- Hartmarx Workers, SEIU President Urge Wells Fargo To Extend The Credit Needed To Save Jobs
- Eighty Thousand Pennsylvania Workers Facing Possible Empty Pay Envelopes
- Workers In California Block Wal-Mart Warehouse In Civil Disobedience Union Organizing Action
- Eminem Flying Some Jobless Detroit Autoworkers To Hollywood
- Economic Report: Jobless Claims Up By 32,000 Last Week
Jobless claims were up significantly last week jumping by 32,000 to 637,000. Those are the most recent numbers from the Labor Department which said a major part of the increase was due to lay offs in the auto sector. With Chrysler planning to file for bankruptcy and planning to cut dealer franchises those numbers aren’t likely to increase for months.
Two hundred unemployed Detroit auto workers will be flown to Hollywood by rapper Eminem and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. The workers will have the opportunity to sit on the set of the Jimmy Kimmel show and will also attend an exclusive show put on by the star. Eminem grew up in Detroit and the city was the setting of his award winning 2002 film “8 Mile.”
Workers In California Block Wal-Mart Warehouse In Civil Disobedience Union Organizing Action – 05/15/09
By Doug Cunningham
Hundreds of warehouse workers organizing to form a union at warehouses operated by huge U.S. retailers east of Los Angeles rallied Thursday. They shut down a Wal-Mart warehouse with civil disobedience. During the action Daniel Medress of Warehouse Workers United described the scene.
[Medress]: “Eight people, five clergy members and three workers in the driveway. This warehouse, this Wal-Mart warehouse, has been shut down. There has not been a single truck to exit or enter this facility in well over an hour.”
Pennsylvania state workers could see an empty paycheck envelope if a new budget isn’t passed by July 1. Jesse Russell reports:
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell issued a warning to the state’s 80,000 public sector workers on Thursday, if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget by July 1, they may not get paid. In an e-mail the governor told workers they should continue showing up for work because they will be paid retroactively once a budget deal is reached. Republican’s in the state senate are demanding Rendell make more cuts to his budget and have proposed an alternative that is six percent less.
Hartmarx Workers, SEIU President Urge Wells Fargo To Extend The Credit Needed To Save Jobs – 05/15/09
By Doug Cunningham
As 600 workers for Hartmarx near Chicago prepare to occupy their factory if need be to keep it open, the workers want Wells Fargo bank to know that extending credit to save these jobs is exactly why the banks got billions in tax dollars. Ruby Sims is president of the local at the Hartmarx plant in Des Plaines, Illinois.
[Sims]: “What we’re doin’ is asking the bank to not take our jobs away from us, but to give us a chance so that we can provide and take care of our own families and don’t have to be out there on welfare ad we don’t have to be out there on the unemployment line. Why shut us down when we are able to work and take care of ourselves? All we need is a chance and an opportunity.”
From the big screen to the Broadway stage, a stellar lineup of stars is joining the fight for working families.
Brenneman, one of the television actors appearing in the video, says the freedom to form a union gives working families the economic security they need:
“People associate actors with fame and glory. The truth is for a long time my union contract was the reason I could support my family. That’s why I support the Employee Free Choice Act. Because each worker, regardless of their field, deserves the freedom to bargain for a contract, for a better life.”
Released today, the video and list of performing artists and their bios are available at the new website, Artists for Workers’ Choice (artists4workerschoice.org).
These artists—including Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony award winners and nominees—together with veteran writers and technicians, have created a clear, impassioned explanation of why America’s workers need the Employee Free Choice Act to restore balance in the workplace and have the bargaining power they need to rebuild a strong middle class.
The project came together through the incredible coordination of eight entertainment unions: Actors’ Equity, American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).
The presidents of the eight unions have released a joint statement about why the Employee Free Choice Act matters to them:
The members of all our unions are standing together to support the Employee Free Choice Act because we know that if workers don’t have the freedom to bargain, it affects all of us—our livelihoods, our rights as professionals and our strength to create an economy that works for all.
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The nation’s aviation unions told Congress yesterday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must improve its labor management relations after a contentious eight years under the Bush administration; address flight crew fatigue; improve aviation maintenance safety; and modernize the air traffic control system.
At the Senate aviation subcommittee hearing on the FAA reauthorization bill, Patrick Forrey, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), told the panel:
A restoration of what was once a great collaborative relationship is only possible with the existence of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and a fair process for negotiating future CBAs and other labor agreements. Air traffic controllers have been working under FAA-imposed work and pay rules for nearly 1,000 days.
In 2006, the Bush administration’s FAA rejected NATCA’s call for mediation to settle a contract and walked away from the bargaining table. The agency then imposed a set of work rules and wage cuts that have driven controllers out of the towers. But last month the Obama administration announced it was appointing a team of mediators to help resolve the dispute. Said Forrey:
As the president and the [Transportation] Secretary [Ray LaHood] have repeatedly made clear, a resolution to the dispute is critical to stabilizing the controller workforce, restoring a collaborative working relationship between controllers and the FAA, and successfully implementing the Next Generation Air Transportation System needed to spur economic development and increase the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of air travel.
Tom Brantley, president of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), said change must be made in contract negotiations process with the FAA. For the past six years, four PASS bargaining units have been at an impasse with the FAA.
The goodwill of the current administration is permitting the FAA and NATCA to meet again in an attempt to resolve their dispute, but FAA unions still have no legal means of resolving bargaining disputes. Legislative language is needed to ensure that FAA employees who have chosen to be represented by a union, have the same basic right as every other union member in the our country—the right to real collective bargaining.
Air Line Pilots (ALPA) President Capt. John Prater and William McGlashen, assistant to the president of the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), both called on the FAA to address the issue of flight crew fatigue. Said Prater:
One of the many hardships that the post-9/11 era brought to airline flying was pilots flying right up to the FAA regulatory limit. This has resulted in adverse safety impacts, fatigue, and more stress. Sixteen-hour domestic duty days are facts of life for many airline pilots.
The current regulatory requirement of 8 hours of rest after a 16-hour day has to include travel to and from a hotel, meals, and sleep. So when we see a requirement for 8 hours of rest required for a pilot to operate a flight that translates into only a four or five hour window available for sleep.
McGlashen said fatigue is a “real and serious concern” for flight attendants as well.
As the deep concessions demanded of flight attendants during the recent and ongoing financial turmoil of the airline industry have taken hold, it has become clear that airline management hopes to keep our members working for as long as possible with greatly reduced time off between duty.
Flight attendants are so exhausted that they have informed us that they have in some cases forgotten to perform critical safety functions, including the arming of doors and even fallen asleep on the jump seats. Even more troubling is that the FAA continues to allow the carriers to schedule reduced rest periods, making them more routine, and has failed to recognize or show any concern for the impact that flight attendant fatigue has on the overall safety of the aviation system.
Machinists (IAM) Vice President Robert A. Roach Jr. said many airlines have taken advantage of “grossly unfair bankruptcy laws” to cut wages and break contracts that prohibited or limited outsourcing of aircraft maintenance.
He said IAM mechanics have found U.S. aircraft returning from overseas flights to have serious mechanical problems that were not detected at the foreign repair stations and that inadequate FAA funding and restrictions on FAA inspectors’ access to foreign repair stations must be addressed.
As a consequence of putting dollars ahead of sense, maintenance of U.S. aircraft has been exported across the globe, at a faster pace than the FAA could respond. The FAA needs adequate funding to hire a sufficient number of inspectors to ensure aviation maintenance safety at home and abroad…to safeguard the U.S. aviation industry.
One of the few remaining labor writers for a major newspaper, a blogger who writes about the workers’ side of the economic crisis and a labor historian are among the winners of the 2009 Sidney Hillman Foundation Journalism Awards.
The annual awards were first presented 1950. Now presented in six categories, the Hillman awards are among the most prestigious given to journalists, photographers, writers and public figures whose work fosters social and economic justice. The foundation is named for Hillman, former president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America and a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO.
The awards will be presented in a May 27 ceremony at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.
This year’s winners include Marcy Wheeler, who writes the emptywheel blog on firedoglake.com. Wheeler consistently demonstrates the investigative skills that show what bloggers and those using online tools are uniquely capable of doing. Her keen appreciation to detail and strong empathy with working people shows in her blogs and other writing.
In its description of Wheeler, the Hillman Foundation notes that she has “produced outstanding coverage of the American auto industry crisis.”
Combining her background in the industry with a deep commitment to American workers, her depth of analysis was unrivaled.
Wheeler recently made the front page of The New York Times after she became the first person to notice that a newly released Justice Department memo revealed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times in one month. Her live blogging from the Scooter Libby trial in 2007 is widely regarded as one of the seminal moments in online journalism, the foundation says.
Her fans and supporters recently set a goal to raise $150,000 to allow Wheeler to blog full-time and also to support another investigative blogger to work with her and a researcher to help them. Click here to donate to the fund.
Another friend of workers, Steven Greenhouse, the labor and workplace reporter for The New York Times is the co-winner of the book award for his book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker. In a Point of View column on the AFL-CIO website, Greenhouse said the title exemplifies what is happening to America’s workers.
I really feel there’s a squeeze on workers. In many ways, corporate America is clamping down on its workers. Wages have been cut over the past few years. We’ve seen health benefits get worse. Middle-class Americans have health insurance while the typical worker has to pay twice as much for health insurance as was the case seven years ago.
The best way to loosen the squeeze, Greenhouse says, is to focus on rebuilding our middle class.
The United States should try its darndest to create good middle-class jobs. We need to focus far more on reinvigorating manufacturing. We’ve lost one in five manufacturing jobs since 2000, more than 2.5 million good jobs that paid middle-class wages and benefits.
Read the entire column here.
James Green, professor of history and labor studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will receive the Sol Stetin Award for Labor History. The award is named for the past president of the Textile Workers and founder of the American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark. The Hillman Foundation says Green “has devoted his professional life to writing the history of working people for working people.”
The clear, persuasive analysis and careful research that have characterized his books, articles, classes, films and other public presentations have made him an outstanding teacher in classrooms, union halls, and historical organizations in America and abroad.
Other Hillman winners are Carol Guzy for photo, Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo for broadcast, The Nation for magazine, Nina Bernstein for newspaper reporting and Jane Mayer for books. Click here to learn more about the Hillman Foundation journalism prizes.
Keeping up the pressure on Sen. Arlen Specter to support workers’ freedom to form unions, a group of 30 Pennsylvania rabbis, along with rabbinical students and a rabbinical studies professor, have penned an open letter asking Specter to once again sign on in support of the Employee Free Choice Act.
The letter, published as an ad in the Philadelphia-area newspaper Jewish Exponent, reports that the Huffington Post states the Employee Free Choice Act would re-establish a sense of balance in our economy and restore workplace democracy and fairness. (You can read the letter here.)
Support for workers and for their ability to get a fair shake is a fundamental value, the letter says:
It is not always easy to translate the sanctity of labor into terms that have meaning today, a time in which the marketplace seems to have been elevated above all other holy altars. We believe that the Employee Free Choice Act presents an opportunity to give concrete meaning to the often frustrated dream of a just society.
…it provides an effective and concrete way for workers to form and join unions. And it opens a path toward transformational change. Adoption of the Employee Free Choice Act would give working people the strength and the opportunity to emerge from the despair that so often encumbers their lives.
The rabbis and rabbinical students, brought together by the Jewish Labor Committee, criticize the “smear campaign” against the Employee Free Choice Act and explain, clearly and cogently, how current labor law fails to live up to the standard of giving workers a free and fair shot at joining a union.
These rabbis join several other organizations across the Jewish community in supporting workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain, including Tikkun, the Jewish Labor Committee, Jews United for Justice, Uri L’Tzedek and the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
Let’s hope Sen. Specter is listening.