A new survey says one in four U.S. workers doesn’t earn enough to cover bills. The survey was released by the AFL-CIO and found that 24 percent of workers between 18 and 34 don’t earn enough to pay monthly bills. The more than doubles the 10 percent of young workers who had the same problem in 1999. Only 55 percent are confident about achieving financial goals. 10 years ago 77 percent had confidence.
Federal workers won’t be get as big a bump in pay as expected. President Barack Obama notified Congress on Monday that he would be reducing pay , holding raises to a 2-percent increase. That will amount to $19.9 billion in the federal budget. Obama said the “economic crisis” gives him “authority” to adjust federal salary increases.
Hotels in Chicago are being blamed for unnecessary chronic understaffing. Jesse Russell reports:
The union representing thousands of hotel workers in downtown Chicago is accusing hotels in the area of unjustly using the recession as an excuse to lay off workers. According to Unite Here Local 1 the Hyatt Regency Chicago cut 199 jobs between November 2008 and March 2009 and as a result 46 percent of the remaining staffers had to work more than 2000 hours of overtime between January and April. The union represented workers are demanding that the hotels recall laid off workers. Unite Here has contracts with more 30 hotels in the Chicago area which expired on August 31, 2009.
By Doug Cunningham
IUE-CWA says it’s reached a tentative agreement with General Motors to provide baseline security for retirees facing the loss of health care and pensions. The union says while this is less than the retirees worked for, it’s the best the union could do in a dreadful situation. GM will pay $50 million extra for health care for retirees younger than 65.
By Doug Cunningham
An AFL-CIO survey of young workers finds they are much worse off economically than they were a decade ago. AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Rich Trumka.
[Trumka]: “We found that young workers are significantly less likely to have health care and economic security than they were yen years ago. We owe them better. The country owes them better. And unless we change it their economic standards are gonna define a very new norm, a norm of lower job and living standards in this country.”
One-third of young workers live in their parents’ homes for economic reasons. Trumka, who will become President of the AFL-CIO in a couple of weeks, says the labor federation will be reaching out to young workers. He says their economic future is the nation’s economic future and we must build an economy that works for everyone.
When Marianne Hoynes rolled her wheelchair into a town hall meeting in Red Bank, N.J., last week hosted by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) to share her thoughts on health care reform, she says, “I didn’t expect to be heckled and booed.”
Hoynes sent us her story yesterday, along with a link to a You Tube video showing that some in the audience sneered and jeered as she explained her situation of trying to live with two incurable autoimmune diseases. At the meeting, she says:
America’s a completely different place to live in when you get sick. I live in fear everyday that I will lose my home….I’m afraid because the co-pay for one of my medications is $389 every two weeks. I’m afraid I might not be able to afford my property taxes and I will lose my home. Please hear this voice of the disabled and don’t let the insurance lobby win this fight. Please protect me from the extortion of the pharmaceutical industry. We all need reasonable health coverage to be a basic human right, not a privilege.
The loud and disruptive tactics and outrageous lies that marked so many of the early congressional health care forums can still be found. But a counteroffensive by the union movement, including AFSCME’s recently completed Highway to Health Care Reform, and our allies, notably Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Organizing for America (OFA), show there is strong and broad support for fixing the nation’s broken health care system.
The mainstream media, which Hoynes says has “only been covering the screaming hordes of barbarians,” is taking notice.
Ed Sill, Texas AFL-CIO communications director, says a health care reform town hall and rally in Austin this past Saturday drew nearly 2,000 supporters and only about 100 opponents. The turnout was too large for the church where the meeting was held, so the Texas AFL-CIO opened its nearby auditorium for the overflow, which filled all its seats.
The strong coverage of Saturday’s pro-health care reform rally suggests that the media, which has duly reported the shout-down protesting by right-wingers at previous forums, will not ignore a huge turnout of support in later ones.
Following a rally that drew more than 1,100 health care reform supporters in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend, Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for HCAN, told the Orlando Sentinel:
There were a lot of successful town halls and meetings over the recess, but the ones that got the most attention were those where angry people got up and yelled. We want to make sure the message that they take back to Washington is that the majority of the public stands behind the need for reform and that they need to get it done now.
Meanwhile, union members are turning out in big numbers for health care reform rallies and forums coordinated by Organizing for America, the Obama administration’s grassroots action team, along its national bus tour and at other sties around the country.
The 10-city bus tour kicked off in Phoenix last week at the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 640 parking lot, where more than 2,000 heard from Rebekah Friend, Arizona AFL-CIO executive director and treasurer, along with several lawmakers and health care professionals. The tour has drawn thousands of supporters during its other stops in Albuquerque, Denver, Des Moines, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.
So far, more than 18,000 union members have turned out for more than 400 health care events since Congress began its August recess. More action is in store for the last week of the congressional recess and the Labor Day weekend, when the call for health care reform will be heard at thousands of parades, picnics and rallies.
If the support for health care reform that is reflected in polls continues to manifest itself in big turnouts like the one in Austin and other mass actions, it may fortify some members of Congress who have been wringing their hands over whether to support real reform. It may also be the only way to overcome the money arrayed toward the forces of reaction.
Join us at the AFL-CIO tomorrow night to take in the best view in Washington, D.C.—from our top floor looking across Lafayette Park, the White House and beyond—and help support the campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act.
From our eighth-floor balcony, you’ll get a chance to enjoy food, music and a stunning view of the White House—where, after eight years, we now have a friend to working families.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka and 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: Wednesday, Sept 2, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Tickets are $100 each. If you bought tickets to this event before it was rescheduled, you can still use them. 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.
Workers, union leaders and business executives joined Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson today to deliver the message that investing in clean energy not only is good for our environment but also would create millions of good green jobs to rejuvenate the economy and rebuild the nation’s middle class.
Jackson spoke at a rally in Gary, Ind., as part of the nationwide Made in America Jobs Tour sponsored by the Blue Green Alliance and the Alliance for Climate Protection’s Repower America campaign. The tour kicked off Aug. 20 in Cleveland and will involve more than 50 events in 22 states, including rallies in St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Gary.
The tour is crossing the country to show America that moving to a clean-energy economy offers huge opportunities to revive American manufacturing and rebuild the nation’s economy.
Says United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard, whose union is a Blue Green Alliance member:
Building a clean-energy economy can revitalize American manufacturing, but only if we commit to using domestically produced components. In confronting the challenges of recession, global warming and energy independence, we have an opportunity to transform our economy and create good jobs that truly are “made in America.”
A recent report by the Blue Green Alliance found that if the United States instituted a national renewable energy standard, more than 850,000 manufacturing jobs at firms already in existence across all 50 states could be created to make the parts for wind, solar, geothermal and biomass power.
A Center for American Progress report also found that investing $150 billion a year in America’s clean-energy economy could create 1.7 million jobs, which could include jobs like retrofitting and constructing new energy efficient buildings and manufacturing next-generation, plug-in hybrid and electric cars.
Here’s David Foster, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance:
We can create millions of jobs building the clean-energy economy, whether it’s manufacturing the parts for windmills, building hybrid car batteries or weatherizing homes to make them more efficient. By transitioning to a clean-energy economy, we can revitalize America’s manufacturing sector and boost our economy for the long run by creating jobs “Made in America.”
Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council adds:
At this critical moment—when Americans need to get back to work and the impacts of global warming are already being felt—we need our elected officials to act on legislation that will unleash investments that will create jobs and move America to a clean-energy future.
The AFL-CIO has created the Center for Green Jobs to help pave the way to good union jobs in a variety of the country’s unionized and greening industries. The center also will spread the lessons of AFL-CIO affiliates who have successfully joined the green economy, especially in manufacturing.
Green products are not the only things that need to be made in America, says Gerard. In a column in today’s Los Angeles Times, Gerard, along with businessman Leo Hindery and former Sen. Donald Riegle (D-Mich.), point out that the governments of most major developed countries support their own industries and, in these tough economic times, it only makes sense for Washington to do likewise.
Although federal government purchases make up about 20 percent of the U.S. economy, the United States is nearly alone among the major developed nations and China in not having a significant “buy domestic” government procurement program. Gerard, Hindery and Riegle say:
No single economic stimulus initiative would do more in the short and long term to resuscitate U.S. employment, especially manufacturing employment, and to materially reduce our economy-zapping massive trade deficit than a fair “buy American” program.
They criticized Congress and the Obama administration for not strongly backing “buy American” provisions in the economic recovery package. They also point to recent actions by the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative to waive or water down “buy American” rules.
The three endorsed the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act , which would revamp U.S. trade policies.
The bottom line, they say, is:
“Buy American” is neither un-American nor anti-globalization. It is simply good, necessary, balanced and reciprocal economic policy.
The United States continues to lag far behind the world’s other industrialized nations when it comes to Internet speed—and the impact goes far beyond the time it takes your movies or music to download or family videos to upload. It slows the economy and job growth, too.
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) third annual Speed Matters survey finds that even at the current rate of improvement, it still would take the United States 15 years to catch up with the global Internet speed leader South Korea, where speeds are four times faster than in the United States.
The average download speed of U.S. Internet connections is 5.1 megabits per second, significantly below the averages of countries like South Korea (20.1 mbps), Japan (16 mbps) and Sweden (12.7 mbps).
CWA President Larry Cohen says new jobs and America’s ability to compete in a high-tech age are directly linked to Internet speed and access.
Continued job growth, innovation and rural development require high-speed, universal networks…as do advances in tele-medicine, distance learning and new applications being developed every day.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, for every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure to create these networks, 97,500 new jobs in the telecommunications, computer and IT sectors will be created.
The Speed Matters Campaign is part of the union’s effort to promote national and state policies for affordable, universal high-speed broadband networks and end the digital divide. During the past year, more than 413,000 people took the campaign’s speed test on their home computers and found that we’re not downloading or uploading much faster than a year ago.
Click here to check out how your state and county compare.
The report found that only 20 percent of users had Internet speeds anywhere near those of South Korea and other top-ranked countries and nearly 20 percent of those taking the speed test didn’t even measure up to the Federal Communications Commission definition of high speed, a slow 768 kilobits per second. Says Cohen:
Every American should have affordable access to high-speed Internet, no matter where they live. This is essential to economic growth and will help maintain our global competitiveness. Unfortunately, fragmented government programs and uneven private-sector responses to build our Internet access have left a digital divide across the country.
For years, the United States was the only industrialized nation without a national broadband policy. But the economic recovery act passed earlier this year includes a provision calling for a national broadband plan by spring 2010 and $7.2 billion in broadband grants for unserved and underserved areas.
Click here for the full report.