How does the country’s former Federal Reserve chairman feel we should handle the mortgage crisis? Alan Greenspan says throw money at the problem. The former chairman told ABC’s “This Week” that creating a larger budget deficit should be the least of the governments concerns as throwing a cash pillow under mortgage borrowers and creating a short term fiscal problem would be much less damaging to the economy than the current solution – freezing the prices of homes and interest rates. Greenspan’s approach runs counter to that of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
By Doug Cunningham
The Communications Workers of America and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to provide for a full review process of the comments made to proposed revisions to the newspaper-broadcast ownership rule, changes proposed by Chairman Kevin Martin. The unions want an open process including a 90-day comment period to help resolve issues of localism and women and minority ownership of broadcast media.
It could be a cold winter for 400,000 Ohioans. Jesse Russell reports:
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting grim news for the 400,000 Ohioans that depend on the Home Energy Assistance Program to help offset heating fuel costs. With winter just starting Ohio has already begun exhausting the funds set aside due to rising fuel costs for propane and heating oil users. The program sets aside $37 million dollars for the entire winter and it has already burned through more than half. Ohio isn’t alone in the chilly plight. State fuel assistance program directors across the United States have been waiting to see if their calls for the President to increase funding for the federal Energy Assistance Program by $1 billion. So far those calls have fallen on deaf ears as President Bush has responded by instead threatening to slash the funding by 44 percent. If that happens it could eliminate assistance for at the least 1.1 million households across the country. What happens if households can’t pay? Vermont is the only one state in the union that protects oil and propane customers from being disconnected if they can’t pay the costs.
By Doug Cunningham
Swing voters in the 2008 presidential election are focused on issues like affordable health care, good jobs with wages that can support families, secure retirement and real economic opportunity for the next generation. That’s according to Lake Research partners, based on polling they’ve done for the Change To Win labor federation. This strong voter focus could produce the most significant political change since 1980, according to Change To Win. Pollster Celinda Lake says voters overwhelmingly believe that the American Dream is in jeopardy. And she says there’s been a broad paradigm shift toward the basic working family values embedded in the American Dream concept.
The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 900 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work. Here are a few recent items from the week of Dec. 10–14.
CNA/NNOC, Sutter Health: The California Nurses Association (CNA/NNOC) went on a second two-day strike Dec. 13 at San Francisco Bay Area hospitals operated by Sutter Health Systems. Nurses, frustrated with negotiations that stalled over nurse-patient staffing ratios and retirement issues, struck 13 Sutter Health and two Fremont-Rideout hospitals in Northern California Oct. 10–11. Sutter Health officials have publicized plans to hire replacement workers for longer than two days and lock out participating nurses for the remaining time.
In November, we reported that the Arizona AFL-CIO was calling on union members to economically boycott the city of Nogales, Ariz., after the City Council voted, 4–3, to take away the rights of city employees to have union dues deducted from their paychecks and to withdraw recognition of the union.
Now the fight to restore the workers’ rights has entered the political arena.
The Committee for a Better Nogales—a bipartisan coalition of union members and business, community and other groups—has collected enough signatures from city residents to force a recall election of three of the council members who voted against city workers. The council members are Nubar Hanessian, Arturo Garino and Octivio Garcia. The fourth vote came from then-Mayor Ignacio J. Barrazza, who died Nov. 21.
More than 10,000 delegates and observers from around the world traveled to Bali, Indonesia, for the U.N. Climate Change Conference from Dec. 3-14. Of the 90 union delegates, more than 20 were from North America, including Barbara Byrd, secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO, who sent us this report. U.S. delegates sent us a series of posts from the conference: here, here, here, here and here.
As the climate change summit neared its final hours, our international labor delegation submitted a summary statement, which was read on the plenary floor by the Tony Maher, president of Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.
The statement emphasized the major issues affecting working people:
· A “just transition” to a new, low-carbon economy, the impact of climate change.
· Mitigation efforts on the jobs and lives of our members.
· The union movement’s demand to be part of the decision-making process that will lead to a new climate agreement in 2009.
A coalition of Iowa community groups, including labor, environmental, consumer and faith organizations, is calling on presidential candidates to support better trade policies.
In a letter to presidential campaigns, the Iowa Fair Trade Campaign asked that candidates reject the current model of free trade agreements and commit to a set of principles to ensure that trade agreements under their presidency would be fair and equitable.
A chorus of kids on YouTube has a holiday message for the Bush administration, Congress and toy manufacturers.
Set to the tune of the holiday classic “Jingle Bells,” the kids plead:
Toxic toys, toxic toys,
Make them go away.
Please don’t bring us toxic toys
This year on Christmas day-ay.
Toxic toys, toxic toys,
They will make us sick.
Better check the recall list
And notify St. Nick.
Over the past year, we’ve seen headlines about lead-tainted toys and other toxic products hitting our store shelves—usually made in China for U.S. manufacturers seeking the cheapest labor possible. Tens of millions of well-known and popular toys have been recalled.