In the state hardest hit by unemployment the biggest city is letting go of more workers. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said on Thursday 230 more city workers would be let go by October 2. The majority of those jobs will be slashed from the Detroit Department of Transportation where 113 will be let go. Bing previously announced he would need to cut 436 jobs in order to compensate for a decline in tax revenue.
By Doug Cunningham
Ed McElroy is CEO of Ullico, an insurance and financial services holding company primarily serving the labor movement. He spoke at the national Energy Summit in Washington, D.C. on unions and green jobs. McElroy says there’s huge opportunity for union workers in transitioning our national energy infrastructure to a green economy.
McElroy says with the right combination of retraining and public policies that grow the green economy, unions can once again be dynamic economic engines to elevate workers to the middle class.
Hyatt hotels are feeling pressure in major cities throughout the country. Jesse Russell reports:
As the G-20 Summit begins in Pittsburgh, union leaders from around the world are coming together to demand tough new rules that put people ahead of corporate profits.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said today the world’s major economies need continued short-term stimulus, more progressive tax systems and serious public investment in job creation and regulation of the financial system—coordinated internationally—to prevent the wealthy few from benefiting at the expense of workers. We need to create new norms for responsible business conduct and make sure the economy is benefiting workers, Trumka said.
This G-20 Summit must be nothing less than a jobs summit, seeking solutions to our international job crisis through fundamental economic reforms.
Throughout the world, working men and women must have a voice, and a place at the G-20 table, and the global unions are prepared to fill that role….In solidarity, we can bring about an economic recovery, and we can do it now.
Sharan Burrow, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said financial reform is essential, but not sufficient. We need serious commitment from the world’s leading economies to creating jobs and raising standards for workers everywhere, Burrow said.
We expect great things of this G-20 meeting and of the world’s leaders, because we haven’t seen great things from the corporate sector. You would expect some humility, you would expect some gratitude for taxpayer dollars that have bailed out financial institutions and corporations around the world who based their management strategy on greed and risk….But we’ve seen corporate salaries increase, we’ve seen those same corporations continue to lay off workers, to cut their hours, to put the income, the homes, the savings and pensions at risk.
Trumka and Burrow asked for recovery programs in developing countries as well as an agreement on global climate change that creates new green jobs.
In addition to demanding corporate accountability at the G-20, Trumka is continuing to fight for health care reform here at home. He’s asking for an investigation into whether political activity, including lobbying, by major insurance companies has contributed to rate hikes for consumers.
Health insurance premiums have shot up 120 percent over the past 10 years even as the insurance industry has spent $3.5 billion on lobbying activities. In recent weeks, both UnitedHealthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have attempted to raise premiums, even as they’ve spent millions this year on political activities.
The lack of accountability and the unfair practices of insurance companies are clear indicators that health care reform needs a public health insurance option—to break insurance company control of the market, create real competition and give millions of people real choices.
A three-year battle for workplace justice came to a successful conclusion yesterday when the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) announced controllers had ratified a new three-year contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
NATCA says the new pact throws out the Bush-era FAA’s 2006 imposed work and pay rules and restores fairness and stability to the collective bargaining process. The overwhelmingly approved contract takes effect Oct. 1. The contract covers a set of new work rules that both NATCA and the FAA agreed to at the negotiating table earlier this year. Other contract articles, including pay, were decided through a binding arbitration this summer.
NATCA President Patrick Forrey calls the new agreement
a testament to our membership that they have endured the worst time in our union’s history, working towards and holding out for a contract that was negotiated in a fair process and agreed to by the parties.
In 2006, the Bush administration’s FAA rejected NATCA’s call for mediation to settle a contract and walked away from the bargaining table. The agency then imposed a set of work rules and wage cuts that have driven controllers out of the towers. Because of the deplorable work environment, more than 2,600 controllers have left the FAA, creating a shortage of experienced controllers and threatening aviation safety.
The FAA under Bush rejected all calls to resume negotiations and threatened to veto any legislation that required the agency to sit down and bargain with the union.
Forrey says that along with the strength and solidarity of the union’s members, the victory
would not have been possible without the support and commitment of the Obama administration, key members of Congress and the AFL-CIO in providing a fair and transparent process.
Now is the time to move forward and forge a working relationship that will stabilize the workforce, effectively train the large number of new hires and keep the current system safe and efficient while we transition to the Next Generation Air Transportation System.
Forrey will step down as NATCA president Oct. 16, when the newly elected Paul M. Rinaldi takes over the reins of the 18,000 member union.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Wall Street bailout, and Jobs with Justice (JwJ) is launching a Week of Action to demand that the banks use our taxpayer dollars to finance the recovery and not their own corporate agenda.
During the Sept. 24-Oct. 1 week of action, working people will join with students, activists, community leaders and others across the country to highlight Big Banks’ misuse of tax dollars. So far, few of the billions in taxpayer money that went to Big Banks have reached Main Street. Instead, executives of banks that were bailed out with taxpayer dollars have lined their pockets with stock options that guarantee them huge windfalls for years. While they get richer, they have laid off more than 160,000 employees since Jan. 1, 2008.
To top it all off, Bank of America, which received $45 billion in taxpayer-funded bailout support, has spent more than $1.5 million lobbying on Capitol Hill against the reforms that would protect consumers from a future financial crisis, such as restrictions on executive compensation, home mortgage lending and credit card fees. The bank also is lobbying on a consumer rights bill, on student lending issues, on a bill that would’ve allowed bankruptcy judges to alter mortgages and on a proposed federal regulatory oversight agency.
In a post at CommonDreams.org, JwJ Executive Director Sarita Gupta says the bank bailout legislation entrusted the banks “to put money back into the economy and help put the brakes on the recession.” But that’s not what happened.
Instead, these corporate criminals stole our money.
Although Big Banks say they needed the bailout money to continue lending and to keep the economy running, they refuse to extend credit to viable companies. As a result, they are forcing small businesses to close and costing thousands of workers their jobs, Gupta says.
The banks must extend credit to companies facing short-term economic problems in order to stop unnecessary layoffs and plant closings. They must work with people at risk of foreclosure, and stop evicting them from their homes.
To learn more about JwJ’s week of action and to sign up to participate in actions, click here.
The Week of Action will call for:
- Ending layoffs and developing a “jobs creation program” to create millions of good jobs in our communities.
- Passing the Employee Free Choice Act and other measures to ensure worker dignity.
- Extending and expanding unemployment benefits, including access to health care.
- Working to keep people in their homes and measures to stop the foreclosures and evictions.
- Funding affordable housing and community reinvestment.
- Enacting quality, public, affordable health care for all.
- Protecting retirement security and pensions.
- Fixing our broken trade and immigration laws.
- Supporting education and human needs.
- Making corporations and the wealthy pay a fair share of taxes.
- Breaking up the corporate giants and creating a financial system that works for all.
The demand for financial reform echo a call Tuesday by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka for tough new regulations on the financial industry and a new approach to making the U.S. economy work for working people.
As Gupta says:
Today, some pundits are starting to talk about the “end of the recession.” Wall Street seems to be back to business as usual, and some banks are even turning profits. But what about the rest of us? One year later, what do your finances look like?
We must not let the banks dictate an economic recovery for the top only. We need a people’s economic recovery for us all.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick today named Paul Kirk to serve as interim U.S. senator, filling the open seat left by the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Kirk, who served as an adviser to Sen. Kennedy as well as a chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is expected to be sworn in tomorrow afternoon. He will serve until a permanent replacement is elected in a special election, set for Jan. 19. The state legislature approved a bill allowing for the appointment of an interim senator this week, ensuring that Massachusetts will have its full congressional delegation during these critical months.
Thanks are due to Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and union members across the state who have been actively advocating for their fair representation in the U.S. Senate. Kirk’s first public appearance after being named to fill the Senate seat was at today’s state AFL-CIO convention.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised the “decisive action” of the state legislature and the working people across the state who mobilized to ensure that Kennedy’s wishes for a speedy replacement would be met:
Never before has it been more important for our elected representatives to be vocal warriors for working family issues and with Paul Kirk’s appointment, working people get another ardent supporter. Paul Kirk has enormous shoes to fill as the replacement to Sen. Kennedy but working people in Massachusetts and across the country are confident that he will live up to Sen. Kennedy’s legacy.
The appointment couldn’t come at a more critical time—as Washington soldiers on to create health care reform and fight against big business and the insurance industry who are so opposed to change.
LabourStart, the global online labor news service, says the contest is designed to encourage and recognize the talents of worker-photographers around the world, and at the same time encourage them to tell the stories of workers’ struggles in photos.
The group’s first photo contest in 2008 drew several thousand entries. (See the winner accompanying this story and click here to see the 2008 finalists.)
First prize is a two-year pro account on Flickr.com. Four runners-up will receive a one-year pro account. The finalist photos will be featured on LabourStart and announced to news service’s 60,000 trade unionist subscribers. They also will be displayed in the art gallery on the Union Island in Second Life.
In addition, LabourStart will work to place the winning photos with labor publications (online and paper) worldwide and will make them known to labor galleries and art events worldwide. And, of course, the winner will be featured on LabourStart as a Photo of the Year.
Finalists will be selected by a three-judge panel. The judges are photojournalist and author David Bacon; Gretchen Donart, a communications organizer in Seattle; and Mac Urata, secretary of the Inland Transport Sections of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and a leading labor photographer.
The winner will then be selected by a vote of LabourStart’s subscribers. Visit the news service’s home page here and sign up at the bottom.
LabourStart provides daily labor news links in more than 20 languages and a news syndication service used by more than 700 trade union websites. News is collected from mainstream, trade union and alternative news sources by a network of more than 500 volunteer correspondents based on every continent.
It also conducts e-mail outreach campaigns, the Radio LabourStart network and UnionBook, an online social network for union members and activists. In August, LabourStart held its annual conference at the AFL-CIO here in Washington, D.C. Click here, here, here, here and here for coverage of the conference.
In a major boost for the casino workers’ quest for a fair contract, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB’s) Region 4 plans to dismiss a petition to decertify the UAW as the representative of 483 dealers at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., according to a report in the Daily Labor Report.
Under federal labor law, the union is entitled to one year of recognition as the employee representative before it can be decertified. Dealers at the casino voted March 31, 2007, for UAW.
The Trump Plaza management still refuses to bargain with the union despite an NLRB ruling last year that management engaged in unfair labor practices. The NLRB ordered the casino to negotiate in good faith, but that hasn’t happened, the union says.
Meanwhile, the Trump Plaza casino workers are living paycheck to paycheck, some of them without health insurance coverage. Yet Donald Trump, the chairman and largest shareholder in Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., which owns the Trump Plaza, made $32 million in 2007.
You can learn more and join the effort to get a fair deal for Atlantic City casino workers here.
Trump Plaza is just one of the casinos where management refuses to bargain. Workers at Bally’s and Caesars casinos in Atlantic City voted overwhelmingly in July to authorize a strike if they are unable to reach a contract agreement with management.