Manufacturing is up for the ninth consecutive month. April also saw the fastest burst of growth since June of 2004. According to the monthly released manufacturing index the increase was slightly better than projected by economists and was buoyed mostly by jumps in productivity and the creation of manufacturing jobs. Factory employment grew for the fifth month in a row. Seventeen of the manufacturing industries showed growth in April.
Workers at a Boeing plant in Missouri have authorized strike action if a deal can’t be reached with the company by June 13th. Jesse Russell has more:
Labor/Environmental Coalition On Capitol Hill To Clean Up Labor And Environmental Standards At U.S. Ports – 05/04/10
By Doug Cunningham
A unique environmental/labor coalition is supporting the Los Angeles Clean Truck Program as a national model to clean up both environmental and labor standards at our nation’s ports. Wednesday morning there’s a congressional hearing in Washington on the program – which was successful but has been staled by a legal challenge from the trucking industry. Valerie Lapin is with the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.
AFT’s “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” Campaign Seeks Federal Help To Avert Massive Education Cuts – 05/04/10
By Doug Cunningham
The American Federation of Teachers is launching a campaign today to save schools nationwide from budget cuts the union says will devastate U.S. public education. Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” is an effort to win support fro federal legislation that would provide $23 billion to avoid the layoffs of as many as 300,000 teachers, school support staff and higher ed faculty nationwide. AFT spokesperson Cynthia Garza says the campaign marks National Teacher Day by calling on the government to not walk away from education.
Momentum continues to build for repeal of Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law and as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says: The law is not only an affront to American values of fairness and respect for the U.S. Constitution—it “severely undermines workers’ rights.”
Any employer faced with Latino workers’ complaints—in the form of a picket or a lawsuit—can simply call the police and have workers arrested under the guise of “reasonable suspicion.” The law’s chilling effect is all too clear.
The law requires a police officer to demand proof of immigration status when the officer has “reasonable suspicion” to believe the person is not authorized to be in the United States, regardless of whether he or she is suspected of a crime. The law puts Arizona’s entire Latino population—the great majority of whom are U.S. citizens or legal residents—at risk of arrest, Trumka said.
Read Trumka’s entire statement here.
United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard and other union leaders also have condemned the law. Gerard says the law is political pandering to those who believe that our nation’s economic troubles are caused by undocumented workers.
The image of police confronting people on the street, asking to see identification is akin to things that have not been witnessed since the fall of totalitarian dictatorships in the last century. We can’t let our great nation go down that road. This law must be repealed.
Both Gerard and Trumka say the nation needs comprehensive immigration reform, not state-by-state laws.
We need urgent action. The Arizona law should not be allowed to become a model; it is bad public policy and it should be put to rest. Our focus should instead be on a comprehensive solution to the broken immigration system.
Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano agrees, saying the law is “misguided.” Napolitano, whose department oversees immigration issues, says she is concerned that other states will adopt similar laws, creating a “patchwork” of immigration rules when an overall federal immigration system needs to be put in place.
This affects everybody, and I actually view it now as a security issue.
The Major League Baseball Players Association said in a statement that the new law could have a “negative impact” on major league baseball teams, which have hundreds of players who are citizens of countries other than the United States. At least six players on the Arizona Diamondbacks roster are not U.S. citizens and 30 percent of all Major League players are Latino.
These international players are very much a part of our national pastime and are important members of our Association. Their contributions to our sport have been invaluable, and their exploits have been witnessed, enjoyed and applauded by millions of Americans. All of them, as well as the clubs for whom they play, have gone to great lengths to ensure full compliance with federal immigration law.
Adrian Gonzalez, the All-Star first baseman for the San Diego Padres, has announced he will boycott the 2011 Major League All-Star game, which is scheduled to be played in Phoenix, unless the anti-immigrant law is repealed.
Over the weekend, thousands of marchers in cities across the country called for repeal of the law and for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
At a protest rally in Phoenix, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) vowed to overturn the law.
We’re going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we’re going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law.
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has scheduled a space in the next session of City Council to propose legal action against the S.B. 1070, saying:
I will direct the city manager and city attorney to file a lawsuit against the state to enjoin the law from going into effect and have it declared unconstitutional.
Calling the law “an embarrassment to the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution,” the NAACP warned:
[I]f we are not careful it will leave a permanent stain on the United State’s reputation throughout the world….It is disheartening to see the state of Arizona enact a law that tramples on the civil rights of Hispanic persons, and one that cannot be enforced without resorting to racial and ethnic profiling.
Congress must fix our broken immigration system to ensure that all workers’ rights are protected. Otherwise, Arizona’s onerous immigration law could become a model for the country, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said.
Speaking at the International Workers Day rally May 1 in New York City, Holt Baker reminded the 25,000-strong crowd that Latino workers are at the greatest risk of dying on the job. And the risk is even higher for undocumented workers, who “know that if they report dangers on the job, chances are, they will be torn away from their families and their communities and deported,” she said.
We need an America that guarantees safe workplaces and protects workers’ rights—all workers’ rights—regardless of race, regardless of gender or ethnicity or nationality or immigration status.
And we will not see that day until we fix the broken immigration system that invites these grave injustices to occur.
The New York City march and rally was one of the dozens held across the country to protest the Arizona law and call for action on immigration reform.
The highest-ranking person of color in the union movement, Holt Baker attacked the recently signed Arizona immigration law as “mean-spirited and unconstitutional.”
The Arizona law sets us back years in our struggle for civil rights—for equality, for social and economic justice.
That law must be repealed. We cannot allow Arizona to lead the country in dealing with immigration. Arizona could become the model if Congress does not pass comprehensive reform.
Holt Baker called on the U.S. Department of Justice to take immediate legal action to stop Arizona from implementing its “ill-guided and unconstitutional” law. She urged President Obama to publicly oppose and terminate all programs—including collaborations between state and local law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—that result in racial profiling.
She called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act to ensure all workers’ rights are protected and civil liberties and civil rights are guaranteed.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into Goldman Sachs’ role in the subprime mortgage meltdown prompted California’s workers to renew their calls for Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to provide detailed answers to questions about her close ties to the company.
Last week, the state federation announced plans for a massive grassroots campaign—including the launch of a new website, Wall Street Whitman—to combat the $150 million Whitman says she will spend on the race.
Whitman, who’s expected to win the Republican primary June 8, served on the board of directors of Goldman Sachs in 2001 and 2002 where, according to Wall Street Whitman, she was directly involved in the decisions about executive bonuses and mortgage-backed securities that are now cited as major causes of the economic meltdown and the ensuing jobs crisis.
Here’s California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
The hot water Meg Whitman’s in is due to her inextricable ties to Goldman Sachs just hit the boiling point. The people of California deserve the honest truth about Whitman’s involvement in the practices that are being investigated as part of the current criminal probe against Goldman Sachs. Whitman must immediately disclose all dealings with Goldman Sachs—past and present—and divulge any information she has about the alleged criminal activity under investigation.
Specifically, California working families are demanding that Whitman answer several questions:
- Will you publicly rebuke Goldman Sachs and the Wall Street culture you were a part of—the same company and culture that made you a billionaire?
- Will you apologize to the half million California families who lost their homes for your role as a Goldman director and investor who profited from their losses?
- Will you come clean with voters right now about what you knew about Goldman’s unethical dealings and when you knew it?
- If you are named in a federal criminal investigation or asked to testify publicly about your knowledge of Goldman’s illegal tricks or your profits from the company’s scams, how will you remain focused on California’s concerns?
To date, Meg Whitman has avoided the tough questions California families have about her dealings with Goldman Sachs and support of the Wall Street agenda that collapsed the economy….Whitman must directly address these questions, which are central to growing concerns about her fitness to lead our state.
Click here to find out more on Whitman’s record as a Wall Street insider and as a failed CEO, with a record of slashing and outsourcing jobs. Whitman has said if elected governor, she wants to fire 40,000 state workers.
Some 7,000 Amtrak workers reach a tentative contract, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
Multiple, Amtrak: Amtrak has reached a five-year tentative agreement with four unions representing nearly 7,000 workers. The workers are members of the Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Machinists (IAM), the Joint Council of Carmen, Coach Cleaners and Helpers (a coalition of TCU/IAM and Transport Workers [TWU]) and the TCU/IAM.
AFSCME, Jackson Health System: AFSCME, representing some 5,000 workers at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, has rejected the hospital’s request to reopen negotiations on workers giving up an additional $50 per paycheck. In fact, the union has said its members are re-voting on the original 5 percent pay cut because some members thought the first vote was unclear.
CWA, Verizon West: Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 9 has reached a tentative three-year agreement with Verizon West. The contract, if approved by the 5,500 California members, will provide annual wage increases and employer-paid medical coverage.
ALPA, Piedmont Airlines: Pilots at Piedmont Airlines have asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to mediate talks with management, as negotiations have made little progress in the past year. The Air Line Pilots (ALPA) says Piedmont management is stonewalling, agreeing to very few negotiating sessions.
Multiple, State of Connecticut: The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) in Connecticut, made up of 13 state worker unions, says negotiations with Gov. M. Jodi Rell broke down Wednesday night, after government officials were unable to produce analysis of the effects of a proposed early retirement program. SEBAC claims the governor’s early retirement plan “could cost taxpayers $1 billion while decimating state services.”
ALPA, Evergreen International Airlines: After six years of tough negotiations, pilots at Evergreen International Airlines have reached a two-year tentative agreement. ALPA said it recognized the airline’s difficult financial situation, which it will have time to resolve if the contract is ratified by the 224 ALPA members.
Multiple, Continental and United Airlines: Continental Airlines and United Airlines announced plans to merge, though the future of the merger likely depends on the support of the airlines’ unions. The Continental division of ALPA says it expects a “swift conclusion to a joint contract with pilots from United Airlines,” also represented by ALPA. The Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), representing flight attendants at United, released a statement this morning that it would not support any merger that threatens job security.
IAM, Hamilton Sundstrand Corp.: Members of Machinists (IAM) Local 743 ratified a new three-year contract with Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. in Connecticut on Sunday. The contract covers about 1,050 workers and includes an annual 2.5 percent wage increase but also increases worker contributions to health care.
IAPE, Dow Jones: Workers at Dow Jones ratified a four-year contract with the company, the first contract since Dow Jones was purchased by Rupert Murdoch. The contract covers 1,700 members of the Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees (TNG-CWA) and avoids all blanket waivers the company had tried to include while protecting seniority and enhancing severance pay.
ATU, RTA & Pace: Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 900 filed a lawsuit to compel interest arbitration in ongoing negotiations with Chicago’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and Pace. Two tentative agreements were reached, but one was rejected by the membership, and the other was rejected by the Pace board. The bus drivers and mechanics have been without a contract for more than a year.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.
In 2008, after some 140 workers at Covanta Energy Corp.’s Rochester, Mass., plant voted to join the Utility Workers (UWUA), the “green” energy company started a two-year-long campaign of delay, “intolerable” contract demands and other bargaining table stalls. As UWUA President Michael Langford says:
They thought we’d just go away.
Well, they didn’t go away. They went global. Now, UWUA Local 369 members in Rochester have a contract signed just last week and the union may be on the verge of winning an agreement that would allow Covanta workers at its 30 U.S. facilities, as well as its overseas operations, to choose to join a union without management interference (more below).
Covanta, a multinational firm, is seeking to expand its waste-to-energy operations in several nations and that, says Langford, was the key that eventually opened the lock on nearly two years of fruitless negations.
Covanta put on the table outrageous contact provisions like worker gag orders on and off the property and new termination provisions. Then early last year, says UWUA Organizing Director Stewart Acuff, Covanta announced it would stop paying all union members annual wage increases and semi-annual bonuses.
The union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It was then time, says Langford, to turn a local organizing campaign into a more strategic global effort.
UWUA is an affiliate of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Union (ICEM). Langford and Acuff say the relationships and strategies union leaders developed at AFL-CIO and international organizing and labor conferences began to pay off.
UWUA reached out to unions, environmental groups, civic and other organizations in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and other countries where Covanta was seeking municipal contracts. All those nations take their labor laws seriously.
Where Covanta went, so did local unions and other groups, spotlighting the company’s environmental, health and safety records, as well as what the ICEM described as
its appalling labor relations conduct, which included serious and malicious breaches of U.S. labor law.
Last year, when Covanta was seeking to win a contract in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil, union and political leaders spoke up. Huw Lewis, a member of the National Assembly, said:
Frankly, I find it a little surprising that the Assembly Government has been courting a company that has a string of environmental breaches and seems to also engage in union-bashing. We desperately need quality jobs in Wales—and in Merthyr Tydfil, in particular—but not jobs at any cost.
Martin Mansfield, secretary general of the Welsh arm of the United Kingdom’s Trade Union Confederation (TUC), said:
Whatever the merits or otherwise of the Merthyr incinerator proposal, we would expect any company seeking to do business in Wales to adopt our high standards of partnership at work between employer and unions.
What we hear from our American colleagues does not bode well for how Covanta would approach Welsh unions.
After more than a year of international actions and a March 26 ruling by an NLRB law judge that Covanta had indeed engaged in unfair labor practices, and with the NLRB set to seek a federal injunction ordering the company to return to the table, Covanta returned to the table. The company reached an agreement with the workers that includes back pay, restoration of bonuses, wage increases, new health and safety standards and more improvements.
Next, the UWUA will seek what is known in international labor circles as a Global Framework Agreement, basically on a worldwide neutrality agreement. Working in partnership with the ICEM, the union hopes to convince Covanta that it would be in everybody’s best interest to work together. Langford says:
I think they’ve seen what we can do as an adversary, now we’d like to show them we can use that same kind of energy and effort and be a good global partner.