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Labor Radio May 7, 2010 MP3:  LaborRadio050710.mp3 Transcript:  LaborRadio040710.txt Workers Independent News Labor Radio Internet Radio Program 04/07/10 Producers: Doug Cunningham & Jesse Russell Labor Radio Rundown: 1) WIN Newscast read more

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Economic Report: High Work Pressure Linked To Heart Disease – 05/07/10 Economic Report: Are you under high pressure at work? A new Danish study suggests women in high pressure jobs are more likely to develop heart disease. The study followed more than 12,000 nurses starting in 1993 and found that by 2008 580 had heart disease. The study found that those who said work pressures were “much too high: were 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease.

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Largest Nursing Strike In U.S. History Looms In Minnesota – 05/07/10 The largest nursing strike in US history could be just around the corner. Jesse Russell reports: read more

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Nearly 1,000 Say ‘Thank You’ to Lawmakers Who Backed Health Care AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (bottom) and nearly 1,000 union members thanked lawmakers for passing health care and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (top) thanked activists for all their work in building support for the legislation. Health care reform became the law of the land because enough congressional Democrats “had courage and stood with working families,” United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo W. Gerard told nearly 1,000 union activists at a Capitol Hill rally this afternoon. These lawmakers ”stood for what’s morally right and against the Big Insurance industry and their nearly $1 billion campaign” to kill the bill. The USW organized the rally with the support for the AFL-CIO, Utility Workers (UWUA) and the SEIU to say “Thank you” to the lawmakers who voted for health care reform, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) turned the tables a bit when she told the crowd, The thanks go to you for all your help that made this victory possible. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that during the course of months-long battle to bring health insurance coverage to nearly 32 million uninsured Americans and end insurance company abuses, “there were no easy votes.” The insurance industry spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to kill us, and to slander and defame the members of Congress who had the courage to do the right thing. But our Democratic heroes had the courage to tell insurance companies, “No more.” No more refusing to cover our children. No more denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. No more cutting people off when they get sick. No more second-guessing our doctors, and no more telling people you can go ahead and die. Lynda Hiller and her family lost their insurance after her husband, Howard, was laid off in November 2008.  But the bills for her breast cancer treatment didn’t stop for the Coplay, Pa., mother of two and Working America member. She told the crowd she and her family desperately need the relief health care reform will provide, including banning health insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing condition. More than 3 million seniors, like Stella Johnson, a retired Washington, D.C., school teacher, fall into the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole,” the gap in coverage when seniors must pay full price for their needed medications—even though they continue to pay their Medicare premiums. Speaking at the rally, Johnson, an Alliance for Retired Americans member, said when her coverage stops, she is forced to choose between taking her medicine or falling behind on her bills. The new health reform law will help me, my family, and my friends by phasing out this Medicare donut hole. It will also help people on Medicare get free yearly physicals and get important preventive screenings without any co-payments. I want to thank the representatives who stood up for me and every senior in America when they supported the passage of the new health reform law. This really is a great thing. Gerard challenged Republican lawmakers to follow their threats this fall to run against health care reform and call for its repeal. Let’s tell them to go ahead and go home and run against closing the donut hole for seniors. Go ahead and run against letting parents keep their kids covered. Go ahead and run against stopping insurance companies from dropping your coverage when you get sick or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Also pointing to the November congressional elections, Trumka said working families will offer more than their thanks to the lawmakers who fought for health care reform. They’ve led us through the lies and distortions, the name-calling, and the Republican attempts to shut down our legislative process. We thank them for supporting us, and we want them to know it’s payback time. You supported us, now it’s our turn. You were with us in January, and February, and March, and April, and we’ll be with you in November. Following the rally, members of the USW’s Rapid Response grassroots action team hit the halls of Congress to lobby members on a range of issues, including in trade and manufacturing policy, Wall Street reform and green jobs and clean energy. Rapid Response members have been meeting in Washington, D.C., for their annual legislative conference.

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Netroots Nation Demands Westin Bargain Fairly With Workers        Big shout out to Netroots Nation, the group that sponsors a yearly conference for progressive bloggers and online activists. Organizers of the annual event, which is slated for Providence, R.I., in 2011, are letting the Westin Providence hotel know that unless management comes to an agreement with workers there, Netroots Nation will not work with the hotel in hosting the more than 2,000 participants who take part. That would mean a more than $2 million loss for the city, because without the Westin, Netroots Nation would move to another city for sufficient accommodations. Some 200 hotel workers at the Westin, members of UNITEHERE! Local 217, have been picketing daily in front of the hotel after its owners, the Procaccianti Group, ended contract negotiations and unilaterally imposed a 20-percent pay cut and an increase in employees’ health insurance costs March 14. As Nolan Treadway, political director of Netroots Nation, writes: We’re ready to commit to Providence, but we will only do so if we know the workers are getting a fair shake—and for us that means working under a collectively bargained contract that the employees vote to accept. In a post today at Daily Kos, Rhode Island state Rep. David Segal encourages everyone to sign the petition to Westin management urging a fair deal for workers. Segal will personally deliver the petition. At Daily Kos, he lists management’s actions against the workers: Management imposed a 20 percent wage cut. Management unilaterally quadrupled employee health insurance costs. Management threatened to replace workers with subcontracted labor like the controversial “Hyatt 100″ decision in Boston. Management fired three workers in retaliation for joining a picket line (they were later reinstated four months later—after the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] became involved). Management broke off contract talks with the hotel workers. Segal goes on to write: All of this even though the hotel was built with public money, as part of a publicly subsidized convention center complex. When taxpayer money is invested in these spaces, we need to insist on the protection of Rhode Island families hired to work there. Sign the petition here, and take the extra click to publish the info and action link on your Facebook page. And thank Netroots Nation for being such great partners with America’s workers.

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FLOC Ready to Light Up Reynolds Shareholders Meeting       Tomorrow, several hundred union, faith and community activists will rally and march at Reynolds American Inc.’s (RAI’s) shareholders meeting in Winston-Salem, N.C., in support of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) campaign for justice for migrant tobacco farm workers. The nation’s tobacco farm workers live in poverty, and many suffer from nicotine poisoning and exposure to deadly pesticides and harsh conditions in the fields, according to FLOC. In recent years, nine field workers have died in North Carolina tobacco fields, most of them due to heat stroke, the union says. For nearly three years, FLOC has asked Susan Ivey, CEO of Reynolds American, the parent of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the nation’s second-largest tobacco company, to meet and work toward ending the abuses that occur in the tobacco fields. To date, RAI has refused to even speak with members of FLOC. Recently, RAI adopted a statement in support of human and workers’ rights and claimed that respect of those rights “is integral” for those doing business in the company’s “sphere of influence.” But, says FLOC, the awful conditions in the tobacco fields make those words ring hollow. Although Reynolds American does not directly employ the farm workers on its contract farms, RAI sets the terms with its contract growers and profits from the farm workers’ labor. Recently a group of religious leaders investigated the working conditions and issued this statement: We learned that they live in places most of us thought uninhabitable, work in dangerous conditions, suffer regular violations of their human rights, and face harsh and oppressive treatment by their superiors and the broader American society. Speaking with many of these migrant workers gave us a window into a world that is hidden from sight and appalling in every way.  As a corporation with as much wealth and resources that remains profitable because of the work taking place on such farms, we hoped Reynolds would take a lead in alleviating these conditions.  While demonstrators outside will demand RAI do more than adopt meaningless rhetoric to put an end to the exploitation of tobacco farm workers, action will take place inside the shareholders meeting as well. Shareholders will vote on a resolution calling on Reynolds American to take a proactive role in protecting farm workers’ basic human rights. RAI executives have recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution. Click here for more on the fight for justice for tobacco workers.

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21st Century and Some Child Labor Still Legal in U.S.        Did you know it’s legal for kids as young as 12 and sometimes younger to pick food on U.S. commercial farms? According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, hundreds of thousands of children are employed as farm workers and they often work 10 or more hours a day with sharp tools, heavy machinery and dangerous pesticides. One-third of all child farm workers don’t graduate from high school, reports “Fields of Peril: Child Labor in U.S. Agriculture.” And many risk their health and their lives. From 2005 to 2008, at least 43 children under age 18 died from work-related injuries in crop production—27 percent of all children who were fatally injured at work. The risk of fatal injuries for agricultural workers ages 15 to 17 is more than four times that of other young workers. Deadly pesticides are sprayed even as they work in the fields. As Hector H., an 18-year-old farm laborer who works alongside children, describes it: You can smell them. [Recently] the plane sprayed, sprayed the cotton….I felt dizzy. I covered my face and kept working. No one told us to get out of the field. Human Rights Watch is urging Congress, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency to take steps to address child farm labor abuse. One recommendation includes amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to apply the same age and hour requirements to children working for hire in agriculture as applies to all other working children. A bill now in Congress would do just that: the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (Care Act, H.R. 3564). Tell your members of Congress to support it. As the video here puts it, the bill is needed so that more kids can play with their food—instead of picking it.

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Default utility Image Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award Honors Labor in the Arab Spring The 2012 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award will honor the Tunisian General Union of...
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