WIN Week In Review February 8-10, 2008
By Doug Cunningham
[Booth]: “There’s at a minimum 18,000 people a year who die because they didn’t have health insurance.”
Heather Booth, director of the AFL-CIO’s campaign for universal health care coverage. The campaign is building a million-person army of activists to make universal health care a focus of the 2008 presidential election in an effort to secure universal health care coverage in the U.S. by 2009.
The U.S. Senate passed an economic stimulus plan Thursday without any extension of unemployment benefits and without any new heating assistance for the poor. The package did extend tax rebate checks of $300 to retirees and disabled veterans. Taxpayers will get $600 checks, couples $1200. The AFL-CIO says denying the jobless an extension of benefits shows Republicans believe working people should fend for themselves in an economy stacked against them.
Did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) inaction in setting a combustible dust standard play a role in yesterday’s deadly explosion at a Savannah, Ga., sugar refinery that killed six workers and injured 42?
Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor told the Associated Press:
As far as we know, it was a sugar dust explosion.
Looks like the former Wal-Mart attorney who has argued against laws protecting workers’ overtime pay no longer is in charge of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division.
Paul DeCamp has taken his anti-worker ideology to one of the nation’s most notorious union-busting law firms, Jackson Lewis. The firm’s slogan, “Preventive Strategies and Positive Workplace Solutions,” sounds harmless—unless you’re one of the workers on the receiving end of the firm’s multifarious tactics meant to harass and intimidate workers seeking to form a union.
Television and movie writers who have been on strike since Nov. 5 will meet tomorrow in New York City and Los Angeles to discuss a potential tentative agreement that could end the strike. The Writers Guild of America members have been fighting to win a fair share of revenue for their work distributed online, through DVDs and other new media.
Also on the strike front, Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) crossed another picket line (See below.).
Officials of the Writers Guild of America, East ( WGAE), Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) have been meeting informally since Jan. 24, the first meetings between the two sides since the producers walked out of negotiations in December.
Following an executive order signed by Gov. Ted Strickland (D), some 8,000 in-home day care providers in Ohio have the opportunity to gain a voice on the job.
The order allows the providers to organize a union and negotiate a contract with the state. Child Care Providers Together (CCPT), an affiliate of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, is actively gathering union cards and has called for an election. In the Buckeye State, each of the 88 counties runs its own home-based child care provider program.
Columbus day care provider Brenda Gentry says:
We need a strong voice to speak out about the great work we do and the challenges we face. With our union, we will have a real voice on the job. That will be good for us, and good for the families who depend on safe and reliable child care.
Child care workers around the country have been fighting for a voice at work. In May last year, 60,000 New York home-based child care providers won bargaining rights, as did 40,000 Michigan workers in December 2006. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signed a similar executive order in August 2007, giving some 10,000 child care and health care workers in that state the right to join a union.
After dumping at least $40 million of his own money into the 2008 presidential race with little to show for it, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) suspended his campaign yesterday—and, even when declaring defeat, couldn’t resist spewing anti-worker rhetoric.
Romney announced he was quitting during a speech at the reactionary Conservative Political Action Conference. There, he attacked Democrats as “the opponents of American culture.” He was particularly harsh toward the workers who keep our country’s federal, state and local government going, and the unions they’ve formed to protect and represent them.
Did you see that today, government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector? Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for bureaucrats?
The economic stimulus package approved last night by the U.S. House of Representatives—leaves the jobless “pretty much on their own,” says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
Workers who have been laid off because of the slowing economy will not get an extension of unemployment benefits. Families who can’t pay the skyrocketing costs of fuel will be left literally in the cold. The very people who need help the most will get what they have routinely gotten from this administration and its right-wing Republican supporters: a whole lot of nothing.
In a huge win for workers, more than 21,000 paraprofessionals and school-related workers, represented by the independent Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), voted by a huge margin to join AFT. This is the largest affiliation of an independent union in AFT history.
In a joint statement, AFT President Edward J. McElroy and OSEA President Merlene Martin say:
The affiliation between OSEA and the AFT will magnify the strengths of each organization. OSEA is a powerful, effective organization whose 20,000 members will make the AFT an even stronger union. Likewise, OSEA will benefit from the expertise, resources and political influence of its new national union. This partnership will enhance the ability of our two unions and the Oregon AFL-CIO to fight for our members’ rights in the workplace, and to improve the quality of services to their students and their communities.
In another lame-duck effort to put its anti-worker agenda into practice for years to come, the Bush administration is proposing to strip a number of rights from workers here under the H-2A agricultural guest worker program. H-2A and H-2B visa programs bring agricultural and other seasonal workers into this country to pick crops, build houses and process seafood, among other jobs.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the proposal:
will hurt both immigrant and U.S.-born workers alike. The Bush administration has shown once again that it will go to any extreme to cater to the interest of corporations at the painful expense of workers, and that it is not serious about real fixes to our nation’s broken immigration system.