Friday, May 31, 2013

Low-wage strikes starting to improve jobs

A number of fast-food and retail workers say their jobs improved after they walked out on their employer in a wave of one-day strikes over the past few months.

Fast-food workers in Seattle walked out of dozens of restaurants on Wednesday night and Thursday, marking the seventh one-day strike in the past eight weeks. Low-wage workers have gone on strike in New York, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee.

Now the workers say they are seeing some improvement in their jobs after returning. The Huffington Post reports:
Conditions, hours, positions and pay have improved for a number of workers who participated in strikes in the last two months, organizers say. They point to Krystal Collins in Chicago, who got a 0.25 cent hourly raise and was switched from part-time to full-time after walking off her job at Macy's in April, and to Claudette Wilson, Romell Frazier and Khalil Dorris in Detroit, who forced their Burger King to close for the day in early May and subsequently saw their hours increase.
Here are a few more examples, brought to you by CNN Money.

Before the strike:
Eddie Guzman needed to work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible for welfare programs, such as food stamps and affordable housing. But his requests for more hours at the Brooklyn Burger King were met with deaf ears. Guzman's managers kept his working hours between 12 and 15 a week. 
After the strike he was fired, but then: organizers and New York city council member Brad Lander went to the Burger King (BKW) to ask for his job back... 
Within days, Guzman had his job back and was scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week.
Robert Wilson a Chicago McDonald's employee, before the strike:
(He) spent eight years showing new employees the ropes and training others to get better positions at McDonald's. But he was never able to move up the ranks himself. 
That was until he and other workers rallied on Black Friday outside of the location where he worked in Chicago's Navy Pier. 
His managers saw Wilson protesting. The very next day, they told him that the position he had been gunning for was finally open.
One day longer, one day stronger!

Ga. port drivers to speak out about low wages, misclassification tomorrow

Savannah port drivers are fighting back against the trucking companies that exploit them at a community forum tomorrow morning.

The Port of Savannah is the fourth largest and fastest growing container port in the U.S. That means steady work for port drivers. But it doesn't mean work that can support a middle-class family.

Savannah's professional port drivers are treated like sharecroppers on wheels. They are shackled by classification as independent contractors and stripped of all the rights of an employee.

Wages are low, operating costs are high, and the hours are dangerously long.

The drivers aren't paid enough to safely maintain the trucks or to upgrade them to the clean-burning rigs that environmentalists and public health advocates are demanding at the Port of Los Angeles Long Beach, Seattle and Newark.

Our Teamster brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta are hosting a forum tomorrow for the drivers to tell the community about their dangerous, low-wage jobs.

WTOC-TV reporter Bob Logana will moderate the panel, which includes an impressive line-up of elected officials, labor leaders and clergy. Attending the forum will be:
  • The Honorable Carolyn Bell, alderman, Savannah City Council
  • Larry Benjamin, assistant district director, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
  • The Honorable Bob Bryant, state representative, Georgia House of Representatives
  • Chester Dunham, Savannah Chapter president, A. Phillip Randolph Institute
  • John H. Finney, CEO, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County
  • Brett Hulme, president, Savannah Regional Central Labor Council
  • The Honorable Lester G. Jackson, senator, Georgia State Senate
  • Pastor Ricardo Manuel, Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, Inc.
  • The Honorable Albert J. Scott, chairman, Chatham County Commission
  • Willie J. Seymore, president, International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) ~ Local 1414.
You can see a great television news story about conditions at the Port of Savannah here. Find out more here.

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in IL!

Please give a warm welcome to our 12 new brothers and sisters who voted unanimously on Wednesday to become members of Teamsters Local 727. They are dispatchers and call takers at paratransit company First Transit, Inc., in Glenview.

Earlier this year, nearly 30 dispatchers, schedulers and reservationists at MV Transportation in nearby Niles also voted to join Local 727.

John Coli, Jr., Local 727 president, vowed to fight for the new members at the bargaining table. Union representatives soon will begin negotiating with First Transit management on a first contract.

Teamsters Local 727 represents more than 6,800 hardworking men and women throughout the Chicago area.

Welcome to our great union!

Calif. enterprise zones kill good jobs

A California program that's supposed to create jobs is killing good Teamster jobs and making corporate bosses richer.

While the Golden State's enterprise zone program does shift jobs to 40 areas it deems economically depressed, employers are the big winners. In many cases, jobs are moving from one California locality to another, sending existing workers to the unemployment line. Meanwhile companies are piling up more profits due to the tens of thousands in tax breaks they get for each employee they hire at the new job site.

The Frying Pan News explains the state-sponsored sham. Established in 1984, the program gives companies tax credits of up to $37,440 per person hired in one of the zones. Yet there is evidence that many areas eligible for the programs shouldn't be, noting that well-heeled neighborhoods in Los Angeles and San Francisco qualify as enterprise zones.

While some workers might be willing to move to continue their employment, they don't get the choice. Under the rules of the program, employers cannot take current workers if they want to receive tax credits. That leaves a lot of people who once earned middle-class wages out of luck. Bay Area warehouse workers John Thomas and Hans Burkhardt, both Teamsters, are just two examples.
The union jobs that Burkhardt and Thomas and their fellow workers had at the BlueLinx and VWR locations paid, on average, about $20 an hour, plus benefits. They were replaced with non-union positions that paid about one-half of that, with non-existent or substantially reduced benefits.
We detailed the plight of many of their fellow workers earlier this year. The loss of union wage jobs by members of Teamsters Local 853 resulted in the companies paying their new non-union employees about $10 an hour with no benefits in their new locations.

Doug Bloch, Teamsters political director for the Central Valley and Northern California, told Frying Pan News the VWR and BlueLinx situation encapsulates all that is wrong with the enterprise zone program.
Our union is all for programs that create jobs in economically distressed areas. This program doesn’t create jobs.
Some elected officials are beginning to see the light. State Sen. Jerry Hill has unveiled legislation soon to be considered on the Senate floor that would revamp the program by saying it must create net new jobs that pay at least $16 an hour. And Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month proposed that the zones be replaced by a sales tax credit for firms that buy manufacturing or biotech equipment.

Californians need to make sure the rest of the state's lawmakers get on board as well. Tell your elected members to support Sen. Hill's SB 434  and help create new jobs, not just move old ones.

ALEC clowns whitewash Walker's dismal jobs record

ALEC is promoting an economic report so foolish that it claims job-killer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is succeeding in creating jobs.

Since Walker took office in 2010, armed with ALEC's agenda, job-creation has plummeted in Wisconsin. The state's average wage fell 2 percent. It ranks 44th in job creation. And it has trailed the nation in job creation for 26 consecutive months, exactly the amount of time Walker has spent in office.

But ALEC ranks Wisconsin 15th for its economic outlook. ALEC, of course, is an escort service for corporations and state lawmakers. It doesn't want to create jobs, it wants to enrich CEOs and billionaires. Part of its strategy is to distort reality in ways that the mainstream media will repeat.

That's why ALEC produces the annual "Rich State, Poor State" report, a bizarre compendium of economic fantasy written by Arthur Laffer and his pals.

It would be doing Arthur Laffer a favor to call him the worst economist in America. He isn't. He's a lackey, and an especially clownish one. His "analysis" is simply pro-ALEC propaganda.

The Center for Media and Democracy details how Walker pushed ALEC's job-killing agenda in Wisconsin:
Governor Walker was an ALEC member when he was a legislator, beginning in the nineties. Since becoming Governor in 2010, he has signed into law nineteen ALEC-related bills and budget provisions. These include economic measures such as the elimination of the capital gains tax, which is similar in effect to the ALEC "model" "Capital Gains Tax Elimination Act," and Walker included a provision in his first budget to reopen the corporate tax avoidance, or so called "Las Vegas Loophole," which is related to the ALEC "Resolution in Opposition to Mandatory Unitary Combined Reporting."
He also passed an austerity budget that Federal Reserve economists predicted would slow the state's job creation. And even the rabidly pro-corporate Chamber of Commerce says Walker's doing a crappy job. Writes CMD:
A recent Chamber of Commerce report placed Wisconsin 44th in the country for overall economic performance, and for short-term job growth between September 2010 and November 2012 it ranked Wisconsin 50th out of 50. The Chamber report didn't place long-term job growth much better either, ranking Wisconsin at 45th out of 50. The report ranked Wisconsin 39th for its "business climate."
It's just sad to watch the mainstream media repeat ALEC's rubbish.
  • The Jackson Clarion Ledger reports uncritically, "Mississippi's economic outlook ranks in top 10 nationally, annual report says."
  • The Desert News reports uncritically "Utah ranks No. 1 for economic outlook for sixth year in a row."
  • The Pelican Post reports uncritically, "State-by-State Economic Report Shows a Lackluster Louisiana."
One can only imagine how these newspapers would have treated Joseph Goebbels' press releases.

Today's Teamster News, 05.31.13

(UPDATES with new item in final graf.)
Tax breaks benefit rich households the most, report says  Los Angeles Times   ...Tax breaks benefit U.S. households unevenly, with the top 1% receiving more than 17% of the savings in 2013...
Unions Press to End Favored Trade Status for Bangladesh  New York Times   ...After several deadly factory disasters in Bangladesh — including the collapse of an eight-story garment factory that left at least 1,127 people dead, labor advocates are stepping up pressure on the Obama administration, calling for it to convey its disapproval of working conditions in the country by revoking its special trade status...
Walmart Protest Movement Grows As Workers Strike Again  Huffington Post   ...As Walmart workers this week resume strikes at stores around the nation, organizers are saying that more employees than ever have joined the ranks of the activists, with some experts going so far as to say that the movement has achieved critical mass…
Labor groups launch three-pronged fight to pass 'Walmart' bill  Sacramento Bee   ...California labor unions have launched a lobbying, direct mail and online advertising blitz in support of legislation to penalize large employers if wages they pay are not high enough to keep workers off Medi-Cal rolls...
Costco's Profit Soars To $459 Million As Low-Wage Competitors Struggle   Huffington Post ...At a time when other retailers are struggling to get people into stores, Costco is enjoying a moment in the sun. The company boosted its profits while paying its workers a decent wage, a claim many of Costco’s competitors, including Walmart and Target, can’t make...
Protesters To Koch Brothers: Keep Your Hands Off Tribune!  Forbes   ...It’s not clear exactly how serious Charles and David Koch are about buying Tribune Co.’s newspapers, but their critics are completely serious about stopping them...
Republican lawmakers trampling democracy in Michigan (opinion)  Michigan Live   ...Democracy is dying in Michigan, thanks to our Republican legislators. First, changing voting districts increased their chances of winning elections. Then, they ignored the wishes of the people by passing a Right-to-Work bill which cannot be repealed because it is tied to appropriations. Wait---There’s more…
Watchdogs oppose NC undercover investigations bill  Associated Press   ...A North Carolina bill criminalizing undercover investigations into workplace abuses has drawn opposition from at least 25 animal welfare, worker and watchdog groups...
Seattle fast food workers walk off the job  Seattle Times   ...A strike by fast food workers has hit restaurants in Seattle yesterday and organizers say more restaurants have been targeted by the movement...
Court Says Rick Scott Cannot Require Drug Testing for All Florida State Workers  Huffington Post   ...A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Florida Gov. Rick Scott cannot require all state employees to take random drug tests and told the state to identify which government workers it believes should undergo periodic testing...
Motorola announces Texas facility making first US-assembled smartphones, creating 2,000 jobs  Associated Press   ...Cellphone pioneer Motorola announced it’s opening a Texas manufacturing facility that will create 2,000 jobs and produce its new flagship device, Moto X, the first smartphone ever assembled in the U.S...
10-year strike at Congress Plaza Hotel is over   Chicago Tribune   ...A 10-year strike at the Congress Plaza hotel in downtown Chicago -- believed to be the longest hotel strike in the world --has ended...
Transportation Department Names Teamsters To Freight Advisory Committee  US Department of Transportation   ...Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President, has been appointed to the DOT’s Freight Transportation Committee, along with Rick Inclima of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division. The committee will explore ways to improve the freight transportation system...
Sunsweet union employees demonstrate outside Yuba City plant  Appeal-Democrat   ...Employees represented by Teamsters Union Local 601 at the Yuba City Sunsweet Growers plant whooped, hollered and carried signs in a demonstration Thursday outside the plant...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Woot! N.J. Senate approves misclassification bill; now it's up to Christie

(UPDATES to CORRECT title to misclassification, sted misidentification)

The New Jersey Senate did its job this afternoon sticking up for companies that properly pay port and parcel delivery truck drivers. Now it's up to Gov. Chris Christie to show corporations and workers that he won't provide cover for those who duck taxes and employee benefit obligations by mislabeling their drivers as contractors.

By a 21-to-17 vote, the state Senate backed S-1450, siding with Teamsters and other pro-labor groups by approving strict penalties for companies that attempt to cheat the system and drivers. The bill makes it more difficult for trucking companies involved in short-distance hauling -- known as drayage trucking -- or package delivery (i.e., FedEx Ground) to improperly classify their drivers as contract workers. The Assembly passed its own version of the same legislation last week.

As part of the legislation:
... trucking services performed in the drayage trucking industry or parcel delivery industry by an individual for remuneration are deemed to be employment unless and until it is shown to the satisfaction of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development that:
1. The individual has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of that service, both under his contract of service and in fact;
2. The service is either outside the usual course of the business for which the service is performed, or the service is performed outside of all the places of business of the employer for which the service is performed; and
3. The individual is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business.
The Teamsters have long advocated for an end of the practice known as misclassification across the country, noting that it not only hurts its membership but taxpayers as well. It allows companies to shirk their responsibilities by sparing them from paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, as well as overtime and benefits.

Besides New Jersey, Teamsters have taken up the fight against misclassification this year in several others states, including Georgia and New York. Meanwhile, 14 states have joined up with the U.S. Department of Labor to fight the problem nationally.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Christie, who has not been kind to labor during his term in office. In an April town meeting, for example, he said "unions are the problem." The governor seems more interested in photo ops with President Obama than in securing fair wages for the state's workers. Don't let that continue. Contact Gov. Christie and tell him that cracking down on unscrupulous companies that cheat their workers is the right thing to do.

Wal-Mart freedom riders hailed in union halls, churches

Wal-Mart freedom riders are setting out from union halls, churches and outdoor rallies to demand respect from the company at its headquarters in Arkansas.

As they set out on their cross-country journey they were blessed by a bishop, hailed by a mayor, cheered in union halls.

They call the bus trips the "Ride for Respect." It's part of the biggest and longest strike by Wal-Mart workers who are fed up with poverty wages and intimidation. At least 100 Wal-Mart workers walked off the job in Massachusetts, Miami and California on Tuesday, and more are expected to join. They are riding on buses through the South, much as the freedom riders did in 1961. They will stop in 30 cities on the way to their protest at Wal-Mart's shareholders meeting in Bentonville, Ark., on June 7.

They'll be greeted by supporters in the towns and cities where they stop. Events are being planned in more than 40 Wal-Mart stores, union halls and churches throughout the country.

Earlier this week, two Wal-Mart workers in Massachusetts held a news conference before driving to Washington, where they'd board the bus to Bentonville. Aubretia told the press that employees were tired of depending on government subsidies for health care, food, heat and electricity because of Wal-Mart's low wages.
What we want to do is stand up and live better. we are the employees of Wal-Mart except they keep pushing us down and pushing us down.
In Washington, D.C., UFCW tells us,
Labor and community groups gathered in support in D.C. at Florida Ave. Baptist Church for a pep rally and breakfast to send off Maryland and Massachusetts Walmart associates who are also members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). After an opening prayer by Reverend Dr. Edwin Jones from Living Faith Baptist Church, the all women social justice a cappella group, Song Rise, gave an inspirational performance by serenading the attendees with “aint gonna let no Walmart, turn me around” and “aint gonna let injustice, turn me around.”
In El Monte, Calif., Mayor Andre Quintero spoke about respect to a gathering of striking Wal-Mart workers and their supporters. In Pico Rivera, Calif., clergy joined a picket line in front of a store and Bishop Mendez blessed the bus. In Irvine, Calif., janitors and Wal-Mart strikers represented with a large drum and signs demanding respect outside of a store.

In Atlanta, Wal-Mart strikers kicked off their Ride for Respect with a community breakfast at IBEW Local 613's hall. They got a sendoff from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center, as community leaders joined them to protest the company's refusal to change.

And in Seattle, a dozen strikers posed for a photo in front of their bus before heading south.

Rallies to support the Wal-Mart strikers are being held all across the country. To find one near you, click here. To donate to the strike fund, click here. To follow them on twitter, use the #WalmartStrikers hashtag.

NH thwarts ALEC attempt to allow paycheck looting

An attempted scam on workers' paychecks was defeated in the New Hampshire earlier this week, a victory in the fight against ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council).

ALEC, the escort service for corporations and state lawmakers, was pushing a bill to let New Hampshire businesses get rid of paper paychecks. Instead, workers would be paid with a debit-style "payroll card," which carries hidden fees for withdrawals, payments and balance inquiries.

The Concord Monitor reported.
The Democratic-led House voted, 235-93, to kill the bill, which passed the Republican-led Senate, 20-4, on March 21. 
“This bill is pretty offensive,” said Rep. Tim Smith, a Manchester Democrat. “This is one of the newer scams that’s been pushed on our hardworking citizens, and it’s taken the form of a payroll card.” 
State law requires businesses to offer employees the option of being paid with a physical paycheck. The bill would have eliminated that requirement for businesses that offer their workers both direct deposit and a preloaded card, such as versions offered by Visa and MasterCard.
Our friends at Granite State Progress outed ALEC and the corporate backers of the bill (you know it didn't come from workers):
Corporations like Visa have been eager to transition workers to payroll cards to collect more fees from the transactions, including transaction fees charged at local businesses who accept the cards for payment. At an ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force meeting in 2011, a lobbyist from Visa brought forward a resolution in support of payroll cards. Rep. Gary Daniels, a long-time ALEC member and current ALEC State Co-Chair, is a member of that ALEC task force. Daniels wrote the minority blurb in support of SB 100 and spoke in its favor on the House floor.
Zandra Rice Hawkins, Granite State Progress executive director, said the bill,
...would have been purposefully harmful to employees, creating additional fees and expenses for them to collect and use their paycheck, and specifically avoiding sharing that information upfront. 

Teamsters lift port drivers out of poverty

And this is how we do it: With a contract.

Last year, the Teamsters struggled to organize 65 drivers who work for Australia-based Toll Holdings at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The company was paying the drivers poverty-level wages while the top executive took home $2.5 million.

Jose Ortega, for example, is a 36-year-old single father who earned  $23,773 from Toll in 2011 -- just above the poverty line.

On Jan. 10, Toll Teamsters ratified their first contract. Brother Ortega's earnings doubled.

The Teamsters' contract propelled the Toll drivers into the middle class. It just goes to show that a union contract is the best anti-poverty program there is.

Consider this: A typical non-unionized port driver earns about $9.41 an hour. The Toll drivers now earn about $19 an hour, plus overtime.

Before the Toll contract, only eleven drivers were active in the company’s 401(k) plan. With the contract, Toll drivers will have a Teamsters retirement account through the Teamsters Western Conference Pension Trust.

Non-union port drivers face a hurdle that the Toll drivers didn't have to jump: they're misclassified as "independent contractors." This absolves the employer of responsibility toward them and the trucks and consigns them to poverty. The typical independent port driver encounters:
  • No W-2 employment and benefits
  • No workers’ compensation protection.
  • No disability insurance.
  • No Social Security.
  • No workplace health and safety protections.
  • No right to form a union.
  • Work an average of 59 hours per week with no overtime pay.
  • Constant retaliation and abuse.
  • No lunch or rest breaks.
  • Dangerous work conditions.
  • Chronic wage theft. 
  • Fees for parking and truck wash.
  • Fees for liability insurance.
  • Fees for truck rental and fuel. 
  • Maintenance and vehicle registration fees. 
Here's how the Toll drivers are treated now:
  • They got an instant hourly gain of $6.28 for the day shift and $6.53 for the night shift.
  • Every driver is enrolled in the Teamster pension plan.
  • They get overtime after 40 hours worked at a time-and-a-half rate of $28.
  • They got an $800 bonus for signing the contract.
  • They have full family vision, dental and medical coverage, 95 percent of which is paid for by the employee.
  • They get paid sick days, holidays and vacation time. 
  • They're guaranteed an annual raise. 
  • They have a fair grievance procedure for discipline. 
Working union sure does mean living better.

Today's Teamster News 05.30.13

Smithfield Foods to be bought by Chinese firm  The Washington Post   ...Smithfield Foods, whose signature hams helped make it the world’s largest pork producer, is being taken over by a Chinese firm in a deal is the biggest takeover that might raise sensitive issues about Chinese involvement in the U.S. food supply...
Shell Admits Real Reason Coast Guard Had To Rescue Its Arctic Drilling Rig: Failed Tax Avoidance Scheme  ThinkProgress   ...The main reason an offshore oil rig ran aground off the coast of Alaska late last year was because oil company Royal Dutch Shell was trying to depart state waters to avoid paying millions in taxes...
Americans Now Know More About Often Pathetic Personal Finances  mni   ...Fewer than half, 41%, of Americans spend less than they make...
Case-Shiller Shows Home Prices Are Skyrocketing Back to the Bubble Years  Economic Populist ...The March 2013 S&P Case Shiller home price index shows a 10.9% price increase from a year ago for over 20 metropolitan housing markets and a 10.3% change for the top 10 housing markets from March 2012...
16 Countries Where People Work the Longest Hours  The Fiscal Times   ...When it comes to annual hours worked in 2010, the U.S. tied with Italy for 13th place among the OECD countries...
ALEC: Shining Sunlight on a Secretive Lobby Group  The Pilot   ...the Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly is getting many of its worst ideas for how to change our state from the Washington, D.C.-based American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Every citizen needs to know more about ALEC and its stealth efforts to undermine our modern-day democracy...
House Democrats gear up for Affordable Care Act outreach  Politico   ...Democrats on Capitol Hill are beginning a significant outreach effort to get lawmakers prepared for Obamacare enrollment, which will begin Oct. 1...
The World's Richest 8% Earn Half of All Planetary Income  AlterNet   ...The top 1 per cent has seen its real income rise by more than 60 per cent over those two decades...
Income Inequality Gets Worse When You Slash Taxes On The Rich: Study  Huffington Post   ...The rich just keep getting richer -- not only by gobbling up more income, but also by paying less in taxes. That means less support for the poor, who are getting increasingly poorer relative to the top one percent...
Apple’s U.S. revenue should be taxed (opinion) Washington Post …The open secret of many global corporations’ success — and occasionally, downfall — is to fall between the cracks. Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., created an Irish subsidiary with no employees, into which it funneled roughly $30 billion between 2009 and 2012 on which neither Ireland nor the United States levied taxes...
Switzerland Weighs Deal in Tax Cases   Deal Book   ...The Swiss government is considering a proposal to disclose bank client names and pay a multibillion-dollar fine to the United States to help resolve a long-running dispute between the two countries over the handling of tax-evasion cases...
Proposed law would allow state to check, freeze private bank accounts to recover overpayments to jobless  Wisconsin State Journal   ...A bill that is speeding through the state Legislature would require jobless people to provide more proof that they are seeking work, and make it easier for the state to recover overpayments — including those made because of government errors — by allowing officials to peek into unemployed people’s bank accounts...
County-by-county details: How badly Wisconsin trails the nation in job-creation  Institute for Wisconsin's Future   ...private-sector wages in Wisconsin falling at 2% a year, twice the national rate. Wisconsin ranked 44th out of 50 in wage growth...
Giants Fans Bring Their Own Lunches To Support Concessions Workers’ Strike  In These Times   ...After three years without a contract, and on one of the busiest weekends of the season, hundreds of concessions workers at the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark staged a one-day strike. As baseball fans arrived on Saturday afternoon to watch the Giants take on the Colorado Rockies, strikers asked them not to buy food and drink inside the stadium...
After going nowhere in 2013, supporters hope to bring “right to work” back next year  The Missouri Times   ...Though prevailing wage and “paycheck protection” bills passed both chambers, another labor-related topic that saw minimal action this session was the “right to work” issue...
No mere luxury: Liquor privatization is about much more  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   ...Concern is rising in the General Assembly, particularly among Democrats, that House Republicans may be linking a bill to end the government's liquor monopoly with a measure to increase transportation funding...
Teamsters Power Consumer Electronics Show   IBT   ...Every year, Las Vegas is visited by an average of nearly 5 million conventioneers as the city plays host to more than 21,000 shows. Local 631 in Las Vegas represents more than 3,000 trade show and convention workers that help to keep shows on track and on time...
Teamsters Offer Free Disability Services to Military Veterans  Teamsters Joint Council 25  ...An offshoot of the national Helmets to Hardhats program, the Teamsters Military Assistance Program (TMAP) provides disability assistance for all military veterans and job placement opportunities for veterans in the construction industry...
Stop Cuts To Public Safety And Economic Growth  IBT   ...Sequestration is more than a confusing term being debated in Washington. There is immediate and future impact that many Americans will feel based on significant reductions in funding numerous government programs that touch the lives of all segments of our society...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

14-city protest against the Kochs today

Protesters rallied against the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers in 14 cities today, mostly to oppose their rumored purchase of 10 major newspapers but also to demand they clean up their mountain of petroleum coke next to the Detroit River.

Nearly half a million people signed petitions opposing the brothers' takeover of the Tribune newspaper chain, which includes the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The protests are backed by a coalition of union, good-government and environmental groups.

They gathered in midtown Manhattan in front of the offices of an investment firm that owns 9.4 percent of the chain.  Filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal spoke; they directed of the 2013 documentary about the Wisconsin uprising called "Citizen Koch." The film was intended for PBS, but lost its funding over fears it would anger the David Koch.

Today marked the biggest protest yet against the sale of the newspapers to the billionaire brothers. Hundreds have protested the sale of the Los Angeles Times in downtown LA and Beverly Hills, while smaller rallies were held previously in Chicago and Orlando.

In Detroit, protesters wore masks and held signs demanding they remove the huge uncovered pile of petroleum coke blowing into the Detroit River. Good Jobs Now has photos on its Facebook page, with the message:
The Koch Brothers are busy trying to buy up many of the nation's newspapers, but they should be more concerned with cleaning up their mess! The are the owners of many 3 story high mounds of petroluem coke, which is blowing into the Detroit River.
In Philadelphia, a community organizing group sent an email:
The Koch brothers’ political agenda includes de-funding education, privatizing Social Security, overturning the new healthcare law, eliminating the minimum wage, attacking evidence of global warming, and destroying unions. Now, they are trying to purchase media properties in the hope of influencing public opinion.
Protests were also held in Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Baltimore, St. Louis, Harrisburg, Washington, D.C., Houston, Boston and Denver.

Teamster congressman disturbed by DC obsession with money

Rick Nolan worked his way through college as a UPS Teamster and now, for the second time, represents Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. He served for three terms in the '70s, went back to farming, and returned to Washington in January after an absence of 32 years.

He's shocked by the changes since then. He finds that members of Congress don't know each other, don't pass legislation that matters and spend four hours a day raising money. Nolan finds the obsession with raising money "distasteful."

The Boston Globe reports,
Almost immediately after new members got into office, Nolan says, the DCCC began coaching them on fund-raising. A schedule from that session showed that they should spend four hours each day asking for money – more time than any other activity and more than twice the amount of time they should be spending debating issues on the House floor or hammering out legislation in committees. 
Nolan says he understood the impulse — the candidate with the most amount of money typically wins — but he was taken aback. He says he’s been reprimanded by Democratic leadership for not raising enough money. He says he has not set foot in a call center that the DCCC set up near Congress, where cubicles are lined up so that congressmen can come in and dial their donors without using congressional resources. 
“It helps dictate the ultimate decisions around here. We have a saying out in the country, ‘Who pays the fiddler gets to pick the tune,’ ” Nolan says. “Not only does it take away time from governance, but it has an equally adverse tendency to corrupt and pervert the public policy process.”
 Welcome to the plutocracy.

Tell NJ Senate: Crack down on abusive employers (like FedEx Ground) now

Tomorrow, New Jersey state senators will vote on a bill to crack down on employers who illegally misclassify drivers in the motor trucking industry. That includes employers FedEx Ground.

These bad actors call their workers independent contractors despite treating them as employees. The workers are denied basic workplace rights, like protections under OSHA and the Federal Labor Relations Act. They're forced to pay out-of-pocket for all of the costs of their jobs, like uniforms and equipment. 
These drivers even have to ask employers for vacation time, despite being called independent.

The New Jersey Assembly has already voted to end the misclassification of truck drivers. Teamsters came out in strong support of the measure. Many lawmakers were contacted and urged to vote for the bill.

Now, we need help from New Jersey Teamsters more than ever. Please send an email asking your state senator to vote yes on S-1450.

FedEx is lobbying hard against the bill:
FedEx has also come out swinging against the measure, which specifically includes drayage truck operators and package delivery drivers. Drayage trucking involves the short-distance transportation of goods.
These bad-acting employers get the best of both worlds; control of abused workers while saving millions of dollars in workers compensation and unemployment benefits.   And when these employers are allowed to cheat they put law abiding companies at a competitive disadvantage and bring down standards for all workers.

Join thousands of other Teamsters today and tell your Senator to support S-1450. Just click here and send an email to support S-1450: The Truck Operator Independent Contractor Act. The email says, in part: 
...the legislation ... would crack down on employers who intentionally misclassify drivers and cost the state millions of dollars every year. This practice, which the state has deemed a “serious injustice” to workers, costs the state millions annually in unpaid income and unemployment taxes as well as unpaid workers compensation premiums. Meanwhile, these misclassified drivers are left unprotected by some of the most basic work place rights, like OSHA and even the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Don't delay! Just click here to send the email today!

This is what we union thuggs do in pink feather boas and sunglasses

We raise almost $10,000 for cancer research.

Women’s Committee of Joint Council 25 raised almost $10,000 for the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer research and support fund at the Inaugural Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Park Ridge, Ill., earlier this month. 

Our sisters recruited nearly 200 participants, making them the top fundraising team at the walk. 

The marchers decked themselves out in pink feather boas, flashy hats and snazzy sunglasses as they were encouraged by children and cheerleaders.

Although this was the first American Cancer Society walk held in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, the 3.1 mile trek raised more than $70,000 – exceeding fundraising goals by more than $20,000.

The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 234,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. So it's not surprising that many participating Teamsters had a personal connection to  the disease. For many participants, Teamster support in this year’s march demonstrates how important the issue continues to be. 

Leo Watkins from Local 700 said the march is a great way to make a difference in people's lives.
This march is a way of telling people that have this sort of illness that people support them, and to give them hope.
Carrie Sapienza, a machinery operator from Local 727, said the march was a way for the Joint Council and the Women's Committee to say that women are important too.
It's about unity, it's about solidarity. We've all got the same goal that everyone else has. We're not going away. If we show up to one of these things, it shows that we aren't going anywhere.
In previous years, local Teamsters participated in the Y-ME National Breast Cancer ­Organization walk in downtown Chicago, but changed organizations after that walk was cancelled earlier this year. After their rousing success, the Women’s Committee is already planning bigger and better participation in next year’s efforts.

Remember, THUGGS stands for "Those Helpful Union Guys and Gals."

'Made in USA' store inspired by book about low-wage work

What a great idea -- a traditional general store that sells only products made in the U.S.A.

Norton's USA in Barrington, Ill., has been selling American-made products for six years with the intention of keeping the country working.

The owner was inspired to start  because of a book:  Nickel And Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. Here's Amazon's reveiw: does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.
manufacture this tells us Norton's proprietor (and actress) Deborah Leydig says her inspiration for launching Norton's U.S.A. came after after portraying Barbara Ehrenreich in a stage adaptation of the book..
Leydig began to research made in U.S.A. products and was upset to "learn how many jobs had been shipped overseas." 
She explains that Norton's U.S.A. was born from a mission "to keep America working."
The store sells clothes, pet supplies, toys, housewares and flags and patriotic decor:
At NORTON'S U.S.A., we sell only products made in the United States! 
We wanted to do something positive to support the American worker and the American manufacturer, so we have spent the last ten years researching American made goods. 
We have over 425 manufacturers from around the country and we add new companies everyday. 
BUY American Made Products with ease. 
When you shop at NORTON'S U.S.A., you help keep America working!
Watch a short video about the store here.

Walker to fill Koch brothers' sandbox in WI

The Benedict Arnold Koch brothers spent a lot of money propping up Job-killer Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during his recall election last year. Now the governor is returning the favor.

Walker wants to use the state's limited budget dollars to invest in the state's sand industry. Why? Because Wisconsin's sand is a key component in the natural gas extraction process known as fracking. And guess what two ultra-rich brothers are sinking some of their sizeable wealth in fracking? Yeah, you know.

As detailed in the Capital Times:
Wisconsin, along with neighboring Minnesota, has some of the best frac sand in the continent, and Koch Industries is heavily invested in natural gas extraction using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
The type of silica sand found in Wisconsin is mixed with water and chemicals, then injected at high-pressure into bedrock to help bring natural gas deposits to the surface.
This proposed legislative gift is just the latest example of how the Kochs are using their dollars to help bend the state to their own purposes. Besides funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), politicians and a number of state stink tanks, they are rumored to be suitors for the Tribune Company, which includes the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.

The Kochs claim to be "libertarians," while they are really corporate predators. As Middle Class Political Economist points out recently, they've accepted at least $73.1 million in government handouts over the last six years:
Flagship Koch Industries has taken over $16.5 million in subsidies from 11 different awards, none of which are sales tax breaks (which generally are not subsidies). 
Subsidiary Georgia Pacific has received 72 subsidies worth over $43.9 million (none of these were sales tax breaks). 
Subsidiary Flint Hills Resources LP has received subsidies from Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and Michigan, according to the Good Jobs First Subsidy Tracker; the New York Timessubsidy database, which omits Michigan but includes one more Iowa subsidy, puts the value of the Iowa and Kansas subsidies alone at just over $12.5 million (again, none of which were sales tax breaks). 
Subsidiary INVISTA has received $217,504 in training grants from South Carolina, according to Subsidy Tracker. Several other subsidies appear to be connected to this subsidiary, but none have available subsidy amounts. Again, none were sales tax breaks.
Meanwhile, Gov. Walker has other reasons for crafting a budget that provides help to the sand industry. This includes freight rail line upgrades and new positions at the Department of Natural Resources to oversee development of new sand mines. Gov. Walker has received the most gas and sand money of any state politician, accepting $520,266, according to the Democracy Campaign report.

Wisconsin, it's time to put your foot down and tell Gov. Walker to stop playing in the Koch brothers' sandbox. Contact your state lawmakers and tell them to oppose expansion of the Department of Natural Resources to benefit sand companies.

Today's Teamster News 05.29.13

Working moms are now main breadwinners in a record 40 percent of US households with children  Associated Press   ...While most are headed by single mothers, a growing number are families with married mothers who bring in more income than their husbands...
Chance at a Union Job Draws 800 Job Applicants in Queens, N.Y.  AFL-CIO   ...a union elevator mechanic job prompted nearly 1,000 young workers to haul out tents and mattresses and weather the great outdoors of Long Island City at the chance to be considered...
Feds investigate Md. train derailment, explosion  Associated Press   ...In the third serious derailment this month, a dozen or so rail cars — at least one carrying hazardous materials — went off the tracks around 2 p.m. Tuesday in Rosedale, Md., a suburb east of Baltimore. Several rail cars caught fire, sending a plume of black and gray smoke into the air that could be seen for miles, and an explosion rattled homes at least a half-mile away...
'Lost generation' fears for Europe's youth as unemployment soars across eurozone and leaves more than 19million without jobs  Daily Mail   ...In Greece, 58 per cent of under-25s are unemployed, along with 56 per cent in Spain and 38 per cent in Portugal and Italy. In the eurozone as a whole it is 24 per cent. In the UK it is 21 per cent...
Citi settles U.S. suit over $3.5 billion in mortgage securities  Reuters   ...Citigroup Inc (C.N) has reached a settlement with a federal agency that had accused the bank of misleading Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) into buying $3.5 billion of mortgage-backed securities...
US tax inspector targets Caribbean bank  The Guardian   ...A Caribbean bank formerly co-owned by Barclays has been targeted by US tax authorities seeking information on suspected American tax evaders...
US prosecutes '$6 bn money-laundering hub'  BBC News   ...The Liberty Reserve digital money service that was shut down laundered more than $6 billion in criminal cash, US authorities have said...
Wal-Mart pleads guilty in environmental case involving pesticides sent to Missouri contractor   Kansas City Star  ...Retailer Wal-Mart resolved years of hazardous-waste complaints Tuesday with criminal guilty pleas in Missouri and California and the settlement of a civil lawsuit filed by federal environmental authorities...
Elders Should Exercise Caution Before Turning to Payday Loans   Rocky Mount Telegram   ...An increasing number of cash-strapped elders are turning to payday loans—a highly-risky source of short-term financing—to cover their day-to-day expenses...
Appeals court says union groups may revise lawsuit  Associated Press   ...Union groups are getting a chance to revise their lawsuit and add new defendants in a challenge to two Idaho laws targeting organized labor...
Women still on the lower salary rungs in Wyoming state government  Star-Tribune   ...Women working in Wyoming’s state government hold relatively few high-paid jobs — including management positions — compared to men, a state-issued report found...
American Airlines Mechanics File for Election to Become Teamsters  IBT   ...American Airlines mechanics and related workers filed for an election today with the National Mediation Board (NMB) as part of a months-long effort to become Teamsters...
Local 117 Members Attend National Police Week  Teamsters Local 117   ...Two Local 117 Police Officers, Roger Gale of the City of Pacific and Willie Bergin from the University of Washington, attended National Police Week in Washington D.C. from May 12-18...
Collective Bargaining TLA Slated for June 18-21  IBT   ...The IBT Training and Development Department is conducting a Teamsters Leadership Academy on Collective Bargaining, June18-21, 2013, hosted by Joint Council 40 in Mars, Pennsylvania...
Advanced Business Agents’ Seminar Scheduled July 29-31  IBT   ...The IBT Training and Development Department will conduct an Advanced Business Agents seminar July 29-31, 2013 at Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prolonged strike against Wal-Mart starts today in MA, CA, FL

Wal-Mart strikers in Massachusetts.
Today at least 100 Wal-Mart workers began a prolonged strike in three states, an action that follows one-day strikes in October and on Black Friday.

They will emulate the 1961 Civil Rights freedom riders and board buses to the retailer's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The buses will stop dozens of cities to pick up supporters on the way to protest Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting.

@MsFlowersTweets tells us one bus carrying freedom riders has left from Miami.
#WalmartStrikers have embarked on their leg of their #FreedomRide from Miami. Help me wish @hanson_alan and the crew peace & power. #p2 #1u
Strikers walked off the job in Massachusetts and the California Bay Area. Buses are also expected to leave from Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle and Southern California. At least 30 direct actions are planned to show support for the latter-day freedom riders. (Click here to find one or organize one yourself.)

Josh Eidelson at The Nation reports,
The union-backed labor group OUR Walmart says that at least a hundred workers have pledged to join the strikes, and that some workers walking off the job today will stay out at least through June 7, when Walmart holds its annual shareholder meeting near Bentonville, Arkansas. 
Organizers expect retail employees in more cities to join the work stoppage, which follows the country’s first-ever coordinated Walmart store strikes last October, and a high-profile Black Friday walkout November 23. Like Black Friday’s, today’s strike is being framed by the union-backed labor group OUR Walmart as a response to retaliation against worker-activists...
That “Ride for Respect” will bring workers to about thirty cities, including Los Angeles, D.C., Chicago, and Cincinnati, where they’ll meet supporters and visit Walmart stores before continuing to Arkansas. Schlademan called the caravans “a massive education program meant to educate Walmart workers and communities about the issues of Walmart.”
Bloomberg interviewed some of the striking workers:
“This is the first time in my life I’m standing up for something I know is right,” says Barbara Getz, who is 45 years old and makes $10 an hour as an overnight stocker in Store No. 5334 in Aurora, Colo. “Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, and we want them to set a high standard.” Among the group’s requests: full-time work for those who want it, with a minimum yearly salary of $25,000. 
Dominic Ware will be on a bus, too. He’s a 26-year-old part-time employee at Store No. 5434 in San Leandro, Calif. He makes $8.65 an hour. “My plan is to make a lot of noise and be direct and be respectful,” he says.
Workers have also walked out on Wal-Mart suppliers. In July, eight immigrant guest workers walked out on a Louisiana seafood supplier that had basically enslaved them. In September, workers at warehouses subcontracted by Wal-Mart struck for several weeks in Southern California and in Greater Chicago.

Marquez Bros. could face stiffer fine for harassing immigrant workers

Our favorite anti-union attorney
followed a Teamster to the
state Capitol.
California companies like the Marquez Brothers have a nasty way of challenging immigrant workers' legal status if they complain about being exploited. Those companies would pay stiff fines for doing so under two pieces of state legislation that have a chance of becoming law.

Penalties would be increased for companies that retaliate against employees who question their pay or working conditions under AB 263, offered by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), and SB 666, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).  Hernandez's bill would hike fines against employers who retaliate against workers to $10,000 per worker and make retaliation a misdemeanor punishable by jail time. Steinberg's measure would subject attorneys to discipline or disbarment for retaliation.

Both bills passed through committee and are headed for votes on the full floor of the Assembly and the Senate.
Teamsters Local 517 organized Hanford-based Marquez Brothers last year and are still fighting for a first contract. The cheese factory owners are waging a vicious anti-union campaign. It went so far as to brazenly harass its workers in a government hearing in March. Two high-priced union-buster attorneys followed a Marquez Brothers employee -- a Teamster -- into an Assembly hearing room in Sacramento when she was set to testify about the company's actions.

Sister Candida Vanegas, who worked at the plant for three and a half years, was fired for attending Hernandez’s hearing and supporting unionization.

She told radio station KQED:
Everybody’s scared now. They’re saying, if it happened to her who was trying to help out people, what’s going to happen to us.
Chester Suniga, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 517, said the union is asking for a minimum wage at the Hanford plant of $12 an hour. According to Suniga, the two sides have not reached an agreement on a contract after months of negotiations because of the company’s stalling tactics.
We urge all supporters of workers' rights in California to contact their state lawmakers and tell them to vote for AB 263 and SB 666. Whistleblowers shouldn't be punished for turning in cheating corporations.
You can find your legislator here.

Breaking: Teamsters file for American Airlines mechanics' election

American Airline mechanics at today's news conference in Washington.
Just days after filing for a US Airways mechanics election, the Teamsters today announced at a Washington news conference that we're filing for an American Airlines mechanics election with the National Mediation Board.

We already represent 18,000 airline mechanics and related workers. If the two airline mechanics vote for Teamster representation, we'll represent 30,000 airline mechanics and related workers.

Bill Wheeler, a 26-year American Airlines mechanic, explained why they want to be Teamsters:
Workers around the country have been under attack for years and we as American Airlines mechanics are no exception. After enduring 20 years of concessions, outsourced jobs, bankruptcy, frozen pensions and an overall lack of respect, we are coming together to bring in the bargaining power of the Teamsters Union, which has the strongest record representing mechanics in our industry.
Jim Witt, a 24-year American Airlines mechanic, added:
From day one, this campaign has been about our craft standing up and fighting back against the rampant outsourcing and other abuses we’ve seen over the years. We’ve had enough and today with the Teamsters we are drawing a line in the sand. The Teamsters have the experience and power to stand up to management and restore the dignity of our profession.
Tulsa World reported the news:
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters told the Tulsa World it has collected signatures from more than half of American Airlines' mechanics and related workers...
American Airlines employs nearly 11,000 maintenance workers, nearly half of them at the Tulsa Maintenance & Engineering Center at Tulsa International Airport.

If the National Mediation Board deems the signatures valid, there would be a vote on union representation among American Airlines maintenance workers.

"I wouldn't say the Teamsters don't win every battle, but they do things differently," said Hank Rogish, an American Airlines aircraft maintenance technician in Fort Worth who has been helping organize the Teamsters effort. "They won't just let their membership be decimated the way it has been here."
The Teamsters' press statement has more:
American Airlines has been in bankruptcy since 2011, resulting in the downsizing of aircraft maintenance stations and furloughs targeting AA mechanics. Meanwhile, a bankruptcy judge recently approved AA’s merger deal with US Airway, which will create the world’s largest airline.

Today's Teamster News 05.28.13

Cambodia: Protest at Factory for Nike  Reuters   ...At least 23 workers were hurt in Cambodia on Monday after the police clashed with workers protesting wages at a factory that makes clothing for Nike, a union representative said...
Fashion retailer issues recall after finding radioactive material in belts  The Verge   ..."the incident is quite a common occurrence. India and the far east are large consumers of scrap metal," and during the refining process "radioactive sources are sometimes accidentally melted at the same time."...
Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics  New York Times   ...a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review...
Canadian Federal Court confirms the country’s 2011 election was Fraudulent  The European Union Times   ...The court emphasized in a Thursday ruling that it has found in no uncertain terms that widespread election fraud took place during the vote...
 On Victory Drive, Soldiers Defeated by Debt  ProPublica   ...Seven years after Congress banned payday-loan companies from charging exorbitant interest rates to service members, many of the nation's military bases are surrounded by storefront lenders who charge high annual percentage rates, sometimes exceeding 400 percent...
Another Day, Another Walmart Class Action Employee Lawsuit   ...This month, Walmart (WMT) found itself on the defending end of another massive employee class action suit in California when a California judge certified a class of 10,000 employees who think Walmart broke the law when it refused to provide suitable seating for its cashiers who requested it...
Public Unions Need to Stop Poisonous Koch Brothers From Buying Tribune Papers  AlterNet   ...They are considering buying the Tribune papers, which comprise eight major publications, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. This would allow the Kochs to spread their right-wing nuttery even more effectively than they do now. But public unions could put a stop to this...
SC Boeing exec sends workers anti-union e-mail  Associated Press   ...The general manager of Boeing’s new plant in South Carolina has sent out an e-mail telling his workers that Boeing wants to keep the plant union free...
Rick Perry Vetoes GOP-Backed Disclosure Bill  Huffington Post   ...Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) vetoed a Republican bill Saturday that would have required nonprofits that engage in politics to disclose their donors...
Union-backed pension plan saves more than thought, Democrats say  Gatehouse News Service   ...A union-backed pension reform plan will cut the state of Illinois’pension debt by more than $9 billion, Senate Democrats said...
Texas prohibits nearly 70 percent of its counties from having a fire code  Dallas Morning News   ...Despite the lessons from the West Fertilizer Co. fire and explosions about the value of fire prevention, site security and safe storage of dangerous goods, Texas prohibits nearly 70 percent of its counties from having a fire code...
Texas State Legislature approves drug tests for unemployment benefits  Daily Caller   ...The Texas State Legislature approved a bill that would require workers who lose their job to pass a drug screening in order to receive unemployment benefits Saturday, according to news reports...
The latest WEDC revelations help explain Wisconsin's poor performance  The Isthmus   ...How much evidence do we need that Gov. Scott Walker's pro-corporate, anti-government rhetoric adds up to a whole lot of freebies for his cronies and absolutely nothing in terms of actually creating jobs?...
Montana using mortgage settlement funds to battle foreclosure  Independent Record   ...When Montana received nearly $6 million from a $25 billion national settlement with the nation’s five largest banks — a result of their shady mortgage practices — the state tucked away its share of the funding to help homeowners address the threat of foreclosure...
Privatization review bill shelved by Louisiana Senate committee  Times-Picayune   ...A bill requiring a more thorough review of privatization plans was shot down by a Louisiana Senate committee Monday. The measure, opposed by Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration, had already received unanimous approval of the state House...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Today's Teamster News 05.27.13

Hundreds of thousands of bikers rumble into D.C. for Rolling Thunder  Washington Times   ...Perfect temperatures, a bright sun and blue sky commanded Sunday’s forecast, but it was the sound of thunder that stood out for the D.C. area, as more than a half-million motorcycles rumbled through the city for the 26th annual Rolling Thunder.
2013 Memorial Day Honored As Monuments Decay, Funds Dry Up  Associated Press   ...How do we honor those who have served when memorials deteriorate and finances are tight?...
Wal-Mart Plasters Stores With Green Dots to Stay Stocked  Bloomberg   ...Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is turning up the pressure to keep its shelves adequately stocked by proposing to tie executive compensation to the issue -- and has asked an outside auditor to alert workers which items to focus on by plastering U.S. stores with neon green dots. ... Wal-Mart had trouble keeping its stores stocked as it cut back on workers per store...
Study finds unionized schools to have higher graduation, retention rates  Daily Nebraskan   ...unionized schools tend to have higher graduation and retention rates and lower budgets than non-unionized schools...
So Much for the Impending Economic Armageddon Federal Budget Deficit  Economic Populist   ...the deficit has dropped dramatically...
How Free Trade Agreements Crippled Detroit  Economy in Crisis   ... NAFTA made manufacturing cars in the U.S. too expensive. As a result, Detroit factories closed down and jobs were lost...
Sixth Night of Violence in Sweden  Financial Times   ...In Linköping, central southern Sweden, police responded to 120 incidents as cars, caravans and two schools were set alight...
Storm brews over potential Koch brothers control of Tribune newspaper chain  Financial Times   ...With a sale likely of a prominent group of US newspapers, the interest of a potential buyer tied to right-wing causes has galvanized opponents fearing the dailies could become political tools...
One week later: The daunting recovery in Oklahoma  CNN   ..."This is a massive debris field," she said. "It's not just a couple blocks. It's miles."...
In North Carolina, unimpeded GOP drives state hard to the right   Washington Post ...Backed by throngs of chanting supporters, dozens of liberal demonstrators are subjecting themselves to arrest each Monday at the state legislature here to protest a flurry of bills that could transform North Carolina into a model of conservative governance...
Jerry Hanson: Scott Walker's Wisconsin has gone to the dogs (opinion)  The Cap Times   ...the legislative budget committee ... extended a friendly paw to “big money” by declaring that people could NOT challenge construction of high-capacity wells that might draw down water levels so significantly as to impact neighboring wells, streams or lakes...

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What real union people really say about unions

Back by popular demand, here are comments by union members and their families, taken from the Teamsters Facebook page:

Jay Marvin
Thank God for my union AFTRA. WORKERS OF THE WORLD !
John Stier 
always union does it better
Scott Barrow West
I was a Teamster flight attendant for 25 years and I was always so proud of the way they stepped up to the plate after a disaster. They also operated some pretty impressive food banks in Minnesota.
Joe Ligotti 
In September 29 years local # 25 and damn proud to stand with my brothers and sisters.
John Rumball 
A Union is only as Strong as the Membership?UNION YES
Carol Medina
Proud of my brother being trustee in his teamster union.
Mark James Hankins
union is strength
Nick Wanko
Work a Union Job for the good of America! Be union Buy Union made products! Live in America then buy American made!
Milford Nelson
"The more of us that stand together- volunteering and making our voices heard- the stronger our UNION will be." ~Pipeliners Union 798~
Don Klinestiver
We need Unions more now than when John L saved us back when.
Stephen Hernandez
Unions are the rights of workers to collectively negotiate better pay, safer working conditions, benefits, better hours, so we can raise a family and spend time with them. Now tell me: WHATS UN AMERICAN ABOUT THAT!?! Before Unions people were dying in mines, factories and had to work 16 hours or more a day with out over time pay. That's why companies want Unions gone so they can have sweat shops back!!!
And to a union critic:

Jim Folliett
I am a teamster, 20 long years, full bennies, great retirement and a good wage. My union dues are only $61 a month and I take home almost $4, 000 a month, so go put your head back up your ass!!!

Today's Teamster News 05.26.13

Millions march against GM crops  The Guardian   ...Organisers say that two million people marched in protest against seed giant Monsanto in hundreds of rallies across the US and in more than 50 other countries on Saturday. "March Against Monsanto" protesters say they wanted to call attention to the dangers posed by genetically modified food...
France seizes a million doses of fake Chinese aspirin  Raw Story   ...French customs officers have seized 1.2 million doses of counterfeit aspirin from China, the biggest haul of fake medicines ever in France and the EU, the economy ministry announced Saturday...
Stockholm riots spread west on sixth night  The Local   ...Nearly a week of unrest, which spread briefly Friday night to the medium-sized city of Örebro 160 kilometres west of Stockholm, have put Sweden's reputation as an oasis of peace and harmony at risk...
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief  The Independent   ...Rocketing unemployment and poverty in some areas of Europe could lead to rising civil unrest, unless governments take measures to address the humanitarian consequences of austerity measures, the secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned...
Sequester guts wildfire prevention, sets up bigger blazes  Grist ...the sequester took a 7.5 percent bite out of the Forest Service’s budget, nearly half of which is spent fighting wildfires. That means there will be 500 fewer pairs of boots on the ground and 200,000 fewer acres treated to prevent fires; the agency’s next proposed budget cuts preventative spending by a further 24 percent...
Why are our Bridges Falling? The Economics of the Infrastructure Deficit  Economonitor   ...We are not spending enough to stay even with our infrastructure deficit. Our bridges, roads, dams, electric grid, sewers, and water treatment plants are wearing out faster than we are replacing them. And that is happening, in large part, because of our misguided obsession with the federal fiscal deficit...
Banner Week for Politicians Trying to Keep Poor People Hungry and Sick  Gawker  ...Louisiana Senator David Vitter, sad little boy and lover of prostitutes, proposed an amendment to the long-delayed farm bill that would make certain ex-cons ineligible from food stamps for life...
The Corporate Dictatorship of PBS and NPR  Truthout   ...“Citizen Koch” is a documentary about money and politics, focusing heavily on the uprising that took place in Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012 ... the documentary was originally supposed to air on PBS stations nationwide, but its funding was abruptly cut off when, it appears, David Koch was offended...
Koch Media’s Megaphone and the IRS “Scandal”  Wall Street  ...For decades, billionaires Charles and David Koch had secretly owned shares giving them 50 percent ownership of the Cato Institute – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization subsidized by the taxpayer – while pushing a deregulatory agenda for big business. Today, Cato is functioning as a megaphone to spin the current flap over the IRS to advance its agenda...
How exactly would Mike Bloomberg “fucking destroy” the taxi industry?  Quartz   ...New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg told the head of a taxicab fleet that he plans to “fucking destroy” the city’s taxi industry when he leaves office on January 1...
Fear of art sale sparked by Detroit emergency manager asking for appraisal  Reuters   ...As part of his efforts to solve Detroit's financial crisis, the city's emergency manager Kevyn Orr has asked for an appraisal of the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts, sparking fears in artistic and philanthropic circles that he means to auction off the city's artistic jewels...
Wisconsin jobs agency names 4th CFO in 2 years  Associated Press   ...Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature created WEDC in 2011 to help the governor meet his campaign promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs. But the agency has been beset by problems, including persistent turnover...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wal-Mart resistance to escalate next week

Planned bus routes to Bentonville next week.
Next week Wal-Mart workers will turn up the volume a notch in their campaign to be treated decently by the retail giant. Echoing the freedom riders of the Civil Rights movement, they will ride in caravans of buses to the company's June 7 annual meeting in Bentonville, Ark.

The buses will be leaving from all over the U.S., including Southern California, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. They'll pick up Wal-Mart associates along the way. They're hoping for support from union members and other allies at their stops.

Josh Eidelson at The Nation reported earlier this month:
Several days before the shareholder gathering, caravans will leave from several cities around the country, stopping along the way to pick up workers and supporters, and to meet with community activists. OUR Walmart’s plans for the next month also include confrontations between Walmart employees and members of the company’s board of directors.
They decided on the Ride for Respect during a five-day planning session at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Ala.

Los Angeles Wal-Mart worker Tsehai Almaz told The Nation that she and her colleagues feel they're facing many of the same issues as the 1961 freedom riders:
I feel like we’re facing many of the same issues, even though it’s not necessarily about race—this time it’s about respect. And being able to feed our families, and having good working conditions...

It’s time for this generation basically to accept the baton and continue the movement. Because it didn’t end in the ’60’s. That just started the movement—it’s continuing with how Walmart is treating its associates.
The workers want full-time jobs, living wages, affordable health care and better working conditions. Wal-Mart pays its workers an average of $8.81 an hour, forcing many of them onto food stamps and Medicaid.

Preparations for the Ride for Respect can be found on OUR Walmart's Facebook page.
Across the country we're getting ready for the Ride for Respect! We'll be talking to Associates across the country and bringing our message of change to Bentonville for the Annual Meeting. Thanks to OUR Walmart So Cal for sharing this image. Like if you support and go to this link to sign up!
OUR Walmart is asking workers to sign the Bentonville Strike Pledge here. It says, in part,
I WILL NOT BE INTIMIDATED by Walmart’s threats and retaliation against Associates who speak out for better pay, more hours and respect at work. I’m ready to put an end to Walmart’s unfair labor practices.
The Teamsters are supporting OUR Walmart through the Change to Win federation. Teamsters are encouraged to show support for the Ride for Respect.