Stormy weather is the forecast from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke . On Tuesday he addressed the International Monetary Conference and said “households continue to face significant headwinds, including falling house prices, a softer job market, tighter credit, and higher energy prices, and consumer sentiment has declined sharply since the fall.” He did offer some relatively good news, including the demand for U.S. goods and services overseas relieving some pressure.
New York University’s annual conference of labor is suddenly short a speaker, potentially over fears of a protest by his employees. Jesse Russell reports.
National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Ronald Meisburg has cancelled plans to speak at the 61st annual Conference on Labor at New York University this weekend. The cancellation came as the National Labor Relations Board Union announced plans to protest Meisburg’s appearance over his refusal to bargain with the union. The NLRB is charged with enforcing Federal Labor Law, a law that by refusing to negotiate with the union, Meisburg is allegedly violating. In 2005 the Federal Labor Relations Authority granted four separate groups the right to consolidate under one bargaining unit. Meisburg is challenging the FLRA decision in federal court and has refused to bargain with the unit until the court makes a decision.
By Doug Cunningham
Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove says GM cannot legally close the Oshawa Ontario truck plant and his union will fight it. GM said Tuesday it’s closing four North American truck and SUV plants – including two in the U.S. one in Mexico and the Oshawa plant. Hargrove says the union contract does not permit GM to close the plant., and the union demanded at least one shift remain at the plant. The CAW has not ruled out a walkout over the issue. The UAW local in Moraine, Ohio says it will also fight that plant closing. U.S. Senators Herb Kohl says the closing of the Wisconsin plant is a tragedy for the local community he’ll do everything in his power to convince GM to reconsider. This awful news for autoworkers comes on the heels of the news that 19,000 GM workers out of a total workforce of 74,000 have opted to accept buyouts and leave the company. Global economic policies have led to a saturation of non-union built import cars and trucks in the U.S., destroying the high U.S. manufacturing wage and benefits structure built over generations by workers and their unions.
Here’s a last-minute viewing tip for tonight. Try a little coal mining.
Tune in to the premiere of the third season of FX’s “30 Days”, where series creator Morgan Spurlock returns home to West Virginia to work as a rookie coal miner—”redhat”—for 30 days.
The show airs at 10 p.m. EDT on the FX network.
Spurlock goes underground with Mine Workers (UMWA) and lives with a miner in Bolt, W.Va. He gains an understanding of the financial benefits that draw people to coal mining but also learns firsthand the dangerous conditions that miners must face every day.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has launched a criminal probe into Friday’s crane collapse in New York City that killed two construction workers. Investigators from the DA’s office seized several boxes of records and computer from the offices of New York Crane and Equipment, which owns the crane.
A spokesman for District Attorney Robert Morgenthau told the New York Daily News:
Everything’s being looked at. We’re going to look into anything that gives us a picture of what the facts and circumstances were of this incident on Friday.
For 10 months, some 20,000 patient care workers and service workers at University of California (UC) medical centers have been trying to negotiate a fair contract. Although medical center executives claim the workers are essential to the operations, they have failed to make any serious proposals to pay the workers a decent wage.
Tomorrow, union members and community leaders will rally at UC centers and campuses in a statewide day of action to show their support for a decent contract and fair wage for the workers. The workers, members of AFSCME Local 3299, are seeking wages comparable to those paid for similar work outside the UC system. In addition, the workers want UC to create a step-increase system for wages, as well as the right to bargain over health care and to have a voice in the pension system.
Several thousand Nevada construction workers walked off the job last night at the $9.2 billion MGM Mirage’s CityCenter in Las Vegas—where six workers have been killed on the job—when the project’s general contractor failed to meet the unions’ demands to improve safety on the troubled job site. The most recent death occurred Saturday.
The workers, members of the construction unions of the Southern Nevada Building and Construction Trades Council, say the pressure to finish the work quickly, crowded worksites and excessive overtime leading to fatigue contribute to unsafe working conditions, according to the Las Vegas Sun. There are some 6,000 workers, mostly union members on the site.
From day one, the Bush administration’s Medicare plan has favored the profits of big insurance companies over the needs of seniors. Here’s the latest example: The Bush administration is threatening to veto any legislation that protects doctors’ Medicare payments at the expense of private insurers, according to the Associated Press.
Beginning July 1, reimbursement rates for doctors will drop 10.6 percent when they treat older and disabled patients who use Medicare, which would discourage doctors from treating our most vulnerable citizens—seniors who need Medicare to afford to see a doctor—in favor of sustaining the record profits enjoyed by big insurance companies.
Ed Sills, director of communications for the Texas AFL-CIO, recently went back to school—high school. He spent a day observing a veteran union organizer get students involved in a hands-on educational experience on the crucial role of unions in their working lives.
“We’ll just let these two ladies clean the bathroom because that’s a woman’s job,” declared Lee Medley, president of the Galveston County AFL-CIO, with a sly glance toward the men.
It was play-acting, but with a purpose. In economics classes at Santa Fe High School, high school women were practically leaping out of their chairs at that point to enter into negotiations for better pay and benefits in a scenario aimed at involving students in hands-on collective bargaining.
Medley, a member of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents workers in area refineries, uses this and other techniques to introduce high school students to unions during high school visits.