Threats against employees of the Internal Revenue Service have been on the rise. Last year the number of investigated threats passed 1,000 and two years ago the IRS was granted the right to bring armed guards as protection against “potentially dangerous” taxpayers. According to the Wall Street Journal access to technology and the Internet has amplified the voices tax protestors.
By Doug Cunningham
The Association of Minor League Umpires has voted to affiliate with the Office and Professional Employees International Union and will be based in New York City. OPEIU’s Michael Goodwin.
[Goodwin]: “These umpires are very, very low paid. The salary ranges anywhere from $9,000 a season to $15,000 a season. They came to OPEIU because we offer expertise in bargaining. We can help them in collective bargaining in a renewal of their contract so they can get a better contract.”
AFGE Presses Ahead With Efforts To Win Collective Bargaining For Airport Security Screeners – 02/23/10
Airport security screeners are pressing ahead with their efforts to win collective bargaining rights. Jesse Russell reports.
By Doug Cunningham
The 41,000 transportation security officers (TSO) at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are a step closer to winning the collective bargaining rights they have been denied since 2003.
Today, AFGE filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) for an election to allow the TSOs to vote on union representation. More than 30 percent of the TSOs nationwide support the AFGE petition. In 2003, the Bush administration stripped the workers of collective bargaining rights. Says AFGE President John Gage:
We have always known that the choice to unionize and the task of winning collective bargaining rights for the TSA workforce would be a two-part process. While it would be ideal for a TSA administrator to have granted collective bargaining rights first, the two do not have to go hand-in-hand. By settling the question of representation first, AFGE will be ready to begin negotiations as soon as the bargaining rights are established.
Senate Republicans—who oppose security officers’ freedom to form unions and bargain—successfully blocked President Obama’s choice to head the TSA. At a rally tomorrow in Washington, D.C., several hundred AFGE activists and others will urge Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to act swiftly to restore the workers’ rights.
In an online petition (click here to sign) TSA workers say:
Although the nation’s TSOs have performed our duty to provide aviation safety, TSA has denied us the collective bargaining rights and workplace protections held by other federal workers that ensure that we are treated fairly, properly compensated, and protected when we point out potential security breaches.
The time for change is long overdue.
Although TSA workers have been denied the freedom to bargain collectively, 13,000 of them are members of AFGE, which regularly represents them before the TSA Disciplinary Review Board, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Congress and in the courts. Says Gage:
Since AFGE chartered its first TSA Local in 2003, our TSA membership has grown from 13 brave TSOs to nearly 13,000 today….More than 13,000 TSOs in more than 100 airports in 37 AFGE locals nationwide have already spoken—declaring AFGE their union of choice. AFGE hopes for a speedy FLRA decision, so that TSOs nationwide can finally put to rest the question of union representation.
President Obama this morning released his version of health care reform legislation that combines elements of the Senate and House bills passed late last year. The new plan was unveiled in preparation for Thursday’s televised bipartisan White House health care summit.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said working families “look foward”
to moving the ball forward this week toward the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Republicans in Congress have an opportunity to stand with working families or continue to protect the profits of the insurance industry. We are prepared to work with the White House and leadership in Congress to advance a comprehensive health care bill that will be passed into law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this morning the revised proposal “contains positive elements” from both bills. She is scheduled to meet with the other House Democrats today to review the bill further. In a statement, Pelosi said:
Our nation is closer than ever to guaranteeing affordable health care to America’s middle class and small businesses, lowering costs and strengthening Medicare for seniors, holding insurance companies accountable, and reducing our deficit. The cost of inaction is too great for our nation and for every family facing the heartbreaking reality of skyrocketing health care costs and denied care or coverage.
An excise tax on health benefits that remain in the plan has been modified even further than an earlier agreement reached by the White House and union leaders. Under the latest proposal, the tax wouldn’t kick in until the annual premium cost for all families reached $27,500 and would not take effect until 2018.
The bill also includes: higher subsidies for low- and middle-income families to help pay for health insurance: closing the Medicare prescription drug ”donut hole”; new authority to control health insurance premium increases; applying the full Medicare tax (both employer and employee share, or 2.9 percent) to unearned income for families earning more than $250,000; an increase in the penalty for employers that do not provide health benefits from $750 per worker to $2,000; increased Medicaid funding for all states; raising from $23 billion to $33 billion the assessment of drug companies; a ban on denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. Click here for a full summary.
House and Senate Republicans who have unanimously opposed the reform bills and blocked action were invited to post an alternative health care plan on the White House website so voters could compare ideas. But Republican leaders refused the offer. However, they do say they will attend the Thursday summit.
Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) member Robin De Haven is being hailed as hero for his role in rescuing five people from the blazing Austin, Texas, building where a man with a vendetta against the Internal Revenue Service crashed his fuel-laden plane Thursday.
De Haven was on his way to work when he saw the single-engine plane, which witnesses say was at full throttle, heading toward the building. The IUPAT Local 1778 member told Fox News that when he looked again and saw black smoke pouring from the second story:
I immediately drove my truck over there, got the ladder off, went up to the side of the building and I saw people up on the second floor with their heads out the window for air because the room was filled with smoke.
The 26-year-old Iraq war veteran positioned the 17-foot ladder to reach as far as it could to the second floor. But when the people in the building were unable to secure the ladder so they could safely descend, De Haven scrambled up to them.
I climbed inside the broken-out window into the building with them. My ladder slipped a little bit actually.
With the help of one of the men inside, he then broke another window near a ledge, securing the ladder there so he could get five people out safely.
I held onto their waists and their backs so they wouldn’t fall if they slipped….I don’t feel like a hero. I was just trying to help.
But IUPAT President James Williams sees it a bit differently:
His actions were nothing short of heroic and we’re proud to have him in our ranks. Robin’s courage and character are a shining inspiration in these hard times. I hope his actions remind us all of what is most dear in our lives, and how important it is to take care of each other. Robin De Haven is a prime example of what a good union member is made of.
Williams says De Haven is a graduate of the Helmets to Hardhats program that helps match vets and soon-to-be vets with apprenticeship and training programs offered by the 15 unions in the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD).
Veterans can use their G.I. Bill education benefits as they complete the certified apprentice programs. Helmets to Hardhats has helped more than 5,000 military vets find new careers as electricians, plumbers, roofers and in other skilled trades.