Jobless claims hit a 27-month high last week, but nationwide the unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent. However, the request for unemployment is the biggest since just after Hurricane Katrina in September of 2005. Economists suggest that some of the decline in jobs could be attributed to traditional post-holiday lay-offs.
A lawsuit by the Smithfield meat plant against the United Food and Commercial Workers will move forward. A federal court has dismissed the unions motion to dismiss the case. The lawsuit is just the latest volley in a 10 year battle between one of the nation’s largest pork processing plants and the union seeking to organize workers. Smithfield claims that the UFCW’s campaign was “malicious” and they are seeking compensation for damages. Numerous reports have been filed regarding the poor working conditions at the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina.
There’s trouble at the house of mouse. Jesse Russell reports:
The tranquility of Disneyland could soon be unsettled if contract negotiations continue to degrade. The current contract for workers at three Dinseyland hotels will expire at midnight tonight. Unite Here Local 681 represents 2300 workers including kitchen staff and room attendants. President Ada Brecino spoke in front of the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday and said Disney is trying to “stifle” the voice of the workers. Negotiations are being held at a neutral site, but Briceno said the site chosen by Disney has limited parking making it difficult for members to attend meetings.
By Doug Cunningham
For workers the coming U.S. recession will mean they will be feeling it for years to come, not just the several months it typically takes for the economy to pull out of a recession. Economist Dean Baker is with the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
[Baker]: “Workers weren’t doing terribly well prior to the recession and we never really recovered from the last recession. So we saw wages fall through ’03, ’04,’05. Finally there was some wage growth
in ’06 and ’07 as the labor market started to tighten. But we’re just getting back to where we were before the recession. So we had an upturn that really didn’t offer very much for workers, and the unfortunate part of the story is the downturn is going to be worse.”
Some 47 million people in this country have no health insurance. The baby boom generation is approaching retirement. Health care costs and premiums are soaring. And employer-provided health benefits are harder than ever to come by—for both current workers and retirees.
But rather than strengthen the programs the aging U.S. public increasingly depends upon—Medicare and Medicaid—Bush wants to slash these programs—$91 billion over five years for Medicare and $14 billion for Medicaid.
Although slavery was officially banned in the United States more than 130 years ago, some immigrant workers who pick the crops that end up on our dinner tables still are enslaved.
Earlier this month, federal officials in south Florida arrested Antonia Zuniga Vargas on a 17-count indictment, charging her with conspiring to make money off workers from Mexico and Guatemala, forging documents and committing identity theft. Vargas, along with five other co-defendants, is connected to a business operation in Immokalee, Fla., allegedly created to hold workers in involuntary servitude and peonage.
There are many people suffering—and dying—in this nation from lack of health care, and Rachele Huennekens, AFL-CIO Media Outreach fellow, describes how this nation’s growing health care crisis affects women.
Amy, a woman in Pennsylvania, prays for good health. Without health insurance, prayer is her option.
I’ve decided that the next time a lump is found I will NOT be getting the mammogram. I can’t afford it. I pray nothing bad ever happens to my family or myself.
This situation may be much more common among working women today than we realize. Amy, who submitted this story to the AFL-CIO-Working America 2008 Health Care for America Survey, is among thousands of working people across the country who have shared their experiences with America’s broken health care system on the site.
Mike Cerbo, executive director of the Colorado AFL-CIO, reports on Wednesday’s media and message training for local union leaders and union activists.
The Colorado AFL-CIO hosted two activist trainings Jan. 30 in Denver on media and messaging around issues critical to the labor movement and building for the Labor 2008 program.
These trainings featured more than 75 local union activists doing role plays on how to talk to their co-workers about key issues at the worksite and also demonstrating interviewing techniques on how to talk with media. Many of the participants at the media and message training will be local union coordinators in the Labor 2008 program. These activists were encouraged to participate in additional two-day trainings in February geared toward activist recruitment, worksite mapping and building a distribution network to disseminate education materials.
Even as the Senate takes up the $150 billion House-passed economic stimulus bill, a leading economist says much more will be needed to address the fundamental problems of the U.S. economy.
The weak dollar, the risk of rising inflation, the reality of global warming and the need to pull the economy out of the most serious credit crisis since the 1930s will take the kind of activist government not seen in 40 years. To reverse the 30-year trend of increasing inequality and insecurity, and to repair the deep damage to the financial system, Roosevelt-scale remedies and Roosevelt-style ideological clarity will be required: serious public regulation and serious public outlay.