- Labor Joins Illinois Government, Employers In Helmets To Hardhats Agreement With Army Reserve And National Guard
- Pennsylvania State Workers Will Get Their Paychecks After All During Budget Standoff
- 9/11 First Responders Continued To Report Health Problems For Six Years After Attacks
- Economic Report: July Jobs Losses Down 100,000 From June
Fewer jobs were cut in the United States in July. ADP Employer Services estimated that 371,000 jobs were cut in the United States during July, down nearly 100,000 from the month before. Construction employment fell by 64,000 jobs and medium-sized businesses made the most cuts slashing 159,000 jobs. Small businesses followed with 138,000 cuts and big business cut 74,000. More than six million jobs have been lost in the United States since the recession began at the tail end of 2007.
The Journal of the American Medical Association says rescue and recovery workers at the World Trade Center continued to report new health problems up to six years after the September 11th. Thirty-nine percent of the workers at the site and nearby residents reported developing asthma after the attacks. Twenty- four percent of the rescue workers experienced post traumatic stress disorder.
Pennsylvania workers will get paid even as legislators and the Governor continue to battle over a budget. Jesse Russell reports:
New legislation signed in Pennsylvania by Governor Ed Rendell will allow state workers to receive paychecks while he continues to fight with the Republican legislature on how to fix a budget hole. Rendell also signed a bill that will extend unemployment benefits for the more than 23,000 jobless in the state who have run out of benefits. Those unemployed will now have an extra seven weeks. According to the change in legislation the jobless are now eligible for up t
Labor Joins Illinois Government, Employers In Helmets To Hardhats Agreement With Army Reserve And National Guard – 08/06/09
By Doug Cunningham
The state of Illinois, City of Chicago, the Chicago Federation of Labor, the Teamsters, and dozens of Chicago and state employers signed an historic Helmets To Hardhats agreement with the Army Reserve and National Guard Wednesday at Teamster City in Chicago. The program helps military veterans get into solid construction trade careers. John Coli is President of Teamsters Joint Council 25.
[Coli]: “I think you’re going to see a movement nationwide for this type of partnership. It’s really unprecedented, and I’m glad the Teamsters were able to be a part of it. We’re gonna be able to put people to work and treat them as they should b treated after they’ve given their service and in some cases family members’ lives.”
The orchestrated, handbook-guided extremist disruptions of town hall meetings on health care reform being held by members of Congress are turning into “a series of shout-downs and freak-outs,” says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.
“…something resembling right-wing performance art. [It's] a well-orchestrated national effort to mobilize teabaggers to go and shut down these town hall events with raucous demonstrations and generally making it impossible for the members of Congress to talk.”
“Teabaggers” refers to the fact that many of the groups behind the manipulated chaos are the same outfits that staged the phony grassroots “Tea Party” tax protests earlier this year. Then, as now, Fox News and other right-wing media outfits are trying to portray the actions as genuine revolts. Many of staged tax “protest” events drew just a handful of people, but closeup camera angles and breathless, fawning coverage seriously exaggerated the scope of the protests.
But now, they are armed with a battle guide from the anti-government group Right Principles that tells them to disrupt meetings “early and often….Watch for opportunities to stand up and shout…rock the boat…stand up and shout.” They are being encouraged by a growing number of health care reform opponents, including Republican leaders trying to kill President Obama’s reform initiatives.
The main goal of these disrupters is to kill health care reform, not debate it, not refine it, not find a middle ground, just kill it. (For a more detailed look, check “Swiftboating Town Halls” at The Progress Report.)
In a conference call with state and local AFL-CIO leaders today, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, talked about her weekend experience in Philadelphia where a loud and vocal minority tried to shout down her and Sen. Arlen Specter during a town hall on health care.
She said about two-thirds of the audience was there to listen and ask questions, while the others simply wanted to yell.
Their intent is not to have a conversation. Their intent is to stop the conversation.
Sebelius said the nation is closer than ever to achieving real health care reform to provide quality, affordable care for all Americans. She pointed out that as health care activists get closer and closer to victory, the screaming protesters are becoming “more frantic” in their actions, as we have seen in the town hall meetings.
In Green Bay, Wis., on Monday night, Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen held a town hall meeting where, according to the Green Bay Gazette, protesters
repeatedly disrupted the event by shouting….Most of the crowd’s screams for three-quarters of the evening were incomprehensible.
In Houston, (see video), an Internet campaign by far-right activists urged people to attend and heckle Rep. Gene Green, reported Fox (sometimes, they get it right) Channel 26. Reporter Duarte Geraldino talked to the participants and found that “some attendees admit they don’t live in the district.”
TPM’s Marshall points out one of the more obnoxious stunts pulled at the recent meetings.
Then there was the case yesterday where a few folks at a teabag protest outside a town hall meeting in Hartford called on Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) to commit suicide as a way to cure his recently diagnosed prostate cancer.
That’s the kind of high-level discussion these folks specialize in. You can help counter the shrill shrieks. Visit our health care ally, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), and find a town hall meeting in your area where you can join union members in civilized health care reform activities.
Click here to send a message to your lawmakers to support comprehensive health care reform.
Here we go again. Yet another misleadingly named, corporate-funded front group has been created to block the freedom to form unions and bargain and scare people away from the Employee Free Choice Act. And where there are big corporate dollars and smear campaigns, you can bet that repudiated and disgraced political hacks like Karl Rove can’t be far behind.
This time, reports Think Progress, the “Economic Freedom Alliance” (EFA) is paying the checks to Rove. The EFA, a new corporate front organization “partnering with a number of Midwestern statewide employer organizations,” has paid Rove, George W. Bush’s sometime top political operative, $100,000 this year for his services as a high-priced consultant to their disinformation campaign.
The EFA, with Rove’s assistance, is using websites, billboards and other tactics to try and pressure U.S. senators to vote against the Employee Free Choice Act. It’s another desperate attempt, fueled by a big bankroll, to block real change for working people. (Sounds familiar, huh?) The corporations who fund the EFA and line Rove’s pockets know the Employee Free Choice Act would give workers—not their bosses—the choice about how to form a union and bargain for their fair share.
Public employees across the country have been battling bruising attacks on their jobs and paychecks as cities and states sink into red ink. No more so than in California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger achieved through budget cuts what he couldn’t in state referendums voted down by voters in 2008, a drastic reduction in state services. Yet in Los Angeles, city workers—members of several unions—ratified a new contract that averts furloughs and layoffs. State employees in Pennsylvania and Kentucky also have good news after mobilizing successfully to protect their paychecks and turn back cuts in benefits.
The Los Angeles city budget, adopted in May, called for layoffs and 26 furlough days per worker—amounting to a 10 percent cut in services and pay for every city program and every worker. Since then, members of the Coalition of LA City Unions in Los Angeles overwhelmingly approved a new contract with the city that preserves city services and avoids layoffs and furloughs. The new agreement will save more than half a billion dollars over the next three years, primarily through a retirement incentive program and delays in scheduled wage increases.
Says Cheryl Parisi, chair of the Coalition and Executive Director of AFSCME Council 36:
All along, we were determined to find a better way for L.A., and we’ve done it.
The unions in the coalition include AFSCME, Los Angeles/Orange County Building & Construction Trades Council, Operating Engineers (IUOE), SEIU, the Laborers (LIUNA), the Teamsters (IBT).
AFSCME members also were successful in Pennsylvania, after some 77,000 state workers played the role of hostages in July as Gov. Edward Rendell (D) and the legislature could not come to a budget agreement by the July 1 deadline. Without a budget, workers were told they either would not get paid or would receive just partial pay starting July 17 and continuing until a budget was passed.
But on July 28, after the employees had received short paychecks and faced a payless August, more than 2,000 state employees, most of them members of AFSCME Council 13, rallied at the Capitol in Harrisburg and demanded an end to “payless paydays.”
Speaking at the rally, Lasheba Dillard, a single parent of four children and a member of AFSCME Local 2534, pleaded with the legislature to quickly act.
On behalf of my family and everyone in this situation. Please pass the budget now!
The next day, Rendell announced he would sign a bridge budget covering workers’ salaries and other items, while a full budget agreement was still being hashed out. It passed Aug. 3 and Rendell signed it earlier today. It includes funds for regular and retroactive pay.
In Kentucky, state employees were facing the loss of as many as five paid holidays under a proposal by Gov. Steve Beshear (D), as that state deals with a budget deficit. Those savings, says David Warrick, executive director of AFSCME Council 62, would be just a tiny drop in the state’s deficit bucket—but a major hardship for many workers .
The savings he would get—little over $10 million—sounds like a lot of money, but when you’re talking about a $1 billion deficit, it doesn’t make much difference.
But the $300 to $600 workers would lose would be a major difference, says April Tidwell, a state child protection and permanency worker.
I don’t get a holiday from paying my bills. The governor needs to look somewhere else.
With the legislature debating the cutbacks, union members mobilized and, in just 10 days, sent 2,000 e-mail messages and made 500 phone calls to lawmakers. Many sacrificed personal or vacation time to lobby lawmakers directly. The House and Senate dropped the governor’s holiday pay-cut plan.
Linda Meric, the executive director of 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women, writes a great op-ed about the need for Employee Free Choice in the Denver Post. Meric notes the advantages that the chance to form a union offers to women in Colorado and around the country:
The Employee Free Choice Act is one sure way to address this gender-based pay gap. Unionization can provide important economic security for low-wage Colorado women and their families.
The benefits of union membership for women in low-wage occupations are even greater. Among those working in the 15 lowest-paying occupations, union members not only earned more than their non-union counterparts, they were also 26 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 23 percentage points more likely to have a pension plan than those who were not members of a union….
Health insurance is just one of the positive workplace standards unions can provide for working women. Union representation is also one of the strongest predictors of family-flexible workplace policies.
In Maine, three union members—Rebecca Westleigh, Shianne Valenzuela and Mary Hall—write in the Lewiston Sun-Journal about what union membership means for working women like them:
We all agree: having a voice on the job and collective bargaining rights has dramatically improved our lives and enabled us to support our families. We want to see those benefits and opportunities extended to all workers….
Now more than ever, we need to rebuild an economy that works for everyone. We strongly encourage our senators to support Mainers and women by voting for the Employee Free Choice Act. This common sense legislation would give workers the freedom to join a union without intimidation and bargain collectively for better wages and benefits.
And in Pennsylvania, Donna Bernhard, a registered nurse, explains in the Pottstown Mercury why her union matters to her, her community and the patients she cares for—and why all workers need the chance she had to bargain for a better life:
As a nurse, I know I can do my job because I have the support I need. I don’t have to worry about finding health care for my own family.
And the reason is because I and my co-workers bargain together as a union for higher wages, benefits and better working conditions.
But most people aren’t that lucky. Most experience intimidation, coercion and even firing when they want to form a union. According to polling, 60 million people would choose to form a union today if they could, but too few ever get that chance because U.S. labor law is too weak to help them….
I know firsthand the benefits unions bring to my family and I believe that our community would be better served by a system that restores balance in our workplaces.
It’s clear that protecting working people’s freedom to form unions is the best way to guarantee livable wages, health care benefits and retirement security to working people. As a result, it is also the best way to strengthen and expand the middle class.