Since the year 2000 the cost of senior benefits has risen 24 percent with medical costs standing out as the biggest reason for the steep increase. According to a USA Today analysis the cost of federal benefits for seniors is $27,289 per individual over the age of 65. In 2007 the government spent $952 billion to cover senior benefits – $351 billion more than in 2000.
By Doug Cunningham
A worker fired by Freightliner but fighting to get his job back was arrested while attending a meeting of his union local over the President’s Day weekend. Allen Bradley, one of the “Cleveland Five” UAW members fired after a one-day strike at Freightliner’s North Carolina plant, was cited for trespassing. Bradley and the other four workers were on the bargaining committee of UAW Local 3520 when the local decided to reject a contract and stage a one-day strike. The one-day strike was not authorized by the UAW International, the workers were fired by Freightliner and the UAW International won’t represent the workers in their fight to get their jobs back.
The largest beef recall in U.S. history could just be the tip of the iceberg concerning the way animals are treated before being processed. Jesse Russell reports:
After videos surfaced of two workers at a Westland/Hallmark Meat Company plant in California inhumanely handling cattle the company voluntarily fired the two workers and recalled 143 million pounds of ground beef – the largest beef recall in United States history. Meanwhile, Tyson Foods is currently facing similar issues after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals inserted a mole at two of their plants who captured video of chickens being mishandled.
By Doug Cunningham
Seventeen thousand home child care workers across New York state voted to join the Civil Servant Employees Association affiliated with AFSCME. CSEA’s Jill Ascencio.
[Asencio]: “This is probably the biggest union election this year and maybe even in the entire country. They will enter negotiations with
the New York state Office of Children and Family Services to work on some major issues. There are basically thee major issues that motivated the providers and their interest in forming a union. And that’s late and inaccurate payments for their payments, and lack of benefits and also a lack of voice in their work.”
The Rev. James E. Orange, who played a vital role in the birth and success of the modern civil rights movement and who later spent more than 30 years fighting for worker justice as an AFL-CIO organizer, died Feb. 16 in Atlanta. He was 65.
Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
History rarely gives us leaders who are both revered and loved, honored and popular, inspiring and unwavering. Reverend James Orange was such a leader and was the living embodiment of the connection between the union movement and the civil rights movement. He never failed to stand when it counted, and the union movement deeply mourns his passing.
This is a cross post from the Huffington Post blog.
By Stewart Acuff, AFL-CIO Organizing Director, and
Sheldon Friedman, AFL-CIO Voice@Work Research Coordinator
Amid the chatter about the worsening economy and what to do about it, a key factor has been omitted, even by progressives who ought to know better: an underlying structural cause of the current economic mess is the dismal failure of the United States to protect the fundamental human right of its workers to form unions and bargain collectively. A durable cure for the ailing economy therefore requires going beyond short-term stimulus, no matter how well crafted. The cure must include getting serious, as a nation, about protecting the most basic of workplace rights—starting with passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.
What’s the connection, you may ask? After all, the aggressive corporate offensive against workers’ rights, often helped and encouraged by government policy, is by now well into its fourth decade, as are its predictable economic consequences. Those consequences include a widening gap between wages and productivity, skyrocketing profits and CEO pay, an increase in economic inequality to levels not seen since the 1920s, rising economic insecurity and stagnant or declining real wages for the vast majority of workers. Economic growth since the 1970s may have bypassed the bulk of the nation’s workers, but apart from a few significant and, in some cases, severe recessions, growth did for the most part continue. Why didn’t suppression of workers’ rights become a key structural cause of a stalled-out economy until now?