WIN Week In Review September 26-28, 2008
By Doug Cunningham
As outrage grows over the $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal, workers, their unions and political progressives are hitting the streets in protest nationwide. They’re demanding that if Congress spends those billions that workers are protected and jobs created. Labor rallied on Wall Street Thursday. New York City Central Labor Council Executive Director Ed Ott.
[Ott]: “They took over a government that had surpluses and a balanced budget and they’ve run it into the ground. And Congress has to now do their job and put America back. If they’re gonna do a bailout and give 700 plus billion dollars to Wall Street, we want them to repeal the Bush tax cuts and take that money and put it towards infrastructure projects, mass transit, health care, schools, roads, highways – get the economy goin’ again.”
This evening, the show “NOW” on PBS will highlight the role of working people and their unions in making sure the solution to the nation’s economic collapse works for everyone, not just rich bankers.
The cameras at “NOW” will follow Damon Silvers, an associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO, as he seeks to ensure working people, not just financial firms, get the economic aid they need. Silvers is one of the architects of the major provisions congressional Democrats are pushing for in the bill. (See video). Click here to check for the show’s airtime in your area.
Yesterday, near the New York Stock Exchange, more than 1,000 union members and other activists rallied against giving Wall Street a blank check in a financial bailout that leaves Main Street taxpayers deserted. The AFL-CIO says an economic recovery package for working families is critical to the success of any financial bailout.
The U.S. House voted strongly in favor of an economic recovery plan for working families this evening, with a 264-158 vote that included 41 Republican “yes” votes.
Earlier today, Senate Republicans thwarted a move to send a financial lifeline directly to Main Street today when they blocked a vote on a mirror version of the package. The bill would create jobs for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, put money directly into the pockets of the long-term unemployed and helped states meet their growing financial crises.
The momentum for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is growing every day as more and more elected officials and political candidates sign on in support of the bill. They recognize that having a union card is the best way to build the middle class and to restore balance to the workplace.
In Richmond, Va., some 21 candidates for mayor and city council already have signed cards calling on their representatives to vote for the bill. If enacted, the Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers to freely decide how they want to choose a union—a decision now in the hands of the employer.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has shown a “lack of meaningful attention” addressing the serious safety problem of runway incursions, Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), told the House Subcommittee on Aviation yesterday. Those safety problems include commercial and private planes coming dangerously close to each other on takeoffs, landings and other runway operations.
As of Sept. 4, Forrey said despite the FAA’s claims of runway safety improvement, the 921 recorded 2008 incursions were 106 more than in all of fiscal year 2007.
Before she became the first female Labor secretary in 1933, Frances Perkins had seen firsthand the tragedy of Manhattan’s 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Locked in by their employer, 146 mostly young girls died when they couldn’t escape the burning building where they toiled in sweatshop labor. Later, as the New York industrial commissioner, Perkins held employers accountable for workplace safety and health, expanding factory investigations and championing other pro-worker laws, like unemployment insurance.
Now, imagine if Elaine Chao had been there instead. Rather than improved job safety legislation, Chao likely would have pushed laws forbidding workers to challenge employers for unsafe working conditions, fair pay or anything that would cost greedy employers a dime.