By Doug Cunningham
In California, UPTE-CWA members have ratified a five-year contract the union says guarantees raises, limits cost increases on benefits and makes major health and safety improvements for University of California technical and research workers. The contract covers 10,000 workers who work mostly on federal grant projects at the university.
Painter’s Union President Jimmy Williams: Health Care Reform Includes Progressive Tax That Helps All Working Families – 03/25/10
By Doug Cunningham
Painters’ union president Jimmy Williams says President Obama stepped up for working families in the teeth of intense insurance industry and Republican opposition to close the deal on health care reform.
[Williams]: “He showed leadership in pushing the bill and it’s gonna make a big difference for all working families.”
Williams says this reform cuts the tax on health care benefits for working families while still boosting future Medicare funding.
Shaw’s Supermarket Warehouse Strike In Third Week As Company Moves To Hire Strike Breaking Workers – 03/25/10
Shaw’s supermarket warehouse workers are in their third week of a strike and the company isn’t backing down as it made known on Tuesday it planned to begin hiring permanent replacement workers. The workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers local 791. 300 warehouse workers have been striking since they rejected a contract proposal on March 7. The union says since the walk out started the company hasn’t indicated it has any plans to discuss new contract possibilities.
Actor Danny Glover traveled to a Hugo Boss factory in Cleveland, Ohio to throw his celebrity behind the cause of workers. Jesse Russell has more.
The plant is facing a shutdown next month that would cost the region 375 jobs. The workers are trying to convince the suit company to reverse its decision. Glover was the leader of a Hollywood boycott on March 7 when he asked other celebrities to not wear the clothing maker’s apparel during the Academy Awards. Workers United President Bruce Raynor joined Glover at the factory on Tuesday:
Members of the Evansville, Ind., community will come together Thursday afternoon to support the first group of laid-off Whirlpool workers. Some 500 of the workers will walk out of the plant Friday for the last time and head to the unemployment line as their jobs are shipped away to Mexico.
Just as they did last month, union members and community and religious activists will rally behind the workers to show that the layoffs will have serious consequences for the entire area.
Last month, more than 5,500 workers and community and religious activists from at least six states converged in front of the Whirlpool plant, led by members of IUE-CWA Local 808, to deliver the message to “Keep It Made in America.” But the company, which received millions in federal stimulus money, moved ahead with its plan to abandon U.S. workers and send 1,100 production jobs to a new plant in Mexico.
On the AFL-CIO’s Good Jobs Now website, Whirlpool workers say this kind of corporate greed is destroying the American economy. Tom Wright, who is two years into Whirlpool’s four-year electrical apprenticeship program, now finds himself “halfway to nowhere.” He issues this warning to workers everywhere:
The Whirlpool plant’s closure in Evansville should be a wake-up to the rest of the country. This is not just happening to us—you may be next.
Joanne Wallace, a 19-year worker at Whirlpool, wonders what U.S. jobs will remain for her grandchildren:
Will they be able to stay in Evansville and find work? Where is our community headed? I am sad to see Whirlpool go and extremely apprehensive about the future.
Today, Senate Republicans are dipping into their obstructionist toolbox for every last monkey wrench they can find to throw into the works of the Senate’s final action on health care reform.
On top of that, they’ve decided to stick with bankers’ hours and stop work on hearings at 2 p.m. In this latest hold-their-collective-breath-‘til-they-turn-blue temper tantrum over the health care reconciliation bill, they are halting work on other important legislation. More on that below.
We’re also hearing from workers and union leaders that many employers are beginning to spread misinformation about health care reform and its impact, including threats of benefit cuts and cost hikes. We’ll bring you more as this story develops.
But first, the latest on reconciliation. After the House passed the health care reform bill Sunday night—which President Obama signed into law yesterday—it also passed a bill that fixes certain flaws in the original Senate bill. The fixes are what is before the Senate this week.
That bill—considered under what is called reconciliation—cannot be filibustered and only needs 51 votes to pass. But if any changes are made in the bill, it must go back to the House for another vote. Republican leaders have vowed to us every trick, scam and scheme they can to make changes and force yet another delay and a vote.
The reconciliation rules allow unlimited amendments that must be voted on. The amendments do not have to have anything to do with health care. Beginning as soon as this afternoon, Republicans will launch this “vote-o-rama” in an attempt to either force a change in the bill or force Democrats to vote against issues they normally support, such as amendments that will purport to lower taxes and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.
As Mike Madden from Salon wrote this morning:
Republicans could force Democrats to vote over and over on things that have nothing to do with healthcare—but sound bad in a 30-second commercial this fall (something like, “Call Harry Reid, and ask him why he voted not to send child molesters to an underground dungeon,” for example).
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says any amendment offered during this process is nothing more than a “poison pill.” Senators must remember that:
A ‘NO’ on amendments is a ‘YES’ on health care.
Working families won’t be fooled by dirty tricks from the opponents of health reform out to do the bidding of the insurance companies. And U.S. senators should not be fooled either.
Just as we did in the House, unions will employ all our resources to support senators in passing the reconciliation package and taking the last step on the path to health care reform for all Americans. We will make sure that constituents of senators who do the right thing and vote “no” on all amendments know the score about what really goes on in the Senate.
As this vote-o-rama drags on, remember every amendment offered by the Republicans is nothing more than an attempt to kill health care.
Meanwhile, in staying true to their say-no-to-everything mantra, Senate Republicans are using an obscure and seldom-used rule to stall all Senate hearings after 2 p.m. Amanda Terkel at Think Progress reports:
There is a little-known rule in the Senate stating that hearings can’t happen after 2 p.m. each day without unanimous consent. However, every day, at the start of business, the Senate generally agrees, by unanimous consent, to waive this rule and continue with the necessary business of holding hearings.
But, as Ezra Klein of the Washington Post writes:
Every day, that is, until now. Republicans angry about the passage of health care reform are invoking the dreaded half-day maneuver….[You] could imagine a lot of smart ways to begin obstructing the chamber and making life miserable for Democrats. But declaring that you won’t work after 2 p.m.? Do Republicans really think the average American is going to rally to that battle cry?