Seventeen thousand Michigan state employees will be forced to take 10 unpaid furlough days between February 26 and June 2. The administrative services workers are represented by the United Auto Workers and the union says it offered the state concessions in order to avoid the furloughs. However, the union was unwilling to agree to a two-tier health care plan, so Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration rejected the concessions.
An election scheduled at a Kansas meatpacking plant that could have seen 2,600 workers organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers has been canceled. The National Labor Relations Board was planning on holding the election at the plant this week. But the union canceled the plan saying “the time isn’t right.”
A nuclear power plant in New York is facing a midnight strike deadline. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
National Nurses United says some 4500 nurses have signed up to volunteer in the Haiti disaster relief mission. The nurse’s union organized a conference call of more than 1900 nurses to set up a command center in Miami to assist the deployment of U.S. nurses to help in Haiti. There are substantial logistical problems, but National Nurses United says it’s committed to making sure these nurse volunteers can work effectively in teams in Haiti. National Nurses United Co-President Deborah Burger will join Haitian American nurses in the first wave sent to Haiti.
By Doug Cunningham
Just what does Scott Brown think of Massachusetts working families and their unions? Not much, and apparently he wants to keep it secret, too.
According to Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes, Brown—unlike Martha Coakley, who is battling Brown for the Bay State’s U.S. Senate seat in today’s special election—wouldn’t even talk to Massachusetts unions as they were deciding last year whom to support.
Haynes reports that Brown
refused to fill out the AFL-CIO questionnaire or appear at the AFL-CIO candidates’ forum to tell workers directly what he stands for. As a candidate, Martha Coakley filled out our questionnaire and appeared at our candidates’ forum to speak directly to us about where she stands.
Haynes says Coakley has
demonstrated her strong support for unions, our families and all workers throughout her career. As attorney general, Martha Coakley stood up to Wall Street, insurance companies, utility companies and employers who broke the rules.
While Brown, says Haynes:
supports the continuation of the George Bush tax cuts for the very wealthiest, does not believe Wall Street needs to be reformed and would prefer to leave big business executives to their own devices.
Paid for by the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education Political Contributions Committee, www.aflcio.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
The support by union members continues to pour in to help the survivors of last week’s massive earthquake in Haiti. You can take action now to help the Haitian survivors by clicking on the AFL-CIO Haitian Disaster Relief site here.
As of yesterday, nearly $13,000 had been donated to the Solidarity Center’s Earthquake Relief for Haitian Workers’ Campaign. Several unions have pledged thousands more to the fund.
And in cities across the country, liaisons of the AFL-CIO Community Services Network are working tirelessly to organize volunteer efforts and donations to help Haitian workers in need.
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) chapters have pledged $25,000 to support Haitian relief.
Meanwhile, the global online labor news service, LabourStart, describes the various international unions that are sending aid, volunteers and support to Haiti. To read about those efforts on LabourStart, click here.
In other recent actions:
- The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has donated $10,000 to help pay transportation costs for the more than 7,000 registered nurses who responded to the call by National Nurses United (NNU) to provide assistance in Haiti. The RNs are issuing an urgent appeal for the public to support these efforts with donations of funds to support travel costs and medical supplies on their upcoming emergency nursing mission. Click here to sign up to volunteer or donate or call 1-800-578-8225.
- Participants in the annual AFL-CIO King Day Celebration raised and donated more than $2,400 by passing the hat at one of its events.
- In Cincinnati, members of the Ironworkers, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters and SEIU are staffing a local telethon for the Red Cross.
- The New York City Central Labor Council has set up a fund to directly benefit the workers, victims and families of the Haitian community. To contribute, send checks to the NYC Central Labor Council Haitian Disaster Relief Fund, 275 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10007.
In Minnesota, AFSCME and its correction officer members won a major victory in the fight against privatizing the state’s prisons when the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced it is shutting down its 1,600-bed Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton next month.
Thanks to lobbying and pressure from AFSCME members, the state is placing more offenders in state-run facilities. The prison population at Prairie was down to just 250 at the end of 2009. Those inmates are being transferred to state facilities.
Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5 executive director, says the union has been
pushing government to take responsibility for corrections, not pass the buck to private corporations that profit from prisons.
Tim Henderson, a corrections officer and president of AFSCME Local 2728, says the union successfully mobilized last year to block an attempt to shut down the state’s Moose Lake prison and transfer its inmates to Appleton. He says the state should not be “renting out its responsibilities.”
We’ve been at war with the privateers, and we won’t stop until Minnesota places all of its inmates in state-run corrections facilities. Our efforts are paying off. A growing number of legislators are now convinced that privateers shouldn’t profit from prisons.
After eight years in which “critical civil rights protections gathered dust,” the Obama administration has made enforcement of civil rights laws a major priority, the nation’s top civil rights official said over the weekend.
Thomas Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights, told the AFL-CIO King Day celebration in Greensboro, N.C., which ended Jan. 18:
In 2010, we have an African American president. And yet discrimination persists—both blatant discrimination and the dangerously subtle kind—in so many of our institutions, showing up in our schools, in our workplaces, in our health care system, in our financial system.
Saying the union and civil rights movements share the same goals, Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, added:
Over the last century, those two movements have learned from each other, have helped each other and have changed our nation into one where more people have access to the promise of equal opportunity.
Read excerpts from Perez’s speech in his Point of View column here.
In addition to the celebration in Greensboro, working Americans across the country from Seattle to Chicago to Little Rock, Ark., to Atlanta held roundtables, marches and rallies to remind their lawmakers that King’s vision for the nation included not only civil rights but also an economy that served all Americans—a vision that is far from fulfilled.
In Joliet, Ill., clergy and other religious leaders announced a boycott to restore justice to a group of Bissell warehouse workers who were fired last year when they blew the whistle on violations at their workplace.
The workers were fired en masse after filing legal complaints over the many violations of state and federal law in the warehouse and announcing to management that they were forming a union.
More than 400 union activists took part in the Greensboro celebration, which focused on economic justice. In workshops and speeches, the activists made the point that King’s dream of a better, more equal America must include good, meaningful jobs.
Participants honored the four trailblazing men whose sit-in 50 years ago at the Woolworth’s whites-only lunch counter in Greensboro ignited a nationwide effort that resulted in passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker and AFGE President John Gage addressed the participants, along with Rebecca Blank, undersecretary for economic affairs at the U.S. Commerce Department.
Community service is a major portion of each year’s King Day celebration, putting into action the union values of collective assistance for those in need. This year, participants sorted and distributed donated goods to local homeless shelters.
A town hall meeting on the jobs crisis highlighted the need for economic justice, and participants discussed the AFL-CIO’s five-point plan to save and create millions of jobs in the next year, especially in the nation’s most distressed communities where the population is primarily people of color.