percent of their members to vote.
  • A telecommunications "modernization" act, which removed protections for rural consumers and reduces government oversight of landline service. It was supposed to spur economic activity.
In return, ALEC elected officials in Wisconsin received more than half a million dollars in campaign donations. At least 17 received thousands of dollars of gifts from ALEC corporations in the past few years. They've taken flights and fancy hotel rooms filtered through the ALEC "scholarship fund."

CMD has asked Wisconsin's ethics board to look into the practice, as lawmakers aren't allowed to accept so much as a cup of coffee from lobbyists.

Today's Teamster News 11.27.12

In 2010, America’s Median Wealth Was At Lowest Point Since 1969  ThinkProgress   ...income inequality has risen in almost every state over the last 30 years and that the middle class has just suffered its “worst decade in modern history.” Unfortunately, many of the jobs created since the Recession don’t pay well enough to make up for the collapse...
Photos Show Walmart Apparel at Site of Deadly Factory Fire in Bangladesh  The Nation   ...NGOs slammed Walmart over a fire that killed at least 112 workers at a Bangladesh factory that supplied apparel for the retail giant...
Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup  truthout   ...Dubbed by many as “NAFTA on steroids” and a “corporate coup,” only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations...
Greece Kicks The Can For The Third Time - SocGen's Take: "More Will Be Needed"  zero hedge   ...It took the charming three tries for Greece to get its third "bailout", which incidentally does not bail out anyone except the hedge funds...
Scott Walker’s “I am not a crook” moment  Badger Democracy   ...There are several emails that make it abundantly clear that only one of two possibilities is true. Either Scott Walker lied today, or he is an incompetent fool duped by his campaign staff whom he had no control over. You decide…
Red Hook Brewery's parent firm settles with OSHA after probe of fatal accident  Manchester Union-Leader   ...Craft Brew Alliance Inc. has agreed to address numerous violations found by OSHA during a months-long investigation that followed the death of Ben Harris, 26, of Newington...Craft Brew Alliance has agreed to pay fines of $44,500 by Dec. 1, which is a modification of the original penalties totaling $63,500...
Las Vegas Teamsters beat Coke decertification attempt  People's World   ...Coca-Cola's attempt to get rid of the Teamsters and a union contract in Las Vegas fizzled out like so much bad soda...
Teamsters, Jobs with Justice Protest Bill Gates and Republic Services  IBT   ...Sanitation workers ask Bill Gates, primary owner of Republic/Allied Waste, to stop destroying their retirement security...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ruh-roh: Fight brewing in MI over right-to-work scam

Though large majorities of Michigan voters support workers' right to bargain collectively, state lawmakers may try to weaken that right in the next few weeks.

The Associated Press today reported the right-to-work-for-less scam could be on the agenda for the Michigan Legislature in its lame-duck session:
The majority of Michigan voters likewise had no interest in approving a ballot proposal that would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the Michigan Constitution and ban right-to-work laws limiting unions' ability to collect fees from nonunion workers. That provides an invitation for some Republican leaders to come forward with right-to-work legislation. But this again represents a challenge: The issue typically finds favor with Republicans but it's politically dicey in a state with such long and strong ties to labor unions. House Speaker Jase Bolger appears ready to put it on the table, but Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville say it's not on their agenda. Does "not on my agenda" mean not supporting or signing it? That's a big unknown, perhaps even to them.
Pollsters at Lake Research Partners report that's not what the voters want:
A strong majority of Michigan voters (70%) continue to support the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively over wages, benefits, and working conditions, including a majority (55%) of those who voted No on Proposal 2. Michigan voters support collective bargaining because they believe it helps provide people the good wages and benefits that can support a family and build the middle class in Michigan. 
Lake further notes that only 7 percent of people who voted against the right-to-work ban did so because they oppose collective bargaining rights:
The most common reason for voting against Proposal 2 was that voters were convinced not to change the constitution.
Wouldn't it be nice if Michigan lawmakers just did what the voters want them to, which is to create jobs and improve education?

Fla. GOP leaders admit voter ID was about preventing Democrats from voting

You know how we've been saying that so-called "voter ID" laws are really about Republicans preventing Democrats from voting?

Well, we were right.

The Palm Beach Post backed us up yesterday in a news item that said:
A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post. 
Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory. 
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours. 
“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants. 
“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
ThinkProgress reported today that the ploy worked, though President Obama carried Florida:
...A post-election report found that new voting restrictions led to a huge increase in provisional ballots, which are cast when there is some question of the voter’s eligibility. 
While crying voter fraud, the Florida GOP had to confront its own scandal when a voter registration firm they hired turned in hundreds of fraudulent registration forms in several Florida counties. The GOP hastily cut ties with the group when the state opened a criminal investigation into their operations.

NY Teamsters protest unfair severance package from rehab center

These dedicated Teamsters who work with disabled patients will lose
their jobs on Dec. 31. 
(UPDATE: ADDS to graf 2 to include ask for mediator.)
Oh this is charming. A wealthy New York rehab center will lay off 60 of our Teamster brothers and sisters but won't pay for their health care while they're unemployed.

Right now, the Teamster social workers are holding a Health Walk outside the International Center for the Disabled (ICD) on 24th and 1st Ave. They say ICD management is hypocritical for abandoning its core mission -- health care -- for its own employees. They are asking for a mediator.

George Miranda, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters local 210, said:
ICD refused to deal with an issue at the core of the severance bargaining, which is health insurance coverage. In these times of economic uncertainty, workers need the security of knowing that their health care is taken care of while they are unemployed.
The press release states they've been in negotiations for weeks. And this:
ICD was the first out-patient rehabilitation center in the United States and provides a broad range of healthcare services to over 4,000 New York City residents per year. ICD receives most of its funding from the State and private sources such as, the Millbank Foundation. ICD sold its property located at 340 East 24th Street, for over $30,000,000. 
Over 70 staff members currently work at ICD, almost 60 are expected to be laid off as of December 31, 2012. The Teamsters represented workers are seeking a fair severance package in exchange for their year of dedicated service in the healthcare industry. 
“This is truly unjust”, said Vivian Zak, an LCSW social worker, “We ensure that our clients get the best care possible and this is what we get in return? It’s hypocritical of ICD’s mission and a callous way to treat us under the circumstances.” 
The union hopes that ICD will reconsider its position and get back to the bargaining table with a fair health insurance offer.
Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

How Paul Ryan spent his last day campaigning (The Onion)

CEOs who loot run companies that depend on government largesse are mounting a full court press to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They're seeking a "grand betrayal bargain" to avoid missing a phony deadline going over a "fiscal cliff" during the lame-duck session of Congress.

Former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan will be involved in negotiations as he is still chairman of the House Budget Committee (and probably will be for the next two years). So we thought this is an appropriate time to bring you this parody from The Onion.

Enjoy. And remember, it's a joke.

Strippers win misclassification case

Strippers at a chain of dance clubs struck a blow for workers' rights earlier this month when they won a misclassification lawsuit against their employer. Spearmint Rhino, like FedEx Ground, was misclassifying its employees as independent contractors while demanding they follow strict work rules.

The Atlantic reports,
...strippers employed by the Spearmint Rhino chain won an unprecedented $13 million settlement in Federal court, the result of a class action suit to restore back wages and contest their status as independent contractors of the clubs.
U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled Spearmint Rhino must stop charging dancers fees for the right to work. She also ruled the company must grant all dancers employee status within six months.

 The National Employment Law Project, which fights abuse of workers, reports misclassification is on the rise:
Growing numbers of employers call their employees "independent contractors" and subcontract key functions to other companies in order to side-step responsibility for minimum wage and other worker protections.  Because U.S. employment and labor laws assign responsibility and rights to "employers" and "employees," employers seek to evade workplace rules through two devices: (1) they call their "employees" "independent contractors," and (2) they insert subcontractors between themselves and their employees.  When these tactics succeed, construction workers, day laborers, home health aides, janitors and many others find themselves without workplace protections.
The problems faced by strippers aren't that different from workers at large chains, the Atlantic explains:
Dancers have brought suit after suit over illegal tip-sharing and misclassification as independent contractors for over 15 years now, starting with a string of high profile settlements in California in the late 1990's, leading to the founding of the Exotic Dancers' Alliance...At the same time, corporate chains like Spearmint Rhino, Deja Vu, and others have been buying up or pricing out the smaller clubs that tended towards giving dancers more control at work. The corporate consolidation of strip clubs is not that different than what's hit small businesses all over the country...
SEIU did actually organize exotic dancers in San Francisco as the Exotic Dancers Union, SEIU Local 790. (We can't tell whether it still exists.)

All we can say is: You go girls.

Today's Teamster News 11.26.12

Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened  Bloomberg   ...the U.S. has gone through two recoveries. The 1.2 million households whose incomes put them in the top 1 percent of the U.S. saw their earnings increase 5.5 percent last year, according to estimates released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Earnings fell 1.7 percent for the 96 million households in the bottom 80 percent -- those that made less than $101,583...
CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks  Huffington Post   ...The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed. The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies' tax bills...
Factory Fire Kills More Than 100 People in Bangladesh  New York Times News Service “ethical sourcing” official for Walmart flagged “violations and/or conditions which were deemed to be high risk” at the factory in May 2011, though it did not specify the nature of the infractions. The notice said that the factory had been given an “orange” grade and that any factories given three such assessments in two years from their last audit would not receive any orders from Walmart for one year...
Offshore secrets revealed: the shadowy side of a booming industry  Guardian   ...a worldwide joint investigation by the Guardian, the BBC's Panorama and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has uncovered a booming offshore industry that leaves the way open for both tax avoidance and the concealment of assets. More than 21,500 companies have been identified using this group of 28 so-called nominee directors...
NLRB Judge Rips 24-Hour Fitness Class Action Ban  Trial Insider   ... The fitness centers’  “arbitration policy unlawfully requires its employees to surrender core Section 7 [organizing] rights by imposing significant restraints on concerted action regardless of whether the employee opts to be covered by it or not...”
Catalans start voting in election that could lead to independence  Guardian   ...Catalonia has its own distinct language and culture, and many Catalans think they would be better off without Spain, because some estimates show they pay more in tax than they get back from Madrid...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Say bye-bye to these 54 ALEC lawmakers

This is one satisfying list.

It includes 54 anti-worker, pro-corporate lawmakers who belonged to ALEC. Not anymore! They lost their campaigns for re-election, either on Nov. 6 or in a primary. Another five resigned, and five are still too close to call.

You will recall that ALEC is the corporate dating service for state legislators. (Hence the name, American Legislative Exchange Council.) These lawmakers put their names on bills written by corporations to gouge consumers, bust unions, strengthen monopolies and immunize corporations from lawsuits when they damage people or communities. In exchange, the lawmakers get lavish family vacations and introductions to deep-pocketed corporate donors.

Check this list to see if an ALEC representative from your state bit the political dust:


Former Senate President Russell Pierce, who was recalled in 2011, lost to Bob Worsley (R) in the August primary for State Senate District 25.
Rep. J. Ted Vogt (R-10) – lost to Stefanie Mach (D) and Bruce Wheeler (D)
Rep. Linda Collins-Smith (currently R-80) is running for state senate seat 19 – lost to David Wyatt (D)
Rep. Barry Hyde (currently D-40) is running for state senate seat 34 – lost to Jane English (R)
Rep. Cindy Acree (R-40) – lost to John Buckner (D)
Rep. Ken Summers (currently R-22) is running for state senate seat 22 – lost to Andrew Kerr (D)
Rep. Christopher Coutu (currently R-47) is running for state senate seat 19 – lost to Catherine Osten (D)
Rep. Peter Nehr (R-65): Defeated by Carl Zimmermann (D)
Rep. Scott Plakon (R-30): Defeated by Karen Castor Dentel (D)
Rep. Charlice Byrd (R-20) – lost to Michael Caldwell (D)
Rep. Judy Manning (R-34) – lost in the primary to Charles Gregory (R)
Rep. Sandy Cole – lost to Sam Yingling (D)
Rep. Casey Kozlowski (R-99) – lost to John Patterson (D)
Rep. Shawn Lindsay (R-30) – lost to Joe Gallegos (D)
Rep. Matthew Wand (R-49) – lost to Chris Gorsek (D)
Rhode Island
Rep. Jon D. Brien (D-50) – lost September primary to Stephen Casey (D)
Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt (R-32) – lost to Robert Craven (D)
Sen. Francis T. Maher, Jr. (R-34) – lost to Catherine Cool Rumsey (D)
South Carolina
Sen. Michael Rose (R-38) – lost primary to Sean Bennett (R)
South Dakota
Rep. Bob Deelstra (R-9) – lost in four-way race for a two-seat district to Paula Hawks (D) and Steve Hickey (R)
Rep. Mark Willadsen (R-11) – lost in a four-way Primary for two ballot spots to Jim Stalzer (R) and Christine Erickson (R)
Rep. Dale Ford (R-6) – lost to James Van Huss (R) in the August primary
Rep. Julia Hurley (R-32) – lost to Kent Calfee (R) in the August primary
Rep. Debra Young Maggart (R-45) – lost to Courtney Rogers (R) in the August primary
Rep. Johnny R. Montgomery (R-12) – lost to Dale Carr (R) in the August primary
Rep. Wayne Christian (R-9) – lost to Chris Paddie (R) in the primary
Rep. Rob Eissler (R-15) – lost to Steve Toth (R) in the primary
Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-98) – lost to Giovanni Capriglione (R) in the primary
Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-12): Lost to Brad Hawkins (R)
Rep. Roger Rivard (R-75) – lost to Stephen Smith (D)
Rep. Joseph Knilans (R-44) – lost to Debra Kolste (D) 
Rep. Evan Wynn (R-43) – lost to Andy Jorgensen (D)
Rep. Charles P. Childers (R-50): Defeated in August GOP primary by David Northrup.
Rep. Clarence J. Vranish (R-49): Defeated in August GOP primary by Garry Piiparinen

In addition, these five resigned:
Sen. William Hamrick (R-30) – resigned from seat
Rep. Ken A. Roberts (R-8) – withdrew from race in July
Rep. Susan Mosier (R-67) – resigned in February 2012
Sen. Tom Jensen (R-21) – withdrew from the race in August 
South Dakota
Sen. Todd Schlekeway (R-11) – pulled out of the race in June

This is what we union thugs do for the holidays

Jack Hanley and helpers.
(UPDATE: Corrects graf 2, 2 young women in photo are not Hanley's daughters.)

We give to those in need so they have something to celebrate. All across the USA and Canada.

We've been telling you about the thousands of Teamsters helping Superstorm Sandy victims get back on their feet. Thanksgiving eve, Jack Hanley from Local 802 (with help from local residents) delivered baked goods to the emergency shelter in Long Beach.

"The area was destroyed," he reported. "We brought baked goods throughout the Rockaways, too."

Local 25 in Boston just kicked off its Toys for Tots Drive. Local 117 is collecting toys for needy families in Tukwila, Wash.

And here's a story about BLET Division 28's turkey drive in Tucson (thanks, Brother John Bentley!):

“Helping the Salvation Army is what we ‘union thugs’ do at Thanksgiving,” said Brother Sean Leighty, a member of Division 28 who helped launch the Turkey Drive. 
After learning that Tucson’s Salvation Army needed donations for the annual community dinner, the members of BLET Division 28 sprang in to action to help the needy. 
“They needed 500 turkeys and pies, as well as other food items, but they didn’t have anything just three weeks before Thanksgiving,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could do something to help,’ and then I thought, ‘Why not use the network of people I know and work with who are just as blessed as I am?’"
With the help of Division 28 Local Chairman Ron Sprague, Leighty contacted the members of Division 28 for help... 
The word spread like wildfire. Several members called Brother Leighty and asked what they could do to help. He set up a collection box at the yard office, receiving many generous cash contributions from anonymous donors and also several personal checks. All told, he collected $300 in just a few days. 
“I’m sure we could have raised more but I was under a time constraint because I wanted to get those birds over to the Salvation Army as soon as we could,” he said.  
Brother Leighty then took his family to a local grocery store, where they used the donations to purchase the turkeys.  
“We asked the store manager if we could possibly buy all of her turkeys, and her question was why we needed so many,” Brother Leighty said. “I told her that the BLET was going to donate them to the Salvation Army. She was impressed and said to take as many as we needed, and she gave us another 5 percent discount. So with her help as well, we managed to buy 20 turkeys of various sizes!” 
Individual members helped as well. In addition to making a monetary donation to the Turkey Drive, Division 28 member Linda Gasser and a friend also bought four more turkeys, a ham and other food items.  
It was a proud moment for Brother Leighty and the BLET when he delivered the turkeys. 
“You should have seen the face of the woman at the Salvation Army,” he said. “When she asked who was donating the turkeys, I told her the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen/Teamsters. She said, ‘Wow, tell them thank you!’” 
After buying the turkeys, the Brothers and Sisters of Division 28 had enough money left over to make a $75 donation to the Salvation Army. Brother Leighty thanked those who helped, saying, “There are some very generous members at Division 28.” He is hoping to do it again next year.
And remember, 'thugs' stands for "those helpful union guys and gals."