By Jesse Russell
A new record was set in September as existing home sales plummeted by eight percent. The decline was the largest since 1999 and as a result home prices also continue to fall. A 4.5 percent decrease had been projected by economists. Struggling credit and mortgage markets continue to bear the brunt of the blame. The number of homes now sitting on the market has risen to 4.4 million units. Economists are now projecting that at the end of the year the country will see its first decline in home prices on record.
That chill in the air for may low-income families is more than just winter, it is also the wind from the President’s veto pen slashing funds. Jesse Russell reports:
Just in time for winter one point one million households could be dropped from a program that provides struggling Americans with assistance on their energy. President George W. Bush is seeking to nearly cut in half the Labor, Health, and Human Services appropriations bill. According to the Energy Information Administration the average household could pay 22 percent more in home heating oil this year. The bill contains the government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance program which, even without pushes axe, already only covers 16 percent of the 38 million low income households that are eligible. The funding for the program has changed very little since it was created by Congress in 1981. The annual budget is $2.18 billion and the White House is seeking to trim it down to $1.78 billion starting October 1. Meanwhile the House of Representatives has passed legislation that would boost funding to $2.66 billion. In order to keep up with inflation since the early 80s funding would need to be increased to $4.2 billion.
By Doug Cunningham
Four thousand UAW workers in six states are on strike against International Truck And Engine. The UAW struck the maker of Navistar trucks over unfair labor practices.
The UAW says ITE has violated labor laws and the UAW’s contract. “International Truck and Engine has shredded our agreement, shipped
our work out of the country, and trampled our nation’s labor laws,”
said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “When UAW members are on strike
for justice anywhere, they have the support of UAW members everywhere
and our entire union is standing shoulder to shoulder with our members
By Doug Cunningham
Bill Parker, the UAW’s Chrysler national negotiating Committee Chair, is dead set against the tentative deal at Chrysler and it’s lower wages for new hires.
[Parker 1]: “The UAW has in many ways embodied the gains of the New Deal and industrial unionism from the ’30′s forward. And now in many ways we’re retreating from that. And I don’t see abandoning what industrial unionism and the New Deal has meant for progress in the United States.”
Parker wants solid job security guarantees from Chrysler. He says this concessionary tentative agreement are a huge blow to industrial unionism and the U.S. middle class.
A dozen Democratic senators and one Independent paved the way for Mississippi Judge Leslie Southwick—whose judicial record is marked with one anti-worker, pro-business decision after another—to take a lifetime seat on the of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
By joining with all 49 Republican senators in the 62–35 vote to end debate on Southwick’s nomination, the 13 lawmakers gave President Bush what he long has sought for the Fifth Circuit—an out-of-the mainstream, anti-worker jurist opposed by the nation’s civil rights community. After voting to end the Southwick debate, three of the 13 senators voted against confirmation, which passed by a 59–38 count.
Bernard Pollack, AFL-CIO field coordinator, is working on the union movement’s campaign to elect a working family-friendly governor in Kentucky. Last week, he joined AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff and 153 union members and allies in a labor luncheon with workers at Ohio Valley Aluminum Co. who are seeking to form a union with the United Steelworkers. Nurses on strike at Appalachian Regional Healthcare hospitals also took part.
United Steelworkers (USW) member Harold Johnson worked for 33 years as a truck driver for Ohio Valley Aluminum Co. (OVACO). During our luncheon at the UAW hall in Louisville last week, Johnson talked about the heavy opposition he and his co-workers faced in trying to form a union, including letters sent to the house, mandatory anti-worker meetings, movies and other intimidation tactics.
Two airline industry unions have merged. The executive board of the Air Line Pilots (ALPA) yesterday unanimously approved the merger agreement between ALPA and The Aviators Group (TAG), which will go into effect Nov. 1.
TAG, an independent union comprised of more than 250 Evergreen International Airlines crew members, voted in September to merge with ALPA. Oregon-based Evergreen specializes in charter and contract freighter operations around the globe.
Rachele Huennekens, AFL-CIO Media Outreach fellow, is blogging and leafleting her way through the third day of a 10-day bus tour through Kentucky, where Steve Beshear is challenging Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), who has canceled bargaining rights for state employees, privatized Kentucky’s Medicaid program and taken other anti-worker stands. Dozens of local labor leaders and union volunteers are taking part in the Bluegrass Express tour.
As the Bluegrass Express bus tour continued to roll through Kentucky on Tuesday, a quick change of plans relocated our afternoon leaflet stops from Madisonville to Paducah, in far-western Kentucky. Although western Kentucky often is seen as an area that’s less than friendly toward unions, bus volunteer Jeff Wiggins, who is president of the Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council, treated me, Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan and AFL-CIO Field Representative Don Slaiman to a very different glimpse of the rich history of the area’s labor movement.
The city of Paducah has a mile-long mural painted along a flood wall next to the Ohio River. In 2004, artist Herb Roe added a panel depicting the city’s annual Labor Day parade, which was first held in 1892. The mural depicts a parade in the mid 1970s with a massive crowd of local labor activists, including W.C. Young carrying a giant “Solidarity” banner through the city’s streets.
Young, who hailed from Paducah, and died in 1996, was a nationally known labor and civil rights leader. He began as a member of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks in 1941, when Jim Crow racial segregation and discrimination were the law and the social order in western Kentucky. Throughout his life, Young worked tirelessly to change this state of affairs, dedicating himself to the common causes of organized labor and the civil rights. He was a leader in the NAACP, the A. Philip Randolph Institute and the AFL-CIO’s Committee on Political Education and journeyed to South Africa in the 1990s to protest apartheid.
Today, some 28,280 home child care providers have a voice on the job after voting almost unanimously for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)/AFT in the largest successful organizing drive in New York City in nearly 50 years.
UFT President Randi Weingarten says by joining the union, the workers, who care for 100,000 of the city’s poorest children, will receive training that will help them play a pivotal role in teaching and providing better care for the next generation.
We want to help these providers help children make the transition to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten by ramping up what we started, giving the providers opportunities for professional development as well as access to curricula and training. The unionization and professionalizing of providers will give thousands of children who will enter our public school system the head start they need.