Workers Independent News Labor Radio
Internet Radio Program 04/02/10
Producers: Doug Cunningham & Jesse Russell
Labor Radio Rundown:
1) WIN Newscast
Workers Independent News Labor Radio
Internet Radio Program 04/02/10
Producers: Doug Cunningham & Jesse Russell
Labor Radio Rundown:
1) WIN Newscast
An article in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday looked at how union workers have become some of the biggest targets of municipalities trying to make budget cuts. According to the article ,17 states have cut benefits or increased the required contribution. Kentucky, Texas, and Vermont did both. The Department of Labor says that 7.9 million unionized workers are in the public sector – or 15 percent of U.S. workers.
Transit unions and political leaders continued their journey across the country on Wednesday as they stopped in front of New York’s Penn Station for a rally to bring attention to what they see as a transit crisis in the United States. Jesse Russell reports.
Transit unions have teamed up to form the Keep America Moving Coalition and they intend to fight against cuts being made to mass transportation in communities. John Samuelsen is President of transport Workers Union Local 100:
By Doug Cunningham
[Chant: “Hey hey, ho ho, Temple’s gag rule’s got to go!”
Fifteen hundred RN’s and other healthcare workers are in the second day of their strike at Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania. The nurses have gone five months without a new contract. Bill Zoda is a shop steward with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.
Wall Street executives destroyed 11 million jobs with their risky practices and now they must pay to create new jobs and not be allowed to return to business as usual, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said today.
In an interview on MSNBC, Trumka said:
[Wall Street] gave $145 billion in bonuses last year that aren’t anywhere geared to performance or job creation. So what we’re saying is “you destroyed the jobs now you should. pay to create the jobs.” Part of it is a higher tax on carried interest. Hedge fund people are able to get by with a lower interest rate than what my 85 year-old mother paid in taxes a few years ago.
Watch the full interview here.
Everyone could do more to rein in excessive CEO pay, he said, including the White House, Congress and, if they are given the tools, shareholders and boards of directors.
Trumka said the AFL-CIO’s unprecedented Good Jobs Now Make Wall Street Pay campaign has held 200 events in front of Wall Street banks and he vowed to be on Wall Street April 29 with “10 to 12,000 of my friends” to take the message straight to executives.
The country needs an aggressive jobs program, he said, and the AFL-CIO’s main focus is going to be on creating jobs.
On health care reform, Trumka said the AFL-CIO worked hard to pass the bill, making 4 million phone calls and 10,000 visits to the leadership.
It was a good campaign.. It was the right thing to do for the country and good for workers. And we got a historic piece of legislation.
“You caused the recession, fix it,” shouted Carl Ritola, delegate for the Orange County Labor Federation from Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 582. More than 100 angry working men and women marched outside Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase buildings in Santa Ana, Calif., to demand Big Banks do their fair share to restore the economy. In an editorial by Executive Director Tefere Gebre of the Orange County Labor Federation, Gebre noted how Wall Street took
$700 billion in taxpayer bailouts and went right back to business as usual. They choked up credit, handed about $145 billion in pay and bonuses to their executives who tanked our economy and hired an army of lobbyists to fight financial reform.
Rick Eiden, president of the Orange County Labor Federation, and Nick Berardino, OCEA general manager, stormed inside Bank of America in Santa Ana to tell management how their members are without work and have lost their homes “because of the actions of their financial institution.”
Eiden warned Bank of America that Orange County unions will not
go away, will not stop until they treat American working families fairly.
Nearly 200 workers from West Virginia, including members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the West Virginia AFL-CIO and community supporters rallied this afternoon at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington, D.C., to protest the sale of landlines in their state, which they say would be disastrous.
Verizon is selling its landlines in West Virginia and 13 other states to Frontier Communications, a small Connecticut-based rural phone company. The sale would put $3.3 billion into Verizon’s coffers, along with a $600 million tax break, and leave Frontier buried in debt.
Less than three years after Verizon’s sale of its New England landlines to FairPoint Communications, FairPoint has filed for bankruptcy. Now, workers face cutbacks and job losses and customers complain about deteriorating service and the lack of high-speed broadband and other new technologies. Hawaiian Telecom also filed for bankruptcy after Verizon used the same tax loophole to dump its landlines in Hawaii.
If the Verizon-Frontier deal is approved, Frontier would be saddled with some $3.3 billion in debt while consumers and workers in the 14 states would be in the same dire situation as those in New England and Hawaii.
As CWA Vice President Ron Collins told the crowd:
This deal will pad the pockets of Wall Street executives while only deepening the digital divide.
Following the rally, CWA President Larry Cohen met with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. Collins and a group of CWA members met with the chief of staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other commission officials. During the meetings, Elaine Harris, a CWA representative, delivered petitions signed by more than 5,000 West Virginia citizens and letters from 71 West Virginia state legislators and 18 county commissions opposing the deal.
If approved, the proposed deal also would seriously hinder the FCC’s new National Broadband Plan.
The FCC’s five commissioners can deny the deal if a majority determines that it isn’t in the public interest. In March, an administrative law judge recommended that the Illinois Commerce Commission reject the Verizon-Frontier application. Similarly, the West Virginia Public Service Commission staff and the state’s consumer advocate strongly oppose the deal.
The FCC is expected to take up the case after the states have concluded their reviews.
To learn more about why citizens are mobilizing to stop the Verizon sale to Frontier, click here.
The U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS’s) plan to end Saturday mail delivery would do more harm than good and it distracts from the real solution, which is eliminating the “crushing burden of a deeply flawed health benefits pre-funding policy,” according to the Letter Carriers (NALC).
The real key to saving the Postal Service, says NALC President Fredric Rolando, is to overhaul the health care funding system, which could save the agency at least $8 billion a year—far more than the speculative $3 billion annual savings the USPS claims it can get from reducing service. He adds:
The arrogance of the Postal Service in this campaign to lobby the public to embrace five-day delivery as the answer to the Postal Service’s problem is astounding. Given that Congress has shown very little interest in eliminating Saturday service and must approve any change, the Postal Service should focus its energies on real solutions, not risky and counterproductive service cuts.
“What makes matters worse is that the Postal Service is sending a very confusing message to Congress,” Rolando says.
Just a week ago, Postmaster General John Potter told a Senate hearing that “we wouldn’t have to go to five-day delivery” if Congress corrected the deeply flawed retiree health pre-funding policy.
To make sure the public hears the truth about the five-day delivery scheme, the NALC launched a website.
The NALC site includes fact sheets showing why switching to five-day delivery will not solve the USPS’s financial problems and, in fact, would mean between 50,000 and 80,000 workers would lose their jobs.
America and China are publicly in denial about currency manipulation. Both officially state that China is not devaluing its currency.
In mid-March, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao flatly denied that China deliberately suppresses the value of its currency against the dollar, a practice that decreases the price of its exports and increases the cost of American goods imported into China. Similarly, the U.S. Treasury Department, which is required by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 to name foreign currency manipulators in biannual reports, has not in the past decade and a half called out China—including in the past two reports submitted during the Obama administration.
China and America decline to acknowledge what everyone else knows: China suppresses the value of its currency to gain a trade advantage over America. The New York Times reported on the practice in a story published March 14, describing how currency manipulation has worked wonders for Chinese industry while killing American manufacturing. (Click here to tell the Treasury Department to stop denying that China is manipulating its currency.)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to Pittsburgh, home of the United Steelworkers (USW), this week to talk about the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing. He visited a modern Allegheny Technologies Inc. specialty steel mill and met privately with business and union leaders. We deeply appreciate his time and attention. What he must do now, as a first step in leveling the playing field with China, is insist Treasury label China as a currency manipulator in the next report, which is due April 15.
That would end the denial—at least on the U.S. side—and could set in motion sanctions to reduce the manipulation or at least the effects of it. Ending the imbalance would create between 1.5 million and 3 million U.S. jobs, without Congress passing a new stimulus bill, without adding a dollar to the national debt.
Our nation has talked to China about this problem for too long. Three years ago, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who was then the federation’s secretary-treasurer, wrote that over the previous seven years warnings had proved worthless:
The script is always the same. The Treasury Department admits there is a problem but can’t find a technical violation of the law. Then comes a warning against Congress taking action that is followed by a promise of increased dialogue with the Chinese government.
That dialogue never produced effective results. China briefly allowed its currency value to increase by about 15 percent against the dollar from July 2005 to July 2008. China stopped the revaluation at the height of the world economic crisis. The 15 percent rise now has been offset by increased productivity in China, according to conservative economist C. Fred Bergsten from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. So the net effect of the brief Chinese currency float is zero.
Still, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is suggesting more dialogue. He told the Associated Press in Brussels late in March:
My first preference is always to see if we can’t build a partnership to work with China to see if we can’t get a resolution sooner rather than later.
This inexplicable response came after Wen denied that China’s currency—called renminbi and traded in a denomination called yuan—was undervalued. And China’s Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said:
It is wrong for the United States to jump to the conclusion that China is manipulating currency from the sheer fact that China is enjoying a trade surplus. Besides, it’s wrong for the United States to press for the appreciation of the renminbi and threaten to impose punitive tariffs on Chinese exports. That is unacceptable to China.
It is unacceptable to America to continue countenancing China’s currency manipulation.
It’s too costly to America.
It works like this. Chinese exporters are paid in dollars. They exchange them for yuan in Chinese banks. No matter the value of the dollar on the international free market, the state-controlled market in China pays 6.83 yuan for every dollar. While the value of the dollar fluctuates against the Euro and other market-based currencies from day to day, China determines its exchange rate to be 6.83 every day.
In a market-based economy, the value of currency in an export-strong country increases. That is what would happen to the yuan if China stopped interfering in the exchange rate. Essentially, demand for Chinese goods would raise their prices. But that doesn’t happen in China because the government stops it. China’s manipulation has caused the yuan to be undervalued by between 20 percent and 40 percent, according to even the most conservative economists.
The result is that every time a Chinese company sells a $1 product in the United States, it has received a subsidy from the Chinese government of as much as 40 cents.
That makes competition extremely difficult for U.S. companies that don’t get such subsidies. It is a primary cause of the U.S. trade deficit. China’s share of the U.S. non-oil goods trade deficit tripled since 2005. China accounted for 80.2 percent of the entire U.S. non-oil trade deficit with all countries in the world in 2009.
That costs the U.S. jobs. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a study in March showing that since 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization, 2.4 million U.S. jobs have been lost or displaced as a result of the growing trade deficit with China.
Unions, industry leaders and both Republican and Democratic politicians are all sick of the talk about manipulation. During a congressional hearing on the undervalued yuan in March, Nucor Corp. Chief Executive Officer Dan DiMicco complained about U.S. inaction, saying:
We are in a trade war. We just haven’t shown up for it.
In mid-March, 130 members of Congress, including 40 Republicans, sent a letter to Geithner asking him to label China a currency manipulator in the April 15 report. They also asked Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to apply countervailing duties on China’s imports. That would be legal if China’s devalued currency is deemed an export subsidy, and they said that has been clearly demonstrated.
Just a day later, a group of U.S. senators, including Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sam Brownback of Kansas, introduced the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2010 to penalize countries like China that undervalue their currency to artificially discount their products exported to the United States. If passed, the legislation would effectively compel the Treasury Department to cite China for manipulation.
“We’re fed up,” Graham told the New York Times.
China’s mercantilist policies are hurting the rest of the world, not just America. It helped create the global recession that we’re in. The Chinese want to be treated as a developing country, but they’re a global giant, the leading exporter in the world.
China remains in denial. They’re so far in denial, this is what Wen said:
I understand some economies want to increase their exports, but what I don’t understand is the practice of depreciating one’s own currency and attempting to force other countries to appreciate their own currencies, just for the purpose of increasing their own exports.
That is exactly what China has done to increase its exports.
It’s currency policy requires China to essentially buy $1 billion worth of dollars a day. If the Chinese stopped currency manipulation, the value of those dollars would decline against the Chinese yuan, and China’s Treasury would suffer a significant loss on its investment—at the same time, Chinese exports would rise in price.
That is why China continues to deny manipulation.
But every day the United States remains in denial costs our nation additional manufacturing bankruptcies and unemployment.
Geithner raised hopes that Treasury would end the denial when he said of China during his visit to Pittsburgh:
It is important that they take the steps they said they would to take their currency to a more flexible system.