- Steelworkers President: Workers Must Fight To Save Auto Industry, Manufacturing And To Reverse Trade Policies
- CWA Rejects AT&T’s “Last Offer” As A Step Backward For Workers At The Profitable Company
- L.A. Teachers Cancel One Day Strike, Civil Disobedience And Picketing Will Happen Instead
- Los Angeles City Council Raises Living Wage For 5,000 Airport Workers
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to have the city attorney write a draft revision of a living wage ordinance that would allow for 5000 workers at Los Angeles International Airport see their wages jump from $11.25 per hour up to $14 per hour. The council is making the move because of the rising cost of health care. Contractors are currently required to pay workers $11.25 per hour or $10 per hour plus $1.25 into a health insurance plan.
CWA workers are unhappy with AT&T’s final contract offer. Jesse Russell reports:
On Wednesday AT&T put what the company calls its “last” contract proposal on the table, a proposal that was immediately shot down by Communication Workers of America negotiators. According to the union, which represents 27,000 workers in five states, the new offer is a step backward and ignores a proposal made last Monday of increases of 4.5 percent, 4.25 percent, and 4 percent over the next three years. Instead, the company offered a raise of 2 percent this year followed by successive 2.25 percent raises in 2010 and 2011. The workers in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma are currently operating under a contract that expired in April. Overall the CWA represents 80,000 AT&T employees, nearly a third of the company’s workforce.
Steelworkers President: Workers Must Fight To Save Auto Industry, Manufacturing And To Reverse Trade Policies – 05/14/09
By Doug Cunningham
United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard is on a tour of more than 30 cities to drive home the point that manufacturing and the U.S. auto industry are vital to America. Gerard says the Obama administration must reverse trade policies that are eviscerating domestic manufacturing. Gerard says exporting jobs and closing auto plants with U.S. tax dollars is NOT the way to save the U.S. auto industry. And workers, he said, must fight back against it.
[Gerard]: “We’re not gonna stand around while Wall Street and incompetent management in the car industry destroy our kids’ future. We’re not gonna stand a round and let it happen without a fight. You’ve gotta be prepared to fight, you gotta be prepared to go in the streets, you gotta be prepared to drive to Washington, you gotta be prepared to block roads, you gotta be prepared to occupy plants.”
|500 nurses rallied for health care reform Wednesday on Capitol Hill.|
Here’s a great report on nurses rallying for health care reform in Washington, D.C., from Katrina Blomdahl, writer-researcher for RNs Working Together, a coalition of 10 AFL-CIO unions representing more than 200,000 registered nurses nationally.
Spirits and energy ran high today as hundreds of nurses from all over the country gathered to participate in a National RN Day of Action in Washington, D.C., adding their voices to the nationwide demands for comprehensive health care reform.
The day’s activities included an animated morning nurses’ conference, followed by a march to Upper Senate Park that gained power along the way, gathering 500 nurses and another 500 patient advocates.
Speakers at the rally included Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC); Ann Converso, RN, president of the United American Nurses (UAN); Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.); Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); and M*A*S*H actor Mike Farrell.
After the rally, a large contingent of nurses advanced on Capitol Hill to lobby for a single-payer health care plan and a strong legislative agenda that includes two health care bills introduced today—the National Nursing Shortage Reform and Patient Advocacy Act, sponsored by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and the Nurse and Healthcare Worker Protection Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).
The energy in the room shot through the roof when AFL-CIO President John Sweeney pointed to the need for a system that provides health care for all:
President Obama and the Congress want to concentrate on turning around our economy, and we’re all for that. But our elected officials must realize that we will never have an economy that works for everyone until we have health care that is always there for everyone.
Jean Ross, RN, UAN secretary-treasurer, emphasized that nurses are ready and willing to step up the political pressure to get a system that works for everyone.
Politicians say, “I can’t work wonders, you have to make me.” Well, we’re here, and we’re strong, and we’re ready to make you.
While flexing their political muscle on Capitol Hill, nurses also are strategizing to strengthen their outreach. Ross says:
We’ve done a lot of talking today about organizing, as we always do. We care deeply about organizing because the only way we’re going to challenge those big hospital chains is by joining our power together.
With the economy the way it is right now, it is not the time to silence nurses. We have lots of laid-off workers in this country. Many of them should become nurses. We’re trying to keep the profession attractive, so that they want to become nurses.
Martha Kuhl, treasurer of CNA/NNOC, pointed to the size of the gathering as a major sign of optimism:
It’s incredibly exciting! Looking around the room, you can see that every nurse is excited to be lobbying for patients and for ourselves. As a nurse, you don’t want to see a child come in sicker than they should because their family didn’t have health care. We don’t want patients to not get the care they need because insurance companies deny care or because they can’t afford it.
CNA/NNOC board member DeAnn McEwan, RN, says she’s ready for structural change in the way we handle health care.
We’re defenseless against the for-profit health care industry. Insurers provide no value in the delivery of health care services. They are not licensed or competent, yet they are able to overrule expert practitioners at the bedside. We want to make sure everyone has the care they need without respect to their ability to pay.
Wearing buttons reading: “RNs: the REAL Healthcare Policy Experts” and “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History,” McEwan is a committed activist who sees herself as participating in a strong history of social/political activism among nurses.
Yesterday was the 189th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, and yesterday DeAnn McEwan was arrested at the Senate Finance Committee Meeting along with four other health care activists.
Some 40 other RNs staged a silent protest—standing before the committee in red nursing scrubs and turning their backs to show signs reading “Nurses Say: Patients First. Stop AHIP. Pass Single-Payer.” (AHIP, America’s Health Insurance Plans, is the private insurance industry lobby arm.)
McEwan was reading a quote from Nightingale when police escorted her out of the room. She wanted them to hear Nightingale’s call to action:
Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.
McEwan says she didn’t plan to be arrested, she just wanted to get the message out.
As patient advocates, we are disappointed with what we have. We can do better. We should do better.
McEwan was charged with “disorderly conduct” and “disruption of Congress.” She finds the second charge ironic.
They accused me of disrupting Congress, but I think that Congress is disrupting our health care system, and that compelled me speak out.
The RN Day of Action was sponsored by CNA/NNOC, UAN, Massachusetts Nurses Association, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, New York State Nurses Association and the SEIU Nurse Alliance.
In recent weeks, we’ve all heard the advice to stay home from work if symptoms show up that could indicate an H1N1 (swine flu) infection. But as the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF) long has pointed out, nearly 50 percent of private-sector workers have no paid sick leave. And 76 percent of low-income workers lose a day or more of pay if they stay home sick.
Tomorrow in Boston, the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition will make that point and urge lawmakers to make the Bay State the first to require employers to provide paid sick leave for workers.
The coalition, which includes the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, affiliated unions, community and other groups, will gather in the State House in the 4th floor cafeteria and distribute surgical masks and flu “prescriptions” urging passage of legislation (S.B. 688 and H.B. 1815) allowing workers to earn up to seven paid sick leave days a year.
According to the coalition:
Workers who come in contact with the public the most are those least likely to have paid sick days. Almost 80 percent of wait staff and child-care workers cannot earn paid sick days. Without paid sick days, workers and their families have to choose between risking the spread of the flu or staying home and risking the loss of pay or loss of their job.
For more on the legislation from the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, click here .
Currently, there is no state or federal law guaranteeing workers paid sick leave.
But Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) plan to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act in Congress later this month. The bill would guarantee workers up to seven paid sick days a year to recover from an illness or to care for a sick family member.
At the state level, paid sick leave campaigns are under way in more than a dozen states (click here for more info). Three cities—Milwaukee, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—have paid sick leave laws. For more information and to join an “Online Rally” for paid sick leave, go here.
The resources include ways to protect the rights of low-wage and immigrant workers. They also provide strategies to combat anti-immigrant legislation and arguments to support economic development that works for all people.
Click on the title to link to a resource.
Resources for strengthening protections for low-wage and immigrant workers:
- Congressional testimony by Cathy Ruckelshaus, NELP legal co-director, “The H-2B Guestworker Program and Improving The Department of Labor’s Enforcement of the Rights of Guestworkers“.
- Rights Begin at Home: Defending Domestic Workers’ Rights in Illinois.
- Rights Begin at Home: Defending Domestic Workers’ Rights in California.
- Unregulated Work: Research and Public Policy for an Emerging Trend in the U.S. Labor Market.
- Research on Informal Work in the U.S.
Resources for fighting back against anti-immigrant bills in the states:
- State Identity Theft Bills.
- From Anti-Immigrant to Pro-Worker: What Can States and Cities Do About Immigration and Workers’ Rights.
- Costly in Every Way: States That Have Implemented Harsh Anti-Immigrant Laws Face Grave Economic Risks
Resources for making the case for accountable economic development:
Workers who want to pass the Employee Free Choice Act don’t just have a broad coalition of allies in support of them—they’re also very, very lucky in their enemies. Opposing the legislation has become a cottage industry for out-of-work, right-wing hacks, and the fight has attracted the attention of one of the most widely loathed out-of-work, right-wing hacks: Dick Cheney.
The broadly unpopular former vice president attacked the Employee Free Choice Act as a “huge mistake” on a Fox News appearance yesterday, reports Sam Stein of the Huffington Post. And naturally—does it even need to be said—Cheney’s claims about what the bill would do are flatly false and repeatedly debunked.
As advocates of the Employee Free Choice Act, we enthusiastically welcome Dick Cheney as an opponent. What better symbol of the anti-worker campaign than an angry multimillionaire who’s already been broadly repudiated for his disastrous effects on the country? (Even some Republicans are wishing he’d “go back to his undisclosed location.”)
Meanwhile, yet another beloved public figure from the thankfully-ended Bush era is hitting the airwaves and the lecture circuit to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act—Bush’s top political strategist, Karl Rove.
On Monday, Rove visited Peoria, Ill., to talk to a handful of corporate leaders—and more than 200 union members turned up outside the hotel where he was speaking to say he’s wrong about the Employee Free Choice Act. Fired Up! Missouri reports that Rove also took the traveling anti-worker road show to St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is bringing in 80 corporate bosses to D.C. this week for drop-in lobbying visits to senators. The big-money, anti-worker machine is hoping that its campaign contributions, disinformation and threats will speak more loudly than, say, numbers of actual people. The Chamber also is holding occasional anti-Employee Free Choice “information sessions” around the country to try to convince business leaders they’re heading for Armageddon.
In a great piece at the Huffington Post, the AFL-CIO’s Stewart Acuff notes that the anti-union movement is “deaf to the kitchen-table concerns of all Americans” and that gives workers and their supporters a critical opportunity to make sure workers have the tools they need to improve their lives.
What’s happening in support of the Employee Free Choice Act? Workers across the country have made more than 60,000 phone calls and sent 140,000 handwritten letters urging their members of Congress to support Employee Free Choice; religious leaders are joining together to launch the “Faith Leaders for Workplace Fairness” campaign; and the coalition of supporters of workers’ freedom to form unions is large and growing.
So the opponents of workers’ freedom to bargain think they’re going to win by relying on disliked and discredited political has-beens like Newt, Dick and Karl to make their case?
Keep up the good work, guys.
Unfair currency manipulation in the global economy is costing millions of American manufacturing jobs—and a coalition of labor, business and agriculture leaders say the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (CRFTA) is the best vehicle to stop the wholesale destruction of our manufacturing base.
At a Capitol Hill press conference today, members of the Fair Currency Coalition endorsed the bipartisan legislation introduced by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Sens. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The bill would treat prolonged currency manipulation as an illegal subsidy and dumping under U.S. trade laws.
In a statement, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and Fair Currency Coalition Co-Chair Richard Trumka says job creation is the number one issue on the minds of the federation’s members.
While enacting the stimulus has provided critical short-term relief, the United States will not see sustained employment growth until our government stops China, Japan and others from using their undervalued currency to steal American jobs. That’s why Congress must pass the Ryan-Murphy CRFTA as quickly as possible.
Specifically, the CRFTA would:
- Neutralize the negative effects of misaligned foreign currency by allowing injured American industries and their workers to seek remedies under current trade laws;
- Use publicly available data and methods to determine the misalignment in a transparent way;
- Apply a fair and predictable standard for currency misalignment; and
- Create an incentive for foreign governments to cease their unfair mercantilist trade practices and provide a deterrent against similar abuses in the future.
The AFL-CIO, U.S. manufacturers and many economic experts have argued that several of our trading partners, including China, intervene in currency markets to keep the value artificially low so they can boost exports and discourage imports—running up the U.S. trade deficit and costing good American jobs.
For example, an AFL-CIO report shows China’s fixed currency rate artificially lowers the price of its goods by 40 percent, effectively subsidizing China’s exports, putting U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage and creating a record trade deficit.
Machinists (IAM) President Tom Buffenbarger told the press conference the nation is “literally losing its manufacturing base as I speak,” taking away the “dreams of our middle class and any hope for our nation’s economic recovery.”
Americans have become long on despair and short on dreams, in part due to the misalignment of currencies. For far too long, our government has sought alternatives to address this problem. None of them have worked. We urgently need to adopt a more forceful strategy reflected by this bill.
Charles Blum, executive director of the Fair Currency Coalition, said the CRFTA is based on international trade rules and is not protectionist, but an antidote to protectionism.
It is not a threat to economic recovery here or abroad, but a necessary contribution to it. It focuses on no particular country, but establishes a rule to be applied equally to all countries at all times.
“All U.S. industry asks for is a level playing field,” said Fair Currency Coalition Co-Chair Doug Bartlett.
If we cannot compete, shame on us. But shame on the U.S. government when they force U.S. industry to start off at a 30 to 40 percent price disadvantage because of a foreign government’s monetary manipulation. This is anti-free enterprise, anti-free trade and anti-American.
Bartlett’s company, Bartlett Manufacturing in Cary, Ill., recently was forced to lay off 50 employees and merge with another company due to unfair competition from illegally subsidized imports. He adds:
Even the most competitive of us is not strong enough to compete with a self-replenishing national slush fund.
In a letter to their House colleagues, Reps. Ryan and Murphy summed up the issue this way:
Foreign countries engage in illegal currency misalignment when they effectively prevent market forces from determining the value of their currency. This practice allows those foreign countries artificially to make their exports cheaper and their imports more expensive in terms of their own currency, thereby putting American goods and services at an unfair competitive disadvantage in all markets. This…policy not only subverts real free trade but also adds to the massive imbalances that threaten the global system. It must be ended.
Specter, who once co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act, expressed doubts about it in March, shortly before his dramatic party switch last month. The new ad says that to earn the support of working families, Specter needs to support their freedom to form unions and bargain.
Produced by American Rights at Work, the ad will run throughout Pennsylvania.
Says the ad:
Pennsylvania backed Specter when he was the deciding vote for President Obama’s stimulus package. It’s already bringing new jobs. Specter usually does the right thing. Two years ago, he supported the Employee Free Choice Act to help working people join together for fair pay and benefits. So now where will Specter stand? With Obama, Biden and the working families of Pennsylvania? Or with greedy CEOs and Big Business lobbyists? Call and tell Specter Pennsylvania’s for him, as long as he’s for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Specter should follow the example of his old Senate colleague and now Vice President Joe Biden, who at yesterday’s AFSCME conference once again stated the administration’s commitment to a level playing field for workers and giving them the bargaining power they need to rebuild the middle class.
Biden said current labor law isn’t protecting workers’ critical freedoms:
You’ve got to climb up a hill with so many roadblocks on the way to organize that it’s just out of whack.
If a union is what you want, then a union is what you should get.
So, Senator Specter, what’s it going to be? Your constituents, or the big-money corporate opponents of workers’ freedom to form unions?