WIN Week In Review August 8-10, 2008
By Doug Cunningham
The CWA and IBEW are holding “ready to walk” pickets as labor contract talks continue at Verizon. The unions have set a new deadline of midnight Sunday. The strike clock remains stopped at 11:59 p.m. August 2nd. The unions say progress is being made at the bargaining table and the talks are being held around the clock in an effort to reach an agreement. Some 70,000 CWA and IBEW members are ready to strike if necessary Sunday at midnight.
In California workers and their unions are fighting back against anti-worker actions by the governor that cut 20,000 state jobs and would slash the wages of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage. The SEIU has filed suit against the move. State Controller John Chiang is refusing to comply with the governor’s order and says even if he did it would take months to implement and would trigger more lawsuits. The California Labor Federation’s Jeremy Smith says workers are not to blame for California’s budget problems.
Union negotiators for 65,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Electrical Workers (IBEW) at Verizon’s East Coast operations have set a 12:01 a.m., bargaining deadline to reach a fair contract.
The current contract was set to expire Aug. 3, and talks were extended. If a pact is not reached by the new deadline, a strike is possible. Workers authorized a strike last month and CWA President Larry Cohen, IBEW President Edwin Hill and the bargaining committees will set the strike date.
Obama’s health care plan is based on the principles that are essential to successful reform of the health care system: expanding affordable, high-quality health care coverage to everyone. While families could keep the coverage they have now, they also would enjoy a wider array of options, including a public plan. Increasing the number of people covered is essential to lowering health care costs across the market—not just for the uninsured, but for everyone. According to the EPI analysis:
This large pool would have substantial administrative and marketing cost-savings relative to the existing non-group market, creating potential savings not just for those judged to be bad risks by insurance companies, but for all purchasers who do not currently have access to employer or public programs.
The current culture of corporate greed chops away at the American dreams of U.S. workers by many means. Big Business has kept wages massively low even as worker productivity soars. From 2001 to 2007, real wages were up 2.3 percent, compared with 18 percent for productivity.
One way corporations flatline wages is by refusing to negotiate contracts with their unionized employees. In a recent opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, two local union leaders, members of the United Steelworkers (USW), discuss their experiences from recent lockouts at Latrobe Specialty Steel Co. and Calgon Carbon Corp.