Monday, December 31, 2012

Woot! 2 more NLRB decisions that strengthen workers' rights

Today we learn about two more pro-worker decisions that the NLRB made as 2012 ended. One loosens restraints on political activity; the other supports workers' free speech rights on social media.

Yesterday we told you about the NLRB decision that makes it harder for employers to bust unions. Taken together, these three rulings strengthen workplace democracy.

The Wall Street Journal tells us about the ruling that makes it harder for employers to silence workers' voices in electoral politics. The Journal's account of the labor board's action is unsurprisingly churlish, given that the publication's owner (Fox News baron Rupert Murdoch) would like to turn all American workers into serfs. The Journal reports:
Unions must also maintain independently verified audits of their finances and provide members with proof that their assertions about spending practices are accurate. But the NLRB now says those requirements no longer apply and so-called Beck objectors are no longer entitled to see proof that their money isn't included in union spending on politics. ...  
The board also carved out certain lobbying from the list of political activities from which workers may withhold dues. "Lobbying expenses are chargeable to [Beck] objectors," the board wrote, "to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment." That vague definition could cover nearly any lobbying expense.
JDSupra Law News reports on the NLRB's order to reinstate five workers fired because they responded on Facebook to a co-worker's criticism:
This latest decision reinforces that employers must exercise caution before terminating or disciplining employees as a result of their comments on social media. 
The case stemmed from a message that an employee of a nonprofit organization posted on Facebook outside of work hours. After Lydia Cruz-Moore told Marianna Cole-Rivera that she planned to discuss her concerns about employee performance with the Executive Director of Hispanics United of Buffalo, Inc. (HUB), Ms. Cole-Rivera posted:
Lydia Cruz, a coworker feels that we don't help our clients enough at HUB. I about had it!  My fellow coworkers how do u feel?
Four co-workers responded, all on their personal computers and on their own time. The employees generally objected to the assertion that their performance was substandard. Ms. Cruz-Moore complained to HUB management about the posts, and on the first workday after the Facebook posts, HUB fired Ms. Cole-Rivera and her four co-workers. The Executive Director of HUB justified the terminations on the ground that the posts violated HUB's zero-tolerance policy for bullying and harassment. 
The decision marked the first time the Board analyzed in detail the appropriate framework for evaluating an employee's termination for Facebook posts. The NLRB applied the long-established Meyers Industries framework in holding that the Facebook posts constituted concerted protected activity because the employees had a common cause and were taking the first step toward group action to defend themselves against criticism of their job performance. According to the majority opinion, the employees had the “mutual aid” objective of preparing a group defense to Ms. Cruz-Moore's likely complaints to management.
The ruling was a 3-1 decision. The three board members who supported workers were all appointed by President Obama.

Today's Teamster News 12.31.12

Fiscal Cliff Talks Resume After GOP Caves On Social Security Cut  Talking Points Memo   ...Negotiations stalled Saturday night when Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed a Social Security benefit cut as a way to offset spending measures including emergency unemployment benefits. Democrats balked, leaked the offer to the media, and Republicans quickly retracted the demand...
House prepares three 'milk cliff' bills  The Hill   ...The three bills are aimed at preventing a spike in dairy prices looming in the new year. Because Congress has failed to renew farm programs, an underlying 1949 law is slated to kick in. This would force the government to buy up American milk at inflated prices and the purchases are expected to possibly double the price of milk at the grocery store as supplies dwindle...
Occupy Wall Street Labeled "Terrorists" By The FBI  Economic Populist   ...Wonder why all of a sudden cities across America coordinated and shut down the Occupy Wall Street movement?  Now we know and it was coordinated by the banks. The FBI, DHS, police, and private-sector financial businesses all coordinated to repress the people and suppress a movement...
Cheap Shots 2012: Scott Walker  The Daily Isthmus   ...For the second year in a row, we find it impossible to come up with a single Cheap Shot Award for our governor, who continued to put politics before policy, cater to monied interests and sow division among an already deeply divided state...
Auditors uncover problems at private prisons in Ohio  Dayton Daily News   ...unsafe and unsanitary conditions were documented by state monitors at one of Ohio’s privately-run prisons forcing the new operator to make major changes less than one year after taking control of the facility...
Tribune media company to emerge from bankruptcy  Raw Story   ...The company owns 23 television stations and a number of leading daily newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and Orlando Sentinel...
UPS: A Wonderful Company At A Fair Price  Seeking Alpha   ...UPS continues to benefit from the growth of online ordering from companies such as Amazon (AMZN)...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

This is what we union THUGGS do for struggling families at Christmas

We give thousands of dollars worth of gift cards to parents so they can buy their kids presents.

WDEF in Chattanooga reports that "Teamsters for Tots" gave 29 families gift cards worth $7,000 to shop at Kmart for their children.

The video above tells the story of Jonathan Russ, who lost his fingertips in a work accident shortly before Christmas.
His wife Ashlie said, "Without him working there was gonna be no extra money to be able to buy Christmas and I guess that was his biggest worry.  That was the first thing he said at the hospital was 'this happened and it's right at Christmas time what are we gonna  do?'" 
     Just a week an a half before Christmas, they received a phone call that changed everything. 
     Ashlie said, "It was his mom and she said that theres gonna be a guy calling you to meet with you about some Christmas for the kids with an organization. So It was just amazing."… 
      "I was so worried about them not getting anything. It just terrified me and after this I was just, I guess blessed," said Jonathan.
Happy holidays. And remember, "THUGGS" stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals."

Jim Hoffa's New Year's resolution

Fighting right-to-work-for-less in Michigan
From the Detroit Free Press:
I resolve to lead the fight to repeal the so-called 'right-to-work' laws that confer no rights and create no jobs. I resolve to pursue all possible methods, in the courts and on the ballot. I resolve to expose the truth behind this attack by extremist billionaires. That it has nothing to do with creating jobs and everything to do with winning elections, cutting wages, silencing workers and lowering Michigan's standard of living.

Woo-hoo! NLRB takes union-busting tactic away from employers

It just got a little harder. 
The labor board on Dec. 12 ruled employers must continue to deduct and submit dues to unions even after a collective bargaining agreement expires. The decision reversed a 50-year-precedent and will make it harder to bust unions.

JDSupraLawNews calls it a "gift to organized labor."

We'll take it.

Peoples World reports "NLRB overturns union-busting policy":
...the National Labor Relations Board threw out a 50-year precedent and took away a powerful weapon employers have had to force unions to accept drastic cuts in wages and working conditions. 
The board, all recess appointments by President Barack Obama, overturned its 1962 Bethlehem Steel decision that had allowed employers to unilaterally impose contract terms when an agreement expires and then stop collecting union dues to pressure a union to accept the "final offer." 
That decision, the board stated, was a mistake and inconsistent with labor law.
"Unlike a good wine, a mistake does not get better with age," the new ruling states.
JDSupra reports,
In WKYC-TV, Gannet Co., Inc., 08-CA-039190; 359 NLRB No. 30 (December 12, 2012), the NLRB reversed its 1962 decision in Bethlehem Steel,+136 NLRB 1500 (1962), in which it held that a "dues checkoff" provision expires with the agreement. In the reversal of its longstanding position, the NLRB reasoned that the dues checkoff provision is part of the status quo terms and conditions of employment that an employer must maintain until a new collective bargaining agreement or a lawful impasse is reached. However, the NLRB did acknowledge that collective bargaining agreements may include a clause providing for the expiration of the dues checkoff provision; however, such clauses must be "clear and unmistakable..."
This decision is notable for employers (because) ... the discontinuation of dues checkoff had long been recognized as a "legitimate economic weapon" for employers during collective negotiations. For instance, many employers stop deducting dues from employees as a way of exerting pressure on a union to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. Now, by having to deduct dues and remitting them to the union, employers will essentially be funding union operations during what may often be tense collective negotiations. 
The ruling, unfortunately, doesn't apply to the plaintiffs, National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET) Local 42, a CWA affiliate.

Brother Mark S. Cleland brought this recent NLRB decision to our attention.

Today's Teamster News 12.30.12

Congress, federal workers to get raise  The Hill   ...Under an executive order issued by President Obama on Thursday, members of Congress will join federal workers in seeing their pay rise by 0.5 percent after March 27...
Judge rebuffs feds' secret arguments on no-fly list  Politico   ...A federal judge in California has rejected the Obama administration's effort to use secret arguments and evidence to defeat a lawsuit relating to the so-called no-fly list designed to keep suspected terrorists off of airline flights...
City council leaders say deeper cuts will spark civil unrest  The Guardian   ...Alarming predictions of social unrest and the break-up of civil society have been delivered by the leaders of three of England's biggest cities, amid new evidence that government policies are widening – rather than narrowing – the economic divide between north and south...
French Court Says 75% Tax Rate on Rich Is Unconstitutional  Bloomberg   ...President Francois Hollande’s 75 percent millionaire-tax is unconstitutional because it fails to guarantee taxpayer equality, France’s top court ruled today...
Newtown Police Officers, Traumatized And Not Working, At Risk Of Losing Pay  Associated Press   ...Some of the police officers who responded to the school shooting in Newtown are so traumatized they haven't been working, but they have to use sick time and could soon be at risk of going without a paycheck, a union official said Wednesday...
Florida's Long Lines On Election Day Discouraged 49,000 People From Voting: Report  Huffington Post   ...About 19,000 of those people would have backed former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, while the rest would have gone for President Barack Obama, according to Allen...
Michigan governor signs new emergency manager law  Raw Story   ...Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) on Thursday signed several bills related to economic matters, including one to replace the emergency manager law that was recently repealed...
Judge issues ruling in NLRB charge against UAW leadership and Ford contractor -- illegally displaced employees to be returned to work with full back pay and benefits  Teamsters Local 89   ...Voith and the UAW (collectively) conspired to terminate the employment rights of approximately 166 individuals already employed in the receiving operation at the facility.  The intent of the actions taken by the UAW, Local 862, and Voith was to disgracefully strip the fair wages and benefits paid to any employees holding those jobs...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tears of thanks for buying American (video)

This video will make you feel very, very good if you bought American-made products for the holidays.

Whoa! Yahoo Finance says we need more unions (video)

This is an amazing video from Yahoo's Daily Ticker. It's even more remarkable when you consider Henry Blodget's background. He was a stock analyst for Merrill Lynch who ended up paying $4 million in penalties for securities fraud. Now he's the editor of Business Insider (which Teamster Nation occasionally links to.)

More wealth would be created overall if corporations shared some of their profit with workers, they say. (Please ignore all the bad things they say about unions.)

So when a former Wall Street predator says more unions would be good for the country -- well, maybe it's time for other Wall Street predators to start listening.

Today's Teamster News 12.29.12

Promoting Made in U.S.A., but Very Carefully  Trade Reform   ...Perception Research Services International, in a September study, found that four out of five shoppers notice a “Made in the U.S.A.” label on packaging, and 76 percent of them said they would be more likely to buy a product because of the label...
The Mississippi River's Water Levels Are Dropping, And Could Shut Down Trade Next Week   Associated Press   ...The Coast Guard remains confident that the nation's largest waterway will remain open. But officials with two trade groups — the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council Inc. — said in a joint news release that even if the river is open, further limits on barges will bring commercial traffic to a halt...
$60B Sandy aid package clears Senate  Politico   ...Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) flatly predicted the Senate package would die in the House given the little time left to this session of Congress...
Congress Almost Certain To Blow Unemployment Deadline  Huffington Post   ...According to the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, more than 2 million Americans will stop receiving benefits after Dec. 29, when the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will cease to exist...
For Grieving Father Struggling With Dead Son’s Student Debt, Resolution Comes Four Years Late  ProPublica   ...Debt collectors harassed him. His son's federal student loan was forgiven upon his death, but because the bulk of the loans were private, Reynoso was left at the mercy of unfamiliar financial firms, Wall Street investors, and even the central bank of a foreign country...
BOMBSHELL! Florida Judge Finds US Bank in Contempt of Court! (US Bank v. Jansen)  Matt Weldner   ...A circuit court judge found one of the largest banks in the country in contempt of court on Friday over a foreclosure case that has dragged through the system for several years...
Number of Homeless Iraq, Afghan Veterans Doubles  firedoglake   ...Through the end of September, 26,531 of them were living on the streets, at risk of losing their homes, staying in temporary housing or receiving federal vouchers to pay rent, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports...
Teamsters Urge UNFI Product Boycott  Supermarket News   ...Teamsters Local 117, which is striking a United Natural Foods warehouse here, has called for a consumer boycott of the distributor’s products at Whole Foods Market...
Teamsters Strike At BlueLinx Expands To California  Teamsters Local 769   ... An unfair labor practice strike by Teamsters at Local 769 in Miami at BlueLinx Corp. has spread to Northern California, where members of Teamsters Local 853 are now honoring picket lines...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Longshoremen's strike postponed 30 days

An expected East Coast longshoremen's strike is postponed as management begins to bend, according to International Longshoremen's Association President Harold J. Daggett. He posted on the ILA's Facebook page,
I am pleased to announce that the ILA made major gains on the Container Royalty issue. Consequently, we agreed to extend the ILA Master Contract by 30 days, beyond the December 29th deadline.
The two sides are in federal mediation.

The International Business Times reports,
A major threat to the U.S. economy has been averted as the International Longshoremen's Assocation (ILA) and an alliance of shippers and port operators settled in principle the most contentious issue delaying a resolution of contract talks. ...Such a work stoppage would have shut 14 major ports from Massachusetts to Texas and hit retailers and manufacturers that depend on imports.
The newspaper explains container royalties this way:
Container royalty payments, which are made to ILA members and based on the weight of containers, aim to compensate workers whose labor becomes unnecessary because shippers use containers. Port operators and shipping companies want to cap the royalties at last year's levels to stay competitive. They believe the royalties have become a huge expense unrelated to their original purpose and amount to a bonus averaging $15,500 a year for East Coast workers already earning more than $50 an hour. The ILA says the payments are an important supplemental wage, not a bonus.

Is the Son of Koch Brothers laundering money?

It looks like one of the front groups spawned by the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers has indeed been laundering millions of dollars.

An extremist plutocrat in Illinois named Richard Stephenson apparently gave $12 million to FreedomWorks (the Son of Koch Brothers) during the fall of 2012. Only the story at the time was that the money came from two newly formed companies owned by a Tennesseean named William S. Rose III.

Talking Points Memo reports,
Over six weeks that began in late September, using two newly formed companies with no other apparent purpose, Rose gave more than $12 million to FreedomWorks. The donations made Rose’s companies among the biggest corporate donors of the election cycle. In response to the press interest over his motivations, Rose released a six-page statement, denying that he or his companies were “shadowy” but insisting that the business of one of the companies, Specialty Group, was a “family secret” that would be kept secret “as allowed by applicable law — for at least another 50 years.” 
The (Washington) Post’s story this week reported that the money given by Rose’s companies actually came from Richard Stephenson, a “reclusive Illinois millionaire” and the founder and chairman of the board of the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
Here's the Koch connection: In 2004, FreedomWorks was spun off "Citizens for a Sound Economy," one of the Koch brothers' political machines. There was another spin-off called  "Americans for Prosperity." (Though the brothers sold oil equipment to Iran, they probably thought "Americans for Iranian Prosperity" wouldn't look good. Oh, and btw, their father made the fortune they inherited by doing business with Josef Stalin. You can look it up.)

FreedomWorks made the news this week because former House Majority Leader Dick Armey tried -- and failed -- to take control of FreedomWorks. (The Washington Post reports the hilarious details here.) Stephenson agreed to pay $400,000 for 20 years to keep Armey away from FreedomWorks.

But about that $12 million donation: You just can't lie about contributing money toa SuperPAC.

TPM reports,
Just last week, two watchdog groups, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center, filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice over the $12 million that came from Rose’s companies. 
Stay tuned.

Why privatization sucks, Chicago style (Can you say '$6.50 an hour for street parking'?)

Four years ago, most parking spaces cost 25 cents an hour in Chicago. In 2013, they'll cost $6.50 an hour inside the Loop, $4.00 an hour near the Loop and $2 an hour everywhere else.

That's because former Mayor Richard Daley thought it would be a good idea to allow a private company to loot Chicago motorists privatize Chicago parking. (We could have told him otherwise.)

On top of that, the city owes the company, Chicago Parking Meters, $61 million for "lost revenue" due to street closures. The Chicago Tribune reports,
The city's unpaid tab for lost parking meter revenue now tops $61 million as Mayor Rahm Emanuel disputes bills the company has sent. It’s unclear how much the city will be able to knock off that total. 
Some aldermen, stung by constituents’ criticism of their overwhelming support of the meter lease barely two days after Daley handed them the proposal, have called on Emanuel to give them more time to consider far-reaching deals. Still, Emanuel’s digital billboard agreement quickly sailed through the council 43-6 this month despite opponents drawing comparisons to the parking meter deal.
What could possibly go wrong?

Top 10 Teamster trucking stories of 2012??

We were inspired by Truckinginfo, which came up with a list of the Top 10 trucking stories of the year.  Since Truckinginfo takes a management point of view, we decided to come up with our own list, borrowing from the publication.

We'll post this on the Teamsters Facebook page and read the responses. Depending on what our readers tell us, we may just come up with a revised list.

You can read Truckinginfo's choices here, here, here and here.

And here we go:
10. The highway bill: Congress continues current levels of spending on the transportation infrastructure and requires EOBRs on trucks. 
9. FMCSA cracks down: The agency is putting more carriers out of service. 
8. CSA: FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program has shortcomings but is increasing the emphasis on safety, reports Truckinginfo. 
7. Natural gas: Engine makers say there will be a larger variety of natural gas engines available, and natural gas suppliers have made major investments in creating a natural gas fueling infrastructure. 
6. Hours of Service: The new Hours of Service regulation was challenged by the trucking industry and by safety advocates, who object to the 34-hour restart provision and the daily limit of 11 hours. Oral arguments will be heard March 15. 
5. Hurricane Sandy: The Superstorm disrupted fuel supplies, closed tunnels and bridges, destroyed thousands of trucks, trailers and intermodal containers. Thousands of Teamsters are helping the New York region get back on its feet, as sanitation workers remove debris, UPS employees help Occupy Sandy's relief efforts and Teamsters from all over the country partnered with the Red Cross in delivering supplies to damaged communities. 
4. The economy: It's recovering, but slowly. You all know what that means. 
3. YRC survives: YRC reports its first quarterly profit in nearly two years, with earnings of $3 million. 
2. Mexican trucks: Truckinginfo didn't even consider this a story, which is a good thing. The pilot program allowing cross-border trucking continues to struggle, with only a half dozen trucks making a handful of trips over the border. Meanwhile, the Teamsters are fighting the program in court, arguing that it breaks the law. 
1. Right-to-work for less: Indiana and Michigan joined the assault on workers with anti-union laws that will lower wages for non-union and union workers -- if they aren't repealed.

Today's Teamster News 12.28.12

"Fiscal Cliff": There is no Drop Dead Date and more thoughts  Calculated Risk   ...The "fiscal cliff" is about too much austerity too quickly (cutting the deficit too quickly). The "cliff" is a combination of expiring tax cuts (income taxes, payroll taxes, and more will increase), and forced spending cuts (mostly for defense). This has NOTHING to do with other long term fiscal issues, primarily related to medicare...
Meet the Grandfather of the Fiscal Cliff: He Works for ALEC  Alternet   ...Through his work for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and a host of other outlets, (Arthur) Laffer’s prescriptions have gained purchase in several tax debates around the country, including in Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee...
Forget The Fiscal Cliff: Three Bigger Perils Lie Ahead  Business Insider   ...The “fiscal cliff” is a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires...
Minimum wage indexing protects nearly a million low-wage workers this New Year  Economic Policy Institute   ...On Jan. 1, nearly a million workers in 10 states will see the value of their paychecks preserved against inflation. Workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are protected each year by automatic indexing of their state’s minimum wage...
Apple loses another copyright lawsuit in China: Xinhua  Reuters   ...Apple is to pay compensation to eight Chinese writers and two companies for violating their copyrights, the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court ruled on Thursday, Xinhua said...
Financial controls lacking at state jobs agency  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   ...When Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers created the state's partly independent jobs agency 18 months ago, they left out a basic legal requirement put on similar state authorities and commonly practiced by private businesses: to compile and audit its financial statements...
Is Scott's plan to create jobs working? Record proves mixed  Sun-Sentinel   ...Democrats argue the governor has been claiming credit for job creation while simultaneously damaging it with massive spending cuts that led to layoffs of teachers, state employees and workers at companies such as road builders that rely on government contracts...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miz, college student version (video)

It's a parody. But you knew that. And it makes a good point.

It isn't just Granny who'll get thrown off the fiscal cliff

American children will also be damaged if extremist billionaires get their way. Irresponsible plutocrats -- aka "Fix the Debt" -- are pressuring Congress and President Obama to drastically cut government spending -- for poor kids.

Nancy Folbre, writing in the New York Times' Economix blog, says America's impoverished children are likely to suffer even more than they're suffering already.

Folbre cites a shocking statistic: The number of children in poverty rose 37 percent in the past decade, to 21.4 percent from 15.6 percent. She writes,
...what we see is a growing political effort to reduce public spending on children. 
...proposed cuts to federal spending will leave government as little more “than a heavily armed pension plan with a health insurer on the side” — not an entity likely to offer a helping hand to families struggling to support and educate the next generation. 
Provisions now teetering on the edge of possible elimination include those that increased eligibility for the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit, which augment the after-tax income of families with children. (Note: Teamster General President Jim Hoffa sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing this proposal.) Funds for Head Start, Early Head Start and child-care assistance will almost certainly be squeezed. Cuts in federal support for college attendance (both Pell grants and tax breaks) are likely to kick in, worsening student debt... 
The median income of families with children up to 18 years old has declined significantly — more than $6,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars — over the same time period. Parents are less likely to be securely employed than they were in 2001 and more susceptible to unemployment and involuntary part-time work.
Read the whole thing here.

What real people really say about unions (Hint: UNION 4 EVER)

We've heard enough anti-union, anti-worker crap from extremist billionaires who want to turn American workers into feudal serfs. So we thought it would be instructive to see what real union members say about their unions.

Here's a sample of the comments we copied on the Teamsters Facebook page. They're unsolicited. And we see them all the time:

Johnny Raw
Local 295 '92-'95...Local 831 '95-Present. 20 year retirement, medical benefits, no need for home equity loans, able to take pension loan. Thank God for Unions. Power to the working man!
Gene Seedes, Sr.
I like to thank The Teamsters for a great Life. Look at all them years. And always had a Teamsters job.
Richard Burchell
I enrolled in the Teamsters Driving Program in 1983. I'm now retired with a nice pension and medical insurance. Thank You Teamsters!
Deborah Bruce Hamilton
My sisters and I were raised by the Teamsters. You'll never hear a bad word about them from us. They truly are a brotherhood.
Carlos Plasencia
I'm a recent retiree after 34 years of being a Teamster . I was able to retire at age 56, thanks to my Contract negotiated by the defenders of the middle class.
Steve Mincey
I've been in the painters union for 15 years work union get better pay UNION 4 EVER
Richard Lapointe
Local #25 Boston, 42 years for me and 23 years for my wife, both now retired enjoying an outstanding pension. God bless the Teamsters and God bless the New England Teamsters Pension Fund.
Marcos J Santos
The Teamster pay scale, keeps the non union pay scale competative. With out it, how much do you think you'd be making? The contract give's everything in Black & White, respect and rights, I worked for non union carriers, where I had no rights. If you're written up for something or fired, who do you appeal to, the company that wrote or fired you?
Casey Schwanz
Frank Kisselstein Jr
ya gotta love being a TEAMSTER...

Today's Teamster News 12.27.12

Ten Reasons Why the Chained CPI Is Terrible Policy  firedoglake   ...Social Security benefits are already declining due to increases in the retirement age and Medicare premiums...
Ruth Marcus Is Outraged by Overly Generous Social Security Checks  CEPR   ...we have tens of millions of seniors living high on Social Security checks averaging a bit over $1,200 a month at a time when folks like the CEOs in the Campaign to Fix the Debt are supposed to subsist on paychecks that typically come to $10 million to $20 million a year...
Massive New Surveillance Program Uncovered by Wall Street Journal  Slate   ...The guidelines allow the NCTC, for the first time, to keep data about innocent U.S. citizens for up to five years, using “predictive pattern-matching,” to analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior. The data the counterterrorism center has access to, according to the Journal, includes “entire government databases—flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and many others....”
Ford to invest $773 million in the U.S. to create 2,350 new jobs and save 3,240 existing jobs  AFP   ...The Dearborn-based manufacturer posted its best November since 2005, as sales rose six percent to 177,673 vehicles. The results were driven by strong demand for its small cars, which posted their best November in 12 years...
Fox Parent Company Being Sued For Using Mafia Like Business Tactics   Addicting Info   ...The Dial Corp, makers of soap, personal-care and household cleaning products, have filed suit against News Corp along with subsidies News America, News America Marketing FSI, and News America Marketing In-Store Services, alleging that the company engaged in anti-competitive and illegal practices in order to monopolize the market, even forcing competition out of business through its illegal and immoral tactics...
Michigan Right to Work Law Was the Brainchild of ALEC, The Most Dangerous Group in Politics  PolicyMic   ...ALEC wasted no time in sending many of their most onerous "model legislation" bills to Michigan. These included the Emergency Manager law, privatization of public schools, expansion of charter schools, HB 5221 (Voter ID Act), which required voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering to vote, and HB 4305 with language similar to ALEC’s model “Immigration Law Enforcement Act...”
Bakken boom making big impact on regional businesses  Farm and Ranch Guide   ...To visualize the economic impact to Billings of the Bakken oil boom, you can watch the oil field trucks rumble by or you can track subtler clues. Private jets lined up on the tarmac. Rolex watches and diamonds flying out of jewelry stores...
Teamsters Rep: NSB mayor owes cop apology for obscenity after trying to cut through closed street for Christmas parade  Headline Surfer   ...Bob Walker, business agent for Teamsters Local 385, who represents 38 New Smyrna Beach officers  (said) "I think he owes the officer an apology at the very least..."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Human trafficking: The year in review (note: it's depressing)

Daniel Costa at the Economic Policy Institute brings us a depressing review of U.S. court cases involving human trafficking, also known as "debt slavery" or just "slavery."

Among the lowlights:
  • ...guest workers brought to Louisiana through the H-2B program (for workers in non-agricultural occupations and without a college degree) were subjected to slave-like employment conditions. Thanks to the work of the National Guestworker Alliance, C.J.’s Seafood—the company at fault and one of Walmart’s seafood suppliers in Louisiana—was suspended by Walmart and fined a total of $248,000 by the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • ...the Southern Poverty Law Center won a judgment of $11.8 million in October against Eller & Sons Trees, Inc., a forestry contractor in Georgia which cheated 4,000 Guatemalan and Mexican H-2B workers out of wages they were owed for planting trees. … One of the plaintiffs in the case said the workers’ pay “would come out to approximately $25 for a 12-hour workday.”
  • ...a Cook County man ... “beat, degraded and terrorized,” and forced undocumented and guest worker immigrant women into prostitution. The “sex-trafficking by force and extortion” the man was convicted of was facilitated in part through a labor recruitment company (technically called a “sponsor”) that processes the issuance of J-1 visas for those coming from abroad to work as au pairs.
We think these examples may reveal more than failures of the U.S. guestworker program. They show that human slavery is making a comeback, according to The Atlantic.
The highest ratios of slaves worldwide are from South and Southeast Asia, along with China, Russia, and the former satellite states of the Soviet Union. There is a significant slave presence across North Africa and the Middle East, including Lebanon. There is also a major slave trade in Africa. Descent-based slavery persists in Mauritania, where children of slaves are passed on to their slave-holders' children. And the North Korean gulag system, which holds 200,000 people, is essentially a constellation of slave-labor camps. Most of the world's slaves are in sedentary forms of servitude, such as hereditary collateral-debt bondage, but about 20 percent have been unwittingly trafficked by predators through deception and coercion. Human trafficking is often highly mobile and dynamic, leveraging modern communications and logistics in the same basic ways contemporary business does generally. After the earthquake of 2010 devastated Haiti, Hispaniola was quickly overrun with opportunistic traffickers targeting children to sell into forced domestic work or brothels.
Maybe next year will be better...

Wow. David Koch fighting Sandy relief

Benedict Arnold David Koch's political machine, Americans for Prosperity, is fighting government aid to Sandy victims.

AFP (which features a doctored video of fake union violence on its website) sent a letter to U.S. senators urging them to vote against relief for Americans hurt by Superstorm Sandy. You can read it here, if you have the stomach for it.

Lee Fang at The Nation tells us Koch thinks Sandy victims should just suck it up.
Koch’s top deputy in New Jersey, a surly gentleman named Steve Lonegan, who heads the local AFP state chapter, called the aid package a “disgrace.” “This is not a federal government responsibility,” Lonegan told reporters. “We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.”

US Trade Rep rebukes China for cheating, hopes for better behavior. Really.

(UPDATES to ADD grafs 16-19 to show USTR's optimism)

The United States is excoriating China for breaking trade rules in a recent report that went unnoticed by every mainstream journalist save for The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans Pritchard.

In today's column, "US lambasts China for breaches of trade rules," Pritchard tells us,
Washington has issued a blistering attack on China for persistent breaches of world trade rules and abuse of industrial secrets, accusing Beijing of failing to abide by treaty obligations.
The gist of the report, submitted by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, is that China retaliates against countries that use the World Trade Organization to enforce trading rules. Writes Pritchard,
The report accused Chinese officials of running rough-shod over foreign firms, forcing them to give up trade secrets in clear violation of WTO rules... 
The US has filed fifteen cases against China at the WTO, the most recent alleging unfair duties on US vehicles and car parts. Washington won a panel dispute over steel duties in September. China in turn has a clutch of cases claiming illegal use of anti-dumping measures by the US... 
It targeted a wide range of alleged abuses, including subsidies, attempts to keep out foreign imports and companies, and failure to enforce intellectual property rights. 
Washington said restraints on exports of rare earth metals, tungsten, molybdenum, and other raw materials, as well as manipulation of export rebates, were leading to "tremendous disruption" worldwide.
We took a look at the report itself. Written in dense bureaucratese, it does talk tough on trade. For example, the report notes,
  • ...counterfeiting and piracy remain at unacceptably high levels and continue to cause serious harm to U.S. businesses across many sectors of the economy.  Indeed, in a study released in May 2011, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that U.S. businesses suffered a total of $48 billion in lost sales, royalties and license fees due to IPR infringement in China in 2009 – a figure that is more than two-thirds the value of the $69 billion in U.S. goods exported to China in the same year.
  • ...China continued to deploy export quotas, export license restrictions, minimum export prices, export duties and other export restraints on a number of raw material inputs in which it holds the leverage of being  among  the world’s leading producers.  Through these export restraints, it appears that China is able to provide substantial economic advantages to a wide range of downstream producers in China at the expense of foreign downstream producers, while creating incentives for foreign downstream producers to move their operations, technologies and jobs to China.
  • ...the United States continues to press China to take concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitment to accede to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement and to open up its vast government procurement market to the United States and other GPA parties
(You can read the whole thing here.)

It would be comforting to know the USTR isn't asleep at the switch -- except we found howlers like these in the report:
The impressive growth in U.S.-China trade has provided substantial opportunities for U.S. businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers and service suppliers, as well as a wealth of affordable goods for U.S. consumers.
Aaargh! And there's this:
The United States recognizes the tremendous upside promised by the U.S.-China trade relationship for both the United States and China,  and it thereforehas continued to urge China to reinvigorate  the economic reform that drove its accession to the WTO. 
And this:
...there were some positive signs in 2012 that China may be  focused on re-energizing  its economic reforms... 
You'd think maybe a mention or two of our trade deficit, loss of manufacturing and unemployment would temper the USTR's enthusiasm for trade with China. But no. So we turn to Face the Facts USA, which reminds us,
Our trade deficit with China was $295 billion in 2011. That’s nearly triple what it was 10 years ago – and represents about 40 percent of the entire U.S. trade deficit. No other country even comes close.
And to our friends at the Economic Policy Institute, who remind us the
...growing U.S. trade deficit with China cost more than 2.7 million jobs between 2001 and 2011, with job losses in every state.

Today's Teamster News 12.26.12

Washington’s Serious People Are on the War Path Against Middle-Income and Poor People  Economy in Crisis   ...The Serious People in Washington, such as The Washington Post (both the opinion and news sections), the Wall Street Campaign to Fix the Debt, and the Republican Congressional leadership are in full budget-cutting frenzy. They demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and everything else that benefits middle income and poor people because, well, because the market demands it...
Shoppers Disappoint Retailers This Holiday Season  Associated Press   ...U.S. shoppers spent cautiously this holiday season, a disappointment for retailers who slashed prices to lure people into stores and now must hope for a post-Christmas burst of spending...
Why Malls Are Getting Mauled  Jeff Jordan   ...Online retailers are relentlessly gaining share in many retail categories, and offline players are fighting for progressively smaller pieces of the retail pie.  A number of physical retailers have already succumbed to online competition including Circuit City, Borders, CompUSA, Tower Records and Blockbuster, and many others are showing signs of serious economic distress...
Ted Koppel: “Fox News is Bad for America”  The Big Picture   ...He notes that there is no question when watching FoxNews where the ideological bent comes from...
Decline in foreclosure backlog may give false hope  Palm Beach Post   ...More than 40 percent of foreclosures cleared from Florida’s courts in recent months were dismissals, cases that likely will boomerang back into the overloaded judicial system when lenders are better prepared to continue their pursuit...
Teamsters picket Paterson's Crown Roll Leaf  The Record   ...About 50 employees who picketed outside Crown Roll Leaf, Inc. on Monday are preparing for a possible strike later this week to protest proposed new contract terms that call for 10-percent pay cuts and increases to health-care costs, union members said...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from a former Teamster

Yup, Elvis was a Teamster, driving for Crown Electric for 14 months until Sam Phillips called and asked him to record at Sun Studio.

Happy Festivus

Today's Teamster News 12.25.12

Bond Vigilantes and the Power of Three  (opinion) New York Times   ...even if for some reason the vigilantes did attack, it’s very hard to see how they could cause a recession in a country that retains its own currency and doesn’t have large amounts of debt denominated in foreign currency...
Dockworkers at Northwest ports reject pact offer  Reuters   ...Dockworkers at four U.S. Pacific Northwest ports moved closer to a possible labor clash with grain shippers on Monday, as parties in a larger, separate dispute at 15 East and Gulf coast ports agreed to mediation ahead of strike deadline set for December 30...
Mr. Incompetent, the Economy Wrecker Alan Greenspan, Was Central to the Formation of the Campaign to Fix the Debt  CEPR   ..."The Campaign to Fix the Debt started to come together at a salon dinner held in the backyard of Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, in the fall of 2011. An influential group of economic, political and business leaders — including the former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Mark Bertolini, the chief executive of the Aetna insurance company — huddled in a too-small tent in the pouring rain..."
Student food banks fight hunger on campus  Associated Press   ...The student-run Tiger Pantry is among a growing number of programs at university campuses. Organizers say it's both a response to a weak economy and a sign of the latest trend in student activism...
Economy Weighs on Shoppers in Final Holiday Dash to Mall  Bloomberg   ...Americans have become warier as Washington approaches the end of the year without an agreement to forestall higher taxes and automatic spending cuts -- the so-called fiscal cliff. Last month, retailers from Macy’s Inc. (M) to Target Corp. (TGT) posted same- store sales that trailed analysts’ estimates...

Monday, December 24, 2012

'Twas the night before Boehnerville

Call your representatives in Congress. Call the White House. Tell them: No cuts to Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid.

Walker privatizes Capitol cleaning, then fires co.

The Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State Facebook page brought this to our attention. A cleaning company was fired for damaging the Wisconsin state capitol. The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
State officials have fired a cleaning company they believe may have damaged or stained marble floors in the Capitol, said Wisconsin Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis. 
The damage appears to have occurred when a cleaning solution or other liquid leaked from a floor-scrubbing machine operated by the contractor, Marquis said. 
The department has brought in a new contractor.
But as SSWIDTMS points out,
What this article doesn't say is that Walker's admin recently fired the state employed cleaning crew and replaced them with a private cheaper company. 
Hey Walker, eat chalk.

Today's Teamster News 12.24.12

Art Pope, Koch Brothers Ally, Picked To Run North Carolina Budget  Huffington Post   ...On Thursday, when the incoming North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) announced that Art Pope, the state's single largest donor and a founding board member of the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, would be in charge of his state's budget as deputy budget director...
The Crass Cynicism of Right-to-Work Laws  Counterpunch the neo-liberal order that arose in the aftermath of the PATCO strike and, later, the coal miners’ strike in Great Britain, capitalists found that they again have everything to gain by reverting back to their old ways: enriching themselves by impoverishing their workers. This is why the most nefarious among them are now pouring money into efforts to legislate the right to work...
Right-to-work states have lower unemployment but also lower wages  Charlotte Business Journal   ...In the Northeast, where no states have right-to-work laws in place, the employer cost per worker per hour, including benefits, is highest in the nation at $33.18, according to the report. The cheapest labor, $26.32 per worker per hour, is in the South, where all but a couple of states have right-to-work laws on the books...
Yvonne White: Repealing right-to-work is a matter of economic justice (opinion)  Detroit Free Press   ...Decades before passage of the Civil Rights Act, labor unions served as the ladder to the middle class for people of color. In Michigan this month, a coalition of anti-worker interests swept away years of progress by crippling unions in the state where organized labor was born...
When Hedge Funds Trump Governments  Economic Populist   ...While Greece suffers to the point of revolution and suicide, hedge funds made out like bandits on Greek sovereign debt...
Gasoline Prices near Low for Year, Expected to Increase  Calculated Risk   ...It looks like prices will finish the year near the low, but probably increase soon...
Why Do Americans Have Less Vacation Time than Anyone Else?  Big Think   ...yes, the United States is the only OECD country that does not require employers to provide even a day of paid leave to its employees...

10 last-minute union-made gift ideas

For all you desperate last-minute shoppers out there, here are 10 ideas for gifts that are made by union members. Thanks to American Rights at WorkLabor 411 and the AFL-CIO for the suggestions:
  1. Tickets to an NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL, or MLS game. Pro athletes in these leagues rely on collective bargaining.
  2. A bottle of champagne. UFCW members make Totts, J. Roget, Jacques Reynard, JFJ, Le Domaine, Wycliff, Andre Cook's, Great Western and Eden Roc champagnes.
  3. Hershey's kisses make a great stocking stuffer -- and they're made by Chocolate Workers Local 464 in Hershey, Pa.
  4. Top-Flite golf balls are made by the Boilermakers.
  5. Costco gift card. The Teamsters represent many Costco workers. Founder Jim Sinegal allows unions and treats his employees well. 
  6. OshKosh B'gosh very cute clothes for kids, made by UFCW.
  7. For that gardener in the family, how about gardening tools from Sears, Agway or Razorback? They're made by the Boilermakers. 
  8. Lander bath products sold in stores throughout the country. They're made by UFCW.
  9. A Kitchen-Aid mixer, another fine product made by the Boilermakers. 
  10. Cutco knives, kitchen or sporting. They're made by the United Steelworkers. 
But before you go, take the union pledge to buy union-made-in-the-USA whenever possible.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Today's Teamster News 12.23.12

Don’t cut a deal that cuts Social Security (opinion)  The Nation   ...“They will cut Social Security not openly but by stealth — through a cruel cut known colloquially as the chained CPI...”
Fiscal Fail: Government Agencies Plan Few Significant Changes For January, Despite Cliff Hype  Huffington Post   ...for the vast majority of the population, life on the other side of the cliff will be no different than life on this side. Those most likely to get hit, however, are the jobless, who would see unemployment benefits cut off. (They would be eligible for back benefits once a deal is cut...
Failing to Prosecute White Collar Crime Guarantees a Weak and Unstable Economy … and Future Financial Crashes  The Big Picture   ...Failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future. After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law...
Canada Clears $15 Billion Chinese Takeover of an Energy Company  TradeReform   ...Canada on Friday allowed a Chinese state-run oil giant to move forward with $15 billion takeover of a domestic energy company, but the government indicated that such deals might not pass muster in the future....
A Battle In Michigan For The American Dream (opinion)  The Seattle Medium   ...Workers won’t take this assault quietly, nor should they...
California high-speed-rail brawl hits House floor  Politico   ...At issue is a House provision adopted in late June on a highly partisan vote triggered by the California Republican delegation. It would bar any new federal money from going to the Brown-backed California High-Speed Rail Authority...
Postal workers continue hunger strike against proposed delivery cuts  The Hill   ...Six former and current postal workers, part of a group called Communities and Postal Workers United, are calling the strike “six days starving to save six-day delivery.” Their goal is to stop Congress from reducing postal delivery to five days a week...
Formal Reprimand Issued To Flatulent Federal Worker  The Smoking Gun   ...The employee is being represented in connection with the reprimand by a lawyer for his union, AFGE Local 1923...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Anti-worker radio host sues anti-worker network for being anti-worker

Toxic radio show host Dana Loesch is suing Big Journalism, the website that promotes vicious and dishonest attacks on working people.  (Somehow extremist billionaires never feel the wrath of Big Journalism.)

Loesch went to work for Big Journalism after riding her wave of bile to national celebrity, if you could call it that. (There's a whole blog devoted to Loesch, Dana Busted, that calls her "St. Louis's most embarrassing liar." Lately she's been attacking workers who protested RTW4Less in Michigan and supporting the new anti-worker laws.)

Loesch was surprised to discover that the anti-worker website doesn't treat its workers well. So she sued. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports,

Conservative talk radio host and commentator Dana Loesch sued the owner of the conservative website Friday, claiming that although her relationship with the news and opinion aggregating website had gone “tragically awry,” Breibart.cοm LLC refused to let her work for the company or anyone else, forcing her into “indentured servitude in limbo.” 
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court here, seeks at least $75,000 in damages, as well as a judge's declaration that her contract had expired. 
The suit says that difficulties managing the Breitbart “media 'empire'” or ideological conflicts or both had spiked the working relationship, creating a “increasingly hostile” work environment. When Loesch tried to terminate her work agreement in September, Breitbart refused and extended the agreement by a year, the suit says.
Karma's a bitch.

Today's Teamster News 12.22.12

Alan Grayson Explains Why He Opposes A Conservative Plan To Unravel Social Security That Starts With A Chained CPI  Down With Tyranny   ...I'm against the proposed "chained CPI" cut in Social Security because it substantially undermines the protection against inflation that Social Security recipients enjoy under current law...
American Dream Fades for Generation Y Professionals  Bloomberg   ...Generation Y professionals entering the workforce are finding careers that once were gateways to high pay and upwardly mobile lives turning into detours and dead ends. Average incomes for individuals ages 25 to 34 have fallen 8 percent, double the adult population’s total drop, since the recession began in December 2007...
Delta Air Gets 22,000 Applications for 300 Attendant Jobs   Bloomberg   ...The applications arrived at a rate of two per minute, Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson told workers in a weekly recorded message. Applicants will be interviewed in January and those hired will begin flying in June, for the peak travel season...
The Great Walmart Walkout  The Nation   ...On the heels of a series of failed organizing campaigns, unions and their allies are mounting the strongest-ever North American challenge to Walmart...
Lawmakers press for trade response to Bangladesh factory fire  Reuters   ...A dozen U.S. lawmakers pressed President Barack Obama's administration on Thursday to complete a long-running review that could lead to suspension of trade benefits for Bangladesh after a deadly factory blaze there last month..
With Farm Bill Stalled, Consumers May Face Soaring Milk Prices  New York Times   ....Forget the fiscal crisis and the automatic budget cuts. Come Jan. 1, there is a threat that milk prices could rise to $6 to $8 a gallon if Congress does not pass a new farm bill that amends farm policy dating back to the Truman presidency...
Northeast senators confident Sandy relief bill will pass  The Hill   ...Next week, the bill will face a simple majority vote for final passage, but it could be gutted by amendments first...
Michigan labor vote was political payback (opinion)  Politico amount of spin can hide the real purpose of these laws: It is to weaken the infrastructure of organized labor and, with that, the backbone of the Democratic Party and progressive movement...
Iowa Court: Bosses Can Fire 'Irresistible' Workers  Associated Press   ...A dentist acted legally when he fired an assistant that he found attractive simply because he and his wife viewed the woman as a threat to their marriage, the all-male Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Investigation finds iPhone 5 workers treated brutally in China

Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute shared the findings of a French undercover investigation of conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese maker of Apple products.

EPI's Isaach Shapiro brought us a translation of the French, which tells us at Foxconn’s iPhone 5 factory in Zhengzhou:
  • Many workers are living in unfinished dorms that have no elevators, electricity, or running water.
  • Eight workers living in dorms with electricity were killed in a fire caused by workers plugging electronic devices into overloaded circuits, according to the reporters’ translation of a safety speech given by a Foxconn supervisor.
  • Student workers are still being forced to work there, including 16-year old students who said their teachers told them they would not earn their diplomas if they refused to participate in a three-month “internship” which amounted to assembly line work, including night shifts. The students also believed their scholarships were at risk. Their parents tried to stop this arrangement, to no avail.1
  • Wages are still substantially absorbed by payments back to the company for housing, insurance, and food, and work hours can still be excessively long.
Apple invited a group called the Fair Labor Association to conduct an earlier investigation. The FLA painted a rosy picture of reforms at Foxconn. Shapiro is skeptical. Read why here.

What you can do to prevent Social Security cuts

Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act. 

A lot of smoke and fog is swirling around the budget talks that will continue in Washington after Christmas, but one thing is clear: Cuts to Social Security benefits are on the table.

A majority of Democrats in the House say they will not vote for any budget deal that cuts Social Security benefits. But it's horrifying to think any lawmaker, let alone a Democrat, would even consider it. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's open to it.

Maybe they think they can sneak cuts by the voters under the pretense it's a technical fix: The so-called "chained CPI." Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, explained on her Facebook page:
Let’s call it for what it is; the chained CPI index is a reduction in Social Security benefits over time, a benefit older Americans earned through a lifetime of hard work. The notion that seniors need less of an increase because they can reduce their living expenses is out of touch with reality. Health care costs consume a disproportionate share of their meager income and those costs continue to rise faster than inflation.  Moreover, since Social Security benefits do not contribute one dime to the national debt, they have no place in deficit reduction negotiations. I will not throw America’s seniors over the cliff to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Lawmakers and the White House need to hear from you. Here are some things you can do:
  • Sign a statement here that says cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are unacceptable.
  • Sign a petition here.
  • Call your representatives (you can do it here) and tell them you strongly oppose any cuts to the Big 3.
  • Call the White House Comment Line: 202-456-1111 or email or visit:
  • Join an action against cuts. You can see if there's one near you at The Action.
  • Tell friends, family and neighbors that Social Security cuts are being considered as a way to shrink the deficit though Social Security doesn't contribute a penny to it. 

This is what we union THUGGS do for a sick 5-year-old


Two-hundred-fifty of us drive 12 hours to grant a Christmas wish for a 5-year-old boy with cancer.

WHDH reports:
Nathan watching police arrive in formation
Nathan Norman, 5, is battling a rare form of cancer. All he wanted for Christmas was cards from his heroes, so a group of Massachusetts police officers, firefighters and first responders got together to deliver the boy’s present. 
Nathan said the holiday cheer from the cards might help him feel better. 
“It touches anyone who is a parent. I have two kids. You just feel for a family who is going through something like that,” said Lt. Chris Munger of the Watertown Police Department. 
Nathan is battling a rare form of brain and spine cancer. He lives in Virginia, but his wish resonated with hundreds of police officers in New England.
Word got around, and first responders from 80 agencies decided not just to send Nathan cards but to deliver them personally. The officers left in about a hundred cruisers Wednesday morning with cards, pins and t-shirts for Nathan and his siblings.

On Thursday, they arrived in Lynchburg to present gifts to his Nathan and his brothers and sisters. They lined up in formation (as you can see below). The Seekonk Police Department tweeted:
Nathan and his siblings called us to attention, present arms, order arms and....jump on one foot. We obeyed!
You can get a feel for how it all happened on Twitter at the hashtag #Cards4Nathan.

Thanks to our Teamster brother Bill Munger for alerting us to the story. It's his cousin Chris who's quoted in the third paragraph.

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

10 close-to-last-minute union-made gift ideas

Getting panicky yet? There's still time to buy or order union-made gifts. Here are 10 ideas, thanks to American Rights at WorkLabor 411 and the AFL-CIO:
  1. Omaha Steaks. Order gourmet meals from prepared UFCW-represented employees. 
  2. A Timex women's watch, made by IAM-AW members (order online here).
  3. The latest bestseller from Powell Books, ILWU represents employees at this, the largest independent online story in the country. 
  4. A set of Libbey beer glasses made by United Steelworkers members, along with some fine Anheuser-Busch products made by Teamsters.
  5. It's not too late to order flowers from the Jackson & Perkins online store, which sells flowers harvested by the United Farm Workers members.
  6. Snap-On 12 function multi-tool, made by UNITE HERE members.
  7. Scrabble, a Hasbro product. Hasbro provides good jobs to 350 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 224 (check the box, though; not all Hasbro products are made in the USA).
  8. A Brown & Haley gift basket, made by members of BCTGM.
  9. MacGregor golf clubs made by the Boilermakers.
  10. A vacation on a union airline (Teamsters represent many airline workers) or on Amtrak (yup, Teamster represented). Drive an American UAW-made car from a Teamster-represented Hertz agency and stay at a union hotel
And for those toys and electronics that require batteries: Be sure to buy Rayovac batteries. They're made by Teamsters!

Romney advisor sells out for $1.2K an hour to fraudulent bank

You will breathe a huge sigh of relief that Mitt Romney lost the election for president when you read this story by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi.

Romney's lackey economic advisor Glenn Hubbard was rumored to be the next Treasury secretary if Romney won the election. Hubbard is dean of Columbia University's business school and, it turns out, a high-paid hustler for a fraudulent bank.

Hubbard testified on behalf of Countrywide Financial, blamed for a big part of the financial crisis. Countrywide is a major mortgage lender that systematically made crappy loans and then offloaded them. The  housing market ultimately collapsed, foreclosures skyrocketed and taxpayers bailed out banks. The Huffington Post summarizes the fallout:
...the company has agreed to a litany of settlements since 2008, including a $600 million class-action settlement, an $108 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the ousting of former CEO Angelo Mozilo, who paid $67.5 million in penalties to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hubbard was paid $1200 an hour (no, that's not a typo) to testify before a court that Countrywide's loans didn't fail because of fraud. Writes Taibbi:
He conducted an "analysis" that essentially concluded that Countrywide's loans weren't any worse than the loans produced by other mortgage originators, and that therefore the monstrous losses that investors in those loans suffered were due to other factors related to the economic crisis – and not caused by the serial misrepresentations and fraud in Countrywide's underwriting. 
In other words, the Dean of the Columbia University business school testified that the fact that Countrywide claimed to have conducted thorough due diligence when in fact it was pressuring underwriters to approve 60 to 70 mortgage applications a day and failing to verify any income levels or other key information (to say nothing of the outright falsification of such data, which also went on on a mass scale) – he testified that these issues were irrelevant.
Taibbi concludes:
...he's just yet another grasping jobholder who's been exposed as a paid mouthpiece in a court proceeding.
Note on the video above: It was credit derivatives that caused the financial crash in 2008 -- the crash for which working people are still paying.

Today's Teamster News 12.21.12

The Fall of Plan B: Self-Destruction in the Cause of the 0.3 Percent  New Yorker   ...On Thursday evening, John Boehner unexpectedly called off the vote on Plan B because he didn’t have enough votes to pass the measure...
AFL-CIO to White House: Time to rescind your offer to Boehner  Washington Post   ...The AFL-CIO wants Obama to pull back his proposal to raise the income threshold on the tax hikes to $400,000 and to rescind the offer of Chained CPI on Social Security...
Big Banks Flunk OCC Risk Tests  American Banker   ...Think corporate governance at the largest banks is weak? You're right, but you probably have no idea just how right you are...
New Year Will Bring Higher Minimum Wages in 10 States  Pew Stateline   ...Nearly 1 million U.S. workers will be getting a New Year’s Day gift: a small raise after 10 states boost their minimum wages...
Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency (opinion)  Guardian   ...Murdoch's goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election...
Kasich, lawmakers don’t rule out 2013 ballot push  Akron Beacon Journal   ...Kasich also declined to say whether he would work to support or oppose a right-to-work amendment limiting Ohio labor unions, if one were advanced by an outside group...
Teamsters at Upstate Niagara Cooperatives Ratify Union Contract   ... Drivers, Warehouse and Production Personnel employed by Upstate Niagara Cooperatives in Cheektowaga and Jamestown, N.Y. have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement that provides annual wage increases, language improvement and benefit enhancements...
Teamsters, ABF exchange contract proposals  IBT   ...The Teamsters National FreightIndustry Negotiating Committee(TNFINC)exchanged national and supplemental contract proposals with ABF on Wednesday, December 19, and the union will fight the company’s attempts to harm ABF Teamsters’ livelihoods...