A record 5.8 million workers are on unemployment benefits. But White House chief economic adviser Lawrence Summers says the economic free fall may be ending. But in his remarks to the Economic Club of Washington D.C. Summers said it may take a few more months to end. He says inventories are finally dropping below the level of sales, which should cause a rise in production, Home starts, existing home sales and consumer spending have all increased slightly since January.
By Doug Cunningham
Teachers at three Chicago area charter schools have decided to form a union. They filed authorization cards with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to form teacher’s unions at Wrightwood, Northtown Academy and Ralph Ellison schools. The teachers are calling on school officials to promptly recognize the union and begin bargaining for a first contract. The union will be the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers And Staff. That’s an affiliate of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the national American Federation of Teachers. These teachers would be the first charter school teachers in Chicago to be unionized.
JP Morgan Chase is facing a growing boycott in Michigan over the banks position regarding Chrysler. Jesse Russell reports:
JP Morgan Chase has been one of the biggest banks benefiting from various forms of government bailouts including the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Now Chase and other banks that lent Chrysler $7 billion are resisting pressure from the government to take $6 billion owed by the automaker in stock. The banks believe if Chrysler collapses they may be better suited to recoup losses by selling off portions of the company they hold as collateral. Marcy Wheeler is a Michigan resident who writes for emptywheel at firedoglake and she is concerned that the decision by Chase to allow Chrysler to fall into bankruptcy could be devastating for her state and hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers. She said the company is putting itself before workers and because of that stance she has closed her account with Chase and moved her money to a local credit union.
By Doug Cunningham
A major mobilization involving thousands of working, families and their community allies is underway in support of the Employee Free Choice Act labor law reform. More than 300 events supporting the reform are planned during the congressional recess. Workers, small business owners, clergy and community activists are turning out for rallies and showing up at local congressional offices to urge lawmakers to vote for the reform that removes employer intimidation from union organizing efforts.
Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) have ratified a new pattern agreement with Packaging Corp. of America (PCA) covering some 1,500 workers at 25 box-making plants across the country. The five-year agreement sets the pattern in wages, benefits and conditions of employment for local contracts expiring over the next two years.
Under the new deal, workers will retain their medical coverage without an increase in premiums. They also gained wage hikes above the industry standard, solid improvements in the pension plan and substantial increases in short-term disability benefits.
USW President Leo Gerard says the agreement
secures workers’ livelihood at a time when companies are using the economic crisis to slash wages, pensions and health care benefits.
The master agreement is the first of its type for PCA’s box plants. Last year, the USW reached a master agreement for the company’s mill operations. Says USW Vice President Jon Geenen:
Through reaching master agreements like this with the industry leaders, we have effectively put a firewall around over 400 paper sector local unions that otherwise would be vulnerable in the worst economy since the Great Depression.
The contract includes a successor clause, which keeps the deal intact should a plant be sold, leased, transferred or assigned. PCA Council Chairwoman Leeann Anderson says:
It was essential that we receive successorship because the paper industry is in a constant state of change through consolidations, acquisitions and buyouts from private equity firms that take the assets and spin them off for profit. Now our members don’t have to worry about losing their hard-won wages, benefits and contractual protections if their plant is sold.
The master agreement includes a code of conduct regarding organizing campaigns. Just over half of PCA’s facilities are represented by unions. The code prohibits false or misleading statements, negative personal attacks, threats to close a facility and criticism of company officials’ compensation or benefits. Only factual information about policies, practices and procedures can be provided.
Update: The Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) reports that after a concerted international campaign, five FTUB members and their families who had been arrested by the Burmese military junta were released on April 10.
The AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center and the global union movement are condemning the April 1 arrests of five members of the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) by the Burmese military junta. The union members were arrested as they returned home from the first national FTUB Congress.
No charges have been announced in the arrests. According to a statement by the FTUB, the delegates are likely being held in interrogation centers in the Rangoon area, and FTUB spokespersons believe they may be being tortured.
Solidarity Center Director Ellie Larson says:
These arrests are clearly unlawful and violate international human rights standards that the Burmese government has ratified. They are an insult to the global trade union movement and to workers everywhere.
The five union members served as nonviolent advocates and campaigners for workers’ rights and better wages and working conditions for workers in Burma. A key feature of the Congress was the reaffirmation of the FTUB’s commitment to ending military rule and the introduction of democracy in Burma. Union representatives from Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific countries, Europe and North America attended the historic Congress.
The five persons under arrest include U Zaw Myint Aung, a teacher; U Soe Oo, Maung Tun Nyein and Khine Lin Myat, all textile factory workers; and Shwe Y Nyunt, a nurses aide and law student who is also a member of the FTUB Women’s Committee. In addition, a number of family members were arrested, threatened and put under pressure to compel cooperation from the five detainees.
“We join the International Trade Union Confederation, the global labor movement and the FTUB in condemning the arrests of these brave trade unionists,” Larson says.
Workers must be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of association.
This is a crosspost from the Solidarity Center website.
|West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue (R) and Gary Zuckett, chair, West Virginians United for Social & Economic Justice (L), honor Sen. Jay Rockefeller for his work on health care reform.|
Congress can pass comprehensive health care reform this year, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) told a group of West Virginia health care, union and senior activists. He says he hopes quality health care for all can be won with bipartisan support:
But I have never seen many Republicans for health-care reform….If we have to pass a Senate bill with 51 votes, we will do it.
During a ceremony Tuesday at West Virginia AFL-CIO headquarters in Charleston, Rockefeller was honored as a “Champion of Health Care Reform” by West Virginians United for Social & Economic Justice, a coalition of unions and other progressive West Virginia organizations, including WV HCAN, the state affiliate of Health Care for America Now.
West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue and Gary Zuckett, executive director of West Virginia Citizen Action Group, presented the award to Rockefeller. According to Zuckett:
Throughout his long career, he has been an advocate for health-care reform to help children, veterans, miners and their families and all West Virginians.
Rockefeller is on a two-week tour of the Mountain State talking to voters about health care reform and other issues.
Today, we not only have 47 million uninsured Americans. We also have 25 million who are underinsured—72 million people…50 percent of all bankruptcies in this state take place because of the lack of health-care coverage….Insurance companies are making you pay more and they pay less so they can make more money.
A national campaign is promoting the Employee Free Choice Act as critical to the economy, fair workplaces and the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) workers.
A new website, SharedAgenda.org, is bringing together supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The new site is being launched in concert with a national postcard campaign asking senators and House members to co-sponsor the two bills.
Why link these two issues? Because nobody should be fired from a job simply because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and nobody should be fired from a job for trying to form a union. Unfortunately, these abuses are too common. Together, these bills give LGBT workers the access they deserve to the American dream. LGBT workers need the Employee Free Choice Act because the freedom to form unions is critical to protecting them from discrimination and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace and because they need the ability to bargain for equal benefits and fair wages to ensure they can take care of their families.
Sharedagenda.org provides numerous resources for those fighting for fairness in the workplace, including a fact sheet on the Employee Free Choice Act and why it matters for LGBT workers.
Stonewall Democrats and PAW join many other organizations in the LGBT community in support of the Employee Free Choice Act, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Human Rights Campaign. These organizations are part of the broad coalition fighting for workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain for a better life.
I’m looking for any suggestions on how I can lower my rent. Has anyone successfully talked with their landlord into lowering their rent so they could stay in their place?
UrbanMs. replied that she:
did a survey of rents since the housing debacle started and found they are actually lower than what I am currently paying for the same square footage. I hope this gives me a little leverage when I discuss the matter with him. I think though an honest discussion is the best start. It is difficult for landlords to find good tenants, too. If you have been paying on time in the past, he may be willing to work with you.
That is the kind of everyday practical advice that can be hard to find. But, it is exactly the void the Unemployment LifeLine’s Break Room forum hopes to fill—a place where workers—jobless and employed—can share information and tips on coping in this job-killing economy.
That is just one of the many features of the just-launched Unemployment LifeLine, developed by Working America and the AFL-CIO. The site can guide you to resources and services in your area to help working families cope and survive unemployment. The new online one-stop resource center for jobless workers provides a ZIP code searchable database of more than 50,000 resources.
Cara Alcantar, Working America’s Michigan state director, told the Detroit Free Press:
When you get laid off, you don’t get a manual. And this is basically an online manual to help you out and give you resources that nobody tells you about.
But the Unemployment LifeLine also is counting on workers around the country to grow the list of resources. You are the experts on your own towns and areas, and if you know of another resource we should list, please submit them here.
Scott Sneddon, Working America’s canvassing director for Ohio, told The Columbus Dispatch:
People can communicate with each other to offer advice, how to talk with children about a job loss, or even how to talk with creditors about a late bill. The site helps to give a voice back to people who have lost their jobs and feel as though their voices are no longer being heard.
Click here to check out the Unemployment LifeLine and be sure to spread the word.