New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine has signed into law legislation that will eliminate a day off for President Lincoln’s birthday for state workers. It will also require newly hired workers to stick it out for two more years if they want to receive full benefits. Workers will now need to retire at the age of 62 instead of 60. It also requires municipal employees to work 20 hours per week to receive health benefits. Union representing state workers had opposed the legislation.
Nearly 700 communities across the country participated in a national “Green Jobs Now” event. Jesse Russell reports on one of the events that took place in the Bronx:
Tanya Fields is the Outreach Coordinator for Sustainable South Bronx which hosted an event in the New York City Borough. She explained what the event was about:
[Fields]: We are ready for the investment in green jobs. Green jobs can really be used as a path way out of poverty.
Fields said Green Jobs are important not only for the environment, but also for creating better paying jobs in areas stricken by poverty.
[Fields2]: Green jobs have really been an effective way of not only remedying a lot of the environmental issues that are happening, but simultaneously creating living wage jobs for people in those communities.
By Doug Cunningham
Machinists at Boeing remain steadfast on the picket lines. According to Business Week magazine the strike is costing Boeing more than it would have cost to meet the union’s pension demands. IAM’s Tom Wrobleski.
[Wrobleski]: “Our members are committed. They tell that they are here to do whatever it takes to win this battle against the Boeing company.”
By Doug Cunningham
The AFL-CIO is launching a new campaign reaching out to over a million union swing voters on the health care issue. The effort is targeted in battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. It centers on John McCain’s proposal to tax employer-based health care benefits and privatize Medicare.The AFL-CIO calls it a risky health care scheme that just further burdens already economically struggling workers and middle class families. A mass mailing, a million leaflets, more than 150,000 phone calls and home visits in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio are all part of this campaign. The AFL-CIO is in the midst of its largest campaign mobilization in history, contacting over 13 million voters in 24 priority states.
Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain reports on a debate today that sets the record straight on the Employee Free Choice Act.
On the same day that anti-union forces launched another full-page attack in Oregon on U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley for his support of the Employee Free Choice Act, national Air America radio host Thom Hartmann set the record straight about the legislation.
In a debate with Barbara Comstock, who is helping to lead the national corporate campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act, Hartmann made the case for passage of the bill, while revealing the flawed arguments of the anti-union movement.
Last year, some 18.5 million jobs were created, but another 16 million were lost. Millions of those workers’ jobs disappeared because of U.S. trade policies that encourage companies to move jobs offshore in search of low-wage workers. As a result, millions who had good jobs are being left to fend for themselves and must work two or more low-paying jobs just to make ends meet.
On Oct. 1-2, a panel of experts, including AFL-CIO Policy Director Thea Lee, will discuss online the strategies and support available to help these workers navigate their way to new jobs requiring new skills. Eighteen other educators, economists, activists, journalists and goverment officials will join Lee via e-mail discussion. The online forum, which is sponsored by the nonpartisan group NewTalk, begins at 9 a.m. EDT on Oct. 1 and runs until 6 p.m. Oct. 2. Click here for more information and to view the entire forum live. We’ll follow up here with excerpts from Lee’s e-mail exchanges.
The current economic crisis is hitting Latinos hard and they need the same help that all workers do—better wages, safe working conditions and a union. A new report marks National Hispanic Heritage Month with the news that the union difference benefits Latino workers, just as it does all other union workers.
In the report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for Latino workers who join unions compared with their nonunion counterparts. The report, Unions and Upward Mobility for Latino Workers, found that unionized Latino workers earned, on average, 17.6 percentage points more than nonunion Latinos. Latino union members also were much more likely to have health insurance benefits and a pension plan.
The recent investigations into several local and state SEIU leaders by their national leadership, the U.S. Department of Labor and others into financial irregularities raise questions not only for the largest and most important union in the United States, but for all of us in the labor movement. A little more than a year ago, the head of the New York City Central Labor Council was removed for similar betrayal and financial misdeeds. A Communications Workers of America (CWA) local president in New Jersey is in receivership, in part, as a result of a financial investigation. We know these problems are not the norm, and they harm the huge majority of union members whose leaders’ work is done with little personal financial reward.
According to press reports and the union’s own internal investigation, the local leaders were collecting salaries in an annual range of $200,000 and also using union funds for questionable purposes, either paying family members for doing union business or spending union funds for unacceptable personal expenses. In some cases the local leaders represented workers who make little more than minimum wage. The union is assessing methods of addressing the problem.
Yesterday’s stock market disaster, with the Dow plummeting 778 points—a larger drop than after the Sept. 11 attacks—may make Wall Street traders and billionaire hedge fund investors hyperventilate.
But imagine how much worse for the rest of us it would have been if, three years ago, President Bush and Sen. John McCain had succeeded in their efforts to privatize Social Security, gambling in the stock market funds that have been a guaranteed income for America’s retirees?
Many of our 401(k)s and pension plans took a hit yesterday—but no matter how our individual retirements fare on Wall Street, we would still have Social Security to back us up.
Not so if McCain became president.