The housing sector continued to struggle in May. Housing starts shrank by 3.3 percent over April, about 5000 less than projected by economists. Applications for building permits also continued to decline dropping 1.3 percent over April. Declining building permit requests is usual a bad sign for coming months as it means less houses will be built.
By Doug Cunningham
The Urban Agenda’s JoAnne Derwin says her group is working closely in New York City with unions to create green jobs, including in affordable housing construction and green retrofitting of buildings.
[Derwin]: “With the need to respond to climate change, what we need to do is seize that opportunity in order to create good, green-collar jobs. What we have been doing is working with unionized contractors to get them certified so they’re qualified to bid on that work.””
Urban Agenda is honoring Ray Pacino, a Vice-President of the Laborers International Union of America. Derwin says he influential in helping the laborers develop new markets like the 1-6 family affordable housing unit market.
Some workers at a GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio received good news this week. The company, which recently announced plans to close four plants, will be adding a new shift on August 4, a month earlier than previously projected. The new shift will provide 1400 additional jobs at the plant and recently laid off workers will have first priority. The assembly plant currently employs 2,645 hourly workers.
Rising fuel costs continue to have an impact around the world. Jesse Russell reports:
17,000 South Korean construction workers went on strike Monday over the skyrocketing cost of fuel. The unionized workers are demanding a higher rate for hauling freight. South Korea is already being hit by a strike by 13,000 unionized truck drivers who are seeking higher subsidies from the government for fuel. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions also announced plans to strike in the coming weeks to protest the policies of the South Korean President. They are demanding a faster reaction to rising fuel costs, but will also be protesting plans to privatize South Korean businesses.
By Doug Cunningham
U.S. airlines are projecting a combined loss of $10 billion this year as they struggle with the huge spike in fuel costs. In U.S. Senate testimony the Air Transport Association’s James May said the flying public will pay the price as air service could be lost in 200 communities around the country as airlines cut back. The airlines are spending 50 percent more for fuel than they did last year.
Senate Republicans today threw yet another roadblock into the path of legislation to reach out a helping hand to the nearly 300,000 jobless workers a month who run out of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits without finding a new job.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to bring to the floor the recently passed House bill that would provide an extra 13 weeks of benefits for unemployed workers, plus another 13 weeks for workers in states with high unemployment. But Minority Leader John Kyl (R-Ariz.) used Senate rules to block the bill.
As of the end of May, some 1.55 million unemployed workers have been unemployed for longer than six months, according to the Department of Labor. Under the House-passed bill, about 3.8 million jobless workers would receive help after running out of their state benefits.
The boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., will be packed this weekend as thousands of union members and community supporters from across the country converge for a major demonstration June 21 to demand that casino owners stop stalling and negotiate with the workers’ union.
Marilyn Bey (in photo), a dealer at Caesars casino, brought her children to help make signs for the rally. She says the casino workers’ solidarity already has paid off, including winning a smoking ban in the casinos to protect the health of thousands of workers.
The Atlantic City dealers are on the move. We were successful pushing for the smoking ban, and we continue to make improvements in our working conditions. We’re having a rally on Saturday because it is time for the casinos to do their part. We need a union contract to improve our wages, benefits and job security. I’m confident we’re going to get that contract. When we work together, we win!
A group of 10 women, some accompanied by their children, delivered a big message to Sen. John McCain today. The Washington, D.C.-area mothers, sporting “Magnificently Overqualified Mother” sashes, handed more than 9,000 résumés to McCain’s office on Capitol Hill to show him that women are well-trained, highly educated and qualified and should be paid the same as men for doing the same work.
In late April, McCain didn’t even bother to show up when a minority of primarily Republican senators once again made it harder for women workers to overcome pay discrimination. The U.S. Senate failed to cut off debate on the Fair Pay Restoration Act (S. 1843) and bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The legislation, also known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, would have reversed a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision dismissing a suit by Lilly Ledbetter, an employee for 19 years at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Alabama. Her suit alleged she was paid less than her male counterparts.
With gas prices hitting record levels, AFL-CIO union members around the country continue to protest at gas stations this week, demanding answers to their economic woes. Wages are stagnant, unemployment is rising, gas prices are climbing—and the oil companies’ profits are as strong as ever. A report released today shows executive compensation for the CEOs of the 12 largest U.S. oil outfits rose by 5.8 percent from 2006 to 2007, from a median of $14.6 million to a median of $15.4 million.
Will Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, listen to working families and propose policies that would restore some balance? Or will he act on behalf of the multimillion-dollar CEOs? That’s what union members want to know.
In Bangor, Maine, this morning, the Eastern Maine Labor Council led a rally where union members talked about how they and their families have been affected by oil prices. Maine businesses are feeling the squeeze and unemployed people can’t afford the gas to drive to job interviews.