Maryland’s Governor is seeking to encourage businesses to hire unemployed workers through a tax credit incentive. During a small business summit Governor Martin O’Malley said he would like to provide businesses with a $3000 tax credit for each jobless Marylander they hire. The plan, if accepted by the state legislature, would run for one-year and have a cap at $20 million. He plans to introduce the measure in January.
Danish sex workers are offering freebies in response to the city of Copenhagen’s attempt to dissuade visitors during this week’s world climate summit from paying for sex. Prostitution is legal in Denmark, but city hall has distributed post cards at local hotels that read “Be sustainable: Don’t buy sex.” In response, some sex workers will now accept the post cards as a coupon of sorts for free sex from anyone who also has a conference ID badge.
Lede: After years of effort a multi-billion dollar Brooklyn sports arena and housing/office project appears to have the green light. As Doug Cunningham reports, hard-hit trade unions are looking forward to the much-needed work.
By Doug Cunningham
[Gary LaBarbera]: “This project will represent thousands of construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs.”
New York City Building and Construction Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera on the Atlantic Yards project. LaBarbera is confident that after years of hurdles the project will happen.
To tackle our nation’s ongoing jobs crisis, the AFL-CIO has put forth a five-point plan to put people back to work and restore our economy. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented this five-part plan at the White House Jobs Summit last week.
The first step in this plan is to extend a lifeline to the people who have been hit the hardest by the jobs crisis. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, unemployment benefits were extended for millions of workers. Those who lost jobs got added food aid and assistance in getting COBRA health coverage. That was the right policy—but even as the crisis continues, those benefits are expiring.
Unless Congress acts now, supplemental unemployment benefits, additional food assistance and expansion of COBRA benefits will expire at the end of the year. When more than one in 10 people are out of work and millions more are underemployed, that’s unacceptable.
That means families who are hit by this jobs crisis are now at risk of bankruptcy, foreclosure and dire poverty. Extending these benefits won’t just keep families out of crisis. It will keep foreclosures from devastating neighborhoods and increase confidence and boost the consumer spending we need to keep our economy afloat.
Unemployed people who get this much-needed assistance can support businesses in their communities. Our economy can’t recover if the millions who are out of a job can’t put food on the table, stay in their homes and provide for their families.
Rudy Martinez, a heat and frost insulator from Minnesota who is out of work thanks to the slow economy, puts it well when he says he and his neighbors need help to be part of a strong economy:
I’m afraid to spend money because of how long I’m going to be laid off. Nobody wants to spend until they see something good happen.
This isn’t just an economic imperative—it’s a moral imperative. Too many children are coming to school hungry, hurting their academic achievement and their long-term success. Thousands of houses are foreclosed every day, robbing people of the time and money they’ve invested in their homes and communities. Without COBRA coverage, unemployed workers are at risk of medical bankruptcy.
With our economy struggling to recover from this crisis, we can’t afford to leave families behind. Let’s extend unemployment insurance, COBRA benefits and food aid to those who desperately need them.
Global union pension funds and investments are worth $17 trillion and are a major force in the global capital markets. But often those funds are run by Wall Street managers who invest workers’ money in ways that actually destroy jobs.
Thomas Croft, executive director of the Pittsburgh-based Steel Valley Authority, which helps companies in crisis on workplace retention, growth and buyout strategies, says in a new AFL-CIO Point of View guest column that union pension funds can create jobs and profits by investing their assets in responsible projects that respect workers.
In his new book, Up From Wall Street: The Responsible Investment Alternative, Croft says he has found “worker-friendly” investors who have earned significant profits for the funds they manage. Increasingly, they are investing in green jobs.
In the book, Croft gives examples of projects in which the funds have invested that provided profit and jobs. For example, he cites an investment at the tip of Roosevelt Island [in New York]. The pension fund partnered with a development company to purchase an abandoned hospital and built new housing units that were very environmentally sustainable, and it was built union.
It’s time we begin to take our money back and invest in ways to rebuild our economy, to build up companies and not tear them down, to invest in real housing, real workplaces—and not in ways that are risky. It’s time for a more responsible approach to the stewardship of our retirement assets and all the institutional assets we own.
In the forward to Croft ‘s book, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the worker-friendly investment funds “offer an alternative to the Wall Street excesses.” Trumka says they show
we have the capacity to rebuild our economy and infrastructure, reinvigorate our cities, and create those highly anticipated green jobs of the future.
The Obama administration should emphasize responsible investing as part of its jobs program, Croft says.
We need to go beyond the fiction that if we simply increase our gross domestic product that we’ll create good jobs. We had some of those strategies during the Clinton years, and we saw the effects of free trade and some of the other problems we had in the economy.
To encourage more responsible investing, Croft calls for financial reforms on Wall Street to stop “mega vulture investment funds” from gobbling up and dismantling companies, leaving workers on the street and communities devastated.
He also says union pension fund trustees must act to ensure that funds are being invested to help workers. Click here to read the entire column.
With 26 million people either unemployed or without fulltime work, labor commissioners and officials from eight states joined with workers and union and civil rights leaders in calling for Congress to extend unemployment insurance and health care assistance for jobless workers, benefits that will expire for many in a few weeks.
A new study, “Keeping a First Line of Defense for the Jobless,” released today, predicts that 1 million workers will become ineligible for unemployment benefits in January 2010 unless Congress reauthorizes key provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report also shows that by March that number will swell to more than 3.2 million workers. Click here to read the study.
Speaking at a press conference this morning, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker pointed out that jobless workers very quickly spend their benefits and the money quickly flows into and boosts the domestic economy. Every dollar the government provides for unemployment benefits is estimated to increase economic output by $1.63 to $2.15. Many economists agree, she said, that unemployment benefits provide one of the biggest “bangs for the buck” in terms of recovery spending.
Unemployment insurance is “the key safety net to help workers who have lost jobs through no fault of their own,” Holt Baker said, adding:
If Congress fails to reauthorize jobless benefits through 2010, foreclosures will happen at an accelerated pace, more families will fall off the financial cliff and more local businesses will lose revenues, leading to more job loss.
Workers of color are being pummeled by the recession. Unemployment for African Americans is now 15.6 percent and 12.7 percent among Latinos. Some 40 percent of African American and Latino workers will be unemployed or underemployed at some point in 2010.
Holt Baker pointed out that extending the lifeline for families hard hit by the recession is the first point of the AFL-CIO’s five-part plan for immediate job creation. The other four points are:
- Investing now to rebuild America’s schools, roads, sewers, parks and energy infrastructure, accelerating the shift to clean renewable energy;
- Increasing aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services and avoid unnecessary layoffs and tax increases;
- Putting people back to work in good jobs with good labor protections doing work that needs to be done, while making sure not to replace existing jobs; and
- Easing the credit crunch by using TARP funds to lend directly to small and medium-size businesses on Main Street.
The benefits provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act include up to 73 weeks of federal unemployment benefit extensions and a subsidy covering 65 percent of the cost of COBRA premiums for unemployed workers.
Holt Baker sums it up this way:
The consequences of not acting are unthinkable. We would see more lives put on hold, more homes lost and more communities threatened.
The cost of not doing anything is far greater than the cost of continuing these essential benefits through the end of 2010. Extending unemployment benefits and COBRA coverage is the right thing to do—for the unemployed and for all of us.
Some 7,000 Detroit public school teachers, members of AFT, will receive a 1 percent raise in the third year of a contract agreement reached last week—and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
AFT, Detroit Public Schools: The Detroit Federation of Teachers (AFT) reached a tentative agreement last week on a three-year contract with Detroit Public Schools. The 7,000 teachers will receive a 1 percent wage increase in the third year of the contract, which runs through June 2012. Employees may be eligible for an additional 2 percent increase, depending on school enrollment and state aid.
ATU, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority: In Rhode Island, the state legislature is considering legislation to remove binding arbitration at the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 618 have been without a contract since June and say they would issue a strike notice if the binding arbitration provision is removed.
ATU, Veolia Transportation: Transit workers (ATU) in Escambia County, Fla., unanimously gave their union authority to call a strike late last month. Veolia Transportation, the private company that runs the authority, has refused to honor the 4.5 percent annual raise guaranteed by the contract.
UFCW, Safeway and King Soopers: After working without a contract since May, Colorado grocery workers in UFCW Local 7 last week began voting on a contract offer from Safeway and King Soopers (Kroger). Mail ballots will take about two weeks to tally.
UFCW, Fry’s and Safeway: Some 25,000 grocery workers in Arizona, members of UFCW Local 99, last week began voting on a contract offer by Fry’s and Safeway supermarkets. The deal includes two $0.25 per-hour wage increases and maintains free health coverage, despite attempts by the companies to charge workers for health insurance.
AFSCME, Van Buren County: In Michigan, AFSCME and Van Buren County reached a new three-year agreement that protects health benefits and provides job security.
AFSCME, State of Iowa: Iowa state workers, members of AFSCME, voted to accept a new contract that will prevent layoffs. About 9,000 AFSCME members will take five furlough days to cut costs.
MTC, Northrup Grumman: Members of the Metal Trades Council at Northrup Grumman’s Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., voted to extend their contract until March 2012. The agreement includes a $1,000 bonus and maintains current health care coverage.
IAM, Harley-Davidson: Members of the Machinists (IAM) at Harley-Davidson’s plant in York, Pa., ratified a seven-year contract last week , which, along with incentives offered by Gov. Ed Rendell, requires the company to remain in York.
AFT, Rutgers University: The 1,900 members of the Union of Rutgers Administrators (URA-AFT) ratified an agreement with the university to defer salary increases through January 2011 in exchange for no employee furloughs for the contract term.
AFM, Sarasota Orchestra: The Sarasota Orchestra Players’ Association, American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 427-721, reached a two-year agreement with the orchestra after months of negotiations. The musicians’ contract expired in August, and they had since been working under the orchestra’s final terms.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy. Readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.
Bob Baugh, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council and co-chair of the AFL-CIO Energy Task Force, is in Copenhagen, Denmark, to ensure that labor’s input helps shape a global climate treaty. This report follows up on his first blog from Copenhagen here.
Security is tight at the United Nations climate change conference. And security is only expected to get tighter as the conference gears up for the major ministerial meeting next week capped by the heads of state meeting on Dec.18, which President Obama will attend.
The U.S. government has a strong presence here with a U.S Center and a series of forums featuring various Cabinet members discussing the roles of their agencies in addressing climate change.
At the Center’s first event, Alexander McDonald of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used the Center’s 6-foot globe to demonstrate the pattern of carbon emissions on a global scale over the course of a month. He showed how the emissions that contribute to global warming migrated eastward from the United States and upward into the atmosphere. The globe could be rotated and tilted to show the emissions from Asia and peat and forest burning in Indonesia swirling and curling into the skies.
Another series of images showed the impact of increased temperatures over a century on the middle portions of the United States and how increased acid levels of waters across the world have affected coral reefs and fish species. McDonald pointed out that the impact on water and land of business-as-usual policies have huge implications for the food supply across the world.
So while we deal with security in getting into the summit, the U.S. Center serves as a visual reminder that climate security is the reason we are here.