- Supreme Court Makes It Harder For Workers Filing Age Discrimination Claims
- Doctors For America Says Many Physician Groups Support A Public Health Care Option
- Boston Newspaper Guild Postpones Meeting With Labor Board, Globe Talks Will Resume
- VEBA Names GM Board Member With UAW Consent
- At Least 81 U.S. health Care Workers Have Contracted H1N1 Virus
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 81 U.S. healthcare workers are known to have contracted the H1N1 virus. The report was released in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and suggested that at least half of the known cases were related to working in a healthcare setting. The study recommends that an effort be made to identify patients suspected of having the virus be identified at the front door and hospital staff begin taking increased preventive measures.
By Doug Cunningham
The United Auto Workers union says trustees of the VEBA retiree health care trust at GM have named Stephen Girsky to serve on the GM Board of Directors. Girsky is president of S.J Girsky and Co., an advisory firm based in New York. The UAW says he has twenty years of automotive experience, as a managing director and senior analyst of the Morgan Stanley Global Automotive and Auto Parts Research Team.
By Doug Cunningham
A meeting between the Boston Newspaper Guild and the National Labor Relations Board has been postponed as the union continues efforts to reach an agreement with the Boston Globe over wage cuts. Talks this week fell short of an agreement, but talks will resume soon. The newspaper says it needs $10 million in concessions. It imposed a pay cut of 23 percent after the union rejected a cut of just over 8 percent.
By Doug Cunningham
Dr. Alice Chen with Doctors For America says a recent survey of physicians that belong to her group shows an overwhelming number support a public option in health care reform. She says the AMA only speaks for about 20 percent of doctors in the U.S. and it’s important to understand that there are several doctor’s organizations that back a public option.
[Dr. Alice Chen]: “And it’s not just our group. We’ve also been working with a fair number of other physician organizations that also back the public option. For example the American Academy of Family Physicians, there’s the National Physicians Alliance, there’s the Committee of Interns And Residents, which is with the SEIU, there’s the National Doctors Alliance, there’s a Doctors Council. There are a lot of other groups out there that are all physicians who support a public insurance option.”
It may have just gotten a little bit harder for workers to file an age-discrimination suit. Jesse Russell reports:
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Thursday that workers must show that age was a factor in denial of a promotion, the cause of a demotion, or a number of other employment decisions in order to file an age discrimination case under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. According to Judge Clarence Thomas who wrote for the majority, workers must show actions by employers would not have occurred in the absence of age bias. The ruling could have a direct impact on senior employees. Twenty-four thousand age discrimination cases were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2008. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont issued a statement protesting the ruling. He wrote, “This overreaching by a narrow majority of the court will have a detrimental effect on all Americans and their families.”
Molly Theobald reports on the fight for Employee Free Choice in Pennsylvania.
Each and every day, firefighters, teachers and letter carriers serve our communities; caring for us and keeping us safe. Today, in Scranton, members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF), AFT, Letter Carriers (NALC), the Scranton Central Labor Council and the Northeast Area Labor Federation got together for a roundtable discussion on how our communities are strengthened by giving these men and women the tools they need to do their jobs effectively through the Employee Free Choice Act.
Fair wages, quality health benefits and the resources and tools to do their jobs are all secured through collectively bargaining—and those who serve our communities are testament to how protecting the freedom to form unions makes our communities stronger.
George George, a NALC executive board member, says he wants everyone in his community to have the same chance he did to join a union and have a fair share:
As a letter carrier for 30 years, I am out in the community every day. People treat me like family instead of just some person delivering their mail. And I know through conversations that people are hurting in this economy and working two jobs at a time just to stay afloat. Many of them would have a union if they could. That is where the Employee Free Choice Act comes in.
David Gervasi, vice president of IAFF Local 60, says workers who put their life on the line for their communities—and all workers—deserve the chance to bargain for fair treatment:
At an inherently dangerous job, my union has been there to make sure we are safe and we are prepared for anything. In order for us to do our jobs and protect the community, we need to be protected in turn and that is what a union does. The entire community can only benefit from making sure its members are receiving fair wages, benefits and safety at the workplace. That is why I, as a union member, support other workers’ right to form a union and the Employee Free Choice Act.
Nancy Krake, president of the Scranton Central Labor Council, said she knows what good union jobs mean for her community:
Many of us in Scranton come from union families. We know what it means to have a family that feels secure, that knows it can afford health care, and that knows it is protected at the workplace. We want that for the whole community and we feel that the best first step to accomplishing that is to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.
Patrick McDonough, secretary-treasurer of the Scranton Federation of Teachers, an AFT local, agrees that unions are an essential tool for workers to fight for a better life for themselves and their families:
As teachers, we see the effects of this economic crisis every day when we see our students. Many of our students’ parents are working multiple jobs and barely staying afloat. Through our union we are able to fight for smaller class sizes and for other things that make the classroom a better place for our students. Union workers are very invested in the community and better able to give back to the workplace. I know that the Employee Free Choice Act will be good not only for workers who want a union, but to all the people in the community around them.
Pennsylvania’s economy, like that of the nation, is in shambles, and America’s middle class is getting weaker every day. We need practical solutions to confront the challenges we all face; and, rebuild an economy that works for every one. We need to create well-paying jobs that benefit the community; one clear way to do that is by passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) today ruled in favor of a trade petition filed in April by the United Steelworkers (USW) to slow a torrent of tire exports to the United States during the past several years. Those exports have cost thousands of U.S. jobs.
According to the USW petition, nearly 5,100 U.S. tire workers have lost their jobs as a result of massive erosion in the domestic market since 2004. The loss of jobs coincides with a huge surge in imports of consumer tires from China. Some 3,000 more jobs are slated to be lost by year’s end as three U.S. plants are threatened with closure.
In statement, USW President Leo W. Gerard says:
Our domestic industries cannot survive unless our government enforces the trade laws designed to curb and dissuade anti-competitive practices that cause market disruptions. We anticipate the remedies that will be delivered to President Obama will allow the time necessary to rebuild the U.S. tire industry.
Between 2004 and 2008, imports of consumer tires from China increased by 215 percent in volume and 295 percent by value. In 2008, China exported nearly 46 million consumer tires with a value of more than $1.7 billion to this country, making it the largest source of consumer tire imports.
The union’s petition sought to cap Chinese tire imports at 2005 levels with a 5 percent per year increase over the next three years. The final decision on whether or not to impose trade remedies is up to President Obama—who made a campaign pledge to enforce our trade laws more effectively.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing praised the ITC decision and says China’s tire industry, like most of that nation’s manufacturing sectors,
benefits from illegal government subsidies, labor exploitation, lax environmental standards, and illegal currency manipulation. As a result, U.S. producers, who play by the rules, can’t fairly compete. We’re hopeful the Obama administration will enforce the ITC’s wise ruling.
During a June hearing, Gerard told the ITC that the union has used every tool at its disposal to save the U.S. consumer tire industry from total collapse, including contract concessions, wage increase deferrals and improved productivity.
But all of these efforts aren’t worth a dime if the market is being pulled out right from under us. With a short period of relief, we can start to build a sustainable foundation for the future of the American tire industry and its workers.
At the same hearing, USW Vice President Tom Conway, chairman of the bargaining committee at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., said the company has warned the union since 2003 that low-cost imports were threatening its North American operations.
Our union has made painful sacrifices to keep our companies afloat in a sea of cheap imports from China. We have also worked hand-in-hand with our companies to ensure they keep investing in our facilities so we can stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.
For an in-depth look at the USW battle against unfair tire imports, click here.
Even though his title may have changed, George Kourpias is still as active as ever in the fight for the rights of America’s workers. Kourpias, who retired as president of the Alliance for Retired Americans in February, was honored last night at the organization’s national legislative conference.
Kourpias, the former president of the Machinists (IAM), was the first president of the Alliance. During his tenure, the Alliance grew to 3.5 million members and built a strong grassroots political force that played a key role in the 2006 and 2008 elections. This week, the retirees displayed their political energy by lobbying on Capitol Hill for affordable health care for everyone.
AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka praised Kourpias as
a man who every day of his life…has been devoted to combating the forces of greed and privatization that threaten the dignity of those who work for their daily bread.
Believe me, anybody who has ever confronted him on an issue of principle—whether corporate executive, congressman or senator—has come away knowing that George Kourpias is a man of towering convictions.
R. Thomas Buffenbarger, who succeeded Kourpias as IAM president, said:
George Kourpias brought to the Alliance for Retired Americans the same passion of fighting for working families that he had as president of the Machinists union. His dedication and untiring efforts to mobilize retirees have put the Alliance in a strong position to help win meaningful health care reform, protect pensions and make sure our nation’s workers aren’t shortchanged after a lifetime of work.
The Alliance is naming its state grant program after Kourpias and today named him as Alliance for Retired Americans president emeritus.
Trumka congratulated the Alliance members for the “incredible work you’ve done to change the Congress in 2006, and your encore performance in 2008, that’s given us a president who doesn’t think ‘union’ is a dirty word.”
There’s the unique role you played in securing President Obama’s election by convincing others in your generation to look beyond the habits of prejudice to the promise of a society that offers opportunity to all—no matter the color of their skin or homeland of their origin.
While Obama lost the senior vote overall, union seniors voted for him in higher percentages than any other group.
Kourpias, who received the Alliance’s President Award, added:
The Alliance is so important to the labor movement and to community-based groups in America and we have to go out and continue to build and organize clubs and always be there to protect our Social Security and our Medicare and help the labor movement in these difficult economic times.
Even though retirees and the Alliance have won many battles, including defeating the Bush administration’s plan to privatize Social Security, Trumka warned that the toughest fights are ahead:
restoring full employment and building a new clean energy economy, passing the Employee Free Choice Act and ensuring health care reform to stop the explosive rise in costs driven by runaway profits and skyrocketing CEO pay in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Reforms that prevent employers from continuing to unload the runaway costs of health care and prescription drugs on workers.
The four-day legislative conference, which ends today, is just the beginning of a new wave of activism by retirees, Alliance President Barbara Easterling said.
The members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are lifelong activists, who bring energy, enthusiasm and passion to their work. They will be educating and mobilizing their neighbors in the coming weeks because they know that our country will never be a just society until every American has access to quality, affordable health care.