Members of the Communications Workers of America formed a “statewide picket line” on Tuesday to protest a proposal by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine for state workers to accept 12 unpaid furlough days and forgo pay increases. The proposed budget calls for $500 million in givebacks through wages and the furlough days. Under the proposal workers would take two unpaid days off in May with 12 additional unpaid days off over the fiscal year starting in June. The Governor has yet to discuss the proposals with the union regardless of repeated requests to come to the negotiating table. The union has filed a suit to block the Governor’s proposal from being implemented.
Many of the new jobs being created under President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan are in male dominated fields such as construction. Fran Medaglia is with the New York based Women on the Job which is working with women to educate them on new opportunities provided by the stimulus:
[Medaglia]: In terms of non-traditional employment, careers in math and technology, and the green jobs that are going to be part of the stimulus package.
Los Angeles is facing a budget crisis that could equal $1 billion by the year 2010. This has led Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to propose a series of options to municipal worker unions which include consideration of working shorter weeks or forgoing scheduled pay raises. The Mayor says if he can’t reach a pay solution with city workers he may need to cut as much as 7 percent of the workforce. He announced 400 layoffs on Monday.
Union Service Sector Workers Earn on Average 10.1 Percent More Than Non-Union Service Workers – 04/08/09
Lede: Unionization shows real promise to transform service sector jobs into good middle-class jobs. Doug Cunningham reports.
By Doug Cunningham
Service sector workers in union earn on average 10.1 percent more money than non-union service workers. That’s according to a new report from the Center For Economic and Policy Research. The union advantage for serice workers is about $2 per hour. Union service workers are also 19 percent more likely to have employer provided health insurance and 25 percent more likely to have pensions. For low-wage service sector jobs having a union is an even bigger advantage. For those workers unions boosted pay by 15.5 percent over non-union workers. The report analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey from 2004 through 2007. Thirteen point three percent of service workers were represented by unions during that time. The vast majority of U.S. jobs are now in the service sector. The report says unionization can turn what otherwise would be low-wage jobs with no benefits into middle-class jobs.
State by state, thousands of workers and community groups are taking this two-week congressional recess as an opportunity to speak directly to their members of Congress about the Employee Free Choice Act.
In more than 300 public events, including rallies, town hall meetings, phone banks and deliveries of letters to the local offices of members of the House and Senate, workers and allies in the religious, civil rights and small business communities are letting their elected officials know they demand quick passage of this critical bill protecting workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.
Already, the broad coalition for Employee Free Choice has seen successful recess events, including a rally attended by 150 people in Arkansas, the hand-delivery of hundreds of letters in Pennsylvania and 1,000 workers marching through San Diego. Events in support of the Employee Free Choice Act are taking place nationwide.
In Indiana, local small business owners got together Friday for a community meeting to talk about why they support the Employee Free Choice Act and workers’ freedom to form unions.
For David Livinghouse, the owner of a restaurant in Indianapolis, his business depends on having a strong customer base. The tough times for Indiana’s economy have hurt his restaurant, and the best remedy, he says, is making sure workers have good jobs with fair wages. He also credits his father’s union with giving him a middle-class upbringing and the opportunity to start a business, as well as providing his father with a secure pension that supports him in retirement.
Elsewhere in Indiana, letter-writing sessions continue as union members and allies reach out to Congress, and the Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor hosted a gathering in support of the Employee Free Choice Act today.
Another small business event took place Friday in Van Buren, Ark., where three members of the business community talked about why they felt the Employee Free Choice Act was critical to a strong economy, for workers and employers alike.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the size and scale of the grassroots efforts in support of the Employee Free Choice Act are signs of the momentum for workers’ freedom to form unions.
This massive grassroots mobilization shows that working people really want and need passage of real labor law reform in 2009. Without workers’ freedom to bargain for better wages and benefits, our economy can’t be rebuilt for everyone.
Popular progressive radio show host Ed Schultz, who now anchors ”The Ed Show“ on MSNBC television, hosted Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers (USW), on the program’s first installment Monday night.
Gerard told viewers: “We cannot put this country back on its feet by continuing to worship at the knees of the financial community that put us in this mess. We’ve got to go back to start to make things in America; we’ve got to put people back to work; we’ve got to save the auto industry.”
Gerard discussed the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States and what the demise of our auto industry would mean to other sectors. He stressed the need to reform health care and fix our trade policies with China. (Click here for the full interview.)
“The Ed Show” airs Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. EDT on MSNBC. Says Schultz:
I look forward to having a day-to-day discussion with fellow Americans on issues that really matter to all of us.
A 30-year radio veteran, Schultz is the top-rated progressive talker on radio and an avid voice for the middle class. His syndicated radio program, “The Ed Schultz Show,” airs live weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. (EDT) with a weekly audience of more than 3 million listeners on 100 stations across the country.
Says MSNBC President Phil Griffin:
Ed’s proven that he can connect with Americans….He has been the breakthrough talent in an industry dominated by conservative voices.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today repeated his intent on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to block a Senate vote on the Employee Free Choice Act, despite his past support of the bill. The bill hasn’t changed—so why has Specter flipped?
Compiling a few video clips, we look at Specter’s most recent statements and compare them with what he said in 2005, when he was “delighted” to join Sen. Ted Kennedy, Rep. George Miller and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Back then, Specter said the bill was important and necessary, worth supporting specifically because the option of majority sign-up needs to be available if workers want it to form a union.
Said Specter in 2005:
We held hearings last year and it was my conclusion, my judgment that this legislation ought to be pursued.
The basic approach, that workers should have an opportunity by majority rule to determine labor organization, is fundamental in America.
That was when Specter felt current law was “unwise” to allow the kind of management delays and coercion that were—and are—too common in the process of forming unions. He argued explicitly in favor of making sure workers had the option of majority sign-up.
Later in 2005, in a video message to AFL-CIO Convention delegates, Specter boasted about the seniority he achieved thanks to union members’ support and proudly proclaimed himself a “lead sponsor” of the Employee Free Choice Act.
Now, after consulting with “interested parties,” Specter has changed his mind on the issue, saying he won’t even support allowing the bill to get a simple vote in the full Senate.
The language of the bill is the same now as when Specter co-sponsored it in 2005. It’s the same language as it was in 2007, when Specter voted against a filibuster and in support of allowing a Senate vote.
The video encourages viewers to call Specter and see what his position on the bill is today. You can reach his office in Allentown, Pa., at 610-434-1444 or his office in Washington, D.C., at 202-224-4254.
After decades of disappointing wage growth for U.S. workers, a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that joining a union significantly boosts the wages of service-sector workers.
The report, “Unions and Upward Mobility for Service-Sector Employees,” shows that union membership raises the wages of the average service-sector worker by 10.1 percent, or about $2 per hour. According to the report, 13.3 percent of service-sector workers were either members of unions or covered by union contracts at their workplace in the 2004-2007 period. Click here to read the report.
On average, joining a union increases by 19 percentage points the likelihood that a service-sector worker will have employer-provided health insurance. Also, unionized service-sector workers were 25 percentage points more likely to have pensions than their nonunion peers.
Says John Schmitt, a senior economist at CEPR and author of the report:
The vast majority of jobs in this country are now in the service sector. The data show that workers in service jobs benefit as much from unionization as workers in manufacturing do.
The impact of unions in low-wage occupations was even greater. For workers in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union membership raised wages by 15.5 percent. The likelihood of having health insurance increased by about 26 percentage points, and the likelihood of having an employer-sponsored pension increased by about 23 percentage points.
Unions give the biggest boost to workers in low-paying occupations because these are the workers that have the least bargaining power in the labor market. Unionization can turn what would otherwise be low-paying jobs with no benefits into middle-class jobs.
Most of us know a friend or a family member who has lost his or her job. Many of us fear we will be next. After all, with more than 600,00 jobs a month vanishing, official unemployment now stands at 8.5 percent. And with as much as 15.6 percent of the adult workforce either jobless, underemployed or part of a group that has just plain given up looking for work, that fear is more than justified.
If you were to join the more than 13 million workers without jobs today, do you know where you would turn for help?
Here are a few of the issues the lifeline addresses:
- Where do you go for unemployment benefits, and what do you do if your former employer contests your claim?
- How are you going to keep your health insurance?
- What do you tell your family?
- How do you stretch every last day out of your money to give you time to find a new job?
- And how do you take your anger, depression or fear and turn it into a force for change?
With the help of the AFL-CIO’s Community Services staff—which has been helping working families deal with tough times for decades—and the Working America Education Fund, the new one-stop resource center for jobless workers provides a ZIP Code searchable data base of more than 50,000 resources. And that list is growing day by day.
We’ve spent weeks putting together a huge database of unemployment offices, food banks, health clinics, debt counseling agencies and anything else we could find that would be useful, but we know there’s more out there. You’re all experts on your own towns and areas, and if you know of another resource we should list, please submit it here. We’ll review submissions and add them to the site where appropriate.
The immediate goal for the Unemployment Lifeline is to provide resources and help now to give working families the best opportunities to cope with the staggering economy and growing unemployment. The site also is fertile ground to grow a community of activist workers who will be especially important to building an economic recovery. Says Clawson:
We need to join together to push for more jobs, better jobs and a stronger economy. The Unemployment LifeLine will empower the unemployed by offering regular opportunities for action to make America’s economy work fors. We’ll be pushing for stronger regulation of the financial industry, for green jobs and health care reform and to restore workers’ freedom to join unions and bargain for better benefits and fair wages.
The Unemployment LifeLine also includes a forum where workers can share their thoughts and information with others, a Worker Wiki that you can contribute too and edit and a calendar of workers’ events around the country.
Click here to check out the Unemployment Lifeline and be sure to spread the word.