If you feel like this recession is particularly bad, you may not be far off. Billionaire investor George Soros called the current state of the U.S. economy the “most serious financial crisis of our lifetime.” He told Reuters that the economic slowdown has been slow coming, “but the slower it comes, the more powerful it is.” Anywhere from 8000 to 9000 U.S. homes enter foreclosure every day.
By Doug Cunningham
The Tenement Museum on New York City’s lower east side celebrates the history of workers who formed unions. Ironically the museum is refusing to recognize a union its own employees have formed. Edan Shulz is an organizer with UAW Local 2110.
[Shulz]: “One of the tours that educators give every day is a tour that’s about the garment industry at the turn of the century and the terrible working conditions that people endured and about the fact that people organized to better their working lives. And it is pretty ironic that their own employer is trying to push them away from a union that they want.”
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department President, Mark Ayers says that Senator John McCain has failed veterans in the U.S. Senate.
[Ayers]: “Not only has he voted the wrong way on veterans issues, such as opposing increased funding for veteran’s health care the last four years in a row, but he also doesn’t support middle class workers’ issues. As veterans, we respect Senator McCain’s military service to our country, but we don’t respect his record in the United States Senate.”
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers says Senator John McCain has failed veterans in the U.S. Senate.
[Ayers]: “Not only has he voted the wrong way on veterans issues, such as opposing increased funding for veteran’s health care the last four years in a row, but he also doesn’t support middle class workers’ issues. As veterans we respect Senator McCain’s military service to our country, but we don’t respect his record in the United States Senate.”
Workers at the University of California’s 10 campuses went on strike Monday. Jesse Russell reports:
Members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union walked off the job at 10 University of California campuses Monday, protesting a pay scale they say is 25 percent less than what workers with similar jobs are paid at community colleges and private hospitals. The workers are paid on average $10 per hour. The employees come from fill food service, medical, bus driving, and janitorial duties at the campuses and university hospitals. The union is under a restraining order issued by a San Francisco judge on Friday, but the strikes are a signal that the union plans to ignore the order.
Following a historic vote, three women will hold the top offices in a major AFL-CIO union. Delegates to AFT’s convention in Chicago today elected Randi Weingarten as president, Antonia Cortese as secretary-treasurer and Lorretta Johnson as executive vice president.
“The three of us are committed to improving schools, hospitals and public institutions for children, families and communities,” Weingarten said in a statement.
“We will build on this union’s great tradition of confronting injustice, embracing the excluded, questioning conventional wisdom, challenging the status quo—and working 24/7 to improve the institutions where our members work.”
They replace President Edward McElroy and Secretary-Treasurer Nat LaCour, who both retired. Cortese, the new secretary-treasurer, served as AFT executive vice president for the past four years.
A former social studies teacher and lawyer, Weingarten served for the past decade as president of the United Federation of Teachers UFT/AFT. Johnson is president of AFT-Maryland and also serves as president of the Baltimore Teachers Union’s paraprofessional chapter.
Their elections mark the first time three women hold top positions in AFT, whose membership is more than 70 percent female. Weingarten becomes the only woman to head a major union. Johnson, who began her career as a teachers aide in Baltimore, is the first paraprofessional to be elected an officer of AFT. Delegates also elected 39 AFT vice presidents.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the election is an “important step.”
All three have repeatedly shown their passion, commitment and success in improving the lives of working families. The election of three women to the top offices of this great union is a new milestone and an important step for the labor movement.
The formula too many hospitals use today to establish nurse-to-patient ratios should be called the “whatever-we-can-get-away with” formula, says Suzanne Gordon, nursing professor and co-author of the new book, Safety in Numbers: Nurse to Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care.
Gordon, along with representatives from four AFL-CIO nursing unions, met in a roundtable discussion with dozens of health care experts from the staffs of Senate and House members to explain the dangerous and sometimes tragic impact of understaffing on patient care that is also a major factor in driving nurses from the profession and the growing nurses shortage.
The roundtable, sponsored by the RNs Working Together, the coalition of 10 AFL-CIO unions representing more than 200,000 registered nurses, is one step in the campaign to build support on Capitol Hill for the first national nurse-to-patient ratio legislation (H.R. 2123) introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
Some 8,500 employees of the University of California went on strike today to demand better pay and a fair contract. The workers, members of AFSCME Local 3299, include housekeepers, cafeteria workers and those who disinfect hospital equipment. The five-day strike is set to run through Friday at the university’s 10 campuses and five medical centers.
Says Mario Pinto, a senior custodian at the UC-Santa Clara campus:
We are living with our whole family together, our kids and grandkids, packed in one house, but we still can’t get by because everything is so expensive….It is a very critical situation for us. We can’t live in peace. We always have to be thinking about how are we going to make it next month and put food on the table for the kids.
Candidates for Congress are reiterating their support for America’s workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain, despite the efforts of corporate front groups to mislead voters through attack ads.
Workers have made passage of the Employee Free Choice Act a major issue in the 2008 elections, and Big Business interests are desperately trying to derail the momentum for the bill. In state after state, deep-pocket front groups, such as the Center for Union Facts and the Employee Freedom Action Committee, are running ads that assail candidates for their support of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would ensure the freedom of workers to form unions without employer harassment.