- AFL-CIO Waging Intensive Grassroots Health Care Reform Campaign
- United Steel Workers Union Pulls Out Of Petroleum Industry Safety Talks
- Thirty-Two Thousand CWA Workers At AT&T Could Hit Picket Lines
- UK Postal Workers Striking Over Job And Wage Cuts
- Economic Report: Facebook’s Impact On Worker Productivity
Does Facebook hurt worker productivity? A new study by Nucleus Research discovered that companies lose 1.5 percent of worker productivity to Facebook. It found that of 237 of those surveyed 77 percent had Facebook profiles and 61 percent used the social network for an average of 15 minutes. The study doesn’t ask when during the workers use Facebook during the day.
The UK is facing a series of postal strikes Friday through Tuesday. While the Royal Mail says 90 percent of staff will continue to operate, the union representing workers says more than 25,000 postal workers could walk off the job. Workers are concerned about cuts being made to jobs, pay, and services. London and Scotland have already been impacted by work stoppages and the union says that will spread in the coming days.
A contract covering 32,000 AT&T workers in the southeast region of the country is set to expire on Saturday. Jesse Russell has more.
The workers, represented by the Communication Workers of America union, could walk off the job is an agreement isn’t reached. The contract specifically covers landline workers who are concerned about wages, job security, pensions, and health care. Those 32,000 workers will join 26,000 workers in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma who have been without a contract since April. In July the company was able to reach a deal with 20,000 workers in the
By Doug Cunningham
The United Steel Workers union this week pulled out of talks with the American Petroleum Institute on development of new industry safety standards. The talks began after the catastrophic explosion and fire at the BP refinery in Texas City in 2005. The USW’s Lynne Baker says the union found the industry unwilling to use real consensus to come up with meaningful new safety standards to really protect workers.
[Baker]: “They were willing to create standards that we felt weren’t worthy of having our name and that were just too weak.”
Baker said fatigue and how to reduce it was a huge issue – both in the Texas City disaster and in these talks between the union and the industry.
By Doug Cunningham
The AFL-CIO says it’s organizing a 30-day intensive grassroots campaign calling on Congress to side with working families and not with insurance companies on health care reform. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney says the choice before Congress is clear – side with health insurers and vote for legislation that continues their control over health care or vote for reform that puts people in charge of their health care.
The unemployment data is due tomorrow, and it’s likely to be bad, with an expected 300,000 to 320,000 jobs lost in July, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and others. That’s a big problem. But unfortunately, when it comes to getting the nation back to work, tomorrow’s unemployment rate isn’t the biggest problem we face.
What’s really troubling is long-term unemployment.
EPI economists see the economic stimulus as alleviating the jobs crisis created under Bush. In fact, the economic recovery program already has saved or created some 750,000 jobs. Plus, says John Irons, EPI director of research and policy, the gross domestic product (GDP) report last week showing GDP shrunk far less in the second quarter of this year (-1 percent) than the first quarter (-6.4 percent). That means
we’re beginning to see the fingerprints of the economic recovery package.
Yet millions of America’s workers—the largest number of workers for the longest period out of any of the previous recessions—have been without jobs for more than six months. They are the long-term unemployed. And their prospects don’t look so good. There are now 5.7 workers looking for every one job available. By comparison, at the start of the recession, there were 1.7 unemployed workers per job opening, less than a third of the current figure.
The more than 4.7 million long-term unemployed workers, says EPI economist Heidi Shierholz, represent
enormous numbers. Job seekers are simply not able to find work in this labor market.
We’re looking at a really long period when long-term unemployment will continue to rise.
Many of these long-term unemployed are not casualties of the decline in manufacturing jobs. On the contrary, says Shierholz:
Workers older and more educated are less likely to be unemployed but once they are unemployed they stay longer. They are a big contributing factor to the long-term unemployment.
These figures, and tomorrow’s jobs report, make it critical for Congress to extend unemployment insurance (UI). That’s a no-brainer, says Irons. By the end of September, another 500,000 workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance.
Next, we need another round of economic recovery action. At its recent meeting, the AFL-CIO Executive Council called for a second round of recovery, specifically urging Congress to:
- Extend unemployment benefits immediately, by at least seven weeks, to help the hundreds of thousands of workers who would otherwise exhaust their benefits in the near term.
- Increase food stamp spending as needed to help families cope with the downturn.
- Increase aid to state and local governments.
- Bolster the financial stability of independent government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service.
- Increase spending for needed infrastructure and clean energy projects, even for those projects with a time horizon longer than two years.
(Full statement here.)
Ultimately, we need government policies that fuel the continued growth of jobs that pay enough to support those who work at them—and their families. One step toward this is creating a national industrial policy to guide our nation’s economic future. Industrial policy isn’t just about manufacturing jobs. Because when the United States loses manufacturing jobs, it loses the research and development that goes with it. As Dave Johnson writes, at the Campaign for America’s Future:
The phrase “industrial policy” sounds so Walter Mondale, 1970s, smokestacks and brick factory old-fashioned.
So, how do we make “industrial policy” sound sexy enough to get the attention afforded to the teabaggers—or, at least, enough attention to make it clear it matters?
I’ll be on a panel next week at Netroots Nation discussing this very issue: Bloggers and Blue-Collar Workers Unite—You Have Nothing to Lose But Wall Street Domination. So let me know your ideas and I’ll pack them up and take them with me.
In the past several days, loud, shouting and rowdy mobs have been disrupting congressional town hall meetings across the country. They’re organized by far-right and corporate backed anti-health care reform and anti-government groups. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka says there’s one main reason for the mob action.
“Major health care reform is closer than ever to passage and it is no secret that special interests want to weaken or block it.”
Trumka notes that the America’s politics are “passionate, heartfelt and often loud.”
But that is not what the corporate-funded mobs are engaging in when they show up to disrupt town halls held by members of Congress….Mob rule is not democracy. People have a democratic right to express themselves and our elected leaders have a right to hear from their constituents—not organized thugs whose sole purpose is to shut down the conversation and attempt to scare our leaders into inaction.
What is being lost in this “if it bleeds, it leads” media coverage, is that that the majority of Americans say:
- The U.S. health care system is badly broken and costs too much.
- The health insurance industry has far too much influence on how health care is delivered.
- Too many people have no coverage at all.
At most of these town halls, the large majority want real discussion about health care reform. And union and health care advocates are helping ensure that happens.
For example, yesterday in Indiana, President Obama was scheduled to deliver a talk on the economy, green jobs and health care at a Wakarusa RV plant. Union and health care activists went to work, knowing protestors were set to be bused in to line the streets by the plant and grab headlines. Union members and our allies called, sent e-mail messages and texted local unions and activists with the message “It’s time to fight back for health care reform.” Todd Anderson, AFL-CIO Midwest regional director, reports as many as 1,000 union members showed up, outnumbering the teabaggers by 10 to one.
Our allies at Health Care for America Now! have outlined a simple strategy activists can follow to make sure health care events set for the congressional recess are not hijacked by screaming teabaggers. It includes building turnout, making sure folks know what tactics to expect from the protestors, making contact with the media and more tips.
Throughout the congressional recess—the House is out now and the Senate leaves Washington at the end of the week—the AFL-CIO union movement is working with allies to ensure big turnouts for town hall and community forums with House and Senate lawmakers.
We’ve got to let them know the other side may be loud and angry and obnoxious, but they are not the majority. This is no time to back down key health care reform principles, including:
- A strong public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and give working families a choice of private or public coverage.
- Shared responsibility, including an employer “play or pay” provision.
- Fair financing that does not tax health benefits.
- Cost savings.
- An end to insurance company abuses.
In Texas this past weekend, Rep. Lloyd Doggett was ambushed at several stops by large groups of shouting and screaming protestors. On Daily Kos, Loblolly writes that one group of about 150, “carrying signs that included one with Rep. Doggett with devil horns and a marble tombstone with his name on it,” stormed an Austin grocery store where Doggett has been holding Saturday morning “office hours” to help constituents with things such as veterans’ benefits.
With a Saturday afternoon town hall scheduled in a nearby suburb, Loblolly reports Doggett staffers and activists went to work to mobilize support and prevent a mob takeover of the meeting. That success
demonstrates why it is so important for us to show up at these events, and how the screamers were prevented from hijacking the event, while freedom of speech was preserved.
Click here to find out how they did it.
We will keep you posted on health care reform actions during the congressional August recess.
What a historic day for the country—Sonia Sotomayor is now a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Just minutes ago, the U.S. Senate voted by 68-31 to confirm one of the nation’s most well-qualified and highly experienced jurists.
Yet I do find it hard to believe that 31 Republican senators voted no. Were they blinded by partisanship or was it a fear of a backlash from the extreme right—a backlash that would be as unpleasant as their attacks on the first Latina nominated, and now confirmed, to the Supreme Court?
Of course, I take pride and satisfaction in seeing a member of a minority group and a woman earn—and I emphasize earn—such a high achievement. Just look at Judge Sotomayor’s long and distinguished legal career and record.
She has worked at almost every level of our judicial system and brings more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice in 100 years.
Her long climb, to what is surely the summit of any legal career, started in a public housing project in the Bronx, the daughter of a factory worker. Every day, living in that Bronx high-rise and attending New York City public schools taught her about the struggles working families endure to get by and provide a better future for their kids.
Judge Sotomayor was the valedictorian of her high school class, won a scholarship to Princeton University and earned her law degree at Yale University, where she served as editor of the Yale Law Review.
She has served on all sides of the legal system as prosecutor, litigator, trial court and appellate court judge. I’d like to point out to the Republican naysayers, she was first nominated to the federal bench in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, a wise move indeed. Since 1997, Judge Sotomayor has held a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
It has been 15 long years since a Democratic president has had an opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice. The current court leans quite a bit to the right and is certainly more friendly to corporations rather than to workers in its decisions. But with two Reagan nominees, two Bush I nominees and two Bush II nominees on the high bench, that’s not too surprising.
Judge Sotomayor brings both her strong and well-grounded legal expertise and experience to the court and her decisions have shown an understanding of the law’s impact on working families. She has said:
I firmly believe in the rule of law as the foundation for all of our basic rights…[and will] never forget the real-world consequences of my decisions.
She has consistently interpreted our labor laws in the manner in which they were intended. In the baseball strike of 1995, she recognized that the owners had forced the strike by engaging in unlawful conduct, and she issued an injunction that reversed the unlawful acts.
She has enforced the rights of all workers to be free of all types of discrimination at work, to be paid the correct wages and to receive health benefits to which they are entitled. She has recognized that persecution for union activity can be a basis for granting asylum in this country.
It is time to put aside right-wing rhetoric, some of which not only bordered on racist, but crossed the line. In subtle ways, those same attitudes showed up in more mainstream places as well.
Judge Sotomayor will continue to interpret the nation’s laws in a manner consistent with their intent and will work to uphold the Constitutional rights of all Americans.
I echo AFL-CIO President John Sweeney who called Judge Sotomayor, “The living embodiment of the American dream.” I am so glad to see that dream come true for Judge Sotomayor and so many others who have for far too long been left out of that dream.
We’re getting excited this week for the second annual Netroots Nation conference, where more than 1,000 progressive bloggers and activists will meet face to face. We’ll discuss issues key to the future of our nation—including building a stronger, fairer economy by restoring the freedom to form unions and bargain.
Thursday afternoon’s panel, “The Secret Plan to Defeat the Right Forever,” offers an up-close look at why labor law reform like the Employee Free Choice Act is critical to a bigger, stronger empowered middle class and progressive movement.
The AFL-CIO’s Stewart Acuff, a longtime organizer who has traveled the country working on the Employee Free Choice Act campaign, will talk about what union members and their allies are doing to fight for new labor laws that will restore the freedom to form unions to workers.
Acuff will be joined by Jake McIntyre of the Bricklayers (BAC), a contributing editor at Daily Kos; Tanya Tarr, an electoral-data expert who is the new director of Political and Legislative Mobilization at the Texas AFT; and Elana Levin of Workers United. They’ll discuss what union membership means for workers, communities and political change.
If you’re attending Netroots Nation, be sure to stop by. If not, check back here for reports from the conference.