Saturday, August 31, 2013

Today's Teamster News 08.31.13

Court Affirms Dismissal of Arkansas Best Complaint Against Union, YRC  Wall Street Journal   ...A federal appeals court has affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss a complaint from an Arkansas Best Corp. (ABFS) unit against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, YRC Worldwide Inc. (YRCW) and other parties for alleged violations of a collective bargaining agreement governing most unionized trucking companies...
A New Dawn for Labor Day  Beyond Chron   ... a new generation of worker organizing is emerging – including car wash workers, home health aides, domestic workers, dishwashers and waiters, retail sales persons, day laborers and warehouse workers. They signal a growing hunger for representation and voice on the job...
NAACP opposes deals for 'Moral Monday' protesters   ... The state chapter of the NAACP said Friday that it plans to fight charges filed against people arrested during a series of protests at the Legislative Building instead of accepting a deal offered by Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby to end the cases...
Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters  ThinkProgress   ... “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day...”
Colombia Uprising: Is This What "Free Trade" Looks Like?  Public Citizen   ...Unfair trade is one of the rallying cries of the underreported protests currently wracking Colombia...
Low-paid Germans mind rich-poor gap as elections approach  The Guardian   ...With no national minimum wage and a fifth of workers in insecure mini-jobs, critics say German prosperity is being built on exploitation of the downtrodden...
“Death by China” Film Shows where all the Jobs Have Gone  Trade Reform   ...China’s perverse form of capitalism combines illegal mercantilist and protectionist weapons to pick off American industries, job by job. Meanwhile, America’s executives, politicians, and even academia remain silent about the looming threat...
Regulators Repeat Exactly What They Did During the Last Housing Boom  Baseline Scenario   ... everyone has either forgotten that the financial crisis happened or is pretending that it didn’t happen because, well, maybe it won’t happen again?...
Public Banking Institute Calls Largest Wall Street Banks “Unsafe,” and Backs It Up  Wall Street on Parade  ...The Public Banking Institute has released a new videomaking serious claims, backed by graphs and government documents, that the largest Wall Street banks are an unsafe choice for the savings of moms, pops and public payrolls...
What Should You Be Earning?  Economic Policy Institute   ...In honor of Labor Day, we made a little tool—based on our project—that shows how much you would be making if wages had kept pace with productivity, a key indicator of an economy working for all...
Pet coke along Detroit River removed, Bing says  Detroit News   ...Pet coke is a byproduct of the oil refinery process and can be sold as a fuel source. The piles along the Detroit River were created at the nearby Marathon Oil Refinery and purchased by Koch Minerals LLC...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wisconsin rebels against the Walker/ALEC agenda

Teamsters at a recent rally at Wisconsin's Capitol. 
Wisconsin activists are stirring again even as North Carolina's Moral Monday movement gathers steam.

No one should be surprised. Both states have governors backed by radical billionaires. In Wisconsin, Job-killer Gov. Scott Walker is a stooge for the Benedict Arnold Koch brothers. North Carolina Gov. Art Pope Pat McCrory is a puppet for greedy billionaire Art Pope.

Both governors are pursuing the same agenda, which was handed to them by ALEC, the corporate escort service for state politicians. ALEC's aims are to crush unions, eradicate public education, impoverish government workers, suppress voting rights and marginalize women.

On Monday, “Women’s Equality Day,” Wisconsin Teamsters attended a rally in Madison to stand with Wisconsin women who are at the mercy of Walker's agenda.

“Equal pay for women and the right to organize and join a Union are just a few of the reasons we are here today,” said Tom Millonzi, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 200 in Milwaukee.

Joining Millonzi at the rally were Local 200 President Tom Bennett and Business Representatives Steve Nelson and Randy Monroe.

The rally came in the midst of turmoil caused by Walker's heavy-handed crackdown on a group that comes to the Capitol every weekday to sing songs of protest against his union busting. More than a hundred people have been arrested on dubious charges and are insisting on jury trials to demonstrate the absurdity of their arrest.

The arrests include people who just watch, according to the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative.
As the arrests at the Solidarity Sing Along continued, the Capitol Police began warning people on the 1st and 2nd floors overlooking the ground floor rotunda that they were subject to arrest if they did not disperse, even when the individuals were not singing or clapping or participating in any way. When news started to spread that simply observing the unlawful assembly was cause for arrest and citation, outrage spread over the Capitol Police assertion that “spectators are considered participants,” many citizen journalists reported on these warnings, with one video of the warning getting over 60,000 views on youtube.
The crackdowns are re-energizing dissenters in Wisconsin.

Walker, who took away most collective bargaining rights for government workers, now says he'll go after police and firefighters' collective bargaining rights. A firefighter has been arrested at the Capitol and off-duty Madison police have joined the protest, the Cap Times reports.

Normal Stockwell wrote in The Cap Times that the Wisconsin protesters who are getting arrested in the Capitol are honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who was assassinated while supporting Memphis sanitation workers striking for the right to join AFSCME:
Today there is another struggle to recognize the rights and dignity of labor in the state of Wisconsin. Many of the workers who lost collective bargaining rights under Act 10 in 2011 were AFSCME workers, too. Since March of 2011, a loose group calling itself the Solidarity Sing Along has gathered inside or outside the Capitol to sing in solidarity with those workers who lost rights through the passage of Act 10. In recent weeks, arrests of those singers, their supporters and others simply observing have increased. Notable labor activists arrested have included David Newby, former president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

Where have America's wages gone?

America's wages have gone to greedy CEOs, a lot of whom are incompetent or crooks.

The Economic Policy Institute has just put out a study showing that most of the wealth created in this country has gone to the top one percent. As R.J. Eskow notes in the Huffington Post,
We don't have a problem of inadequate wealth. The problem is inadequate wealth distribution. For 99 percent of Americans, wage growth has lagged significantly behind increases in productivity. As the authors note, this is true "regardless of occupation, gender, race/ethnicity, or education level." Since the Great Recession productivity has grown by 7.7 percent, while wages have actually fallen for the bottom 70 percent of earners.
It isn't as if those one percenters deserve it. A devastating new report by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that 40 percent of the highest paid CEOs were either fired, bailed out or led companies that had to pay huge fines or settlements for breaking the law.

Eskow says it's hopeless to try to convince Republicans to do anything about the inequality destroying our country.
Republicans are a lost cause. The Republican Party platform of 1956 boasted of union growth and Social Security expansion under President Eisenhower. But that party is long gone and there's little likelihood it will ever return. Democrats can be pressured by their base, with its preponderance of working people. Republicans who primarily rely on billionaire and/or Tea Party support are largely insulated from that kind of pressure (although there may be some opportunities for populist grassroots alliances).
And he excoriates the so-called "centrist Democrats" who aid and abet billionaire-backed Republicans.
The word "centrist" is placed in quotation marks because polls show that their economic views are to the right of the American mainstream. On issues such as corporate taxation, Social Security benefits, and free trade, they stand to the right of most Americans -- and sometimes to the right of most registered Republicans. 
"Centrist" Dems actively participated in the deregulation of Wall Street, which led to runaway financialization of profits while putting the global economy at risk. They pushed free trade agreements that decimated American jobs (and failed to provide adequate rights for workers overseas), a practice which President Obama has continued. 
"Centrist" Dems remained silent as corporate leaders paid themselves constantly-inflating salaries and bonus packages, diluted shareholder oversight, and transformed corporations like GE from productive, job-creating entities into financial players fixated on quarterly results -- a fixation which has helped executive pay packages expand exponentially. 
He concludes:
It will take a grassroots uprising to redirect the thinking of the "centrist" Democrats toward economic equality.
The good news is that may be happening, given the thousands of workers who walked out on jobs at the ports, fast food restaurants and retail stores.

How to talk about low-wage strikers

Are you dreading the prospect of talking to your right-wing uncle over the Labor Day weekend?

When the subject of low-wage worker strikes comes up, here are things you can say in response to the predictable anti-worker arguments you'll hear:
  • "Those jobs are for high school kids and dropouts working part time. They don't deserve more money."  Actually most people working in low-wage service sectors like retail and fast-food are middle-age and working full time to support their families. The average age of workers filling low-wage job positions is 35 and more than a third of them are 40 or older. On average, they earn half of their family's income and 28 percent of them have kids.
  • "Well then they should get different jobs if they want more money. It's their fault for choosing to work crappy jobs that are supposed to be for teenagers." No, it isn't their fault because most of them didn't choose those jobs. They were forced into them by an economy being dominated by low-wage industries. By a three-to-one margin, high-skilled, good-paying jobs that have been lost due to recession and bad trade deals have been replaced by low-wage jobs in the service industry. Sixty percent of jobs lost in the recession were in middle-class occupations while 21 percent were in low-wage occupations. Since the recession, 58 percent of job growth has been in low-wage occupations while just 22 percent has been in middle-income level jobs. Do the math!
  • "Still, flipping burgers has always been a minimum wage job and that's the way it should be." Okay, but if we're paying workers based on inflation and productivity, then the minimum wage needs to be increased, too. Right now it stands at just $7.25 an hour and hasn't been increased since 2009. If the minimum wage kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.74. And if it kept up with the rise in productivity it would be $18.67. The annual income for a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage is $15,080 - well below the poverty line for a family of three or four.
  • "Paying low-wage workers more by increasing the minimum wage or giving them raises will hurt businesses and raise prices." Says who? While the CEOs of Walmart and fast-food corporations would love to pass the cost of higher wages on to consumers, they can well afford to pay their workers more. The top eight fast-food chains made $7.35 billion in profits last year. Walmart's CEO makes more in one hour than the average Walmart employee makes in a year. If the CEO of McDonald's -- who got a $4.1 million raise last year -- can take home $13.8 million a year, he can afford to pay workers more than poverty wages.
  • "Well, I'm not a fast-food worker so what they get paid doesn't impact me." Actually it does. The rising number of workers making low wages means more and more people have to turn to public assistance like food stamps and other welfare programs. They can't make ends mean when the only jobs available pay so little. Low wages at a single Walmart store can cost taxpayers up to $900,000 a year. So winning a living wage for workers in retail, fast-food, warehouse and other low-wage industries will save taxpayers tons of money. And let's not forget that higher pay usually means lower employee turnover and higher productivity for business. Plus, higher wages will boost consumer spending and strength local economies.
Finally, remind your right-wing relatives that Labor Day is about honoring workers -- ALL workers!

Today's Teamster News 08.30.13

Illinois Teamsters endorse Pat Quinn for governor  Teamsters Joint Council 25   ...Teamsters Joint Council 25 endorsed Pat Quinn for a second term as Illinois governor today in a press conference at the Chicago International Produce Market...
Teamsters Approve Contract Extension With DHL’s Air Express International  Transport Topics   ...Teamsters union workers employed by DHL subsidiary Air Express International have approved a one-year contract extension, the union said...
Fast food strikes go super-sized in clash over wages  CNBC   ...From San Diego to New York, workers stopped flipping burgers, frying fries, and slathering on secret sauce in what organizers called the largest strikes against the nation's fast food companies ever...
US Banks Earn Record $42.2B in 2nd Quarter  Associated Press   ...The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, up 23 percent from the second quarter of 2012. About 54 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings from a year earlier...
Teen employment hits record lows, suggesting lost generation  McClatchy   ...slightly more than three in 10 teens actually worked a summer job, out of a universe of roughly 16.8 million U.S. teens. “We have never had anything this low in our lives. This is a Great Depression for teens, and no time in history have we encountered anything like that,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston...
San Bernardino, California, eligible for bankruptcy: judge  Reuters   ...The tentative ruling came despite objections by the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers. The $260 billion pension fund is the city's biggest creditor...
NSA: fear of a black van  zdnet   ...Most of us are good citizens. And yet. What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?...
Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks, say scientists  The Guardian   ...Poor people spend so much mental energy on the immediate problems of paying bills and cutting costs that they are left with less capacity to deal with other complex but important tasks, including education, training or managing their time, suggests research published on Thursday...
Why is Sydney University on strike? Because students are not our 'clients' (opinion)  The Guardian   ...The ongoing commodification of higher education is just one facet of the disastrous hijacking of universities by corporate ideology. We are fighting this...
Colombia farmers' strikes spread to cities  3 News   ...Nationwide agricultural strikes are continuing in Colombia after more than a week of ongoing roadblocks, marches and clashes with the police. Protests have grown in size and intensity after the president, Juan Manuel Santos, denied a strike was happening...
No federal challenge to pot legalization in two states  CNN   ...Attorney General Eric Holder, in a conference call Thursday morning, notified the governors of Colorado and Washington that the department, for now, will not seek to pre-empt those states' laws, which followed voters' approval of ballot measures that legalized recreational marijuana use...
Nearly 40% of the Top Paid CEOs Bombed at Their Jobs  Economic Populist   ...Of those 500 who made the Wall Street Journal's top 25 highest paid Chief Executive Officer list, a whopping 38% were utter failures at their jobs...

Fast-food strikes shut down stores, penetrate the South

Fast-food workers on strike today continue to make history and they are showing their power in real time.

In Raleigh, N.C., Burger King offered to pay employees double to work today.

Tell that to those who doubt the effectiveness of striking, and tell that to those who insist fast-food giants can't afford to pay their workers a living wage.

Today's national fast-food workers strike has hit 60 cities around the country.

And like so many workers in America, Teamsters know that this fight isn't just about fast-food workers - it's about the dignity of all workers. That's why our brothers and sisters at Local 391 were out today supporting the fast-food strikers in Greensboro, N.C.

Workers have successfully shut down stories in many parts of the country, Reuters reports:
The strikes spread quickly across the country and have shut down restaurants in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Raleigh and Seattle, according to organizers.
In Madison, Wisc., almost 60 workers and supporters are outside a Dunkin Donuts chanting "$15 and a union! $7.25 has got to go!" Workers in Madison also shut down a Family Dollar story after walking out today.

Here's a sampling of reports on Twitter and Facebook to give you a flavor of what's been happening today:
St. Louis: STL Represent! RT @MOJwJ: Workers, community leaders just packed this STL @mcdonalds #829strike
New York: Fast food workers on strike today at McDonald's near Yankee Stadium in NYC #iamfastfood
San Francisco: Workers from 37 East Bay locations (Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, more!) are striking! #829strike
Boston: Another elected official out supporting workers on the strike lines in Boston!
Indianapolis: RT @829StrikeIndy: Indy on strike! at McDonalds. #829strike @fightfor15
Houston: "I'm at work more than I see my children, thats why I'm on strike" Burger King worker Luis Ortiz #829strike
New York: Clergy, community and workers will not be moved! View of sit-in at 5th Ave McDonald's in NYC at 6:30am this morning! 

We've also just gotten word that Rep. John Lewis is speaking to Atlanta fast-food workers on strike right now.

It's hard to overstate just how significant today's events are for fast-food workers and the overall movement among low-wage workers for better pay and rights on the job. Today's strikes are reaching every corner of the country, including the South.

Columbia University political science professor Dorian Warren was quoted saying that the inroads the strike movement is making today in the South is "a huge, huge deal":
The South has always been the model for low wage employment, from slavery to the Jim Crow laws, to the present. It's also the most anti-union part of the country, so the fact that workers feel empowered enough to take collective action is enormous.
The day is far from over for striking fast-food workers who will be protesting into the evening in many cities.

We'll soon know more about the full scope and impact of today's strikes. But it's safe to say that the living-wage movement in America has taken a huge step forward with today's walkouts.

Way to go, brothers and sisters! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teamsters endorse Pat Quinn for Illinois governor

Teamsters endorse Pat Quinn for governor of Illinois.
Cross-posting from Teamsters Joint Council 25:

Teamsters Joint Council 25 endorsed Pat Quinn for a second term as Illinois governor today in a press conference at the Chicago International Produce Market.

“Pat Quinn is the right choice for Governor of Illinois and he is the Teamsters’ choice to continue to move our state forward,” said John T. Coli, President of Joint Council 25. “As Illinois’ “Jobs Governor,” Pat Quinn is supporting legislation to protect jobs for working families — from the $31 billion capital bill enacted in 2009 to nearly 700 project labor agreements he’s signed since being elected. No political leader is looking out for workers more than Pat Quinn.”

The Illinois Jobs Now capital bill signed in 2009 was the largest in the state’s history, aimed at generating more than 439,000 jobs over six years. Gov. Quinn also signed a $12 billion capital plan to modernize the Illinois Tollway, which has supported Teamster workers and approximately 120,000 direct jobs.

In August 2012, Gov. Quinn signed House Bill 4029 into law to support Illinois school bus drivers by encouraging higher safety standards in awarding public school bus contracts. This summer, the governor supported new legislation as well to recognize emergency patrol drivers with the Illinois Department of Transportation as emergency responders.

In May, Gov. Quinn also joined the Teamsters at its annual Unity Conference to denounce right-to-work legislation, which has negatively impacted union workers in neighboring states.

“As an advocate of Illinois labor, Pat Quinn has the experience to continue to fight for workers across our state,” Coli said. “With corporate interests and misguided legislators adversely affecting our political process, Pat Quinn is the leader Illinois needs for the long road ahead.”

Teamsters Joint Council 25 represents more than 125,000 hardworking men and women throughout Illinois and northwest Indiana.

Fast food strikes continue to sweep the nation

Today’s national fast-food workers strike is going strong with reports rolling in from more cities joining the protests.

Organizers say the walkouts have spread to 60 cities:
Alameda, CA; Atlanta; Aurora, CO; Austin, TX; Ballwin, MO; Belleville, Ill; Berkeley, CA; Bloomington, Ill; Boston; Charlotte; Chicago; Columbia, MO; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Durham; East St. Louis, Ill; Flint; Fremont, CA; Greensboro; Gretna, LA; Hartford; Hayward, CA; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, MO; Lansing; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Madison, WI; Manchester, CT; Memphis; Milwaukee; Missoula, MT; Newark, CA; New Orleans; New York; Northglenn, CO; North Las Vegas; Oakland; Richmond, CA; Peoria; Phoenix; Pontiac, MI; Raleigh; Richmond, CA; San Diego; San Leandro, CA; San Lorenzo, CA.; Seattle; Springfield, Ill; St. Louis; Tacoma, WA; Tampa; Topeka, KS; Wausau, WI; West Haven, CT; and Wilmington, DE.
The workers are not alone. Many Teamsters across the country are standing in solidarity with strikers, including UPS Teamsters in Atlanta this morning.

UPS Teamster David Allen supporting fast food workers
Elected officials are linking arms with fast-food workers on the picket line, too. Rep. Jan Schakowsky joined striking workers in Chicago this morning.

The impact of the strikes is being felt in Michigan: 
It's only 10 a.m. in the Motor City, but striking fast food employees say they've already gained a victory. CBS Radio reports that a McDonald's restaurant located at Eight Mile Road and Lahser closed this morning after workers walked off the job.
According to reports on social media, employees at other McDonald's locations and a Church's Chicken in the city, as well as a Checkers restaurant in nearby Lincoln Park, Mich. A spokesman for organizing group D15 told The Huffington Post that fast-food employees are also striking Thursday in Pontiac, Lansing and Flint.
A St. Louis activist tweeted this morning:
A 2nd location shut down at 7am RT @LowPayIsNotOK Workers shut down this McDonald's in STL 
New York Times columnist Steven Greenhouse writes on Twitter:
Organizers say fast-food strikes have spread to 60 cities. Here in St Louis, shutdown of a Hardees counter
And Tiffany Hsu from the Los Angeles Times tweeted
#FastFoodStrike - dozens march outside a South LA #BurgerKing at the crack of dawn for $15/hr minimum wage
In Chicago, there are reports on Twitter of workers outside the iconic downtown Rock N' Roll McDonald's.

And here’s a picture of a father in New Orleans on strike for his kids.

The Low Pay is Not Okay Facebook page includes comments from workers in more than 30 cities that have joined today’s #829Strike – and the day isn’t halfway over yet!

Today’s labor protests build on walkouts in July that took place in several cities, with dozens of more cities expanding the reach of the strikes to the West Coast and into the South. The momentum of the fast-food workers’ movement and low-wage workers’ struggle in general is growing fast.

Today is shaping up to be a historic day in the labor fight for raises and rights on the job. We’ll keep you posted on strike developments throughout the day.

Keep standing strong, brothers and sisters!

Right-to-work sucks ... for Boeing

Remember when Boeing, that government contractor that offshores work to other countries, decided to move production to South Carolina, a No Rights at Work state, in order to bust the union? Guess how well that has worked out for the aerospace giant. Not so good.

The Puget Sound Business Journal tells us Boeing has found a less productive labor force:
Boeing’s South Carolina facility is running behind projections and won’t make its goal of producing three 787 Dreamliners a month by the end of 2013. In fact, the Everett plant will have to make up the difference in order for the company to reach its overall goal of 10 jetliners a month by year’s end.
Some of the comments at the end of the Business Journal story are priceless. Mark Costas from Kansas City, Mo., writes:
Boeing decision makers continue to lie about the true speed and quality of work in Charleston. They continue to attempt to convince the public it was a wise decision to build that plant. Every single section of airplane that arrives in Everett from Charleston needs rework. Everett employees have to redo the work that Charleston botches and then still build the planes to meet the rate increases. You NEVER hear the media fawn over Everett because Boeing and Nikki Haley don't want the truth to get out. Trust me, you do NOT want to put your family on a 787 that is built entirely in Charleston. 
John A. Totten from Miami University writes:
Is anybody familiar with aircraft production surprised at all by this? Boeing needs to transfer people to SC that KNOW what they're doing although I suspect it 's a case of remedial education that's the problem. Pulling shrimp out of the bay doesn't teach you a lot about micrometers and dial indicators. 
And from Coetug Morgan:
Of course they are behind. It is a" right to work for less state" which means not only can you work for less as the boss decides but also do less.
Bill Dow at the Economic Opportunity Institute writes:
Washington’s Boeing machinists and assembly line workers are some of the best in the world because our state has the infrastructure to support their training, certification and long-term employment. The skills, awareness and experience from years of work in the industry are held partly by individual workers, but also in a local network of relationships, trust and everyday interactions in the workplace. This is clear to workers and managers close to the factory, but less so to executives in offices 2,000 miles away. Washington’s competitive edge in aerospace has even led Airbus, Boeing’s major global competitor, to consider opening a Washington engineering center
Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas stated at the 2013 Paris Air Show, “We are attracted to Washington state for the same reason we were attracted to Wichita. That’s where the talent is. If you want to have access to the talent that developed over the last 100 years of aviation, Washington is very fertile ground.” 
Put simply, we know how to do aerospace in Washington and we do it well. Aerospace unions are a central part of that. Maybe, just maybe, Boeing will realize now that union-busting isn’t just bad for their workers’ bottom lines, but their own as well.

Fast food strikes in 58 cities in continuing wave of labor unrest

Atlanta Teamsters today marching on a McDonald's
in support of strikers.
UPDATES graf 3 to CORRECT Eidelson story at Salon, sted Nation

The biggest fast food strike in history is taking place right now as thousands of workers in 58 cities walked off the job at restaurants like McDonald's, Burger King and Taco Bell. They are protesting retaliation by their employers for trying to form a union.

The fast food strikes follow the first-ever one-day strike by L.A. port truck drivers seeking to join the Teamsters. More labor unrest is expected in the coming weeks as American workers are fed up with predatory CEOs who loot the profit from corporations while their workers' wages stagnate or decline.

Josh Eidelson at Salon reports:
Fast food workers today plan to mount one-day walkouts against nearly a thousand stores in over fifty cities — the largest-ever mobilization against their growing, low-wage, non-union industry, which until last fall had never faced a substantial U.S. strike. The work stoppage comes four weeks after a four-day, seven-city strike wave in which organizers say thousands walked off the job. 
Today, the strikes – which started with a single-city November work stoppage in New York — are expected to hit several cities. In each city – from Los Angeles to Peoria – workers are demanding a raise to $15 an hour, and the chance to form a union without intimidation by their boss. 
“I’m not a kid,” Raleigh, North Carolina, Little Caesar’s worker Julio Wilson told Salon. Rather, he said, “I am a single father, I have a daughter with special needs that needs attending to on a daily basis.” He said many of his co-workers and their families “need to be compensated to be able to live.”
Teamsters and union members are extremely supportive of the strikes. In Atlanta, Teamsters from Local 728 marched on a McDonald's in solidarity with the workers. Here are some comments from Facebook:
Kevin Abate Local 194 New Jersey{ Retired }Good Luck It's worth it. 
Mike Hopson Railroad workers are behind you! Mike from BLET 
Sam Gay Steamfitters local 486 are behind you. Hold the line! 
Jamil Burgos Teamsters local 63 "Good luck!" 
Jon Richardson Good luck guys Teamsters Local 89

Today's Teamster News 08.29.13

Latest ABF Update -- Aug. 28, 2013   ...ABF Teamsters approved five of the seven remaining supplements, while two did not pass...
Wave of Low-Wage Worker Strikes Hits LA Ports  In These Times   ...Port truck drivers went on a 24-hour strike early Monday evening to protest alleged union-busting by Green Fleet, one of the port’s biggest trucking companies. The Green Fleet drivers say that the company harassed and intimidated workers who were trying to organize with the Teamsters...
Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest  Washington Post   ...Since 2010, lower-wage jobs like food preparation and personal care have grown fast. So have high-end jobs in management, finance and health care. But a number of middle-class occupations, particularly teaching and construction, have continued to decline...
Working Poor Have Dimming Faith In Economic Mobility, Policymakers, Survey Finds  Huffington Post   ...America's working poor value the work they do and have high hopes for their children's futures -- even though most believe it's now easier to fall out of the middle class than to rise into it, according to a new survey produced by Oxfam America...
New Census Numbers Show Recession’s Effect on Families  New York Times   ...The analysis also found that the recession profoundly affected American families from 2005 to 2011, resulting in a 15 percent decline in homeownership among households with children and a 33 percent increase in households where at least one parent was unemployed...
Executive Excess 2013: Bailed Out, Booted, and Busted  Institute for Policy Studies   ...Chief executives performing poorly — and blatantly so — have consistently populated the ranks of our nation’s top-paid CEOs over the last two decades...
WI Capitol Police Crackdown on Dissent: What You Wouldn’t Know From Reading Wisconsin’s Newspapers  Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative   ...Since Wednesday, July 24th the Wisconsin Capitol Police have arrested over 150 people, issuing over 300 citations. The arrests have been made for participating in the two-year tradition of singing at the Capitol from noon to 1pm...
Why is Gov. Scott Walker hiding health care prices? (opinion)  Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel   ...I am surprised by Gov. Scott Walker's decision to hide insurance rates for the health plans about to be sold in Wisconsin's online exchange. What is Walker hiding?...
Norman Stockwell: Arrests here show King's fight for worker rights far from over (opinion)  The Cap Times   ...Today there is another struggle to recognize the rights and dignity of labor in the state of Wisconsin. .. Notable labor activists arrested have included David Newby, former president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO...
Energy from Moral Mondays fuels Franklin Street rally  The Daily Tar Heel    ...The N.C. NAACP-sponsored rally, which occurred simultaneously with a dozen other rallies statewide, was a continuation of a summer of activism and protest at the N.C. General Assembly...
North Carolina Republicans Escalate Attack on Student Voting  The Nation   ...Hours after passing the country’s worst voter suppression law, North Carolina Republicans escalated their attempts to prevent students from participating in the political process...
Fast-Food Strikes Set for Cities Nationwide  Associated Press   ...Organizers say thousands of fast-food workers are set to stage walkouts in dozens of cities around the country Thursday, part of a push to get chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's to pay workers higher wages...
Frackers slash billions in payments to landowners  Philadelphia Inquirer   ...Report: Thousands are receiving far less money than they were promised by energy companies to use their properties. Some are being paid virtually nothing...
First Nations loses bid to block Canada-China FIPA treaty  CBC News   ...The Federal Court has dismissed an application by an aboriginal band in British Columbia to stay the Canada-China investment treaty until First Nations have been consulted...
How Depraved Money Hungry Media Is Distorting What We See, and Messing with the Country  Alternet   ...Three recent stories that drive home the sorry state of the media...
Survey: Banking industry's reputation is nearly as bad as that of Congress; BofA ranks last  Los Angeles Times   ...Five years after the financial crisis, the Reputation Institute survey said banking has a worse reputation than Big Pharma, news outlets, oil companies and telecommunications firms -- though not so bad as Congress...
How an Insular Beltway Elite Makes Wars of Choice More Likely  The Atlantic   ...Intervention in Syria is extremely, undeniably unpopular...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Housing problems still not solved, 50 years later

Today is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Marchers, including Teamsters from across the country, gathered in Washington, DC to call attention to civil rights issues, especially the need for good jobs for all people.  This series focuses on how well (or not) our society has met the 50-year-old demands of the marchers. So far, we’ve discussed the decline of the minimum wages, gaps in labor law protections, underwhelming federal focus on job training programs, and the impact of continuing segregation in schools.

Between the struggle for better jobs and political freedom was a fight that hit closer to home.

Marchers demanded access to equal housing opportunities, as African-Americans across the country struggled to find affordable and safe housing equivalent to the options that white households had.

They demanded that the president sign “an Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds” and that decent housing would be guaranteed to all Americans in a “comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress.”

Discriminatory housing was so prevalent across the country that a satellite protest for the March on Washington in Seattle focused exclusively on expanding open housing.

In response to public pressure, both demands were met – and exceeded. The Civil Rights Act was expanded in 1968 to guard against racial, sexist, religious, and other forms of discrimination in all sectors of the housing market. Various executive orders have also strengthened the federal government’s commitment to ending housing discrimination. Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Program focuses on providing equal access to housing for all Americans.

Although housing discrimination is now illegal, segregated communities are commonplace, especially in denser areas. Cities have been devastated by the housing crisis that began with banks' predatory lending and concluded with aggressive, often illegal foreclosures. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition reports that more than 10.5 million properties went into foreclosure in the 53 months beginning January 1, 2007. And,
...up to 12 million more foreclosures were projected from the fourth quarter of 2008 to 2014... .As of December 12, 2010, 1,762,694 borrowers were seriously delinquent (i.e., over 60 days delinquent, or over 30 days delinquent in case of bankruptcy) ... The total equity lost by families with recently foreclosed properties is estimated at $5.6 trillion... In addition, an estimated $502 billion in property value has been lost due to nearby foreclosures.... The effects of the economic crisis have been enormous, both nationally and globally, and the confidence Americans once had in homeownership as a path to wealth has been shaken. Current and future generations will be impacted for decades to come.
Fifty years after protesting for an end to housing discrimination in the city, a 2011 fair housing test in Seattle found that over half of the properties tested showed evidence of illegal discrimination. Two-thirds of properties gave better terms to white homebuyers and renters.

The US Department of Justice says on its website that:
Race discrimination in housing continues to be a problem. The majority of the Justice Department's pattern or practice cases involve claims of race discrimination. Sometimes, housing providers try to disguise their discrimination by giving false information about availability of housing, either saying that nothing was available or steering homeseekers to certain areas based on race.Because potential homeowners are often not aware of the manipulation, it becomes very difficult to fight the discrimination.
Regardless of how illegal housing discrimination has been for decades, race is still more predictive of housing status than income.

African-American, American Indian, and Latino children are between six and nine times more likely than white children to live in areas with a high concentration of poverty.

Forty-five percent of black children live in areas where over one in three people live in poverty, while only 12 percent of white children live in similar areas.

The effects are very clear. Neighborhoods with high levels of poverty have fewer educational opportunities, higher crime rates and higher costs for private investment and businesses – exactly where families do not want to live.

Continued housing discrimination, especially a generation after the government supposedly solved it, is a disgrace. It is time to march again.

200K strike against trade in Colombia as TPP fears mount

An astonishing 200,000 Colombian workers have been on strike for the past 10 days against unfair trade, privatization and poverty. It's the latest sign that the world is awakening to the dangers of the latest job-killing trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In Colombia, farmers, dairy workers, miners, health care workers and students are striking to protest falling living standards caused by trade. At the forefront are farmers, who warn that competition from subsidized U.S. agribusiness is plunging them into extreme poverty.

The Miami Herald reported: 
The agrarian strike, as it’s known, is broad-based and far-flung. Coffee, cacao, potato and rice farmers have joined ranks with cargo truckers, gold miners and others. Teachers and labor unions are also joining in. Their demands are equally ample, calling for reduced fuel and fertilizer prices, the cancellation of free trade agreements, increased subsidies and the end of a crackdown on informal mining operations, among others.
Dave Johnson, writing for the Campaign for America’s Future, notes the strike highlights the failure of the Colombian trade deal -- and serves as a warning about the TPP:
A huge new trade deal is coming up soon. This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), called by some the “mother of all free-trade deals” and by others the “Corporate Deathstar.” It is a job-loss runaway train that is coming straight at us.
Congress and the public are waking up to the threat posed by the TPP, where talks are getting underway in Brunei with the U.S. and about a dozen Pacific Rim nations, including Vietnam. Earlier this week, Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman saying he wants to discuss Vietnam’s tolerance of worker abuse, including child slavery.

Hoffa asked how the United States plans to proceed with trade talks in light of a recent Department of Labor finding that showed solid evidence of child slavery in Vietnam's garment factories, as well as a report that detailed abhorrent working conditions. Hoffa wrote that a letter sent by Rep. GeorgeMiller to Froman last month raised many issues that need to be answered:
I take this opportunity to echo [Miller’s] good questions and support his request for you to describe what specific steps the Administration is prepared to take to ensure that Vietnam can comply with the basic labor rights that we take for granted in the U.S.
Hoffa also noted reports that showed the U.S. trade deficit during the first half of 2013 fell from $227 billion to $225 billion, a good sign for working Americans. But he added that the Teamsters and others are concerned that enactment of the TPP could reverse that trend.

Maybe the message is starting to sink in. Froman said late last week that the U.S. would not be pushed into completing the trade pact until it is satisfied with the deal:
We are not rushing into an agreement to meet any particular deadline.
An anti-TPP rally is planned in Montreal tomorrow, and American labor unions are urging their members to write their representative in Congress to oppose the deal. The TPP will pass unless YOU act now. Just click here to send an email.

Tomorrow’s low-wage worker strikes continue King’s fight for good jobs

Today thousands have descended on Washington, D.C, to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington. Tomorrow hundreds of fast-food workers will strike in cities across the country in an ongoing movement to win the demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And just yesterday, truck drivers at the Port of L.A. staged the first-ever one-day strike to protest retaliation for trying to form a union.

Speakers at today’s commemoration in D.C. are paying homage to Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. But 50 years later, King’s dream of economic and racial justice is still just a dream for thousands of working-class Americans who are jobless or stuck in low-wage jobs.

As we have reported here, one of the demands of the March on Washington was “A national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living.” Organizers in 1963 said “anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this.” That’s the equivalent of $15.27 an hour today.

Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour shows just how little economic justice has been won since King led the March on Washington

General President Jim Hoffa wrote this week in the Huffington Post,
Millions of solid middle-class jobs disappeared during the last decade because of the recession and unfair trade agreements. By a three-to-one margin, they have been replaced by those in low-wage occupations. Jobs that used to be the first step in the economic ladder for teenagers and college students are now filled by adults trying to pay their bills. 
And all of this is happening when the nation's corporations are doing better than ever. Sales are going through the roof while workers are being forced into untenable situations.
The demand for better jobs with living wages and dignity in the workplace is inseparable from the spirit that moved 250,000 people to march on Washington 50 years ago. While many of the formal barriers to racial equality have fallen since then, the economic barriers that keep so many Americans living at or near the poverty line are as strong as ever.

And the erosion of the achievements made by King’s struggle is multi-layered. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act earlier this summer, it put its stamp of approval on voter suppression laws that protect corporate power against workers and the poor.

"The fierce urgency of now” that King talked about in his “I Have A Dream” speech continues to inspire the bravery of low-wage workers who have been waging aggressive strikes in the fast-food, retail, trucking, and warehouse industries.

Increasingly…we are seeing workers stand up for their rights. Walkouts have become commonplace. They know they are getting a raw deal and are revolting. Whether it's one-day strikes by warehouse, retail and fast-food workers or on-going protests in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, the American public is demanding to be heard.  
People are joining together to raise awareness about the plight of low-wage workers in this country. And more and more each day are realizing the unfairness of the system.
The Teamsters are supporting the port truck drivers in L.A. who returned to work today after a successful one-day strike yesterday against Green Fleet Systems. They are part of the broad movement that includes workers at Walmart, warehouses, government contractors and fast-food chains.

Five years after the original March on Washington, King launched the “Poor People’s Campaign,” which he saw as the second phase of the civil rights movement. The campaign included demands for an “economic bill of rights” and living wages for all workers.

King was assassinated later that year in Memphis while supporting striking sanitation workers, some of whom made as little as 65 cents an hour.

Standing in this proud tradition, fast-food workers will strike in cities nationwide tomorrow, demanding a $15 an hour wage and the right to organize without retaliation.

These workers won’t be speaking from the stage at the National Mall today, but they are the real heroes honoring the legacy of King. They are confronting the powerful forces that continue to stand in the way of King’s dream – forces that include political and corporate bosses who pretend to celebrate the March on Washington while at the same time dismissing the demands of low-wage workers

If King were still alive, today he would march. But tomorrow he would be out on the picket line with fast-food workers.

Top 10 Things Never Said by Teamsters (VIDEO)

UPDATE: We got the clip!

Our theatrical brothers and sisters from Local 817 in New York appeared on Late Night With David Letterman last night, delivering the Top Ten Things Never Said by Teamsters. We're still hunting for the actual video clip, but in the meantime we bring you the transcript: 
10. "Does anyone know how to drive stick?"
9. "Who wants a Skinnygirl Margarita?"
8. "Overtime Schovertime"
7. "Sorry I'm late -- I was up all night twerking"
6. "Have a Teamster-ific day!"
5. "I get to meet Letterman AND Anderson Cooper? Pinch me"
4. "Hey, boss, mind if I work on Labor Day?"
3. "Where can I meet a nice, burly fellow?" (Woman)
2. "Where can I meet a nice, burly fellow?" (Man)
1. "Thank YOU, Trump University"
Way to go, brothers and sisters!

Today's Teamster News 08.28.13

Hundreds rally for justice at LA port   ... Port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles lead a march back to work to return to their jobs following a 24-hour Unfair Labor Practice strike on Monday against their employer, Green Fleet Systems (GFS)...
Rental car workers at Seattle airport join Teamsters   ...On Aug. 26 workers at GCA Services Group joined Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, Wash. The employees who voted 91-44 in favor of Teamster representation are shuttle drivers, responsible for shuttling rental cars and other vehicles at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport...
Deputies vote to join Teamsters  Sun Journal   ...In a near-unanimous vote, Oxford County Sheriff's Office deputies have chosen to join Teamsters Union Local 340...
Teamsters at Air Express International Approve One-Year Contract Extension   ...Teamsters employed by Air Express International (AEI) have overwhelmingly approved a one-year contract extension that protects health, welfare and pension benefits and provides a $750 bonus...
Living Wage Now!  Huffington Post   ...workers are looking to organize in an effort to earn a living wage that helps pay for the daily staples like food, housing and clothing for their families...
Workers Of America Are Getting Screwed  Business Insider   ...most low-wage workers are employed by large corporations that have been enjoying healthy profits. Three-quarters of these employers (the fifty biggest employers of low-wage workers) are raking in higher revenues now than they did before the recession...
Colombia Nationwide Strike Against 'Free Trade,' Privatization, Poverty  Common Dreams   ...Ignored by English-language media, rural uprisings spread across industries as hundreds of thousands protest US-backed govt...
Martin Luther King's Dream yet to become reality in US  BBC News   ...No-one here doubts that racism is still a reality in the United States...
Moral Monday protests come to Greensboro on Wednesday  News-Record   ...The Moral Monday protests against the Republican-held General Assembly went on for months in Raleigh, leading to more than 900 arrests. Wednesday, they continue in Greensboro as Moral Wednesday...
Racketeering Then and Racketeering Now  Too Much Online   ...deregulation has spawned on Wall Street an entire new generation of fabulously rich racketeers...
Bank CEO Admits To Using Bailout Money To Buy A Luxury Condo In Florida  Business Insider   ...Darryl Layne Woods, the former CEO of a Missouri bank, admitted in court yesterday to using financial crisis...
JP Morgan trader wanted by U.S. on massive fraud charges arrested in Spain  AFP   ...Police in Spain arrested a former trader of banking giant JP Morgan who is wanted by the United States to face criminal charges in a massive fraud case, officials said...
How is Privatization Failing America?  Real News   ... ALEC, (is behind the) ... greater and greater push for corporate interests to privatize areas of society that have been under the public sector banner, as well as a continued effort to further deregulate already private sector areas...
The NSA is losing the benefit of the doubt  Washington Post   ...“The court is troubled that the government’s revelations . . . mark the third instance in less than three years in which the government has disclosed a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program,” Bates wrote in Footnote 14...
Study: Indiana personal income lags behind US  Evansville Courier & Press   ... Indiana's average personal income lags more than a decade behind the income levels enjoyed by the nation as a whole, a new Ball State University study has found...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Breaking: LA port truck drivers to return to work after first-ever 24-hour strike!

Port drivers talking to Green Fleet Systems about returning to work. 
L.A. port truck drivers will return to work after a historic 24-hour strike ended against trucking company Green Fleet Systems. Discussions with management were tense, but now the drivers know they will be back at work tomorrow morning.

Upon hearing the news, the hundreds of supporters who turned out at company headquarters went wild with exuberant cheers. 

The drivers struck to protest unfair labor practices by Green Fleet’s management, including unlawful anti-union retaliation, harassment and intimidation.

They walked back to Green Fleet, escorted by faith leaders, to discuss their return. At first they were told they had to have an appointment to talk with managers. Eventually discussions led to an agreement.

Shortly after the drivers announced that they would return to work, hundreds of their supporters rallied in front of Green Fleet’s headquarters in Carson, Calif.

The short, sudden port truck driver strike will be followed by more job actions by low-wage workers around the country. Fast-food workers in more than 30 U.S. cities are planning to walk off the job on Thursday, and it is likely more short strikes in other industries will follow.
Port truck drivers preparing to walk back to work

Workers are taking back Labor Day, fighting for dignity and a shot at the American dream.
In California, port drivers sent a message to Green Fleet Systems president and owner Gary Mooney that they won’t let the company or its expensive union-busters scare them from building their union. Today’s strike was a big step forward for port drivers and workers everywhere.

Though low-wage retail and fast-food workers have captured the nation’s attention, port drivers, too, are forced to work under deplorable conditions and for low wages. Sometimes they work 60 hours a week but still can’t make ends meet.  Most port drivers are unjustly misclassified as “independent contractors” so trucking companies can pass business expenses on to them and avoid paying them for hours worked.

The tense wait.
Misclassified drivers in California are trying to win back their stolen wages by filing hundreds of claims with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. They are also continuing the fight to be fairly classified as employee drivers.

Port truck drivers who are employees are also fighting back. Port drivers for the Toll Group won their first union contract in January, winning significant improvements for their families and on the job. It was the first union contract signed by port truck drivers in 30 years. Since Green Fleet drivers joined the fight, the company retaliated against them with tactics that Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board has alleged are violations of the federal labor law. Green Fleet drivers struck to protest these unfair labor practices.

LA port truck drivers on strike picket Green Fleet trucks

L.A. port strike still going strong
The L.A. port strike at Green Fleet Systems is still going strong as drivers look forward to a large rally at the company headquarters in Carson, Calif., this afternoon.

Teams of striking L.A. port truck drivers are following Green Fleet Systems’ trucks and picketing them when they stop to deliver at distribution centers, including the Skechers facility in Moreno Valley. Striking L.A. port truck drivers have picketed scabs everywhere they deliver during the 24-hour strike that began last evening at 5 pm.
They want to be Teamsters!

Delegations of port drivers and their supporters from laity and the community have delivered demand letters to the corporate headquarters of Skechers, Green Fleet’s most lucrative customer. They have also dropped letters at Pacific Enterprise Bank, the company’s main bank. Their message: Green Fleet workers will not allow the company to violate their right to form a union. They demand an end to anti-union harassment and intimidation from their company and its hired union busters.

We imagine Gary Mooney, Green Fleet’s president and owner, is reaching for the Advil.

The picket line is still standing strong. Earlier today, Labor Community Services of the LA County Federation of Labor distributed food donations for the strikers and their families. Teamsters are walking the mass rally.
Food donations for the striking port drivers.
line with the drivers. At 3 pm. hundreds of supporters will gather at the gates of Green Fleet’s main facility in Carson, Calif., for the

The L.A. port truck driver strike is just the first in a series of actions across the country by workers fed up with their employers’ abuse. Short, fast-food strikes are planned for Thursday in more than 30 cities. Thousands of workers, newly committed to providing a better future for their families and their coworkers, will likely join in similar actions around Labor Day.

Teamster organizing victory in Washington!

Please welcome our 160 new brothers and sisters who shuttle rental cars for GCA Services Group at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They voted 91-44 on Monday to join Teamsters Local 117 in Tukwila, Wash.

The rental car workers have been organizing for over six months to become Teamsters and win respect from management. Leonard Smith, organizing director at Local 117, says the victory will inspire other low-wage non-union workers at the airport:
This victory is an exciting step forward for all workers at the Seattle Airport. It’s an example of how working together and sticking together truly pays off. By uniting for respect and dignity, the workers are showing other employees at the airport that they can come together and fight to improve their lives.
Smith says that many workers at the airport are employed by companies like GCA, which is a contractor for Avis. These workers lack job security and are paid minimum wage. The GCA workers are setting an example for other Seattle airport workers by standing up for higher wages, benefits and paid sick days.
In its press release on the victory, Local 117 explained that the GCA campaign is connected to the broader movement to secure higher pay for low-wage workers:
The campaign for Teamster representation at GCA – which included help from organizers at Teamsters Local 174, SEIU and Working Washington – is part of an ongoing coalition effort among local unions and community groups organizing to win better working conditions for employees at the Seattle Airport.
The coalition has been working to organize non-union airport workers employed by contractors like GCA and others. In conjunction with other national campaigns to demand higher pay for low-wage workers, the coalition is pushing a ballot initiative in SeaTac, Wash., to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15.
Tracey Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117, says the organizing win sets the stage for pushing up standards for other workers at the airport:
We are pleased to welcome these hardworking and dedicated workers who are so vital to the rental car operations of GCA. We look forward to representing them and helping them win a first contract that sets higher standards for them and other workers at the airport.
The GCA workers in Seattle join hundreds of other rental car workers at Hertz, Avis and Budget who also belong to Local 117.