By Jesse Russell
Foreclosures broke records in 2007 – jumping by 75 percent. That equals nearly 405,000 homeowners losing their homes. In December of 2007 the foreclosure filings increased a whopping 97 percent over December 2006. California was hit the worst with 250,000 foreclosure filings. Michigan, already suffering from the job loses in the manufacturing sector, received a second punch in the gut with 47,000 homes being lost.
By Jesse Russell
New Jersey is moving a step closer to passing family leave legislation. The controversial legislation passed a Senate Committee on Monday by a vote of 8-6. If it succeeds the act would provide six weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn or a seriously ill family member. A tax on workers salaries would fund the leave pay of up to a maximum of $524 per week.
A deal reached between the Grammys and striking writers is music to the ears of music industry. Jesse Russell reports:
With album sales declining year-over-year the music industry can use any help it can get. One of the key promotional outlets for many artists is being tapped for a Grammy. Until Monday that event was in jeopardy as writers continue a strike that is going on three months. The Writers Guild of America reached an interim agreement with The Recording Academy that will allow writers to work on the show. The Grammys are scheduled for February 10. With the “interim agreement” reached on The Grammys the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are taking it as a sign that an agreement can be reached in time for their annual award show – the Oscars.
By Doug Cunningham
Five UAW Local 3520 bargaining committee members fired by Freightliner in April after a one-day strike are getting some support from the labor movement. The UAW International isn’t supporting the workers efforts to get their jobs back because the one-day strike was authorized only by the local and not by the International UAW. South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna Dewitt supports these five UAW bargaining committee members fired by Freightliner and she says they deserve some solidarity from the entire labor movement.
[Dewitt]: “They weren’t happy with the contract offer, and they were standing up for their rights. And I don’t know exactly what happened with UAW, but all I know is that there are five UAW members and officers of a local that have been out of work now going on ten months. So I would appeal to everyone to reach out to help raise funds for these folks and their efforts to be rehired. They need their jobs back.”
The Campaign for America’s Future website captured the essence of last night’s State of the Union (SOTU) address when the progressive organization titled its package of SOTU articles: Smirk of the Union. Indeed, while working families face the loss of their homes, lack of health care on their jobs, skyrocketing debt and low-wage jobs, President Bush figuratively—and literally—smirks.
When Bush recognized individual audience members in the Capitol during his speech last night, he somehow missed the 9/11 workers who sacrificed their health in the minutes and weeks after the terrorist attacks, and yet who can’t get health care coverage for the often debilitating conditions that ensued. The 9/11 workers, attending the State of the Union address as guests of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, held a press conference on Capitol Hill yesterday to ask: “Is the state of our union strong enough to provide for the health needs of 9/11 workers?”
Veteran journalist and union activist Sam Donaldson last night received the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Media and Entertainment Excellence Award, known as the AMEE. Award-winning singer Maureen McGovern and soap-opera star Susan Lucci, a daytime Emmy winner, also were honored.
AFTRA presents the AMEEs annually to performers and journalists who have made significant contributions to American culture.
Donaldson, who has been with ABC for nearly four decades, is a longtime AFTRA member who helped organize CBS News correspondents in the early 1960s. He also has served as president of AFTRA’s Washington/Baltimore local. He probably is best known for his assertive questioning of presidents as White House correspondent and co-anchoring of “Primetime” with Diane Sawyer.
Through the efforts of the Democratic majority in Congress, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been extended for the first time since the bill was passed 15 years ago. The legislation extends unpaid family and medical leave for up to six months for the families of wounded military personnel.
The law enables military family members to take FMLA leave for “any qualifying exigency” relating to a family member’s call up to active duty or deployment.
Just three weeks ago, President Bush vetoed defense authorization legislation that included provisions to extend the FMLA to family members of wounded service members. The White House said Bush opposed a provision in the bill, which could freeze the assets of the Iraqi government in the United States if an American sued that country. He signed the FMLA extension this week.
If it’s late on a Friday, look out for the Bush administration to take an action it hopes the public won’t notice. And so it was Friday, when President Bush renominated Robert Battista, the point man in Bush’s war on workers, to another term on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Battista’s five-year term expired in December.
The former NLRB chairman constantly voted against workers and their unions and in favor of management rights during his tenure. Last month, Battista told a joint Senate-House hearing he doesn’t believe the primary purpose of the National Labor Relations Act is to promote collective bargaining. (For a good look at the NLRB’s actions, check out the American Rights at Work’s blog, Eye on the NLRB.)
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says Bush’s action is a
blatant attempt to keep a Labor board with an unbalanced, anti-worker bias, and they would be poisonous to America’s working families.
Today’s winner-take-all presidential primary in Florida, the state with the largest population to vote so far in the 2008 election, also takes place in a state with the largest population of senior citizens. So it’s worth taking a look at what presidential candidates have to say about retirement security and health care for seniors.
On the Democratic side, the Florida primary won’t have much practical impact. Because Florida moved its primary up in violation of Democratic National Committee rules, the Florida primary will not assign delegates to the Democratic Convention this summer. (However, all Democratic candidates will appear on the ballot.)