The United States continues to score at the bottom when it comes to average vacation time. The new study finds that the United States is the only country out of 41 where federal law doesn’t mandate vacation days. On average U.S. workers with 10 years at a job who works five days a week receives only 25 days off per year. That ties the U.S. with Singapore and only puts the country one slot above China. Brazil, Finland, and France mandate that workers receive 30 days off per year.
One of the world’s largest video game companies has announced plans to slash 1500 positions. Electronic Arts announced that while it is performing well on the back of titles such as “The Beatles: Rock Band” and “Madden NFL 10” the company is making the cuts as an effort to slash $100 million in annual expenses.
By Doug Cunningham
In Arizona a strike by 20,000 UFCW grocery workers at the Fry and Safeway chains is likely by the end of this week Jim McLaughlin, president of United Food & Commercial Local 99, says after several days of bargaining with no progress a strike now looks likely.
A strike that brought parts of Philadelphia to a standstill came to an end Monday morning. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
The AFL-CIO Executive Council today welcomed a new member, Ken Howard, president of the Screen Actors (SAG). Howard, who was elected to lead the actor’s union in September 2009, replaces former SAG President Alan Rosenberg.
Convening for a one-day meeting in Washington, D.C., the council heard from Ron Bloom, senior counselor to President Obama for manufacturing policy and a former staff member at the United Steelworkers (USW). The council and union leaders have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to quickly enact a national industrial policy to foster and sustain growth in the nation’s manufacturing industries. Increasing our manufacturing capacity is critical as the world prepares to move toward a green economy.
Pollster Celinda Lake also shared the results of polling on the economy and the political implications of a protracted jobs crisis.
With unemployment at 10.2 percent and the job market still very tight, Economic Policy Institute (EPI) economist Heidi Shierholz discussed expectations for employment trends with the council.
The council members discussed putting together an aggressive national jobs program. At the AFL-CIO’s Constitutional Convention in September, delegates approved a comprehensive economic recovery policy, including a JOBS Now! Initiative. They called for the federation to work with the government at all levels to adopt policies and programs to put people back to work.
Instead of creating thousands of new jobs for out-of-work Americans, the push for alternative energy is lining the pockets of foreign companies. A new study shows that of the $1.05 billion of stimulus funds spent on clean energy grants since Sept. 1, an astronomical 84 percent—or $849 million—has gone to foreign wind companies, with one firm collecting more than $500 million alone.
Russ Choma writes that the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University found the Spanish utility company Iberdrola S.A. has collected $545 million in grants through its U.S. subsidiary. And the money doesn’t even have to go to create jobs. The group reports there are few restrictions on how the grants can be used. In fact, more than $800 million has been given to firms for wind farms that were already producing electricity before they received the grants.
This revelation comes as the public is becoming aware of and outraged by China seeking $450 million in economic recovery funds to build a planned $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas. The farm will create 30 permanent jobs in the United States and 2,000 jobs in China.
We’ve got a message for Washington: Hell no! We’re not giving tax dollars to China. What’s wrong with these businesses and our government? It is the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It’s not the Chinese Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
You can take action now. Click here to tell the U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu not to send our tax dollars overseas and that U.S. stimulus money must create American green jobs.
And it’s not just happening at the federal level. The Alliance for American Manufacturing reports a Massachusetts solar panel company is moving some jobs overseas after receiving $58 million in state aid and being touted by the governor as a symbol of the state’s economic future.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The Blue Green Alliance reported that developing a clean energy economy in the United States could create some 850,000 new manufacturing jobs. But ensuring creation of those jobs requires changes in policies on financing, tax credits and caps on carbon emissions and increased research and development.
More U.S. companies would be getting the grants if Congress had not watered down the Buy America provisions of the stimulus package, union leaders say.
The nation also needs an industrial policy that promotes, encourages and develops manufacturing. Gerard cites an article by Keith Bradsher of the New York Times in which he described China’s policy to become a world leader in renewable energy, which would include construction of wind turbine factories:
Calling renewable energy a strategic industry, China is trying hard to make sure that its companies dominate globally. Just as Japan and South Korea made it hard for Detroit automakers to compete in those countries—giving their own automakers time to amass economies of scale in sheltered domestic markets—China is shielding its clean energy sector while it grows to a point where it can take on the world.
Subscribers to the global online labor news service LabourStart selected K.M. Asad’s striking photo of a Bangladeshi boy working in a shipbuilding plant as the Labor Photo of the Year. These factories employ young boys as apprentices without pay for the first few years. They work in extreme conditions without safety tools or other protective gears.
The photo contest is designed to encourage and recognize the talents of worker-photographers around the world while encouraging activists to tell the stories of workers’ struggles in photos. This is the group’s second photo contest. Click here to see the 2009 finalists.
Finalists were 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.
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.
To subscribe to LabourStart, visit the news service’s home page here and sign up at the bottom.
With successful passage of a historic health care reform bill this weekend, experts are weighing in on the benefits that the bill would bring to working families.
Maggie Mahar, a longtime observer of health care policy, says the progress Congress has made on health care is “astounding” and the House bill would move millions of families to less expensive, more comprehensive health care coverage, protecting them from medical bankruptcy, lifetime coverage caps and other consequences of our current flawed system.
A study by MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber suggests the changes in the House proposal will lower premiums by hundreds or even thousands of dollars for middle-class families who are looking to buy insurance.
This legislation includes numerous benefits for working families, immediately and in the long term, whether you have insurance now or not:
- It will end the national scandal of medical bankruptcy—the number one cause of personal bankruptcy—by eliminating lifetime caps on insurer payments and limiting annual out-of-pocket costs. Medical bankruptcies affect up to 4,000 families every day in the United States—and 78 percent of them are fully insured.
- It ends abusive insurance company practices, including the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and “rescissions”—the practice of canceling coverage when patients file claims.
- It provides subsidies to help middle-class and lower-income families afford coverage.
- Through an exchange, it offers people a wide range of choices of insurance, including a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers.
- It narrows the “donut hole”—the gap in Medicare coverage for prescription drugs.
- It creates incentives to increase the number of doctors and boosts funding for community health centers.
- It allows young people to be covered by their parents’ insurance up to age 27.
- It creates a new fund to help employers give health coverage to early retirees.
- It provides for efficient, computerized medical records and other tools to streamline medical care and increase quality.
- It cuts costs to the federal government as well as to families, reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next 10 years—thanks, in part, to the existence of a public health insurance option, which lowers costs across the system.
- Ad it’s fairly funded—through employer responsibility and a surtax on the very highest earners, not a tax on middle-class health benefits.
That’s a huge, historic win that will make a real difference in the lives of people of all ages. Here’s a two-page fact sheet that explains more.
- President Barack Obama praised the House members who showed courage in taking this critical vote.
- Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and other reform supporters are thanking representatives who voted “Yes.” You can thank your member of Congress here. They showed courage by fighting against insurance companies and for working families—and they need to hear from you to know that they did the right thing.
- And the Senate could begin debate on its own health care legislation next week.