Sales of existing homes in June grew at the slowest rate in 10 years. According to the National Association of Realtors home sales were down 2.6 percent since May. The number of homes for sale at the end of June was up by 0.2 percent, meaning the market is adding inventory as less people are buying.
On Wednesday the New York Department of Labor cited a Queens factory that produced clothing for Macy’s, Banana Republic and more for underpaying workers. According to the complaint by city officials the factory employed mostly Chinese immigrants and cheated them of more than $3 million in pay. More than 10,000 items were marked by the labor department with tags that identify them as being produced by “underpaid workers.” Officials said the company “coached employees” in how to lie about what they were actually being paid.
By Doug Cunningham
Midwest Airlines is pressuring pilots for concessions threatening to declare bankruptcy if the pilots union doesn’t give the airline what it wants. The union says the concessions are drastic. Midwest has set a Friday deadline for a concessions agreement it says it needs to avoid a bankruptcy filing. Cuts are being imposed on flight attendants as well. Midwest is owned by a private equity consortium headed by TPG Capital.
By Doug Cunningham
The U.S. Justice Department and Attorneys General in 22 states will decide how copper company ASARCO will emerge from bankruptcy and one way is much better for workers than the other. The AFL-CIO is urging the government to accept the bid of Vedanta Resources PLC. ASARCO employs 1500 United Steelworker members as copper miners. Grupo Mexico used to own ASARCO and it was constantly at war with its workers and their unions – which include the USW, the Teamsters, Boilermakers, IBEW, IAM, IUOE, Millrights and Pipefitters. The AFL-CIO says Vedanta PLC has a much better record and for workers and their families would be the better company to bring ASARCO out of bankruptcy.
Will it be minimum wage for California’s state employees? It’s an option if a budget stalemate isn’t broken. Jesse Russell reports:
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened on Thursday to cut the pay of state workers down to the federal minimum of $6.55 per hour if a budget stalemate isn’t broken. Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature are battling over a $15.2 billion budget deficit and the governor suggested the pay cut as a way to save the state money as the budget languishes. The executive order would pay workers once a deal is signed. In the meantime, it would also force state agencies to terminate 20,000 contracts with interns and temp workers. The Service Employees International Union represents many of the state workers and is considering legal action if the Governor moves to slash wages.
Some 13 million low-wage U.S. workers got a pay raise today when the federal minimum wage rose from $5.85 to $6.55 an hour.
The pay hike was the second step of the three-step minimum wage increase Congress passed last year, the first such increase since 1997. The third step, to $7.25 an hour, comes a year from today.
For a decade, Republicans congressional leaders and the Bush administration blocked every effort to raise the $5.15 an hour rate for the nation’s lowest-paid workers. But new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate after the 2006 elections made passage possible.
In his video introduction submitted to last year’s AFL-CIO Presidential Candidates Forum, Sen. Barack Obama laid out some of his personal history and connected it to why he’s running for president. It’s worth watching again now that he’s the Democratic presumptive presidential nominee. As he said:
I worked as a community organizer for a group of churches, helping to turn around neighborhoods that were devastated by the closing of steel plants. By bringing people together, we set up job-training and after-school programs, and we taught people to stand up to their government when it wasn’t standing up for them. That’s the kind of organizing we need today.
In the video, Obama said health care, good wages, a secure retirement and the freedom to form unions are at the heart of the change the country needs, and he’s continued to focus on these issues in the general election campaign.
As John McCain tours the country, wherever he goes, he’s met by his biggest fear: a contingent of educated, mobilized union members who know his record. Over the past week, he’s been greeted again and again by union members demanding real answers to the issues facing the country.
In New Mexico last week, more than 150 members turned out to protest McCain’s visit to Hotel Albuquerque, reports Don Manning, Labor 2008 director for New Mexico. The protesters took turns on the bullhorn voicing their disgust with Bush-McCain failed policies on the war, health care and the economy, among other issues.
If John McCain had a chance to take a break from his presidential campaign stop in Wilkes-Barre yesterday and put his feet up to watch a little TV, he would have gotten an earful and an eyeful over his recent remarks calling Social Security a “disgrace” and his support of privatization.
The Alliance for Retired Americans bought a three-day ad blitz for airing on area stations during shows popular with older viewers. The ads show the reaction of several Dupont, Pa., seniors to McCain’s remarks at a July 7 town hall meeting in Denver where he called Social Security an “absolute disgrace…it’s got to be fixed.”
Says one senior, “What do you mean–fixed?” Another warns, “Don’t mess with it.”