As stress grows in the workplace more workers are apt to take a day for recovery. According to a new survey by benefits consulting firm Watson Wyatt, 22 percent of those companies surveyed have said they’ve experienced an increase in workers calling in sick. The company also found that workers are taking advantage of their benefits more often – something they say is to be expected in an economy with low job security.
Are Wal-Mart’s everyday low prices hurting workers at the company’s supplier factories in China? A new report from China Labor Watch suggests they could be. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
As Senate Health Care Debate Begins, A Public Option And Health Benefits Tax Are Among The Contentious Issues – 12/01/09
By Doug Cunningham
Illinois state employees and nurses, government-contracted tech workers, airport workers and helicopter pilots all have won a voice at work with AFL-CIO unions recently.
In Illinois, more than 500 Illinois state public service administrators won their fight for representation with AFSCME Council 31 after waiting more than a year and a half for their ballots to be counted. As Henry Bayer, Council 31 executive director, says: “In tough times, a strong union is essential.”
With AFSCME, all public service workers have the job security and decent wages and benefits only a strong union can provide.
The workers perform audits and other functions for many state agencies, primarily the Department of Revenue and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
In a separate election last month, 180 working nurse supervisors also joined Council 31. They work in mental health and developmental centers operated by the Department of Human Services and in other state agencies.
Meanwhile, 275 workers employed by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) of Indian Springs, Nev., voted to join the Machinists (IAM). The CSC employees, who work at Nellis Air Force Base, a major training location for U.S. and foreign military air crews, now can bargain for raises under the Service Contract Act. The Service Contract Act covers employees working for employers holding contracts with the federal government.
In Ontario, Canada, 200 employees of Toronto Ground Airport Services voted to join IAM Local 2323, following a hard-fought organizing win. District 140 organizer Ian Morland says:
This is a very rewarding victory over an aggressive and anti-union employer. This campaign has been under way since May and it involved terminations and worker intimidation by the employer. We took the matter to the Federal Labour Board, who awarded us a vote and reinstatement for the terminated workers and severance for those who did not wish to return to work for this employer.
The new members include dispatchers and wheelchair assistants for physically challenged patrons who use the airport and its services.
Also in Canada, the 275-member Global Helicopter Pilots Association (GHPA) has affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU). The group will be known as GHPA, OPEIU Local 103.
After the Canadian pilots formed a union in 2006, they were forced to fight a series of legal challenges mounted by their employer, CHC, Helicopter Corp. GHPA voted to affiliate with OPEIU in March 2007, and affiliation was granted upon the recent issuance of a decision by the Canadian Industrial Relations Board. Kevin Kistler, OPEIU director of Organization and Field Services, says “this was a long time coming,”
but we’re glad we now represent the more than 275 GHPA pilots. Contract negotiations have begun, and we look forward to achieving an agreement that provides improved compensation, benefits, and working conditions.
President Barack Obama this week is convening a jobs summit to address the urgent need to create jobs for the more than 26 million unemployed or underemployed workers looking for work in an economy in which there are more than six workers for every one job.
An economy in which one in three Americans have either lost his or her job or live in a household with someone who has.
The summit, set for Thursday, Dec. 3, will include more than 100 experts and leaders from business, labor, government and community organizations, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman.
At the summit, Trumka will discuss the five-point plan proposed by the AFL-CIO and our allies to create jobs and boost the economy, which involves:
- Extending the lifeline for jobless workers through unemployment insurance, food aid and health care assistance.
- Rebuilding America’s schools, roads and energy systems.
- Increasing aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services and prevent layoffs.
- Fund jobs in our communities, focusing on distressed areas.
- Put the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to work for Main Street by increasing lending from community banks to small and medium-sized businesses.
We’ll be reporting on the White House jobs summit all this week, including follow-up coverage after the event closes at 5 p.m. EST. It’s imperative to create good jobs now and put our country to work.
Don McIntosh, associate editor of the Northwest Labor Press, writes about the 10th anniversary of the massive march against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) meeting in Seattle and the continuing struggle to rebalance a global economy that now benefits only the wealthy. The article is excerpted from the Northwest Labor Press. To read the entire article, click here.
Ten years ago on Nov. 30, 50,000 people protested a meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. The protests succeeded in delaying the summit’s opening day and contributed to the collapse of plans for a new round of trade negotiations. It was one of those rare moments in history when ordinary people rise up and can no longer be ignored.
Before the Seattle protests, few people had ever heard of the WTO, a secretive organization that promotes and enforces multinational trade agreements. But the public was increasingly aware that growth in worldwide trade was not benefiting workers or the environment.
WTO didn’t create the offshoring of U.S. manufacturing jobs. But the WTO served to “grease the skids,” by lowering tariff and “non-tariff” barriers to trade.
Not all interests are equal at the WTO, says Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
The bias is toward the interests of multinational corporations. The labor movement’s view is that to the extent that we will continue to be in a global economy, we need to make sure the rules of that global economy are taking care of working people and the environment, not just corporate profits.
For months leading up to the meeting, [labor leaders and environmental and community activists] made extraordinary efforts to educate people about the WTO, and reached out to other groups to coordinate a week of protests.
The union movement focused on a rally and march on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 1999—Day One of the meeting. Seven staff organizers assigned by the national AFL-CIO worked for two months to prepare. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) resolved to shut down Washington ports for the day so members could take part. Other unions paid lost wages so members could get off work to attend. The Machinists committed to turn out 900 members to serve as parade marshals. United Steelworkers scheduled an annual conference to take place in Seattle just prior to the WTO meeting, reserving 500 hotel rooms.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions [now the International Trade Union Confederation] scheduled its annual meeting in Seattle as well, drawing unionists from more than 100 countries. Each local labor council in Washington organized between three and 10 busloads, and labor councils in Colorado, Montana and British Columbia organized bus and car caravans. The Oregon AFL-CIO chartered and filled a 350-seat Amtrak train, while other Oregon labor organizations accounted for 15 more buses.
On Nov. 30, some 20,000 people, mostly labor unionists, attended a union rally in Memorial Stadium, and then were joined by another 15,000 in “feeder marches” in a permitted march to downtown. But as marchers neared the convention center, they found the streets full of people. The procession ground to a crawl and split into at least three streams, some mingling with the protesters blocking intersections.
Steve Hughes, today a union rep at Oregon AFSCME Council 75, was then part of a group of The Evergreen State College students occupying an intersection near the convention center. He says:
The WTO was one of those moments where there was a crack in the facade and we got a taste of our power. It was a vision of how different groups could work together and how our causes are interrelated.
On Day Four of the summit, the WTO talks collapsed when delegates from less-developed countries walked out. The uprising punctured the perception of inevitability or omnipotence that free-traders had enjoyed.
After Seattle, free-traders adopted the rhetoric of protesters, saying it was important that labor and environmental concerns be considered. But labor and green groups were not fooled and continue to oppose new international trade agreements.