Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm newest cost saving measure is out with the old and in the with the new. In an attempt to lower the cost of the state government, Granholm is looking for 39,000 teachers and 7,000 state employees with more than 30 years of service who will accept early retirement. She would replace those workers with new hires who would be required to pay 20 percent of their health care benefits-–twice what is currently paid by state workers.
Lede: America’s building trades unions has a voice on a presidential commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Doug Cunningham has more.
By Doug Cunningham
Mark Ayers, President of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, will join the Blue Ribbon Commission charged with providing formal recommendations for dev eloping a safe, long-term solution to managing used nuclear fuel and waste.
Numbers on Friday suggest the economy is growing, but the picture still doesn’t look rosy for U.S. workers. Wages and benefits paid to workers only grew by 1.5 percent over the entirety of 2009 – the weakest growth on record. Tom Juravich, author of the new book “At the Altar of the Bottom Line,” said that a bigger focus needs to be put on creating better jobs and not just more jobs.
The AFT site here highlights key facts and figures about African Americans, important historical events, influential figures and the continuing contributions of African Americans. For instance, did you know that African Americans were largely responsible for developing our railway system? More than 40 different patents were awarded to African Americans for inventions of machinery and parts vital to the function of trains, tracks and passenger safety.
This AFT site features a special focus on the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which made segregation in public schools illegal. The site includes profiles of the suit’s leaders, key events, recommended readings for grades K-12 and links to primary documents and lesson plans. There also is a video highlighting AFT’s efforts to obtain civil rights for all and desegregate America’s classrooms.
The NEA has joined with syndicated radio and TV host Tavis Smiley and the America I AM exhibition to offer educators a historically relevant, culturally diverse curriculum for use in classrooms as part of Black History Month observances.
America I AM lesson plans, activity sheets and other learning materials tailored around African American history and its impact on the country are available free of charge for the length of the exhibition’s four-year run at www.americaiam.org.
The educational materials are tailored by grade level, covering grades 5 through 12, and can be used as a stand-alone history unit or linked to other curricula, including social studies, economics, math, art and literature.
The exhibition is currently on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles and will travel to other cities over the next four years.
The image of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 369 apprentice Sam Simms climbing to the top of an electrical pole, as a cloud-breaking sun provides a ragged pink halo above, was the top vote-getter in the 2009 IBEW Photo Contest.
Nearly 4,000 online votes were cast for the 15 finalists—out of more than 300 submissions.
The first place winner—shot with an iPhone by Danny Doss of IBEW Local 317 in Huntington, W.Va.—captures the Louisville, Ky., apprentice as he is earning his Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wood pole certification. Says Doss, who trains new workers:
“I was in the right place at the right time. I never expected to win.”
Dave Gable of IBEW Local 160 in Minneapolis nabbed second place with his colorful shot of windmills at sunrise on the Minnesota-South Dakota border. Voters awarded third place to Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 member Don Porter for his photo of the Fort Churchill power plant in Mason Valley, Nev., at sunset.
Tyron Daum of IBEW Local 47 in Diamond Bar, Calif., won honorable mention for a photo of four workers balanced atop two power poles directing a helicopter delivery of a large crossbeam. The other honorable mention went to Jonathan Pytka of IBEW Local 532 in Billings, Mont., for his shot of members ascending a 150-foot wind turbine.
The law corrected the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that Ledbetter, a 20-year employee of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., had sued too late when she discovered her pay was far below that of men doing similar work. President Obama signed the bill into law Jan. 29, 2009.
In observance of the anniversary, Ledbetter, writing on Alternet, said there is still work to do:
We need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill gives teeth to the protections against pay discrimination. And women, who are still shortchanged in the workplace, deserve just that. The bill would empower women to negotiate for equal pay, create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It would also strengthen penalties for equal pay violations.
In his State of the Union address this week, Obama promised to gain pay equity for working women.
In a video (above) with Ledbetter, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) said that by passing the Ledbetter Act,
Congress was willing to make this affirmation of a fundamental and basic statement [that] you don’t get to discriminate against people in their pay, in their work based on these arbitrary standards of gender, race, ethnicity.
In a statement, AFT President Randi Weingarten praised Ledbetter:
The AFT has always fought for fair pay, especially for many members who work in education and healthcare—jobs traditionally held by women and, therefore, historically underpaid. We commend Lilly Ledbetter for her unfaltering commitment to fairness and equality for all workers.
In this cross-post from the Campaign for America’s Future, Bill Scher explains the need for a real jobs bill to keep the economy growing.
Today’s estimate of 5.7 percent annual rate of growth in the Gross Domestic Product for the last quarter of 2009 sure beats a kick in the teeth. And if we sustain this rate of growth, we will have a robust recovery and come near full employment.
But we won’t sustain this growth unless Congress acts and passes a real jobs bill.
As economist Paul Krugman notes in the New York Times, today’s number may end up being just a “blip.” The economic consensus is that much of today’s growth number is an “inventory bounce” in which “businesses that were emptying their warehouses a year ago are now buying enough goods to keep stockpiles steady.”
Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes:
There is no reason to believe that this will presage a burst of hiring.
The stimulus continues to mitigate the effects of the recession and unquestionably helped avert a Great Depression. But it’s not large enough or comprehensive enough in scope to fully solve the jobs crisis.
The White House acknowledges this, in a blog post from economic adviser Christina Romer:
There will surely be bumps in the road ahead, and we will need to continue to take responsible actions to ensure that the recovery is as smooth and robust as possible.
And the president himself emphasized that the $154 billion that passed the House last month, which he urged the Senate to pass, still will not be enough:
But what has been the Senate response? To prepare a jobs bill that is smaller than the House bill. That’s inane.
We at Campaign for America’s Future have launched a grassroots effort to press the Senate to both pass the House jobs bill and embark on a comprehensive long-term jobs strategy, including these key goals:
- Rebuild America’s schools, roads and energy systems.
- Close state budget gaps to prevent mass layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters. And direct public sector hiring to expand services that strengthen our communities.
- Use our taxpayer dollars to “Buy American” and revitalize our manufacturing industry.
The solution is big because the problem is big. The stimulus wasn’t big enough to stop all job losses from the recession, but it was big enough to lead us to this point where we can be thankful for a strong GDP growth number.
Senators: if you like looking at GDP numbers as big as this, I suggest you get to work on a bigger jobs bill.
You can help by clicking here and telling your senators: “We need action on jobs NOW!”
County workers, professional employees, bakery workers, airborne pilots and “ghost” pilots and sheriff’s deputies are among the latest workers to choose a voice at work with AFL-CIO unions.
In Utah, more than 400 Salt Lake County workers won a union voice with AFSCME Local 1004. The 408 county employees—skilled trades, maintenance and service workers—could vote for union representation only after AFSCME fought and won passage of a county collective bargaining ordinance last year.
John Farrer, a Highway Department worker, says:
This is definitely a positive thing for workers, and that’s why they voted it in. With all that’s happened, the wage cuts, benefits going down and insurance going up, we need a strong union voice to represent the interests of working families.
To help ensure that workers continue to have an opportunity to win union representation, eight college students and recent graduates just completed AFSCME’s Alternative Union Break organizing training. Read more about the unique program here.
Meanwhile in San Jose, Calif., the 410 senior analysts and program managers in the City Association of Management Personnel (CAMP) voted to affiliate with Professional and Technical Employees (IFPTE) Local 21.
IFPTE Local 21 represents more than 6,000 professional and technical government workers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Says Gay Gale, president of CAMP: “We look forward to developing a great working relationship with Local 21 in San Jose and IFPTE as a whole.”
In other organizing news:
- Workers in the U.S. Forest Service Human Resources Management Department in Albuquerque, N.M., voted to join the National Federation of Federal Employees-IAM (NFFE-IAM). The 385 employees began their organizing campaign in early 2008.
- Also, a group of Remote Pilot Operators, known as “Ghost Pilots,” voted to join the Machinists (IAM). The “Ghost Pilots” are part of the FAA’s training function at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City. They simulate pilots’ actions for air traffic control trainees by receiving voice commands from students and then via computer, simulate pilot actions and give voice responses.
- Pilots at North American Airlines voted overwhelmingly for Air Line Pilots (ALPA) representation. The 181 pilots fly Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft for passenger, military and cargo operations around the world.
- Road deputies in the St. Lucie County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office voted to join the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA). The 155 deputies join Port St. Lucie police and civilian employees as IUPA members.
- In Alaska, 92 AT&T Mobility retail sales representatives who work across the state have joined Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 7803 through majority signup. Under an agreement between AT&T and CWA, the company will remain neutral and will recognize the union once a majority of employees sign up.
- In Union City, Calif., 75 workers at the Caravan Baking Co. voted to join Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 24. The new union members work in production, wrapping, shipping and receiving, maintenance and sanitation departments. Meanwhile, office workers at Bimbo Baking USA in Sacramento joined BCTGM Local 85.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is tonight’s featured guest on “Bill Moyers Journal” on PBS. In an in-depth 30-minute interview, Trumka will outline steps to restore the nation’s economy, create jobs and rebuild the middle class.
He will talk about the AFL-CIO’s role in creating a broad movement of Americans to demand jobs and an economy that works for families on Main Street and why bankers and brokers on Wall Street must be held accountable with strong new financial reform rules.
Trumka will discuss why health care reform must pass and what it must include. He will explain why it’s time to restore the freedom of workers to form unions and bargain for a better life.
Visit PBS to find the TV schedule for the time and channel in your area.
Trumka also will appear on CNN’s “State of the Union with John King” Sunday at 12:40 p.m. EST to discuss jobs, the economy, health care and deliver labor’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.