American workers are overachievers. That seems to be what a new report from the Society for Human Resource Management suggests. According to the organization, 72 percent of Americans work through lunch each day so they can get more work done during the day. Another 70 percent of US workers surveyed say they often take their work home with them by doing additional work on projects at home.
Workers Are Organizing More Than 200 Events Promoting Passage Of Employee Free Choice Act – 05/22/09
By Doug Cunningham
The AFL-CIO says working families and their unions will organize more than 200 events nationwide over the Memorial Day Congressional recess calling for swift passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. The labor law reform doesn’t yet have enough Senate votes to pass. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is reportedly working on changing the bill without compromising its core principles in order to persuade enough fellow senators to vote for it. Meanwhile support for making it easier for workers to join unions is coming from a unlikely source – an international coalition of investors managing $372 billion in assets.
$50 million dollars is being set aside for retraining in communities hit by job losses and plant closings in the auto sector. According to Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers Ed Montgomery the money is part of the $787-billion stimulus plan. It will be used specifically for retraining workers so they have skills for new green technology jobs coming down the pipeline. More details concerning exactly how and where the funds will be distributed will be released in the coming month. According to the Detroit Free Press the grant program’s goal is to build “partnerships between schools, community organizations and entrepreneurs” to develop local strategies for job creation.
By Doug Cunningham
The UAW says it’s reached a “tentative understanding” with GM and the U.S. Treasury Department on contract changes for autoworkers. The union isn’t releasing details until its members see them and vote on whether or not to ratify the concessions. Before reaching the deal the UAW said it expected details to be close to what was agreed to at Chrysler. GM wants to cut 21,000 union jobs and close 16 plants while importing more cars from GM plants overseas to sell in the U.S. If the GM agreement is like the one at Chrysler the UAW will emerge with hourly wages for veteran autoworkers still averaging $28. Newly hired autoworkers, though, will earn as little as $14 an hour. The lower wage is limited to 20 percent fo the automakers’ workforce. Pensions and health care for retirees will still be provided unless bankruptcy judges change the deal reached between the automakers, the union and the government. The UAW will also end up holding 55 percent of Chrysler stock and 39% of GM stock to be used to finance UAW retiree health care. The UAW says meetings and ratification votes on the new GM agreement are being scheduled.
BREAKING: President Obama has delayed moving the Panama trade deal because of union objections. Read more here.
Congress should not consider the U.S.-Panama trade agreement until Panama implements labor law and tax reforms and the Obama administration lays out a comprehensive, principled trade strategy for the United States.
Testifying before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee today, AFL-CIO Policy Director Thea Lee said the union movement will oppose the Panama deal unless these issues are resolved.
The AFL-CIO has called on Panama to bring its labor laws into compliance with the International Labor Organization’s (ILO’s) minimum standards. For example, Panama’s laws effectively prohibit the forming of a union in most workplaces and seriously limit the right to strike. A growing problem in Panama are the laws that allow employers to circumvent unions by repeatedly hiring the same workers on a temporary basis, rather than hiring them as full-time workers, Lee said.
Even when the laws meet international standards, the Panamanian government does not effectively enforce them. Lee pointed out that child labor is a concern in Panama because the age limits for workers are not enforced.
The Panama agreement does not reach the standards that Barack Obama set for trade deals during the 2008 presidential campaign, Lee said. In the Democratic Party platform, Obama emphasized the need for trade policy to “be an integral part of an overall national economic strategy that delivers on the promise of good jobs at home and shared prosperity abroad.” Now, instead of laying out a new trade policy, the administration is pushing a “patchwork policy” left over from the Bush administration, Lee said.
The nation’s global competitiveness should not be determined based on the profitability of U.S. multinational corporations operating abroad, but rather on the ability of U.S.-based producers to compete and thrive on American soil in a dynamic global economy, Lee told the panel. By this standard, she said, our trade policy needs deep reform.
Current U.S. trade policy has failed to deliver good jobs at home; equitable, democratic, and sustainable development abroad; or a stable global economy. We need to review and reform our trade policy with respect to the overall framework of rules; our chronic and large trade imbalances; and the impact of our trade and investment policies on U.S. manufacturers, farmers, service providers, consumers, workers, and the environment.
This review is especially urgent in light of the current economic crisis and the weakness of the U.S. labor market, Lee said.
As long as we continue to run trade deficits on the order of 5 percent of GDP [Gross Domestic Product], the arguments that we need more trade liberalization to succeed in the global economy ring hollow—especially to our members, who have seen too many jobs go offshore while their wages and benefits stagnate.
At the same time, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), among others, has raised serious questions about Panama’s self-advertised role as a tax haven for multinationals. This is a serious problem, especially since the Obama administration has signaled its interest in closing egregious tax shelters.
In addition to the Panama agreement, the AFL-CIO opposes Bush-negotiated trade pacts now on the table with Colombia and South Korea, Lee told the committee.
Colombia continues to be the most dangerous country for trade union members with more than 2,700 trade unionists murdered since 1986, including more than 500 since President Álvaro Uribe took office in 2002. Forty-nine trade unionists were killed in 2008—a 25 percent increase over the previous year. Seventeen trade unionists have been murdered this year as of May 15.
The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, as negotiated, would decimate our auto sector and increase pressure on other key industrial sectors, potentially costing tens of thousands of good U.S. jobs, said Lee. South Korean labor unions also have concerns about the agreement, as their government and employers have recently cracked down on union activities and exploited loopholes in Korean labor law.
We stand with them in demanding that both of our governments respect all the International Labor Organization’s core labor standards, in both law and practice.
The UAW announced today it has reached a tentative understanding with the U.S. Treasury Department and General Motors Corp. on changes to the 2007 UAW/GM bargaining agreement. The union says the tentative agreement also contains modifications to the independent Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust that funds retiree health care.
Details are not available until after ratification meetings for UAW members at GM, which are now being scheduled.
A pact between GM and the UAW was one of the key obstacles for the automaker to clear before a June 1 deadline for the company to restructure its debt as part of a process widely expected to include a bankruptcy filing.
In April, UAW members ratified a similar agreement with Chrysler, Fiat and the Treasury Department.
Before more than 1,000 registered nurses and their supporters hit the halls of Congress last week to lobby lawmakers on key nursing and health care reform legislation and the Employee Free Choice Act, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney took time out to praise and encourage the sponsors of the event: the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), United American Nurses (UAN), Massachusetts Nurses Association, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, New York State Nurses Association and the SEIU Nurse Alliance.
The nurses had traveled from all around the nation to take part in the National RN Day of Action as part of National Nurses Week. We thought we’d share some of Sweeney’s remarks as a reminder to all of us of the great work nurses do—work that sometimes too many of us take for granted—and as a way to highlight the need for safe working conditions so nurses can continue to give their patients the best care possible.
Thanks to all of you for what you do every day for all of our families—what a terrific gathering, what a great tribute to the nurses of our nation to have you here in Washington during National Nurses Week.
What are we here for today?
We’re here to tell the U.S. Congress we need national standards when it comes to patient ratios, safe workplaces and a national ban on mandatory overtime.
You’ll be lobbying today in support of the omnibus bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer—and God bless her for doing what should have been done years ago.
But nurses need and deserve so much more—so don’t forget to tell our elected leaders it’s time to recognize the women and men who work their hearts out every day caring for our loved ones and saving lives, and health care employers need to recognize every one of you by listening to your voices, by providing better health care and pension benefits, and by paying you what you are worth.
People ask me all the time, “Why do we have a nursing shortage? Why aren’t more young people coming into this noblest of professions? Why can’t we keep nurses on the job?”
My answer is always the same:
Get your priorities straight, America—take out your checkbook, America.
Click here for an in-depth look at the rally that included speakers Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA/NNOC; Ann Converso, RN, president of the UAN; Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE); Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.); Boxer and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.); and M*A*S*H actor Mike Farrell.
For a look at the new United American Nurses-National Nurses Organizing Committee (UAN-NNOC) that will bring together the 150,000 registered nurses in the CNA/NNOC, UAN and the Massachusetts Nursing Association, click here.
Members of the U.S. Senate and House are returning home this weekend for the Memorial Day recess, and when they get there, union members and our allies will be ready. Over the coming week, thousands will mobilize to ask their members of Congress to quickly pass the Employee Free Choice Act and make the economy work for everyone again.
More than 200 recess events will take place across the country in key states like Alaska, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Maine, Arkansas and Wisconsin. Union members and a broad coalition of allies will hold a range of events in support of the freedom to form unions and bargain, from 24-hour candlelight vigils to town hall meetings demonstrating the strong grassroots momentum for the Employee Free Choice Act.
Union members and supporters of workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain also will contact senators directly through letters and phone calls. Working families are expected to deliver 40,000 phone calls and 25,000 hand-written letters to their senators asking them to support the Employee Free Choice Act.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the coming week will mark an unprecedented level of activity and enthusiasm:
Working people across the country are mobilizing as never before for the Memorial Day recess because we believe that Congress should and will pass labor law reform this summer. From 24 hour candlelight vigils to visits at district offices, working people are stepping up because it’s time to create an economy that works for everyone.
Don’t forget to join us at the AFL-CIO, Tuesday, May 26, to take in the best view in Washington, D.C., and help support the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act.
You’ll get a chance to enjoy food, music and a stunning view of the White House from our 8th floor balcony.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker will host the reception.
WHAT: Employee Free Choice Act fundraiser
WHERE: AFL-CIO, 815 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. If you’re taking Metro, we’re a short block from the McPherson Square station, White House exit.
WHEN: Tuesday, May 26, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Tickets are $100 each. All proceeds support the Turn Around America Fund to keep ads running that spread the word about the Employee Free Choice Act and counter the corporate lies and distortions. (Donations accepted only from labor organizations and individuals contributing on their own behalf.)
Be part of this great opportunity for real change for America’s working families.
Click here for details.