UPS and FedEx are hiring for the holiday season. The package companies plan to add a combined 64,000 temporary workers to help cope with increased volume. UPS said in a press release that it expects to handle more packages this year than it did last holiday season.
NYC Community/Labor Coalition Urges City Council To Back Living Wage Jobs In Kingsbridge Armory Re-Development – 11/18/09
By Doug Cunningham
The community coalition pushing for permanent living wage jobs in the Bronx Kingsbridge Armory re-development want Mayor Bloomberg and the city council to require those jobs before approving the project. RWDSU’s Stuart Applebaum says economic development can’t be just about enriching developers.
[Applebaum]: “Thirty percent of all families who live in the Bronx live below the poverty line. And we know that we have to do something and we have to something differently than we’ve done before.”
More layoffs for state workers in the Keystone State. Jesse Russell reports.
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka laid out a national jobs strategy Tuesday in Washington. Trumka presented the five-point plan during an Economic Policy Institute jobs panel that included leading national civil rights organizations. Kate Sheehy reports from Washington.
Trumka began his speech to the crowd at the Economic Policy Institute with a story about a young woman with a bleak future…and he says her situation is too common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one worker sick with the H1N1 (swine flu) virus will infect one in 10 co-workers if he or she goes to work while infected with the virus. Even more frightening, another recent study predicted that 63 percent of Americans will be infected with the virus by the end of December.
Today, family advocates and heath care professionals told the House Education and Labor Committee that along with vaccinations, and good hygiene practices, the best way to protect workers and slow the spread of the H1N1 virus is through guaranteed paid sick leave legislation, such as the Healthy Families Act.
The CDC’s guidelines to employers and workers to slow the spread of the virus says workers who suspect they have the swine flu or another influenza-like illness should stay home and employers should allow workers to stay home “without fear of reprisals or…losing their jobs.”
But nearly half of all private-sector workers—and 76 percent of low-income workers—have no paid sick leave. That leaves sick workers facing the dilemma of staying home and losing several days of pay or likely spreading the disease to fellow workers and the public. Many low-wage workers have jobs that have direct contact with the public, such as the food-service and hospitality industry, schools and health care.
Says Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families:
Congress should waste no time in passing paid sick days legislation so that working people can earn paid time off and help prevent the spread of illnesses, without jeopardizing their economic security.
Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says paid sick leave benefits both employers, workers and their families along with customers and the general public. For employers, Benjamin says:
Sick workers are not productive ones and by spreading disease in the workplace risk the overall productivity of the business. By providing paid leave for sick workers, worker safety and business productivity can both be enhanced—a win-win for employers.
While we want to encourage workers to make healthy and rational decisions, when they are faced with the choice of staying home sick without pay or going into work sick so they can put food on the table and pay their mortgage, many workers choose to go to work and “tough it out,” putting their co-workers and their customers at risk.
Committee chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) says that Congress has been “pushing for universal paid leave policies for workers of all income levels.”
Let’s face some simple facts: When you’re struggling to make ends meet, you’re going to do everything possible to not miss a day’s pay. The lack of paid sick leave encourages workers who may have H1N1 to hide their symptoms and come to work sick—spreading infection to co-workers, customers and the public. This isn’t good for our nation’s public health or for businesses.
Earlier this year, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) introduced the Healthy Families Act (H.R. 2460 and S. 1152), which would require businesses with more than 15 employees to provide workers with up to seven paid sick days a year to care for themselves or a sick child or spouse.
At a Senate hearing on H1N1 earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris announced the Obama administration’s support for the Healthy Families Act.
The Healthy Families Act offers an important opportunity to provide workers with economic security by assuring that they have the ability to stay home if they are sick without fear of losing their jobs or being forced to go to work sick because they cannot afford to stay home. We support this bill and look forward to working with you on it as it moves through the legislative process.
William Lurye, AFL-CIO associate general counsel, says Senate Republicans’ obstructionist tactics blocking President Obama’s nominees must stop.
UPDATE: Sen. Session’s attempt to filibuster Judge Hamilton’s nomination failed when the Senate voted to 70-29 (including 10 Republicans) for cloture, ending the threatened filibuster.
Today, the U.S. Senate will consider President Obama’s nomination of federal district court Judge David Hamilton to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from Wisconsin, Illinois and Judge Hamilton’s home state, Indiana.
Despite bipartisan support for this nomination, Senate Republicans have threatened to mount a filibuster, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), to block the nomination from coming to a vote. Sessions apparently has forgotten that when Senate Democrats threatened to filibuster President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees, Sessions decried the tactic, stating:
I have stated over and over again on this floor that I would refuse to put an anonymous hold on a judge; that I would object and fight against any filibuster on a judge, whether it is somebody I opposed or supported; that I felt the Senate should do its duty. If we don’t like somebody the President nominates, vote him or her up or down. But don’t hold them in this anonymous unconscionable limbo….
Hamilton was appointed by President Clinton in 1994. His bipartisan support includes the conservative Indiana chapter of the Federalist Society, and Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who calls Judge Hamilton “superbly qualified” because he has the
requisite intellect, experience, character and temperament that Americans deserve from their judges, and also…appreciates the vital, and yet vitally limited, role of the Federal judiciary faithfully to interpret and apply our laws, rather than seeking to impose their own policy views.
Senate Republicans continue to be the party of “No,” blocking Obama’s 25 executive branch nominees, like Patricia Smith to be the Solicitor of the Department of Labor, Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board and Dawn Johnson to head the Justice Department’s important Office of Legal Counsel.
These obstructionist tactics are not based on legitimate issues with their qualifications. Sessions and his colleagues are practicing the kind of negative partisan politics voters rejected last year. Today with Judge Hamilton, and later with the other stalled nominees, they should heed Sessions’ own words and do their “duty…vote him or her up or down.”
Five months after Roger Agnelli, CEO of Vale Inco, provoked a strike by nearly 3,500 miners, mill workers and smelters at three mines in Canada, an employer group is honoring Agnelli—for demonstrating corporate social responsibility.
Brazilian-based Vale, the second-largest mining company in the world, recorded $13.2 billion in profits last year. But the company is demanding the workers, who are members of three United Steelworkers (USW) locals, give back hard-earned benefits and accept an inferior defined-contribution pension plan and take cuts in profit-sharing.
USW President Leo Gerard says the striking workers and their families have struggled since the strike began July 13. One of the mines is located in Sudbury, Gerard’s hometown.
In a column at the USW website, Gerard quotes Kari Cusack, a member of Families Supporting the Strikers, who told a local newspaper:
We see Vale’s attack…as an attack on our entire community, and we want to do our part to fight back against corporate greed.
Corporate greed will take center stage at a Dec. 3 ceremony in New York by the Business Council for International Understanding, which is bestowing upon Agnelli its Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Citizenship Award. (Let the Business Council know you think the award for Agnelli is wrong by calling 212-490-0460 in New York, 202-595-2668 in Washington or 44-207-225-3561 in London.)
International support for the strikers is growing. Teams of striking workers are traveling to three continents this month, spreading the message of their strike and urging Vale’s customers, investors and workers to pressure the company for fair contracts. For more information on the strike, click here.
Vale workers from Canada and Brazil rallied together in August at the multinational’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. They served pieces of a giant cake commemorating the 30-day anniversary of the miners’ strike.
In September, the Brazilian government fined Vale $20 million for failing to comply with an antitrust order. Last year, Brazil’s Office of the Environment fined Vale $3 million for illegal sale of wood.
Union groups from around the world have written Agnelli, expressing outrage about the strike. Gerard quotes General Secretary Bohithetswe Lentswe, general secretary of the Botswana Power Corporation Workers Union, who said:
We have every reason to believe that Vale is trying to destroy its strongest collective bargaining agreement for the purpose of setting a precedent to weaken other collective bargaining agreements throughout the world. Vale is also attempting to export its anti-worker, anti-union practices in Brazil to the rest of the world.
Of course. That’s what great CEOs do, as the Business Council for International Understanding will proclaim….With the cheapest tickets going for $1,000, it’s likely none of those $29-an-hour Vale workers will get a seat. But Agnelli, who is one of six Vale executives who together pulled down $33 million last year, could effortlessly drop $100,000 for an “underwriting level” table of 10 at his award dinner.
In a live webcast panel discussion, the consensus was clear: Without quick action, an entire generation could be mired in economic turmoil. The nation can, and must, put people back to work—while addressing critical needs for the future of our communities.
The scale of the jobs crisis is obvious: Since the beginning of the recession, more than 8 million jobs have been lost. The official unemployment rate is at 10.2 percent, with more than 26 million unemployed or underemployed. These figures are even more severe among African American and Latino communities. Young people are at risk of permanently stunted opportunity, and the jobs crisis is rebounding throughout the country with increased hunger and poverty, massive numbers of home foreclosures and diminished access to health care.
In addition to Trumka, participants in today’s discussion included NAACP President Benjamin Jealous; National Council of La Raza (NCLR) President Janet Murguia; Leadership Conference on Civil Rights President (LCCR) Wade Henderson; and Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. EPI President Larry Mishel moderated the conversation, which Jealous called the beginning of a national human rights movement for economic opportunity.
Trumka laid out five critical points that must underlie a new jobs agenda:
- Extend the lifeline for jobless workers.
- Rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems.
- Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services.
- Fund jobs in our communities.
- Put TARP funds to work for Main Street.
Trumka said that the coalition will push the White House and Congress to act on these recommendations immediately, starting at President Barack Obama’s Dec. 3 Jobs Summit.
We can not afford to do nothing, Trumka said, and we can’t afford to go back to an economy built on stagnant wages, inequality and consumer debt. We need to create good jobs that support families and communities.
Henderson said the nation’s jobs crisis requires urgent attention—because it’s not just an economic imperative to put people to work, it’s a moral responsibility:
Make no mistake, for us this is the civil rights issue of the moment. Unless we resolve the national job crisis, it will make it hard to address all of our other priorities.
Murguia added that we need specific programs to make sure all communities, especially those that have been disadvantaged, get the opportunities, training and assistance they need.
There are people who need work in our communities and there is work to be done rebuilding the country, Bhargava said. By investing now, we can make real, needed improvements and we can give people the jobs they need. But to do that, Bhargava said, we need to break through the “shell of complacency” around too many legislators in Washington. We need to organize communities around an economic agenda that really helps them.
All of the leaders present affirmed their commitment to building grassroots pressure on Congress to act now on job creation. Families across the country know we need solutions that are at the scale of the serious problems we’re facing and, Trumka said, they will be looking to see whether lawmakers are listening to them or just acting on behalf of Wall Street. Trumka criticized the fact that small minorities in the Senate can hold America hostage by blocking much-needed change and promised that union members and Working America members would fight hard against elected officials who are obstructing progress.
The way things are is not the way they have to be, Trumka said. We need action now to create jobs, and we have the resources to do it.
Seth Michaels is posting live from Washington, D.C.
Today at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other leaders are launching a bold new agenda to create new jobs and turn around our economy.
Trumka is proposing five steps to help end the nation’s ongoing jobs crisis. In the face of a 10 percent official unemployment rate and millions more underemployed or struggling with long-term unemployment, Trumka says, we need immediate action to put people back to work. The five key steps are:
1. Extend the lifeline for jobless workers.
2. Rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems.
3. Increase aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services
4. Fund jobs in our communities.
5. Put TARP funds to work for Main Street.
America’s jobs situation would be even more dire without the economic stimulus program President Obama and Congress enacted, which has saved or created 1 million jobs. But the depth of this crisis demands that we do more—and that we do it now, before more people lose their jobs, their homes, their health care and their hope.
Follow us here to learn more about the agenda to create jobs now and build a stronger, fairer economy for the future.