A southern computer plant gets another plant-closing reprieve. Jesse Russell explains.
By Doug Cunningham
“March For California’s Future” Kicks Off Today To Demand Fair Taxes And Good Public Services – 03/05/10
By Doug Cunningham
Following in Caesar Chavez’ footsteps a diverse group of public workers are embarking today on a 48-day “March for California’s Future”. One of the marchers is Irene Gonzalez , a Los Angeles County probation officer and member of AFSCME Local 685. She’s marching for a fair tax system and to preserve public services.
[Gonzalez]: “We want fair taxes. We want to be able to live the American Dream for not only ourselves but for the future for our kids. We want better education.”
Closing the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. automotive plant in California will eliminate 25,000 jobs in the state and cost taxpayers $2.3 billion to replace the jobs lost, according to a March 3 report by University of California professor Harley Shaiken.
The Daily Labor Report (subscription required) notes:
California and municipalities near the Fremont, Calif., plant will lose nearly a billion dollars of revenue in the decade after the plant closes, according to a blue-ribbon panel formed by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer (D).
Using estimates by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, the report found that “just creating 4,700 jobs-the number lost at NUMMI itself—would cost $433 million.”
Jobs lost. Lives destroyed. Communities weakened. Billions of dollars down the drain. All because companies can only improve their bottom line by going after the cheaper labor they can find in other countries, right?
Cheap labor abroad is cited as the incurable handicap that explains why the United States cannot compete. But cheap labor doesn’t explain the fact that Japan and Germany, both high-wage countries, are successful in the automobile industry. Nor does it explain how semiconductors, a model of a high investment, low-labor content industry, are mainly made in Asia. The premise that the inescapable burden of competing against low wages means failure is simply not correct.
Even more disturbing than this big lie, says Gomory, is the unwillingness of our nation’s leaders to address the consequences of not competing.
Today our companies are motivated to take innovations abroad, produce there and import the goods into the United States. Increasingly we can expect services also to go overseas. We must produce here in the U.S.A., to employ the people of this country, and we must keep their activities effective by a steady stream of innovations in design and production. While other countries roll out a welcome mat of tax breaks and subsidies for our companies because their common sense tells them that their people being employed in productive work is the road to being a rich country, we provide no incentive for U.S. companies to produce here.
Good move, then, by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who led a bipartisan group of 10 senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging the adoption of a national manufacturing policy. The letter states, in part:
The loss of manufacturing plants and jobs has stifled economic opportunity for middle class families and compromised our ability to compete in the 21st century economy. Indeed, for the last several decades, administrations have passed up critical opportunities to formulate a rational and comprehensive manufacturing policy. Continued apathy will undermine our country’s ability to achieve energy independence and place our military readiness at risk.
Meantime, you can take action. Sign the petition by American Rights At Work and tell Toyota: Don’t abandon your workers.
When the heads of the nation’s insurance companies come to Washington, D.C., next week to plot strategies for killing real health care reform, they’ll be greeted by thousands of union members, community, health care and religious activists with one message: Stop. We’re sick of the obscene high rates and insurance company abuses. We want health care reform now.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will lead a large union contingent to participate in a mass rally March 9 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, during the meeting of the big insurance industry front group, the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
Many unions and union-related groups are working together on the rally, but some are making a major effort, including AFSCME, AFGE, AFT, Communications Workers of America (CWA), Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), SEIU and Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ).
The AFL-CIO Executive Council yesterday called on the world community to provide quick, no strings attached aid to Chile after the massive earthquake Feb. 27. The union leaders also reaffirmed strong support for the relief efforts in Haiti and condemned the Mexican government’s attempts to break the union at Grupo Mexico mines. Executive Council members met March 1-3 in Orlando.
In its statement on Chile, the council said aid should be provided without any requirements of repayment. The council also urged that all aid and reconstruction projects in Chile should respect living wage standards and fundamental labor and trade union rights. Click here to read the entire statement.
We must not forget that much still needs to be done in Haiti, where people are still recovering from the devastation of an earthquake and aftershocks nearly two months ago, the council said. The council statement on Haiti saluted all the union members who had made financial contributions and donations of essential supplies or are serving as active volunteers in the aid efforts.
But real change can only come if we dedicate ourselves to a long-term recovery in Haiti, the council added:
We urge the U.S. government and the international community to adopt a recovery and reconstruction strategy that strives to assist the Haitian people to attain sustainable long-term economic independence and ensure a commitment to economic development, with Haitian workers at the center.
The council condemned a ruling by a Mexican appeals court that allowed the Grupo Mexico mining company to fire 1,200 striking workers, members of the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers (SNTMMSRM), at its Cananea copper mine. In its statement, the council said:
This decision is only the latest in a series of actions intended to destroy the SNTMMSRM. These attacks are just part of a broader pattern of attacks on democratic union organizing in Mexico. The AFL-CIO calls on the Mexican government to end the repression of democratic unions, allow workers the right to organize and restore the right to strike.
Check out all the approved statements from the council meeting here.
This just in from the Communications Workers of America (CWA):
One by one, 14 union supporters at the E-Z Pass administrative center in New York got a call from their boss on Monday asking them to “come into my office.” Then, one by one, all union supporters were told that their services were no longer needed. One union activist, Frank Buonvicino, was told, “We know you were one of the union leaders,” as he was let go. On the Friday before they were fired, all these workers had sent a message by standing up for 60 seconds while continuing to work.
The E-Z Pass administrative center is operated by Xerox. Xerox is refusing to bargain a contract with these newly organized CWA members, even though they won an election in May 2009.
I gave 150 percent to this company for five years. I am asking my union brothers and sisters to help us get our jobs back.
Tell Xerox CEO Ursula Burns that firing union supporters and refusing to bargain is outrageous. Send a message here.
Delta flight attendants are spreading the message about their effort to form a union with the Flight Attendants-CWA via their own music video. “OUR Song,” which stands for Opportunity, Unity, Respect, was written and recorded by Jarrod Anderson, a Delta flight attendant, based in Minneapolis. AFA-CWA then put the song into a video (left).
Delta flight attendants currently are waiting for the National Mediation Board’s (NMB’s) decision on changes in the way union representation elections are held in the air and rail industries. Now, 50 percent of the workers plus one must vote for an election to be valid. The NMB is considering changing the rule to a simple majority of whomever votes.
The song describes the legacy the flight attendants want to leave Delta: dignity and respect in the workplace through union membership.
Click here to learn more about the Delta flight attendants’ campaign to join a union.
The school superintendent who last week fired all teachers at Central Falls (R.I.) High School has agreed to resume bargaining and include the union in all discussions on a comprehensive education plan that will help students and teachers succeed. The move followed a nationwide public outcry, with thousands signing an online petition to tell school officials the students deserve better and they should work with teachers to build on improvements at the high school. (Keep the pressure on the Central Falls school administration. Sign a petition here.)
AFT President Randi Weingarten said in a statement that she was pleased the superintendent has agreed to resume talks:
The dedicated teachers and staff [of Central Falls High] want nothing more than to continue and improve upon the progress they have made. Real, sustainable change will only happen when all stakeholders work together.
The AFT is committed to supporting Central Falls Teachers Union President Jane Sessums, the students of Central Falls High School and our members, the educators of Central Falls, throughout the negotiations and process of transforming the school.
On Feb. 23, the Central Falls school trustees fired the entire teaching staff of the high school, which is located in Rhode Island’s smallest and poorest city.
In all, 93 got pink slips—74 classroom teachers, plus reading specialists, guidance counselors, physical education teachers, the school psychologist, the principal and three assistant principals. Negotiations over strategies to improve the school between teachers and the school superintendent broke down when the superintendent walked away from the table and fired the teachers.