Consumers exuded a great deal of confidence in the economy in August according to the consumer confidence index released this week. The report found that an increasing number of consumers felt jobs would be easier to find in the coming months. The number who said jobs are “hard to get” declined from 48.5 percent to 45.1 percent. The number of consumers who see their situation improving over the next six months jumped by 10 points on the expectations index.
By Doug Cunningham
The French government Tuesday met with representatives from an Illinois-based electronic components plant (Molex, Inc.) in an effort to mediate a labor dispute. The U.S. company closed its French plant and workers are demanding better severance packages. The company says workers injured an American manager during a protest against the plant’s closure. Workers say they just pelted the boss with eggs. Workers have camped out outside the plant as they press their demands.
Less money coming in has left 19 states looking at the furlough option to address budget constraints. Jesse Russell report:
States continue to look for solutions to mend budget gaps. In Maryland this week more than 200 state workers will be receiving lay off notices. The lay offs come on top of the remaining state workers taking furlough days. The Maryland furlough plan is tiered to account for the pay level of workers. Workers that make more than $100,000 per year face the equivalent of pay cut of 10 furlough days. The state is trying to overcome a budget gap of nearly $740 million dollars.
By Doug Cunningham
Just when it’s starting to look like the Great Recession is lifting, the Center for Economic and Policy Research is out with a report that shows working people will be suffering the recession’s effects through 2014. Based on Congressional Budget Office projections, the report says we’re facing what looks like a sustained period of low economic growth and high unemployment. Employment isn’t expected to fully rebound from this recession until 2014. As a result, consumption – the driving force in the economy – will be reduced through 2014. Some 12 million people will remain jobless in 2010, according to the CBO analysis. It says investment losses through 2014 will amount to $600 billion. This means millions of people will be struggling for years to come to survive even as the economy emerges from recession. The Center for Economic and Policy research says this demonstrates the need for continuing robust efforts to lower unemployment and stimulate economic growth, even after the recession ends.
As the fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act continues, it’s worth noting that this is not just an issue of an individual worker’s freedom to join with other employees and bargain for a better life. It’s also important to note the role that unions have on communities and the economy, for members and nonmembers alike.
American Rights at Work has put together two great new reports that show how unions help create a well-trained and skilled workforce and healthier communities.
The first report, “Unions on the Cutting Edge: A Workforce Trained for the 21st Century,” focuses on how unions take the lead in creating innovative training programs for our workforce. In industries ranging from construction to health care to green energy, unions are breaking new ground and making sure America’s workers are prepared to be the very best at critical jobs.
As the report notes:
Unions have a long history of leadership on designing and promoting innovative and effective job training and apprenticeship programs that benefit workers, businesses and local communities. Now more than ever, this country needs workers to have a voice at the table to ensure that the challenges of a new economy are met with fair and effective policies.
The second report, “Unions and Other Community Groups Benefit Local Economic Development,” gives examples of how unions improve their communities by protecting local jobs, promoting and supporting local businesses and providing funds and services to aid those hurt by disasters. The report states:
When workers have a seat at the table, their voices strengthen local economic development and help ensure fairness, quality jobs and long-term sustainable growth.
Labor unions have been responding to the unfair policies of the last several decades by taking action to shape local economic development policies and issues. In partnerships with employers, community organizations and local governments, unions have helped revitalize local economies by saving and expanding family-supporting jobs.
Eight long years after Colombian trade union leaders Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita Amaya were assassinated, those directly responsible for these heinous crimes are being punished.
Just yesterday, Alcides Maneul Mattos Tavares, alias “el Samario,” confessed to having participated as one of the gunmen. The other assassin, Jairo Charris Jesus, was sentenced Aug. 7 to 30 years in prison for his role in the murders. Both men were members of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the umbrella paramilitary organization.
Two other paramilitary leaders, Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias “Jorge 40,” and Oscar Jose Ospina Pacheco, alias “Tolemaida,” also face trial for their involvement in these crimes. Tovar’s case is complicated, however, by the fact that he was extradited to the United States on drug-trafficking charges earlier this year.
Locarno and Orcasita, president and vice president, respectively, of Sintramienergica, the mine and energy workers union, were killed in March 2001. Both worked for the U.S.-based mining multinational, Drummond.
As they were leaving the mine one day after work, the bus in which they were traveling was intercepted by an armed group of the AUC in the village of Casa de Zinc. Locarno was murdered on the spot, while Orcasita was taken by the paramilitaries in a van. He was found dead in a rural area the following day. Gustavo Soler Mora, who succeeded Locarno in the union leadership, was murdered seven months later.
In his trial, Charris explained that the murders had been planned along with Colombian and American company executives. Drummond has denied all links to paramilitary organizations and all allegations of complicity in the killings. A U.S. federal district court and appeals court found Drummond not guilty of playing a part in the murders.
In May, an attorney for the families of Locarno and Orcasita filed a U. S. lawsuit against Drummond, accusing the company of paying paramilitaries to murder union and community leaders, as well as paying paramilitaries to protect the transport of coal by rail from Drummond’s mines to the port of Cesar Ciénaga.
Colombia is the most dangerous country for trade unionists, according to the Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). In 2008, 49 union members were killed in Colombia, and more than 20 unionists have been murdered so far this year.
More than 2,700 unionists have been murdered in Colombia since 1986. At the current pace of investigations and trials, it would take 37 years to prosecute the backlog of cases. And the caseload is growing—the rate of killings, which had fallen for a few years, jumped last year by 25 percent, says José Luciano Sanin, director of Escuela Nacional Sindical (National Union School), a leading Colombian think tank.
The AFL-CIO and a broad coalition of groups have opposed congressional consideration of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until workers can fully exercise internationally recognized labor rights without fear, the country makes deep and sustained progress on ending impunity and labor law reforms bring the country’s laws into compliance with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council recognized the courage of Colombian workers by nominating Colombia workers’ rights activist Yessika Hoyos for the 2008 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award. She will receive the award at the AFL-CIO’s 26th Constitutional Convention next month.
Every day, it seems there are new developments in the race for New Jersey governor. Candidate Chris Christie, a longtime Bush political appointee, has been the subject of close scrutiny in the state and voters want to know the real story.
You can get all the latest news about Chris Christie and the race for New Jersey governor at The Real Chris Christie, a project of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO. The newest feature at the site is a news feed that pulls in the latest headlines about Christie, including:
- Christie’s possibly illegal pledge to give former Bush-era federal colleagues state jobs;
- An undisclosed $46,000 loan from Christie to an aide while he was serving as U.S. Attorney; and
- Christie’s conversations with fellow Bush political operative Karl Rove about a run for governor—while he was still serving as U.S. Attorney.
The election is little more than three months away, so it’s time to take a close look at Christie’s record and actions. Check out The Real Chris Christie for the latest developments.
The drive to demonize health care reform isn’t likely to slow down. Testy teabaggers at town halls were just the first wave.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey—now a hired gun/corporate lobbyist—and his phony grassroots group FreedomWorks, are planning a march on Washington to “save” grandma and grandpa from death panels. Translation: Armey & Co. are trying to throw a protective shield around the private health insurance industry.
Just yesterday, Michael Steele, and the Republican National Committee he heads, announced a so-called “Seniors Health Care Bill of Rights” to “protect” Medicare and, of course, “save” grandma and grandpa from those so-called death panels—which are not in the bill, never were in the bill and won’t be in any health care reform bill.
Lately we’ve reported how union members and health care and other activists are kicking up mobilization efforts to counter health care reform fantasies with facts and how Media Matters busts open the 14 biggest lies about health care reform with detailed documentation.
It provides the kind of straightforward answers that might help you the next time run into a well-meaning, but misinformed neighbor, friend or co-worker who is singing from the Armey/Steele/Teabag songbook.
For example, the chart notes that under our current system, most people get their health care from their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, the military or private insurance. Under health care reform, “You will be able to keep the health insurance that you have.”
In today’s health care system you may be without health insurance or lose your coverage if your employer doesn’t provide it or drops it, if you lose your job, or can’t afford private insurance. Under health care reform that includes a public health insurance option, the Center for Medicare Advocacy points out:
You will have a number of health plans from which to choose. If you have limited income, you will receive assistance for the cost of the premium.
Among other elements, the chart covers the way private insurance companies operate today-denying coverage for preexisting conditions or charging higher premiums based on gender and health status. Those and other private insurance industry abuses will stop under health care reform.
The Center also notes that many of the same arguments against a public health plan option are the recycled, four-plus-decade old rants the private insurance industry and Republican lawmakers used against the establishment of Medicare.
Forty-four years, ago Medicare was enacted into law. All of today’s dire warnings about a public health option—”socialism” and government barring the doctor’s door—were made in opposition to Medicare. Despite such opposition from “conservative,” leaders, Medicare passed because of some courageous, principled law-makers.
Our 44-year-old public health insurance option provides care to all its enrollees everywhere in the country, and has provided health and economic security for millions of older people, people with disabilities, and their families. For two generations, the public Medicare program has shown what a true public insurance program can offer: health insurance for the otherwise uninsured, at a price that taxpayers can afford.
Today’s nearly unanimous Republican Senate and House opposition to a public option like Medicare, shows just how tightly in a conservative lockstep GOP lawmakers are marching.
In 1965, when the likes of Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole were railing against the socialized medicine, the end of personal freedom, destruction of the doctor-patient relationship and the assorted other evils Medicare was sure to bring, 13 Republican senators and 70 GOP House members, didn’t buy the lies and voted for Medicare. Click here, it’s true
I guess some things don’t age gracefully.
The Obama administration’s “cash for clunkers” program, which expired yesterday, was a smashing success. It delivered important benefits to the environment and the U.S. economy, the UAW says. And one highly respected analyst reports the program spawned record car sales.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger pointed out that consumers responded enthusiastically to the program, which explains why it ran its course faster than anyone expected. He says:
In just a few weeks, Americans have traded in hundreds of thousands of older vehicles for new, higher-mileage models.
The result is higher fuel economy, lower carbon emissions—and an increase in production and employment that means increased opportunity for American workers and American companies.
Research by Edmunds.com, an online automotive information service, backs up Gettelfinger’s assertion. Edmunds released an initial analysis about the program’s results earlier this month. Based on their research, 39 percent of new car sales involved a trade-in before cash for clunkers was launched. Since then, 51 percent do. Prior to the program, nearly 9 percent of trade-ins were vehicles that would have qualified as “clunkers.” Since the launch, 39 percent of trade-ins qualify.
The program generated seasonally adjusted sales of 19.6 million new cars, compared with the industry’s sales record of 17.4 million set in 2000, according to Edmunds.
Gettelfinger sums it up this way:
Cash-for-clunkers is a program that has worked. UAW members look forward to working with President Obama and Congress on additional efforts to protect our environment and keep the U.S. auto industry moving forward.