Jobs were lost in the United States for the fifth month in a row according to economists surveyed by the Bloomberg News. The official data from the Labor Department will be released on June 6, but economists are predicting at the least the jobless rate will rise to 5.1 percent from April 5 percent. Jobs lost this year as of April number 260,000. The economists predict that factory payrolls will see one of the largest drops with 40,000 jobs being cut. Roughly 19,000 GM workers took buyout packages in May.
Wal-Mart’s poor business reputation has shareholders in the company concerned. Jesse Russell reports.
As Wal-Mart begins hosting its annual general meeting on June 6, the company could be walking into a firestorm of angry shareholders. The reputation of the company has been eroded over the past decade due to the company’s lack of compliance with labor standards across the globe. The shareholders are concerned with a study that found anywhere from 2 percent to 8 percent of customers have stopped shopping at the world’s largest retailer due to the company’s reputation. Many cities have also introduced or passed “anti-Wal-Mart laws that ban new stores that average the size of the retailer. The company has faced allegations of the use of child labor, forcing employees to work off the clock, and of sexism in pay and promotion opportunities. Most of the shareholders taking on the chain are members of European pensions and are asking the company to create a report that outlines the company’s lack of compliance with the International Labour Organizations conventions. The worldwide company has responded that it only needs to comply with the 14 conventions adopted by the United States.
SEIU Delegates Overwhelmingly Pass Bulk Of Stern’s Reforms – One Member One Vote Proposals Quashed – 06/03/08
By Doug Cunningham
Delegates at SEIU’s Puerto Rico convention overwhelming backed President Andy Stern’s “Justice For All” proposals that will further centralize power within SEIU. Mark Brenner of Labor Notes magazine is covering the convention.
[Brenner]: “They’re basically in a situation where they’re trusting their leadership. And their leaders are telling them the Stern program is a good thing, let’s support it.”
Brenner says it was a sad day for union democracy inside SEIU because the one member one vote initiatives promoted by the California United Health Care West local were quashed in committees and never made it to the convention floor for votes. Brenner says there’s no doubt that delegates at SEIU’s convention are committed to changing things for working people. He says the serious rank and file debate on the direction of the union didn’t happen Monday, though, as delegates expressed confidence in SEIU leaders.
Phil Hayes, Colorado Labor 2008 state director, reports on the union movement’s door-to-door walks across the state this weekend.
Colorado union members are at it again. Eleven members came out Saturday to begin a summer-long walk series to educate union members about this fall’s elections. AFGE, APWU, IBEW, LIUNA, NATCA and SMWIA were all out educating union members about issues important to Coloradoans.
Tina Desautels, president of the Boulder Area Labor Council and a member of APWU Local 229, took a packet to talk with union members in her neighborhood.
We are fortunate that our members are starting to come to us and volunteer. This is such an exciting political season.
Bruce “U. Utah” Phillips, the son of labor organizers, a “One-Big-Union” Wobbly and a unique musician and story-telling voice for worker justice and everyday folks, died May 23. He was 73.
The New York Times said Phillips was
an instinctively independent guitar-slinger and self-described anarchist with an affinity for history and a trove of one-liners.…His sets were monologues that interspersed anecdotes, political jabs and wry observations with songs—some traditional, some from the labor movement and some he had written.
The Mississippi AFL-CIO held its annual convention in Natchez last week, fresh off a big election win, and union members in the state are energized to make more gains this fall.
The state AFL-CIO has endorsed Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat and former governor, for this fall’s special U.S. Senate election. Musgrove attended the convention on Thursday and signed a pledge to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
Musgrove is running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Trent Lott (R) who, like so many members of Congress, left to take a job as a lobbyist last year. Roger Wicker (R) was appointed to replace Lott, opening up Wicker’s former U.S. House seat. In the resulting special election, Mississippi’s working families stepped up and elected AFL-CIO-endorsed Democrat Travis Childers to replace Wicker by an 8 percent margin last month.
In 2006, some 500 Indian welders and pipe fitters were lured to the United States with promises of good jobs and pay in Gulf Coast shipyards and told they could achieve permanent resident status. Instead, they became victims of a human trafficking scheme under the guise of the H-2B guest worker program. They were held in modern-day forced labor at Signal International’s shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.
When they tried to organize for decent working conditions, the company sent armed guards to detain some of the organizers, then fired them without cause. After traveling to Washington, D.C., in their fight for justice, several of the strikers have been engaged in a hunger strike that began May 14. (Click here, here and here for previous stories.)
Recently, television viewers in the Greenville, S.C., area saw something that far too few people, in far too many TV markets ever see—an in-depth, local news report on workplace deaths and injuries. The report focused on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) pattern of significantly reducing employer fines for safety violations linked to those deaths and injuries.
On top of that, those fines, as a U.S. Senate hearing found last month, already are too weak to serve as a deterrent to employer safety violations.
A few years back, veteran campaign strategist and political commentator Cliff Schecter was impressed with Sen. John McCain: McCain seemed to fit the candidate’s self-description as a “straight talker” and “maverick.”
But that McCain is long gone, says Schecter. Researching McCain’s voting record and interviewing journalists, politicians and others who know him, Schecter uncovered a man—and presidential candidate—whose true views are little known by the majority of the American public.
Schecter compiled his findings in a new book, The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him and Why Independents Shouldn’t, and shared some of what he learned Friday evening here at the AFL-CIO (audio at left). Like many people in 2000, Schecter said, he fell for McCain’s image and thought,
“Wow, he’s the maverick and the straight talker.” But after he did that sort of sickly embrace of George W. Bush where he kind of prostrated him before him…I came to be one of those people who began to doubt that what he said at all was honest and if there was anything to that image.