Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation reveal that employment in the U.S. airline industry was down 4.9 percent in comparison to a year ago. Delta and Northwest are finishing a merger, but the two airlines are at the head of the flock in terms of employment. Delta saw its employment jump by 10 percent from September to October.
Holiday travel could be touch and go for passengers flying British Airways. Jesse Russell reports:
Cabin crews for British Airways have voted in favor of a 12-day strike that will start on December 22. Unite Assistant General Secretary Len McCluskey said in a press conference that the vote by workers was decisive:
[McClusky]: “The result of that ballot was over a 80 percent turnout and 92.5 percent of those members voted for strike action.”
By Doug Cunningham
Thousands of post-doctoral scholars, researchers and technicians will be doing information pickets at University of California campuses statewide today as they seek to settle their first union contracts. Matthew O’Connor is the post-doc bargaining rep for UAW Local 5810 at the UC Berkeley campus.
[O’Connor]: “We’ve been in negotiations for over a year for our first contract. There’s a few issues still on the table – wage increases and health care benefits.”
By Doug Cunningham
The Blue-Green Alliance says the labor and environmental partners agree that an international agreement to limit greenhouse gases will only be successful when it’s designed to create clean energy jobs. The Blue-Green Alliance is part of a significant global labor presence at the Copenhagen environmental conference. The Blue Green Alliance is calling on the U.S. to invest in five key pillars of a global agreement that includes deployment of clean energy technologies, just transition to the green economy, tropical deforestation emissions reductions and accountability.
When our banking system was in crisis last year, Congress acted with lightning speed to bail out banks—but although Wall Street and the banksters have seen a recovery, working families are still facing a crisis of disappearing jobs.
One of the best ways to make sure our economy is creating new jobs is to take funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and rather than using them to just bail out the big banks, direct the funds to their intended purpose: restoring lending and credit to put people to work and our economy on the right track. That’s one of the key elements of the AFL-CIO’s five-point plan for job creation.
TARP, unfortunately, bailed out Wall Street and big banks without helping Main Street. Billions of dollars have gone to these big banks—but too often those dollars turned into executive pay and bonuses and Capitol Hill lobbying, not lending to spur economic growth. Even before the economic crisis, lending by banks to small and medium businesses was declining—and bank bailouts have not restored this critical lending.
The AFL-CIO proposes to use bank bailout funds to create a fund dedicated only to small and medium sized business lending, and to have that fund managed by community banks. The community banks would co-invest in the fund, so they would have an incentive to manage it prudently. The fund would then lend directly to the small- and medium-sized businesses that desperately need credit to hire workers.
TARP has done this kind of program over and over again in credit markets that matter to Wall Street—like asset-backed securities. It’s high time we did the same for the credit markets that matter to Main Street.
Properly administered, this wouldn’t represent a cost to government: it would be an investment that would be repaid—and everyone would reap the benefits of a stronger economy in the meantime.
The Small Business Administration estimates that one job is created or saved for every $24,000 in small business lending. Small and medium businesses are more dependent on bank lending by larger businesses, and the jobs they create are essential to having a broad economic recovery.
The AFL-CIO’s proposal for utilizing bank bailout funds to assist working families is just one part of a broader agenda that includes direct aid to families in need, aid to states facing budget crises and federal job creation through spending on critical infrastructure needs.
Congress and President Barack Obama must act quickly to get our economy moving again. The top priority next year must be jobs, jobs and more jobs.
A federal judge has blocked U.S. officials from enforcing a funding ban on the community action group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. At the same time, an independent investigation shows the organization did not engage in illegal activities.
U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon in New York issued a temporary injunction late on Dec. 11 against the funding ban. Congress cut off funding in September after accusations of alleged wrongdoing by workers in one local ACORN office. The group sued the federal government in November, arguing Congress had violated the Constitution by singling out the group for punishment without any legal process to adjudicate guilt. ACORN has fired the employees suspected of wrongdoing.
In her ruling, Gershon said statements by Republican members of Congress accusing ACORN of being a criminal organization that deserved to be punished “underline the punitive nature of the government’s purportedly non-punitive reason” for the funding ban.
ACORN has been active in urging homeowners to fight back against Wall Street and protect their homes. Along with Project Vote, ACORN registered 1.3 million poor people, persons of color and young people for the 2008 election, groups that generally vote for Democrats.
ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said:
[The] ruling is a victory for the constitutional rights for all Americans and for the citizens who work through ACORN to improve their communities and promote responsible lending and homeownership.
Meanwhile, a recently released report on ACORN by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger makes it clear the organization did not engage in any illegal behavior. At the same time the report offers nine specific recommendations for strengthening ACORN’s governance structure as well as improving its financial and management controls.
In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says Harshbarger’s independent investigation should remind those in Congress and in federal agencies that a “rush to judgment to cut off funding for ACORN prior to the conclusion of the investigations that were under way was wrongheaded and counterproductive.”
It is a strong rebuke to those organizations whose underhanded tactics sought to destroy an organization that has been a singular voice for the millions of poor and disenfranchised in our country.
At a time when millions of Americans are reeling from the loss of jobs, homes and health care, we are confident that the report will enable ACORN to refocus on its core mission of community organizing and civic empowerment.
Click here to read the entire statement.
Casa Latina—a worker center that serves all workers, including immigrant workers—is affiliating with the Washington State Labor Council to encourage closer cooperation in the fight for immigrant workers’ rights.
Seattle-based Casa Latina is the 11th worker center to join the AFL-CIO under a program we launched in 2006 that enables state and local bodies of the AFL-CIO and neighboring workers’ centers to establish formal ties and work together to meet the needs of America’s workers.
Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender says:
Low-wage and immigrant workers in the United States face enormous challenges in enforcing their labor and employment rights, rendering them ripe for exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers. This exploitation hurts us all because when standards are dragged down for some workers, they are dragged down for everyone.
The group’s first joint project will be creating a pilot project identifying, documenting and remedying wage theft in King County, which includes Seattle.
Hilary Stern, founding executive director of CASA Latina, adds:
Low-wage immigrant workers are under tremendous stress at this time in our country. We look forward to joining forces with the Washington State Labor Council to raise the floor for all workers in our community.
Casa Latina’s affiliation with the Washington State Labor Council sends a signal to employers that the state’s workers, union and nonunion, immigrant and U.S. born, will work together to advance all workers’ rights.
“We welcome Casa Latina into the AFL-CIO family,” says Ana Avendaño, assistant to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and director of the AFL-CIO’s Immigrant Worker Program.
They are the first worker center in Washington State to join and we look forward to supporting the creative and significant work to come from this partnership.
California Labor Federation communications organizer Rebecca Greenberg reports on a vigil by San Francisco union members and the faith community that highlighted the nation’s broken health care system.
While holiday shoppers bustled joyously around San Francisco’s busy Union Square shopping district Friday night, a diverse group of religious leaders and health care advocates stood in stark contrast as they quietly gathered in the center of the square to solemnly commemorate the 45,000 Americans who lost their lives this year because they didn’t have health insurance.
As ministers, rabbis, Islamic, Buddhist and other spiritual leaders took turns reading out the names of the deceased, nearly 300 union members, health care advocates and passers-by stood in complete silence, candles flickering, to pay their respects to the victims of our broken health care system.
The silent interfaith processional—which wound through the streets of downtown San Francisco before arriving for the commemorative ceremony at Union Square—was a far cry from the loud, energetic rallies and protests that have encompassed the health care debate up until now. The somber tone of the event reflected the grave travesty of a system that allows one person to die every 12 minutes simply because they can’t get or afford insurance.
As the Rev. Cecil Williams said:
We are fighting for the soul of America. It will be tempting for Congress to get lost in the weeds of politics and succumb to the pressure to weaken reform, but we need them to remember that people count more than profits, and they cannot allow another 45,000 to die next year waiting for health care reform.
The event centered around the holidays as a season for giving, and religious leaders called on Congress to give the gift of affordable health care by passing a strong bill that includes a public option, doesn’t impose new taxes on benefits for working families and ensures employers pay their fair share for health care.
Many workers and members of the faith community shared stories about loved ones they’ve lost due to lack of insurance, and others spoke about their own struggles without health care. In a sad twist of fate, three of the uninsured individuals who were scheduled to share their personal stories fell ill and couldn’t make it to the event. But their absence further exemplified the dire and immediate need for real, comprehensive health care reform.
The Rev. Carol Been said that although “our country has lost its moral compass,”
we can find it again with health care reform. The debate around the bill has been challenging, but we are people of faith—we always have hope.
Pratt & Whitney ships jobs overseas despite incentives, 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.
WORK STOPPAGES AND OTHER ACTIONS
IAM, Pratt & Whitney: The Machinists (IAM) are applauding Connecticut’s full congressional delegation for sending a letter to President Obama urging him to help prevent Pratt & Whitney from moving 1,000 jobs out of the state and out of the country. IAM and the state of Connecticut worked together to offer huge incentives if the company remained in the state, but the aircraft engine manufacturer refused.
BCTGM, Wendy’s: The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 57 filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Wendy’s New Bakery, which produces buns for Wendy’s restaurants. BCTGM argues that the company illegally imposed a new contract on 150 bakery workers in Ohio.
ATU, Metropolitan Transportation Authority: A New York Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of New York City transit workers when he upheld an arbitration panel’s award that included an 11.5 percent wage increase for the workers over three years. The incoming president of Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100, John Samuelsen, called the decision a “big win.”
IBEW, FirstEnergy: Workers at a FirstEnergy Generation Corp. plant in Shippingport, Pa., on Dec. 11 voted to ratify a new 39-month contract. The contract covers 374 members of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 272 whose previous contract had expired in February 2008.
IAM, United Technology Corp.: Workers at United Technology Corp.’s fuel cell plant in South Windsor, Conn., voted to ratify a new three-year agreement. The deal covers 150 IAM members and includes a signing bonus, annual raises and increased pension benefits that will offset the increase in worker contributions to health care.
CWA and IBEW, Frontier Communications: Workers at Frontier Communications in Pennsylvania and West Virginia ratified new contracts. Communications Workers of America members in Pennsylvania last month ratified a three-year contract covering 300 workers, while Electrical Workers (IBEW) in West Virginia ratified a one-year contract extension covering 60 members.
IAFF, Lansing: Firefighters in Lansing, Mich., ratified a new agreement that will help the city save nearly $500,000 in the next six months. The contract covers 209 members of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 421.
UFCW, Multiple Supermarkets: Grocery workers in Arizona voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new three-year contract with Fry’s, Safeway and Smith’s supermarkets. The contract covers 25,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99 and includes wage increases as well as adequate funding of the pension fund.
ATU, Veolia Transportation: Members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1395 have put plans to strike on hold while negotiations continue with management at Florida’s Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT). Members authorized a strike last month after Veolia Transportation, the private company that manages ECAT, refused to honor the 4.5 percent wage increase guaranteed in their contract.
IAM, Hawaiian Airlines: IAM Lodge 141 has reached a tentative four-year agreement with Hawaiian Airlines. The contract would provide wage increases for 1,245 clerical workers.
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.