Retail sales fell in July, dropping 0.1 percent as prices continue to rise. This is the first decrease in sales in five months as the monetary injection from the government’s stimulus checks ran out. According to the numbers released by the Commerce Department the biggest decline came in the automobile sector. Even with gasoline prices easing up slightly toward the end of July, consumers are hesitant to buy new cars.
One GM plant has been spared the chopping block. The American automaker said that an increased interest in fuel-efficient cars will allow it to keep open a plant in Massena, New York at least until June 2009. The plant had been scheduled to close at the end of 2008 laying of 250 workers.
New bills signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will increase that states spending on “green jobs.” Jesse Russell reports:
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a pair of bills on Wednesday that could move that state to the forefront of the “Green Jobs” movement. One of the bills is called the Green Jobs Act and is intended to provide grant money for companies and universities that provide encourage the training of workers for environmentally friendly jobs and also encourage startups to focus on the green development. Over the next five years the bill will provide $68 million dollars to the green jobs initiative. The second law signed on Wednesday is intended to require greenhouse gas emissions in the state to be 80 percent lower than in 1990 by the year 2050.
By Doug Cunningham
American Rights At Work is urging people to sign its online petition urging a Federal Elections Commission investigation of Walmart’s efforts to intimidate its workers into voting against Democrat Barack Obama in November. A Wall Street Journal story documented Wal-Mart’s mandatory meetings urging its workers not to vote Democratic. Walmart’s actions may have been illegal. Wal-Mart Watch is urging support for the American Rights At Work petition. Wal-Mart Watch says Walmart has a long history of anti-worker practices and there should be a full investigation of this elections incident by the Federal Elections Commission.
By Doug Cunningham
More than five thousand International Association of Machinists workers are into the second week of their strike against Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and Salinas. Healthcare, pensions and sick leave for new workers are among the issues. Striker Ralph Polly says workers have to put up a fight against takeaways that are creating a bleak future for the next generation of workers.
[Polly]: “My main reason to be here is for the people that’s gonna come here after me. It’s just been take away, take away, take away and I think it’s time we all take a stand and try to reverse this.”
Apparently, Arnie wasn’t sufficiently vicious when he unilaterally cut the pay of California state employees to the minimum wage in a drama queen move over the state budget impasse.
Now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is suing the state controller, who refuses to go along with the Terminator’s tantrum.
On July 31, Schwarzenneger signed an executive order cutting the pay of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.65 an hour beginning in September. On top of that, the order lays off 22,000 part-time and temporary workers.
AFSA’s General Executive Board voted this week to endorse Obama and mobilize the union’s more than 20,000 members to elect him this fall.
AFSA president Jill Levy says Obama would be a president who fights for good schools and other issues critical to the nation’s future:
There are many reasons AFSA has elected to endorse Sen. Obama for president. Unlike his opponent, Obama is an ardent supporter of exemplary public education and the education professionals who are accountable for the quality of teaching and learning. Unlike his opponent, Obama has pledged to fully fund and overhaul the No Child Left Behind Act and fully fund early childhood education. Unlike his opponent, he supports workers’ rights—particularly the right of professionals to belong to unions and collectively bargain—and he will work to ensure that every working American in this country has the health care they need.
For two years, flower workers in Colombia withstood a vicious anti-union campaign—and now their solidarity has paid off.
Last month, workers at the Splendor and La Fragancia flower plantations signed contracts with Dole Fresh Flowers, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Dole Food Co. and the largest grower and exporter of flowers from Colombia. After the workers at the two plantations formed unions in 2004 and 2005, the company refused to negotiate bargaining agreements with these unions. Instead, it negotiated a “sweetheart” deal with a company union that gave almost no benefits to the workers. Dole also launched anti-union campaigns that included closing its largest flower plantation after a two-year effort by workers there to form a union.
With the economy on everyone’s minds, Sen. Barack Obama has released a new radio ad drawing a clear contrast between him and his opponent on jobs.
When it comes to his record, American-made motorcycles like Harleys don’t matter to John McCain. Back in Washington, McCain opposed a requirement that the government buy American-made motorcycles. He said all Buy American provisions were “disgraceful.”
The Obama campaign is airing the ad in states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Harley-Davidson motorcycles are manufactured. McCain is campaigning in those states this week—and pointedly avoided a campaign visit to the Harley-Davidson plant in York, Pa., because those Buy American provisions would have required the government to purchase American-made motorcycles.