By Doug Cunningham
American Airlines pilots protesting a joint business agreement between Span’s Iberia Airline and British Airways picketed outside the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington Wednesday. The Allied Pilots Association says the joint business agreement includes an anti-trust immunity – something the pilot’s union says is anti-worker and anti-competitive because it doesn’t include protections for pilot positions.
By Doug Cunningham
Communications Workers of America members in AT&T’s District 6 – which includes Missouri – will be getting to vote in coming days on a tentative contract agreement covering 26,000 core wireline workers. CWA says it took seven months of extraordinarily difficult negotiations to get the agreement. The deal includes three percent annual raises in the first two years. 2.75 percent after that and a cost of living adjustment in 2011.
Workers creating a second shift have returned to work at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio plant. Jesse Russell reports.
One thousand fifty laid off workers have returned to work at a General Motors plant in Lordstown. Those workers will make up a second shift at the plant as GM prepares for the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze in April of 2010. The addition of the second shift follows the plant reopening in August. The United Auto Workers is hoping that the Cruze sells well enough so a third shift can eventually be added bringing back most of the laid off workers at the plant.
By Doug Cunningham
AFL-CIO Sec.-Treasurer Liz Shuler Addresses Youth Activist Conference On Economic “Lost Decade” – 10/15/09
By Doug Cunningham
More than 200,000 people are expected to march in a mass rally tomorrow in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of a one-day work stoppage to protest Gov. Luis Fortuño’s plan to trim the budget deficit on the backs of workers.
Using recently passed legislation known as Public Law 7, the governor plans to lay off as many as 30,000 public employees and deny collective bargaining to the remainder of the island’s public employees. The U.S. Commonwealth, where unemployment is already at 15 percent, is set to receive $6 billion in federal economic recovery funds, more than enough to cover a projected $3.2 billion budget deficit.
Fortuño, a former Republican delegate to the U.S. Congress, is using the island’s deep budget deficit as a pretext to busting the union and privatizing public services, the Puerto Rican union movement says.
As workers protest in San Juan, workers in New York City, Chicago and other cities will hold solidarity rallies. The rallies are being organized by members of AFSCME, UAW, SEIU and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
LCLAA President Milton Rosado, a member of UAW, says Public Law 7
will increase the already high unemployment rate on the island as a result of laying off of thousands of public sector workers. It will weaken the role of unions since it suspends collective bargaining for contracts in the public sector and affects labor rights. It worsens the current economic crisis since it reduces the productivity of the public sector in a time when there is an increased need for public services. It pushes for more privatization and deregulation.
Some 8,000 public workers already have been laid off and 17,000 more are scheduled beginning in November. Eventually, 10 percent of the entire public workforce will be eliminated under the plan.
In April 2009, then-AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Fortuño’s plan would “have devastating consequences throughout the island,”
not only for the 30,000 workers whose jobs will be eliminated, but also for every Puerto Rican who relies on critical services provided by the state government. Rather than solve the current fiscal challenge, the Stabilization Plan may lead to a deeper recession and increased unemployment and thereby create new social and economic problems that will negatively impact the Puerto Rican people—and it must be stopped.
The AFL-CIO and Change to Win strongly oppose privatization of vital public services and call on the Governor to ensure that collective bargaining and other labor rights for workers are protected.
“This government is wrong,” Aida Díaz, president of Puerto Rico’s Teachers Association, told El Nuevo Día, the island’s largest newspaper.
This is the biggest injustice that can be done against working people by a group of people who’ve never experienced poverty.
Outside the embassy of Uzbekistan today, nearly 100 union members and allies from the Washington, D.C., area rallied to show their support for Uzbek children subjected to child labor. Millions of children, some as young as age 7, could be subjected to long hours of labor in cotton fields this fall.
As young people across the United States have returned to school, children in Uzbekistan are being removed from their classes to pick cotton during the current harvest season. Every year, Uzbek state officials order millions of children, as young as 10 years old, and their teachers to leave school and harvest cotton under hazardous working conditions.
In a statement read on behalf of AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, Stan Gacek from the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department said forced child labor is in violation of not only international labor standards, but basic decency.
Uzbekistan is the sixth largest producer of cotton in the world, earning over $1 billion yearly, and the cotton picked by Uzbek children is processed into the clothes we buy in the United States. Where does this money go?
Not to the children who are forced into the fields. Not into the pockets of farmers who are forced to sell cotton to the state at artificially low prices, keeping them in dire poverty. It goes into the coffers of Uzbek President Karimov, his family, and the cronies closest to him. The Uzbek people don’t see any benefit at all from their hard work and this blatant theft.
The groups who turned out today include the AFL-CIO, the Solidarity Center, the AFT, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), United Electrical Workers, SEIU, Workers United, the Not for Sale Campaign, the Child Labor Coalition, United Students for Fair Trade, the National Consumers League and the United Methodist Church.
You can learn more about the abuse of child laborers in Uzbekistan here.
Turns out the “report” on health care reform, released by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is being denounced by the very company that prepared it.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) admits that at the request of AHIP, it cooked up the scariest scenario possible about the cost of health care reform and ignored factors that show health care reform could actually save money.
According to the Politico’s Live Pulse column, PwC released a statement
basically saying, “Hey, we weren’t paid to evaluate the effects of the entire bill, but rather a small slice of it.” The statement only seems to reinforce critics’ view that the report is skewed precisely because it doesn’t take into account the totality of reform.
The last, and key, line from the statement: “If other provisions in health care reform are successful in lowering costs over the long term, those improvements would offset some of the impacts we have estimated.”
In other words, PwC is saying if reform’s cost containment measures work, their estimate could be wrong.
Speaking of insurance companies’ casual relationship with the truth and their scare tactics campaign, members of the Alliance for Retired Americans are protesting today in front of the Albuquerque Humana headquarters (an AHIP member), denouncing its recent mailings targeting seniors and demanding they halt participation in the AHIP ad campaign.
Humana and other insurance companies recently sent letters to seniors with Medicare Advantage policies, claiming health care reform legislation would cause “millions of seniors and disabled individuals” to lose their benefits. The privately-run Medicare advantage plans cost an average of 14 percent more than traditional Medicare.
Humana is the second-largest provider of Medicare Advantage policies in the nation. Says John “J.D.” Doran, acting president of the New Mexico Alliance for Retired Americans:
Humana and AHIP’s behavior is unacceptable. Seniors like myself know the truth about health insurance reform and are working harder than ever to cut wasteful government subsidies to insurance companies and to push for a public option.
Most Americans want strong regulation of our nation’s financial markets, according to a poll released today by Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), a coalition of nearly 200 investors and civil rights and community organizations.
The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, surveyed 900 likely voters in 77 “Blue Dog” or conservative Democratic districts and those in politically competitive Democratic districts.
More than two-thirds of voters in all the districts support creating the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to “create and enforce a strong set of rules to require fair, affordable, understandable and transparent financial products like bank loans, mortgages and credit cards for families and small businesses.”
When asked if there was too much, too little or just the right amount of regulation of banks, the stock market and credit card companies, voters agreed, by a 23-point margin, there’s too little rather than too much regulation.
With the House Financial Services Committee taking up legislation this week on reforming the nation’s financial markets, AFR, along with the AFL-CIO, SEIU and other groups, is organizing rallies around the country in support of financial reform.
The coalition is preparing for a “Showdown in Chicago” Oct. 24-27 at a meeting of the American Bankers Association, where AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will join more than 5,000 people in calling for financial reform and demanding that banks be accountable for the billions of dollars of taxpayer money they received to bail them out of the crisis they created.
A key part of such financial reform should be a consumer watchdog agency—the CFPA—similar to the Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission that would set basic standards for financial transactions.
During an AFR conference call yesterday, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor and chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), said such an agency is crucial. Warren was one of the original proponents of the CFPA and is featured in Michael Moore’s movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. She made it clear she was speaking for herself and not the COP.
Safety works. People are getting cheated and we can fix that. Regulations keep us safer. Does anyone want to go back to a world where we don’t have robust regulatory agencies. Think of how many people are alive today because we have basic safety regulations on drugs.
More importantly, those regulations have made it worthwhile for companies to invest in good products and good testing
She pointed out that large financial institutions have been writing the financial regulations for the past 15 years. When their risky actions created the current financial crisis, they turned to the taxpayers for a bailout. Then they turned around and used part of the bailout money to fight so they can continue activities that got us in this mess and would bring us right back to this point again.
The fight that’s going on here around CFPA is about the survival of working families and middle-class families. I think it is fundamentally about where our economy goes.
Dave Johnson, writing on the Campaign for America’s Future website, puts it this way:
In the last several years we have all been fleeced, looted, robbed, swindled, thieved, tricked, cheated, scammed, exploited, ponzied, stung, conned, extorted, ripped off and bankrupted by the banks and other big financial companies. Finally the Congress is working on reining them in.
Ed Mierzwinski, director of the consumer program for U.S. PIRG, estimated that banks, the Chamber of Commerce and other financial groups are spending at least $148 million to lobby Congress over new laws. U.S. PIRG is a federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) and Mierzwinski was among participants in the AFR conference call.
We are up against a massive, unbelievably well-funded lobby trying to protect the status quo. They’re trying to protect the system that failed.
Says Heather Booth, director of AFR:
This is a true David and Goliath fight, but we know how that fight turned out. This is a fight about the big banks against the people.
Legislators would be well advised to understand the cozy old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable. Americans are livid and paying attention. Legislators who rely on Wall Street to finance their campaigns and then lead the effort to block or dilute reforms will discover that their constituents know what they have been up to.